The wife told me we had to visit the neighbors this morning. She said we should take a box of sweets along with us. “Whatever for?” I asked, “are they moving out?”
“Their daughter passed her SSC. It is a big occasion for them. Wear your suit!”
“Suit?” I asked, “is she getting married?”
“This is bigger than a marriage.” growled the wife. “She has passed school!”.
I wore my suit and watched my wife drape herself in a silk sari. “Don’t you think we are overdressed?” I asked a little self-consciously.
“She has passed her HSC,” said my wife quietly. “Let us go.”
“Why aren’t they playing any music or having a band outside their house?” I whispered to the wife as we stood outside the neighbour’s house.”
“Everybody does not have to celebrate like you,” said the wife sarcastically. “Some people know how to do it quietly and humbly!”
“I wish we had been humble in our dressing too!” I said ringing the doorbell and then stepping into a room with scores of people, all dressed in black.
“This is the wrong house, somebody has died over here,” I whispered to the wife as I stepped into the mournful room. There were people all over, some were weeping, some were crying softly to themselves and others were holding each other and comforting one another.
“Hide the sweets” I whispered. “What will they think, if they saw us bringing sweets at a moment of such sorrow! Find out who died!”
The wife talked to a few women who were mourning and then started crying herself.
“Who is it?” I asked, “who is dead?”
“It is worse than death,” cried the wife.
“What could be worse than death?” I asked desperately.
“Her future,” mourned the wife suddenly bursting into loud sobs and starting off a chain reaction from the other women present.
“What has happened to her future? “ I asked flabbergasted.
“It’s spoilt,” wept the wife.
“But I thought she passed her HSC,” I said confused.
“She did,” said my wife.
“So what’s the problem?” I asked.
“Her marks,” said the wife, “no college will give her admission.
“How much did she score?” I asked, looking round for the father to give him my condolences.
“Ninety nine percent!” sobbed the wife, shaking her head in grief, “and the cut off percentage in all the colleges is hundred. Her future is ruined!”
I put my arms around the father of the girl as I found him, beating his chest in a corner of the room, and tried to comfort him in his moment of anguish.
The wailing in the room grew louder and louder..!
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