‘Nobel Prize? You’re too young to have such an ambition.’ Sreedevi scolded her daughter severely, ‘Don’t be jealous! Be contented with what you’ve and what you’re. A lower primary child should not possess such an impossible dream. Go and do your homework, Gayatri!’
Gayatri was eight, studying in a reputed English medium school in Cochin. Back home after school she was in the kitchen, still grumbling. ‘O if I were beautiful! My face is no more charming than yours, mom! Or I would get it!’
Sreedevi wiped her face. ‘Ah! Who told beauty is the requirement for securing it? Are you mad?’
Gayatri gazed at her mom in utter surprise. ‘Is that also necessary for it?’
‘O what I say and what you grasp!’ Sreedevi struck her forehead.
‘Neither beauty nor madness can help, you impudent! You must be a great scientist or a poet or something like that or at least a great advocate of world peace for it.’
‘Scientist? It’s easy! Our teacher told an apple a day kept Newton a scientist.’
‘You mix up things, Gayatri. It keeps a doctor away! Even if a jackfruit falls upon your head you won’t be a thinker.’
Gayatri suddenly burst into laughter. ‘You’re true, mom!’
‘Why grinning? Are you mocking me?’
‘No. I was thinking of going to school with a jackfruit instead of head.’
Sreedevi stared at her.
‘My teacher told that even a nursery child, if beautiful, might get it. Ma’am told Gandhi and Tolstoy couldn’t because they were old and not charming. And I heard Irom Sharmila fasted and fought for human rights many years but was not even considered because she was not erotic.’
‘Erotic! O my God! Are they teaching such words to children of your age? I’ll meet the principal tomorrow.’
‘No, no! It’s not teacher but one of my friends.’
‘Are they learning such things? Then, I’ll meet her parents. I should know from where she learns it.’
‘Not she, mom; it’s Ravi Kumar, the Chief Minister’s nephew. He’s very rich, bright and good. He has some great ideas. He’s my best friend, and so he whispered it only to me. Please don’t spoil everything, mom!’
‘What naughty idea did he tell, eh?’ asked Sreedevi gravely.
‘Promise me you won’t meet him or his parents, okay? Or you won’t get it even if you beat me to death.’
Sreedevi breathed deep gazing at her daughter’s resolute face and said, ‘agreed.’
‘He said he had some very influential relatives in Sweden. When he reaches high school he would ask some terrorist whom he knows to shoot him, not on his head but both legs. He said no pain, no gain. He promised he would inform me beforehand so that I alone should help him to reach hospital and I also will have some chance to get something for peace.’
Sreedevi swooned with a loud scream.