Sunday, January 20, 2013

Chapter 5, Part 3

Note: Click here to read Chapter 5 Part 1 and Chapter 5 Part 2

“Where’s Chris?” Cheryl asked, as they settled around the table. Chris had texted to say that he wouldn't be able to pick her up and their parents would. Daniel and Angela had brought the girls to the one of the most popular and upscale restaurants in the town. She had been here before with them but never on her birthday. “He did not tell me what’s delayed him.” She had been tempted to ask but finally didn't  He would have answered her and not really liked it. Her brother was very busy, training to become a surgeon.

“He has been held up at the hospital”, Angela informed her. “But we don’t have to wait for him. He asked us to start without him.”

“Oh.” Cheryl had hoped that Chris might be able to make straight to the dinner on time even if he was unable to pick her up. She caught Joyce’s eye across the table and smiled.

“Here you go, Cher. For you.” Bertha caught her attention.

Cheryl kissed her sister, while her mother urged her to open the gift. She unwrapped the small package to find a jewelled pen set. “That’s so beautiful, Bertha. Thanks.” Her parents had already given her a new laptop, when they had come to pick Cheryl and Joyce from the hostel.

“I hope all that you write with this pen brings loads, loads and loads of fun”, Bertha said, before adding, “to your boring life.”

Cheryl scowled at Bertha as everyone else laughed.

“What do your parents do, Joyce?” Daniel asked. The main course had just arrived.

Joyce with her open and exuberant nature had won Cheryl’s parents. She recognized Bertha and Cheryl had been afraid that her friend could become star-struck. But while Joyce had almost gushed for the first minute after meeting Bertha, she had quickly become her confident self.

“Dad teaches history while Mom is a maths teacher”, Joyce replied. “They...”

“Chris is here!” Angela exclaimed with a broad smile.

Chris settled at the table between Bertha and Cheryl. “Hey, kid. Sorry, I am late. Happy Birthday.”

Cheryl waved his apology away and kissed him. “I understand. Too much work.” She did, even if she wished otherwise.

Chris flashed a charming smile and all was forgotten. Cheryl introduced her friend to her brother. She was a little puzzled to see Joyce’s effervescence dim a little after Chris’ arrival but thought not more of it as she was drawn back into the conversation flying around her.

“I can’t believe my kids are so grown-up. Chris and Bertha barely have time these days. And now Cheryl is also away”, Angela commented a little emotionally, as their plates were cleared and Daniel signalled for the check.

Bertha groaned. “Oh, Mom. Do you have to? You used to crib all the time, I was at home.” And then grinned wickedly.

Angela glared at her older daughter. “You must think, Joyce, what ill-mannered children have I raised.”

Joyce laughed. “Not at all, Mrs. Woods. Cheryl is perhaps the only good  girl I know. You must be so proud of her.”

“Yeah, yeah. We are”, Angela replied. There was warmth in her voice but Cheryl could almost taste the undercurrent of resigned disappointment. Maybe her mother was herself not aware of it. She looked at Joyce and saw that her friend’s smile had also noticed what her mother had not said.

“it was truly a pleasure meeting you all”, Joyce’s voice encompassed all the Woods, though it lingered  - a little less warmly, perhaps? – on Chris. “I was going to say, privilege but then I realized how functional and formal it sounded.”

“It was pleasure all round, Joyce. I am so glad that Cher has you to watch her back.” Daniel’s eyes alighted on her with affection.

Chris offered to drop Cheryl and Joyce back at the campus. It was his way of trying to make up for turning up late, he said.

“As if.” Cheryl heard Joyce mutter as she settled in the back seat. Cheryl turned to look at her but her friend’s face was her usual smiling self.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Chapter 5 - Part 2

On her birthday, Cheryl decided to treat herself to a day off. Bunking classes was an indulgence that she could scarce afford with exams looming on horizon. But what the heck. She was turning nineteen. The last of teenaged years. She smiled as she lazed in the bed and watched Joyce scurrying about the room.

“Why are you bunking classes again?” Joyce asked for the umpteenth time. She narrowed her eyes. “You never do. Are you sure you are okay?” she stopped at the door.

“Go, Joyce. I am fine. I never ask so many questions when you bunk.”

“All the more reason...”

“Out with you!” Cheryl threw a pillow at her friend, as she laughingly shut the door behind her.

She stretched and got out of the bed. Grinning to herself, humming under her breath, she pondered her options. She knew that Joyce will be back the moment she checked her facebook account.

