Can You Mew Like A Cat?
What do you do with people who love to boast? Sometimes a simple question can put an end to their boasting!
When Shyam walked into the classroom that morning, he found all the boys clustered around Ankit. Shyam tried peering over the shoulders of the boys gathered around Ankit but they were packed too tightly together, all of them intent on watching closely, so that they would not miss a single minute of the trick. Shyam tried pushing the boys apart but only earned himself a couple of angry glares. So he walked to a bench and climbed on it to look over the ring of heads and see what was happening.
He saw Ankit in the middle of the circle, a spinning top in his hands. As Shyam watched, Ankit twirled the top expertly, making it leap and dance on the palm of his hand. The boys pushed and jostled each other, eager to see how he was doing it. Shyam watched Ankit for a minute and then he said, speaking loudly so that his voice rose above the buzzing of the other boys, “That is an easy trick! I can do that! I can do lots of other tricks!” One or two of the boys gathered around Ankit turned around to see who it was but most of the others ignored him, merely hunching their shoulders and turning away more firmly towards Ankit.
Everyone knew Shyam and everyone was used to Shyam. He was known as the boy who always boasted. Shyam was one of those boys who seemed compelled to boast about anything and everything. If someone came to school on Monday, eager to tell the other boys about how high he had flown his kite, Shyam would be sure to say, with a bored look, “I can fly my kite much higher than that!” Or if someone proudly carried in an elaborate project on which they had worked for weeks, Shaym would be sure to say, “My project is much better than this!” To hear Shyam speak, you would think that he could do anything from climb Mount Everest to swim across the ocean. And so, most of the boys had stopped paying attention to Shyam, even though they often longed to teach him a lesson that would stop him from boasting.
“I can do that trick!” Shaym called again from his position on the bench. “I can do lots of tricks!” Nishant turned from watching Ankit to ask Shyam, “Can you disappear?” Some of the boys giggled, and turned, waiting to see what Shaym would say. “I can do some magic,” Shyam replied and Nishant turned away in disgust. A fresh round of giggles broke out and Shyam looked at them. “I have learnt to do magic, you know,” he informed them. “And my teacher thought I showed great promise and would be a great magician. But then,” Shyam said, getting off the bench and preparing for a long discussion of himself and his many talents, “I can do lots of things. And,” he added, looking around the room, “I can do them all well!”
Ankit had finished the last trick, and now he pocketed the top and the string and turned to Shyam. “Can you mew like a cat?” he asked. “Mew like a cat?” Shyam echoed, sounding surprised. And then, “Of course I can!” he said haughtily, “Anyone can mew like a cat but I…” he looked around at the circle of boys, “I can mew more like a cat than anyone else!”
The other boys, delighted at the promise of more entertainment, gathered around Shyam and Ankit. “Mewing like a cat is so simple!” Shyam said. “Anyone can do it! Now you should hear me roar like a lion! It would frighten a real lion! And a dog? I can bark like a real dog and once I even frightened away thieves with my barking! Shall I show you how I bark like a dog?”
“Let’s see you mew like a cat first!” Ankit commanded. Shaym opened his mouth. A noise like the squeal of a rusty door hinge emerged. All the boys laughed. “You can’t mew like a cat!” Nishant said, delighted with the discovery. “I can!” Shyam retorted and he tried again. This time he sounded like a terrified pig. The boys collapsed into laughter. Shyam glared at them and tried again. And again. And each time he did that the boys laughed. Some of them mewed like a cat to encourage him. Shyam tried to mew like a cat through the day and he was still trying when the bell rang at the end of the school day. After that, anytime he tried to boast, someone had only to ask, “Can you mew like a cat?” for Shyam to fall silent.
This story was published in Young Buzz, the children’s pages of Sakal Times.