It was the most important occasion for the Boy Scouts in Malaysia. They would be
gathered at the Pintu Gerbang Sibu to witness the award ceremony for the senior
scouts. Receiving an award on such a day was the most prestigious honor for any
scout, and all would aspire to be the scout selected to give the summary of the
year's activities for the association. I was not the one selected to give the
summary and for that, I was grateful. I could never stand in front of a large
crowd to make a speech, but Sean could. He was selected to do the honor because
he was the President of the Boy Scouts for schools.
My job was much simpler.
Being the Vice-President, I was very much behind the scenes, content to ensure
that everything was in smooth running order. It was an hour to go before the
ceremony began, and I had put the final touches to the stage. Walking down the
stage, I saw the ushers in a state of panic. When they saw me, they ran to me to
tell me that Sean was caught in a traffic jam and would not be able to make it
on time. Someone else had to give the summary. All of them looked meaningfully
at me, and I could feel my knees beginning to buckle.
All their arguments against my reluctance were valid. I had a copy of the
speech as well as the benefit of having seen Sean rehearse it. I was the
Vice-President and therefore should rightly take his place. Finally, when I had
exhausted all my excuses, I was firmly told not to decline any longer and they
left then, content that I would do the right thing. Once alone, I sank down onto
the floor, totally devastated by the situation.
I could not do it, I knew I was not a confident speaker, and the thought of
presenting a summary in front of so many distinguished guests horrified me. I
would definitely shame all boy scouts, as I could not even come close to Sean's
effective and eloquent style. To think that the prestige of the scouts would
take a beating because of me! The burden of responsibility troubled me greatly.
But there was really no way out of the situation. In the end, I quickly
rehearsed the speech and got ready to go on stage for the presentation. I looked
calm and collected but inside, I was a
trembling mass of jelly. Just before I was called on to the stage to do the
presentation, I suddenly felt faint and unable to think straight. I could not
remember what I was supposed to say, and then, the realization that I was going
to fail caused me to break out in cold sweat. I held the side of the wall
tightly and tried to move my leaden feet
Suddenly, I felt a friendly pat on my shoulder and turned around. It was
Sean! He had made it on time. Smiling at me, he walked onto the stage and
proceeded to speak into the microphone. I was so relieved that I started
laughing uncontrollably. There was mercy in the world after all.