Abstract As simple as it looks, choosing our way of life is really tough. ‘Expectations’ from our love ones sometimes become overwhelming. It scares us to be happy for ourselves and leave us with a thought in our mind, ‘LET THEM BE’.
That year was the time Tikvah was waiting for AISSE result. In aid with the tension and pressure of result, there was another discussion going on in the family- In which stream will she go?
The most awaited day had finally come. Everyone in the family was rushing to see the results. Tikvah had got through with 1st division.
“Tikvah what is this, if you had read more, the marks could have been better. And what’s with the mathematics mark? Things were not like this during your coaching class tests? You used to get full marks, then what happened in the board exams? To whom will you turn to if you don’t become a successful person? You have no brothers or sisters whom you can rely, you need to be perfect. Do you know what will the society talk about if you are not? Our whole family has always been looked down and you are the hope.
Do you know how many people’s epicaricacy will know no bound when they found out about your results? Anyway what’s the use of talking about it now? How many marks did your friends get? Or do you make friends only with those who are not good in studies so that you can be the superior? Do you even know how much percentage Shine get? His father was bragging just as I was coming home. He got more than 90%. Both of you go to same coaching classes. He got 98 in maths, only 2 marks to go for 100.”
Just as her father finished her mother began, “You only know how to talk big, it would have been better if you put that effort for big talk show into studies.”
Tikvah stood there for a while, as nobody was speaking any further she went back to her room. The room has always been in the same way- crushed paper balls over the floor, some blank paper on her bed. She lied down on her bed, looked up at the ceiling, raised her hand and blocked the brightness coming from the light bulb. After a while she separated her fingers and let some handmade rays from the light bulb to fall over her face giving off a mockery smile to herself. She continued this action for a while. A voice spoke behind her.
“What happened Tikvah?”
“Oh Tzelem, nothing happened. Tzelem why am I not able to be perfect?”
“You did get full marks during the tests in coaching, what happened in the exam?”
“I didn’t expect this question from you. We both know that I used to learn by heart the entire portion during the test. The questions were already been given to us for the test. Don’t you remember anything at all? Both of us used to do the same thing. Just because papa told that he will not signed the test paper if I don’t get full marks, we came up with the plan that we will learn it number by number, sign by sign, even the angles, degrees, everything.
You had even helped me during the test when I forgot things, and I always brought full marks by that technique, how can you forget this? I know at that time you tell me that it would be of no use. But what can I do, all I needed to do was bring full marks. Nobody told me how to. It’s just the result that matters and obviously I didn’t want to be called out before the number of people because I didn’t get signature of my parents so I didn’t listen to you. And this is where it brought me now.”
“Are you angry with your parents?”
“No. Because they are right. I must have worked harder. They are right I am the only one they have. I have let down their expectations. Obviously they will feel sad. But Tzelem I am not feeling sad like them. Rather I am happy, I am satisfied with my marks, I want to celebrate, and I am also expecting that someone will tell me ‘yes you have given your best, and you can still be better than this, for yourself’ and I am also expecting that someone will agree with me that I don’t need to be compared myself with others to be a better person.
If there is anything I must thrive to become a better version of me and for myself not because I need to prove the society wrong. But my parents are right, I need to prove. Anyway did you check your results already?”
“Yes, and you know what we got the same marks in every subject.”
“Why didn’t you tell me before? The two of us can celebrate then. After dinner I will bring some juice and snacks, we will eat that together.”
Tikvah stopped speaking and stared at Tzelem with her eyes filled with enviousness.
“Tzelem you are lucky you wouldn’t be scolded by anyone for marks. No one ever talks about you and no one knows you exist. I wish I could be like you. Atleast papa and mama wouldn’t have to see such a disappointing daughter.
None of them talked after this but Tikvah kept beholding Tzelem.
Now at the dinner table, the discussion about marks was settled down as ‘for which stream’ topic now becomes the main thing. Tikvah’s father started off the conversation.
“So what are you thinking for further studies? Science or humanities or commerce? You must go for what you want. We cannot decide. So you must think carefully for it. You can do anything you want, something respectful, something others will envy, something that will make people voice shut up. I would be very proud if one day you become an IAS officer or something like that. You must follow your dreams. So tell me what do you think?”
“I want to go for Humanities.”
“You can always opt for humanities after 12. Isn’t it a good opportunity to opt science till 12th? You can even go for some training if you complete schooling with science background.”
“But I don’t want science.”
“It’s all good but you know there’s some more scope in science. Don’t say we didn’t tell you anything in future.”
From the kitchen her mother came out handing the phone.
“I heard about your results. Work harder in 12th so that you can also score more than 90%. And I also heard you are opting for humanities. Since your father is agreeing on what you want you must give a very fruitful result. Always remember every moment that all of us are putting our expectation and every hope wholly to you. If you go down we all will go down. Don’t let us down okay.”
After a long short discussion she came back to her room. The same messy comfortable bubble of her – crushed paper balls, scattered pages inside the four walled invisible cage. Just as she entered her room her eyes landed on the line of ants marching towards the crevice of the cornice that was long forgotten to repair. She peered at it for a while and suddenly she raised her hand and broke the line of the ants with her index making a hustle resulting in the ants losing their direction. While some of them that were not the victim of her index continued to march, the rest of them were escaping in an unorganized direction losing their destined way to the cornice. Her finger was no longer there but her eyes still lingered at those ants.
“What happen Tikvah?”
“Nothing. Tzelem… do you think those ants will find their way again and reach their destination…or will they astray just like that?”
“Maybe they will change their way but they will reach somehow. It’s their home.”
“Is the route of the journey really doesn’t matter? Is the result only the thing that matters?
This time neither Tzelem had the answer for Tikvah’s question. So she asked.
“What happen Tikvah tell me. If you don’t tell me whom will you tell?”
Tikvah didn’t reply but continued with her weary-teary questions.
“Will I reach my destination? What is my destination? Where is my cornice? And if the way matters, am I choosing the right way? And if the way doesn’t matters why people are seem to be not happy with me taking a subject? And do I, myself, even want the way that I am choosing?”
Shifting her eyes from the ants and closing it she took a deep breath and tried to let out all her frustration with the exhalation but when it came out, it turned into a sigh, not of relief but of a more messed up frustration.
Tikvah was yearning for full stops to her question marks from Tzelem but it seemed that Tzelem didn’t even have had a comma to offer it to Tikvah. With those unanswered unanswerable questions she lied down on her bed curled up into a ball and after couple of moment somnolence came over her and she slept, covered with the blanket with the weightless weighed down questions.