Joyce. Over only a few months, she had managed to draw Cheryl out of her shell. She was exuberant, full of life and loyal. She dragged Cheryl on double dates and then watched over her like a mother hen. Ensured that weekends were not spent drowned in books and in tattered pajamas. She was the reason why Cheryl had begun to enjoy college so much more. Hard to believe that six months ago, they did not know each other.

Her phone rang.

“Hey sweetie.” Angela’s voice rang with smiles.

“Hi, mom.”

“Happy birthday, Cher. What are you doing? What plans? Hot date?”

“Thanks, mom. And no, mom.” Cheryl rolled her eyes.

“Let me speak to her.” The phone on the end changed hands and Daniel came on line. “Hello, darling. Happy birthday and let me tell you that you do have a date tonight. With us. You are meeting us for dinner.”

“Dad, I’d love to...”

“I do not want to hear any excuses, Cher. Unless you have other party plans. In that case, we would be happy to take you out later in the week.”

“I am not making any excuses! No, I do not have any other plans. And I would love to have dinner with you guys.”

“Great. Chris will pick you up at 7. Bye”

“That’s not....” She never finished her sentence, as her father disconnected. She shook her head and felt happy. Loved.

Joyce banged the door open. “Today’s your birthday!” she accused. And then grinned. “Where’s the party?”

“You haven’t wished me yet.” Cheryl pointed out dryly.

“Happy birthday. There. Happy? Now where’s the party? I know. We can go out in the evening. And I can....”

“Whoa. Slow down, Joy. My family’s treating me to dinner. And you are welcome to join.” Cheryl surprised herself with the last part. She had not thought about it. But it felt right. Nice. She had a friend and she had a family. And for once she wanted the two to meet.

“You sure?” Joyce hesitated, unsure. So far, Cheryl had avoided most conversations about her family. But it wasn’t difficult to find out who exactly was her family. They were practically the local royalty. The town’s biggest claim to fame.

Joyce might not fully understand her friend’s reluctance to talk about her parents and siblings – after all, she was clearly loved – but she respected it. So, she asked again. “Are you absolutely sure. I do not want to gatecrash your fun. We could go out over the weekend. My treat. Or, I have a better idea. We could double date.”

“Joyce.” Cheryl was amused. “I am absolutely sure. We will do the double date later.”

Joyce’s eyes were incredulous. “You are kidding, right? About the double date? You would, seriously? I don’t think I have ever seen you on a date.”

“There’s a first time for everything, my darling’.” Cheryl winked. “Now don’t you have a class to run to?”

“Oh, shit. I am so late. Bye.”

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Chapter 5 - Part 1

Whispers woke her up. Cheryl frowned and poked her head out of the covers, with eyes still closed. She groped for her cell phone. It should have been somewhere under her pillow...ah, here it was. 9:30 AM. She tried to ignore the whispers and burrowed back under the covers. She did not have her first class for the day till 12. She could sleep for at least another hour.

But the voices persisted. Damn.

“Joy.” She tried to keep the grumpiness out of her own voice, as she got into a half-sitting position and yawned.

“Sorry, Cher,” Joyce apologized. “I had forgotten that you were sleeping in today and we were already here, so..”

It was then that Cheryl noticed the guy. Lanky, on the taller side. Dark hair. She could not make out the eyes at this distance but he smiled apologetically at her.

“Hey”, he said.

“Hey.” Cheryl was polite.

“Cher, meet Ashton. He is my project guide. Ash, this is my room-mate, Cheryl”, Joyce introduced. “And we will soon be on our way. Bye, Cher. See ya in the evening.”

Project guide, Cheryl wondered. He looked too young. More like a student. She shrugged. “How does it matter, anyway?” she wondered aloud and contemplated her options. She could try and catch a nap before getting up or she could get up.

In the end, she decided to sleep a little more.

The day turned out to be more hectic than she had thought. She missed lunch. So, she grabbed a quick sandwich on the go from the cafeteria and settled down for ten minutes of break in the university garden. She just sat there, trying hard to empty her minds of all thoughts.

She had almost succeeded, when she had company.


She looked up to find the guy from the morning. Ashton. “Hi.”

“We met in the morning. When I woke you up.” He smiled disarmingly.

“No worries.” Cheryl smiled back. She resumed eating, feeling awkward and conscious. Apparently, he had no such issues. He plopped next to her, very comfortable and carefree.

“So? How are you liking here?”

“Joyce tells me that you are studying Literature. Do you want to teach?”



