The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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The Tough Decision

Later, in the greenroom, Niloo absentmindedly removed her makeup. Sunaina, gorgeous in her costume was holding court in one corner. At once something clicked in Niloo's mind, bringing a broad smile to her face after several days.

When she told Richa she was horrified.

'Niloo you can't be serious,' she said aghast. 'It'll ' it'll be a disaster!'

'Who says I can't' I am serious and I will do it!' Niloo replied stubbornly.

'But the play ' the school play will be ruined! We'll lose the prize!'

'Don't you dare talk to me about prizes,' Niloo said, walking off in a huff.

But Richa could not help brooding over Niloo's outrageous plan. It was a simple one. Niloo happened to have two brothers addicted to practical jokes, and Sunaina happened to be terrified of lizards. Niloo planned to drop a plastic lizard ' which looked wonderfully real ' on her lap during the course of the play.

'She'll really make a fool of herself,' Niloo had said exultantly, 'Screaming and jumping about in that white dress that she bragged about!'

'What should I do' thought Richa, almost frantic. There was no time even to think ' the play was the very next day. She could hardly warn Sunaina or tell Mrs Puri. She would be betraying Niloo. It would mean the end of their friendship ' and that was too awful to even think about. But neither was it possible to make Niloo see reason.

One thing, however was quite clear in her mind. Niloo had to be stopped.

Then the day came and there they were in the greenroom struggling into their costumes and applying makeup. Squeals and cries came from every corner. 'Hey, this doesn't fit!' 'Pass me a pin, please'CAN someone pass me a pin!' 'Gosh, don't I look a perfect clown!' And so on.

And Niloo was her jolly old self again laughing and joking even with Sunaina, who looked absolutely stumped at this change. Richa was tense ' it was her first stage appearance ' and then ' she still did not know how to obstruct Niloo's plan.

But just before the play began the solution came to her. Suddenly, she knew what she had to do. It was a tough decision to make. She had never opposed Niloo so openly before. But she knew she had to do it.

The stage really looked like a fairyland. Trees and plants had been placed here and there to transform it into a wonderfully realistic forest. Softly glowing lights gave an impression of moonlight.

Right from the start, the play was a success. The long hours of rehearsal paid off now and each and everyone excelled in their parts. But Niloo as Bottom easily stole the show. Her buffoonery had everyone rolling with laughter.

To be continued

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