When we start , the Arctic chill has coloured the fog an opaque white. The drive is long and the cold intense. But she is smiling. When the debate gets over, and I tell her that she had spoken well, she smiles again. Every one is excellent. The eight toppers had come after clearing a rough total of two hundred and forty schools, each representing their respective branch levels, where they had stood first among thirty schools, to compete at the regionals. She does not make it into the top three, and being a biased mother, of course, I am really irritated at the end results.
As we return, the sky is clear. She enjoys her tiffin, and wonders on the board practicals that had begun. She wishes aloud that her optics and electricity experiments would work out fine.
” Are you not disappointed? ” I ask casually. I had literally pushed her out of a warm bed at an unearthly hour for this round of competition.
” Well, to be truthful, I prefer losing to better competitors. Not really at the top of the cloud, but I had a lot of fun, you know!” She smiles.
Suddenly the car passes by three very young girl children, carrying firewood on their heads. They are in rags in that bitter cold. Their mother is loading more firewood on her own head.
My daughter stops smiling.
” My sister’s age…” She murmurs.
” And that…”, I tell her, ” is the reality that you have to change by your work. Science and debates and life are meaningless if not for that resolution.”
She nods her head.” I will continue to teach Science to needy students,” she says. ” I will do it, irrespective of the place I join.”
This time, the sky clears in my mind.
I look out at the sunshine and smile.