Meena is watching the Hindi movie ‘3 Idiots’ on their 21″ bulky CRT TV, sitting on a chair, next to a sofa, in the 10′ x 10′ living room of their small single BHK apartment. She has been watching one movie per day, ever since her final year school holidays began. Her parents come out of the bedroom, sit on the sofa, and watch the movie along with her. She glances at them but quickly moves her eyes back to the TV.
“Parvati’s parents have bought a new LCD TV,” Meena says.
Her parents look at each other. After a couple of seconds, her father looks towards her mother and says, “Maybe we should have encouraged Meena to write the IIT entrance exam.”
Meena is silent and keeps watching the TV.
Her father continues, “No problem. It’s sufficient if Meena gets a first class, we can buy an engineering seat. I have already applied for a loan on my PF account. Which branch would you prefer, Meena? Computers or Electronics?”
Meena says, “Anything. They’re all the same anyway.”
Her father says, “We don’t want to force you into engineering. You can choose whatever course you want. You can even opt for English Literature and become a writer.”
Meena remains silent and keeps her gaze fixed on the TV.
“When are the board exam results expected, Meena?” her mother asks.
Meena looks at the calender hung on the wall in front of her. She leans forward and her eyes widen. She holds the arm of the chair and pushes her body up. Her legs shake and she stumbles while getting up.
Her father asks, “What happened? Where are you going?”
She looks at the door of the room. “I . . . I have to make a phone call to Parvati. I promised to call her today morning, but forgot,” she says, walks into the room, and closes the door behind her.
She rushes to the bed, picks up the phone handset, and dials Parvati’s number hastily. Her heart beats faster and she breathes heavily while the phone rings. After five rings, she looks all over the room, places her other hand on her face and glances nervously at the dial-pad through her fingers. After eight rings, Parvati picks up the phone.
“Hey, it’s just two days away,” Meena says.
“Yes, I know. I am so excited.” Parvati says and giggles.
“You are excited??” Meena almost shouts. She looks towards the door and lowers her voice, “OK. See, I need to meet you. Come to the park in ten minutes.”
“But I-“, Parvati protested.
“Shut up and come,” Meena raises her voice again and puts the handset back on the phone with a bang. She opens the room door and leaves the house avoiding the glance of her parents.
“Did you really apply for the PF loan? You could have waited until the result, no?” her mother asks her father once Meena is out of their sight.
“Na,” he says, switches off the TV, and picks up the newspaper. “I don’t think Meena wants us to spend our PF money on unnecessary things.”