Pakhi was playing with some pebbles, some make believe game. Humming a tune to herself, she was happy. Her Standard 5th exams were over and she had a break of 15days. Her nani had come down from Lucknow to be with her. Nani was fun. She allowed her to be herself not like her mummy and dada, who were always after her; do this, do that. She could sing, dance, play with pebbles, mud whatever she wished for, with her nani around.
It was good that her nani arrived, her mummy having started going to work recently. Because it had become very expensive for a single person to run a family-her father had said. She had not understood what he meant. But nowadays they did go out for dinners and were planning a vacation in the May Holidays which was fantastic. They had never been on a real vacation before, just the routine holidays to visit family.
It was good of nani to come over-she thought otherwise I would have been bundled off to Mamaji’s house or to some camp she shuddered at the thought. She hated crowded places.
‘Pakhi, Pakhiiiiiiiii’ her nani called. ‘Yes nani’, she replied and ran towards their home.
‘Phone for you, beta, your Principal’, her nani said.
O my God, Have I flunked, have I flunked for the first time, she thought.
“H..h.hello”, she said.
“Good Morning, Pakhi, do you know why I have called”, Madam said.
“No, Have I failed the exam”.
“Oh No no”, and Madam laughed a hearty laugh. “You remember the essay competition on My Dream for which you had sent an entry in February”.
“Yes” she mumbled
“Well you have won Second prize and the prize distribution is on April 5th in New Delhi. Pakhi are you there”
“yesss MMadam” she said.
Well I have to discuss it out with your parents, can you ask them to meet me tomorrow at 10.30 am at the school. And yes Congratulations , my dear.” and disconnected the line.
Pakhi sat quietly in shocked silence. “What happened, beta”, her nani said anticipating some bad news.
“Nani” she said,” I won an essay contest and the prize distribution is in Delhi”.
“That’s wonderful news, Pakhi, but why are you so confused”.
“dada wont like it nani”.
“Why?” Nani said.
“Because it will be expensive to go to Delhi”.
“Ha ha”, nani laughed,” but they will be so proud of you dear. Come lets call them up and inform”.
“No no let them come home and then I ‘ll tell them”. But she was not sure if her nani could keep a secret. So she said” say God promise I wont tell”
“Ok, God promise” her nani said,”I wont tell” but she was thoughtful.
The rest of the day Pakhi was worried, how their budget will be affected, will her father be upset, will mummy get leave. When she had been sick last month, Mummy’s boss had not given her leave. Will Boss Uncle give leave now, she thought and so on.
Evening her mummy arrived, and asked “how was the day, beta”. Good she muttered and went back to her painting. Father arrived”how is my sona”, he said. Fine she said.
Dinner time they all sat down to eat. “Why ma does she have a fever, why is she so quiet,” Mummy asked Nani
“Pakhi, that’s it. Are you telling them or should I”. Oh my God has she flunked, mummy thought. Oh my God she has broken something, her dada thought.
“Dada, Mummy I won an essay competition-second prize and the prize distribution is in New Delhi” she uttered and felt as if a burden had been lifted from her shoulders.
“Oh my God, My god” both screamed in unison. “Such an honour and you are telling us now”.
“Well she was bothered that it will be expensive going to Delhi so was hesitant to tell you”, her nani explained.
“What” Her Dada said. “No darling, Nothing is expensive for you. Whatever we earn, whatever we save is for your future. Your happiness, your success is of the utmost importance, baccha, no thing else matters. And he came and hugged her tightly. Mummy came too and enveloped both of them
And everything was fine in Pakhis world again.