It was a new school year. The new class teacher held up Mahesh’s drawing of the sunset and showed it to the class. “This is a beautiful drawing Mahesh. And we’re going to put it up on the class notice board!” Mahesh beamed. The class notice board was put-up to showcase the talents of the [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

The Copycat


It was a new school year. The new class teacher held up Mahesh’s drawing of the sunset and showed it to the class. “This is a beautiful drawing Mahesh. And we’re going to put it up on the class notice board!” Mahesh beamed. The class notice board was put-up to showcase the talents of the students in Mahesh’s class. The next morning when Mahesh came near the notice board he saw another painting pinned right next to his. It was of blotches of water colour and no one could guess what it was, if it wasn’t for the title written right at the top, ‘Sunset.’

The next week Mahesh’s essay on ‘How trees help us’, was admired by his English teacher, who pinned it on the notice board. Two days later Mahesh noticed another paper pinned right next his, which read ‘Why trees are important’. It was a copy of Mahesh’s points rewritten and quite badly too. “I don’t remember our teacher showing us anything like this. It looks like someone is copying your work and pining it here himself,” said Rizan, Mahesh’s best friend. “Who do you think is doing this?” asked Mahesh. “I have no idea!” shrugged Rizan.

Mahesh made a beautiful collage of a peacock using magazine paper during the weekend. “This is so beautiful putha. You must show this to your Art teacher!” encouraged his mother. Sure enough, Mahesh’s Art teacher and his classmates admired it a lot and it ended up on the class notice board. A few days later the copycat struck again! Next to his collage was another collage of two bluish figures, with the title ‘Peacocks’. “This is definitely not a coincidence!” huffed Mahesh, “why can’t this person have some originality without trying to copy me?”

“I know who did it!” Rizan told Mahesh during the interval. “I saw Shiran putting it up early in the morning.” “What? Shiran?” exclaimed Mahesh in utter surprise. He was a new boy who was very quiet in class. He never spoke more than two, three words with anyone.

He was unpopular and had no friends. “He would have been my last guess! But why is he doing this? It’s irritating to have someone copying your hard work!” “Maybe you should tell him to stop doing it!” said Rizan and Mahesh nodded feeling very annoyed.

Mahesh walked past the boy’s desk the next day looking at him. He raised his head and looked at Mahesh. Mahesh smiled with him hoping to strike up a conversation. But the boy didn’t return the smile and ignored Mahesh by looking the other way, pretending he didn’t notice. “I can’t believe this!” thought Mahesh angrily, “he copies my work and doesn’t even smile with me when I am nice enough to smile with him!”

“I don’t feel like doing anymore new work for the class notice board!” sighed Mahesh a few days later, after coming home. This time his article on ‘North pole’ was rewritten by the copycat under the title ‘The Arctic’. “What’s wrong?” asked his mother and Mahesh told her everything that happened since the notice board was put up. “There’s this person coping all my work, and quite badly too. He’s trying his level best to look like he’s not copying. It’s just not fair to copy other peoples work and I find it very irritating!”

“Putha, there can only be a few reasons why he’s doing it and you need to understand that!” his mother said sitting next to him.
“Why is he doing it?”
“It’s obviously because he admires your work!”
“That can’t be!” interrupted Mahesh, “he doesn’t even smile with me when I smile with him!”
“Then he could be jealous of your work. But since he’s copying it, he must be secretly admiring your work and wants
to prove that he too can write and draw like you!”

“Maybe I should tell him to stop copying me!” Mahesh told his mother.
“You shouldn’t do that! He has a right to write and draw anything he wants!”
“But it’s unfair to copy other people’s ideas! What do I do to stop this?” asked Mahesh.
“If he doesn’t have talent to write and draw, maybe he has talent for something else which he still hasn’t discovered. That’s why he’s trying to do something he’s not good at doing. Help him discover his talents. Maybe what he needs is a friend to show him his path!”

“I don’t know if I want to do that,” grumbled Mahesh, “he seems very unfriendly!”
The next morning Mahesh reached school quite early. As he walked past the basketball court, he saw Shiran bouncing a basketball and playing alone. Mahesh stopped and watched him shoot perfectly through the hoop. Then the boy moved a few feet back and threw the ball again, another perfect score. He did this a few times without missing even once. Mahesh was impressed. He never thought the boy would be good at anything, other than badly copying other’s work.

“Do you play basketball?” Mahesh asked walking up to the boy. He stared at Mahesh for a while and shook his head sideways, indicating ‘No!’ “Well, I’m in the school basketball team and I heard coach talking about adding a few new players. If you’re interested I can introduce you to the coach,” said Mahesh. The boy smiled happily. “Okay, that would be great!” he said finally. “Alright then, meet me after school today,” said Mahesh holding up his hand. The boy shyly gave him a high-five and smiled.
After Shiran was introduced to the coach he was taken in for practice. He was a natural and played very well. Mahesh was happy he helped the boy discover his talent and he was also happy his essays and drawings were no longer copied by the boy. But every time Mahesh’s work went up the notice board, Shiran was the first to come forward and admire it.

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