Cheryl got up, gathered her books. “Look, I am sorry but I gotta go. See ya around. Bye.”

Ashton watched her go, unfazed by the monosyllables. And grinned.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Chapter 4

“Are you sure, you don’t want to come? Think again. I can wait”, Joyce asked for the umpteenth time when she was finally ready to leave for the party. She looked lovely in a peach-coloured short dress that left her shoulders bare. Her blonde hair was down and wore stilettos that could double as a weapon in Cheryl’s opinion..

 “Yes, Joy”, Cheryl said firmly. “You go ahead and have fun. I will wait up to hear all the details.”

 “Okay”, Joyce sighed and left. Cheryl stared at the door Joyce had shut behind her. Finally, she got up from her bed and went over to the window. From there she could see the bright lights of the university hall, where the party was being held. Her ears even caught the strains of some fast music number that was being played there. Apart from those hall lights, the campus was pretty dark.

 Cheryl shifted her gaze towards the sky. A full moon shone brightly. And the stars were out. The university was located some distance from the city. So, the sky here was clearer, leaving all the mysteries of the night bare for the interested. Cheryl tried to figure out the different constellations and when she got tired, she just stood there drinking in the fresh summer air.

But suddenly, she felt hemmed in. Loneliness hit her. She had not expected to feel homesick but she was. She wanted to speak to her dad, hear him make oft humorous observations about his day at work, life, anything. And her mother. One moment a diva and a lady and other a woman so in love with her family. She wanted to curl up on the sofa in the family living room and watch a favourite movie. That is all she wanted. Why did she have to do anything more?

She started to tear up but quickly blinked them away. Self-pity would not help. She needed to just call home feel better. She booted her computer and tried to video-call her parents. Neither of them were online. Bertha was. She called her sister.

Bertha’s beautiful face filled her screen an instant later. “Hey, kid. How are you?”

“I am – okay. How are you?”

“Too wired to sleep, though I should. I have got an early morning shoot.” Bertha grimaced for a moment before excitement danced all over her face. “I have got a secret. And I am dying to tell someone.” She giggled in a manner that reminded Cheryl of their childhood.

Photo Courtesy: Google Search
Cheryl smiled. Her sister was so full of - joie de vivre. Yes, that was the right phrase. “And  I am dying to know. Tell me. Tell me.”

“I think I might be in love!” Bertha shouted, throwing her arms in the air in exultation.

“Oh. Wow.” Cheryl had seen Bertha in love before. Quite a number of times. And the amazing thing was that she really believed that she was in love – the real deal – every single time, even when she was ten. It lasted intensely until the vacation got over, or the next assignment came along. The guys she fell in love with never felt slighted when she moved on, as if they also knew that  Bertha was a river, who could never be content till she reached the sea. They just enjoyed the vivacity of her presence and moved on themselves. Cheryl hoped that someday her sister would truly be in love and be loved in return. That day, there would no longer be a moving on. There would be no need to.

“I know. It is so great”, Bertha gushed. “He is so great.”

“Who is he? Would I know him?”

“Ramses Ali. He is...”

“One of the leading fashion photographers in the country. And maybe...maybe, a little old for you, don’t you think?” Truth be told, Ali wasn’t that old. In his late thirties, he was considered part of his field’s youth brigade. But Bertha had barely left her teens behind.

Don’t be such a bore, Cher”, Bertha admonished. “He is gorgeous. Not like a model but there’s something about him. He is so sharp and knowledgeable. I can talk to him about anything – from politics to movies. And that is sexy, right?”

Here lies the heart, Cheryl thought. Her sister may have chosen a career that focussed more on how one looked rather than thought, she often felt starved for conversation that did not just revolve around fashion. Of course, contrary to the crass popular opinion, the fashion world wasn’t populated by good-looking people who barely could hold two thoughts in their heads.

“Yeah, it is. It is. Tell me more.”

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Chapter 3

Next morning, Cheryl woke up a little disoriented, before she remembered that she was not home. She opened her eyes to find Joyce stuffing books into a satchel that was already weighed down by her laptop.

“Hey.” Joyce turned around at Cheryl’s voice. “What time is it?”

“7 o’ clock.”

Cheryl fell quiet for a moment while Joyce resumed trying to turn her satchel into a bottomless well. Her instincts told her that Joyce had looked her up on the net last night. So, how should she act now? Make a big deal? Let it go? There had been instances in the when people looked upon her with new eyes once they got to know about her family. A mix of expressions – wonder, jealousy, pity. But above all, curiosity. And that she hated most.

