Word count: 715 words.
Kayal was six when she built a sand castle for the first time on the beach. She dug into the mug around a small circular area and accumulated the soft mud towards the center with her hands. She stopped when the heap was one-and-a-half feet high and stepped back to admire her creation. Tarun, eight, her cousin brother, who was observing her activity suddenly jumped on the sand castle and destroyed it within a few seconds.
Once he was finished, he looked at her eagerly. She was in tears. He laughed. She turned and ran into their house, opposite the beach. She lied down on her bed, cried for sometime, and slept.
When she woke up, she got an idea.
The next day she went back to the beach in the evening and made the sand castle once again. This time she added roads in concentric circles starting from the bottom and ending on the top. Just as she finished, Tarun jumped on the heap and stamped on the mud repeatedly.
Tears flowed from her eyes. He broke into laughter once he saw her crying. She ran home, fell down on her bed, cried for some time, and slept.
When she woke up, she got another idea.
The next day, she made the castle and the road all over once again. She brought some sea water and wet soil and made small structures resembling cars and buses. She also gave a rocky finish to the mountain and smiled at her creation. This time too Tarun promptly destroyed it. She looked at him desperately with tears in her eyes. He laughed.
She ran home, cried, and slept. Next morning, she got another idea.
In the evening, she went to the beach and recreated everything once again. She created one more mud castle next to it. She also created a narrow pathway on the top of both the hills that widened as it came down and joined the clearance below, representing a river, in between the hills. She was building a boat with a sail on the river when Tarun came back and stamped all over the place.
Once his frantic activity came to an end, and the earth was almost flat, he looked at her with a small smile on his lips that was about to burst into laughter. This time, she did not cry. She smiled looking straight into his eyes. His eyes widened and his expression became serious.
“I will destroy every sand castle you create,” he said, raising his voice. She was still smiling. He looked at her disbelievingly, turned back, and walked home perplexed.
25 Years Later . . .
“And the award for this year’s design excellence goes to . . . Shivani,” the excited speaker announced to the standing ovation of hundreds of people assembled for the design awards ceremony. Kayal’s design was also in contention for the award, but as with the last three years, this year too she didn’t win.
Kayal’s colleague came up to her during the dinner party after the ceremony. “Kayal, your design got the biggest applause when it was introduced. You know how the winners of these award ceremonies are decided. You know you’ll not win the award. Why do you still participate every year, that too with a variation of the same design?” he asked.
Kayal was about to say something when her eyes met Shivani’s, who was wearing a rich black skirt and standing with the shining crystal award, just ten feet away, on her right. Kayal smiled. Shivani reciprocated and walked up to talk to her.
“Hi, I am Shivani,” She said as Kayal nodded in affirmation. Shivani suddenly lowered her voice and said, “You know what, I think your design was the best. But you are familiar with how these award ceremonies work, right?”
Kayal shook her head to imply ‘No’.
Shivani paused for a second but continued, “Well, the judges are under obligation to pick up a winner representing the company sponsoring the -”
“Oh, not that,” Kayal interrupted in mid-sentence. “I said ‘no‘ to your assertion that my design was the best.”
“It isn’t?” Shivani asked.
“No,” Kayal said. She smiled while her eyes twinkled. “I think it can be even better. I’ve got an idea.”