Piyu came running home with glee after hopping down the auto which dropped her home. Her father was sitting on the sofa in the living room and watching her coming back from school, called her. She went and stood in front of him; the school bag still on her shoulders. He put the newspaper he was reading, aside on the sofa, lifted her up and placed her on one of his thighs and asked,"How was school, Piyu?"
Piyu said, "Very good, we played in the toy house. It has a yellow roof, and red walls."
Her father asked, "Did you study anything?"
Piyu started twisting one of her braid, tied with a ribbon. She said, "Yes, ABC and 1 2 3."
Her father said, "Say A B C for me.
Piyu recited A B C D, but could go no further than N. Her father called her mother and told her that she is not progressing well in school, and to make her understand that studies are important. Piyu looked at both of them bewildered. That time Piyu was 3 and a half years old.
Piyu was a free spirit. She loved to play more that study. Her house had a huge backyard. There were trees of guava, pomegranate, custard apple, and birds would come and perch on those trees. Tall grass and shrubs grew in the rainy season and butterflies would abound along with caterpillars, moths and snails. Flowers were plenty; the hibiscus, the jasmines and all other flowers which needs less maintenance. Piyu's education in nature continued after school, in which she terribly lagged behind. When she would not be in the backyard she would be with her friends from the lane playing cricket or jumping rope or tic tac toe. Piyu did everything other than homework.
Piyu's chubby cheeks turned red and beads of sweat started forming on her nose as she sulked at her teasing cousins. She brushed aside her unkempt curly locks of hair as she stood, almost about to burst into tears. They were all standing on the front patio of their house. The mango tree in the front yard was full of mangos and the Sun was scorching. It was a beginning of Piyu's summer vacation after her 3rd grade and her cousins has come home. The heat of the Sun was made bearable by the Neem tree about 10 feet away from the mango tree and they played in the shade. When they got tired playing outdoors they would come and sit on the patio playing ludo or snakes and ladders. As Piyu was about to go inside to fetch the box of the board games, Piyu's cousin Nidhi said, "I stood 1st in my class."
Parth her brother was in 4th grade and he folded his hands in front of his chest, "I got 100 on 100 in maths."
He stood as if he was the most important, the oldest and most intelligent of the three. Parth asked Piyu, " Now tell us your grades, Piyu."
Piyu ground one fist into her other palm. She said, "I stood 37th in the class."
Parth and Nidhi burst into laughter and started shouting, "37th… 37th..haha."
Piyu ran indoors, tears trickling down her crimson cheeks. She was about to bump her father who incidentally stood in the way to the cupboard; where her toys and games were kept, when she looked up at him through teary eyes. He asked, "Why are you crying, Piyu?"
Piyu stuck her tongue out to lick her running nose and wiped her tears with the back of her fist. She answered, "They laughed at my grades."
Her father's face remained expressionless. He said, "If you wish that they do not laugh at you, you better study hard. I have already told you."
Since that day, something stirred deep inside her. She started studying. It was not that success came to her easily but she never stood 37th rank in the class and remained in first 10. Her parents sighed with relief. Her father often said, "Try try and you will make it."
And Piyu went on trying, trying hard and somehow making it. She got 90 % marks in 8th, 9th and 10th. Her parents distributed sweets on her success.
The 12th grade exam loomed large on Piyu's head as she sat on the bed with her legs folded and her Physics notebook lying in front of her over the pillow. She had mugged her theorems, a hundred times. When her 12 grade started, she took 4 tuitions apart from college. Two for Physics, Chemistry and other two for Maths and English. She would attend tuitions from 6am to 10 am, go to college from 10 am to 5pm and study hard till 10 pm. Many a times when she had class tests, she would study till midnight. She had to pass the engineering entrance. The session started in June, but in October when the 12th grade was midway, due to exhaustion, she got 40 out of 50 in the tests and for another month she was getting panic attacks. They stopped only when she scored 49 out of 50, the next month.
By her final exam, she had mugged every page of her Physics and Chemistry and knew every problem of Maths byheart. When she wrote her papers, it was as if a tape recorder was playing a tape. She scored 98,97,99 in Physics, Chemistry and Maths respectively. She went for Engineering.
Her parents were overjoyed. Her father threw a party for family and friends.
When in 3rd year, again due to exhaustion, Piyu missed one of the exams, her father told her that she need not come home from the hostel until she passes the subject. Later she got honours in the same subject. She finally became an Engineer with a 1st class. Her father said, "It's mandatory that girls get educated. They must stand on their own feet. We have now successfully completed our task of educating our girl child. We can die in peace now."
Piyu's father told everyone that his daughter is an Engineer and got selected for a job in the campus interview itself and now worked for a multinational giant. Piyu got married to an Engineer and continued working in the same multinational company. She made every project, every presentation successful, became a favourite of every boss and was hated by every junior because she was a hard task master and Piyu got every promotion at the right time. She was 32.
One day when Piyu's husband Amit, came home he found that she opened the door, her curly hair blown all around her round face. He was surprised as she would come later than him. He asked, "Came home early?"
Piyu answered, "No, I did not go to the office today."
They walked to the bedroom. Her husband said, "Don't be so tense about the new project Piyu. It will work out fine. If you try, you can make it."
Piyu sat on the dresser combing her tangled hair and looked at his reflection in the mirror. He was standing glued to the floor, unable to gauge the strange change in her disposition, his one fist on his waist gazing at her reflection. Piyu said, "I have made it."
He asked, "What?"
Piyu coolly answered, "I worked really hard all these years and I finally made it. I now know that I can make an excellent gardner."