Scene: A nursery school auditorium.
Event: The much-awaited annual day.
Seated: Eager, twinkle-eyed relatives of the stars on stage.
Back-stage: Whimpering, smiling, jumping, rolling, wide-eyed, half-dressed, full-dressed, robed, falling-over-each-other-and-giggling bunch of pre-schoolers. And their harassed teachers.

The beautiful lady-in-white, the Master of Ceremony, announces the start of the programs. The lighting of the lamp, the welcome speech (by two six-year-olds in unison), and the prayer song by a group of four-year-olds (Haaaam ko maaaann ki shaaakti dennaaaaaaa…) follow.

The parents, grandparents and relatives settle down for the events. Unknown to them, there are about twenty-five programs ahead, counting the dances, skit and everything else that happens on the stage and off it. As the little ones sway, stand, stare, sniffle and scream on-stage, the MC announces, “Parents, please encourage the children!!” The audience bursts out in a thunderous clapping to the beat of the music, accompanied by chuckles and smiles at the performance, drowning everything else.

About ten programs down the line, there is a slow but perceptible change. The parents have started glancing at their watches. All that clapping has begun to burn their palms. The MC has stopped encouraging the parents to encourage the children. The children whose programs are over and their parents begin the exodus, leaving patches in the once-crowded hall. The MC requests everyone to stay because the certificates will be awarded at the end of the program, but very few wish to remain for what they could clearly foresee would last another two hours.

I cannot find a better or clearer example than this. We start everything with a burst of energy, believing that the enthusiasm will remain just as strong till the end. But more often than not, it doesn’t. It begins to hurt our palms. It makes us tired. It… wears out.
We stop clapping and get up to leave.