We collect stars. In our classroom, we have a big chart on the front wall. It is decorated with fancy border and eye-catching colours. On it are the names of all the pupils, with space in front of each, for the stars that we get for our performance in the class.
The glowing golden star, queen of our dreams, is for outstanding show in academics, exceptional deeds, and all-round achievement in sports and extra-curricular activities. It is so difficult to earn that only one or two lucky students have it, so far. We get red stars for neat handwriting, updated homework and class work; and blue for good behaviour, discipline and sitting quiet during lecture. These stars are no less valuable. When we come up to the teacher's expectations, she puts a specific-colour star sticker on the chart against our names.
There is cutthroat competition for the coveted stars. We long for them, we hanker after them, and we are ready to beg, borrow, or steal to get them. Some classmates have even gone to the extent of scratching these off and putting against their own names while nobody is looking. We also take special care to bring the small misdeeds of our rivals to the notice of the teacher, behind their back, of course; or sometimes soil the shoes of our competitors by stepping on them so that a "shoes not polished" warning note is issued quickly.
For making others look bad so that we seem good in comparison, we play all the dirty tricks. Many good friends have turned staunch enemies in this contest and sometimes I wonder where this race for collecting stars will lead us to.
The obsession to be best performer is turning us into the worst people that we can be, actually, though I enjoyed it when the brightest boy in the class, the most arrogant star collector, lost one to the frailest girl in the class for all-round performance that included the record in sport.
Oh! I forgot to mention, there is a black star, too. Naughty children get it for breaking discipline, speaking without permission, disturbing the class, disobeying the teacher or not being good at studies. Black stars are meant to shame, insult and pressurise the children so that they start behaving. But I have seen that these black-starred students have the most fun in the class. They are in fact popular, because they make our boring days interesting, make us laugh until our sides ache and give us a daily dose of quirky episodes.
One of my friends kind of enjoys collecting black stars. He has 36 of them and when we look at the performance chart, it is his name that is shining and catching the eye first. That's a super star. email@example.com