She was still undecided about the situation here, when Joyce opened the door and left.

Relieved that she would not have to face that dilemma now, Cheryl began her morning ritual of convincing her body that it was time to get out of the bed. For some reason, her alarm had not rung today and she was already late. Her first class was at 8:30 and she had to get her butt moving.

She was yawning and rummaging her cupboard, trying to decide what to wear, when she heard a knock on the door. Joyce poked her head in. “Would you like to come for breakfast?” her smile was sunny and disarming.

“Yeah.” Cheryl smiled back slowly. She would have a little faith. For now, at least. “Yeah. I will be ready in ten minutes.”

“Cool. I will wait.”


“’A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me
That with music loud and long
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Thus ends the unfinished Kubla Khan by Coleridge”, Professor Schulman said.

Cheryl was attending her first lecture in the university. She had deliberately chosen a seat in the corner, to do her own day-dreaming.

She was in Xanadu, the capital of Kubla Khan and was the Abyssinian maid. She could almost hear and touch the strains of music that her dulcimer created. Her mind envisaged the beautiful and magnificent pleasure dome of Kubla Khan on the banks of sacred river Alph that ran through caverns, measureless to man, down to sunless sea.

“Coleridge, it is said, composed this entire poem in an opium induced dream.” Schulman’s crisp voice made Cheryl snap to attention. “In those days, Coleridge was not very well. He is said to have developed a dependency – shall we say – on opium. He was reading an account of Kubla Khan’s palace, when he fell asleep under the effect of the drug. He dreamt of Kubla Khan’s pleasure dome, which was a magnificent piece of architecture. When he woke up he almost conjured two hundred lines of the poem without any effort. He immediately began to write but was called away for an urgent work midway. When he came back, he could not recall the rest of the poem and it remains incomplete to this day.”  He paused for a breath and then continued, “It is remarkable that if this incomplete piece of poetry is full of such splendour then the whole poem in itself would have been a timeless and matchless classic. That speaks volumes about genius of Coleridge. He had this amazing ability of making the supernatural elements fit into natural surroundings as if they were never apart. He talks of impossible things, paints a picture that is full of suggestions that are not ordinary or natural. Still we never doubt him. We believe every word that he says. He naturalises the supernatural and so smooth is the transition that we are not even aware of it.” The bell rang just as he was winding down and the class ended.

Cheryl still sat in the class for a moment or two, recalling her dream of completing Coleridge’s unfinished poem. Wishful thinking, she thought and smiled to herself.

She collected her books and was trying to find her way through the labyrinthine aisles of the university building, when she was hailed.

“Cheryl!” it was Joyce.  “Hi! How was your first lecture?”

“Rather nice. Not boring.” The two girls fell in step. “How was yours?”

 “Not nice. And rather boring”, Joyce grumbled. Then she brightened. “You know, there’s a party tonight. For us. There’s a big flyer. Come on, I’ll show you.” Joyce caught Cheryl’s hand and started leading her. She stopped in her tracks when Cheryl held her ground.

 “Joyce”, Cheryl said. “I’m not really interested. I’d rather stay in the room.”

 “You are joking, aren’t you? You can’t possibly be serious!”
“I’m serious.”. One look on Cheryl’s face and Joyce knew that she was truly not interested.

“I will see you at lunch?” Cheryl asked. When Joyce nodded, she smiled and walked away.

Joyce shrugged. Nerd, she thought amiably and then started thinking of what she would wear to the party. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Chapter 2

Cheryl took a deep breath, closed her eyes for a moment and knocked on the door.

A blue-eyed, petite blonde opened the door. “May I help you?”

“Hi. I am Cheryl Woods”, Cheryl replied. “You must be Joyce. We are to be roommates”

 “Oh yes. Come in”, the other girl smiled. “Hi. Call me Joy.”

Joyce stepped aside to let Cheryl in. She looked around to familiarize herself with a place that was going to be her home for sometime. It was a little room with two single-beds. They were covered with white bed-sheets that looked clean and came with a pillow and a blanket each.

The windows allowed plenty of sun and air in. They looked out to the lush green campus of the university. The walls must have been a sunny yellow once upon a time but now were faded to a dull, indiscriminate colour. But the paint was not peeling and in place above the beds, the original colour showed where the former residents must have put up some posters.

 “Home”, Cheryl murmured.

 “No”, Joyce said, hearing the murmur. “Home is where the heart is, isn’t it? My heart is with my Mom and Dad.”

They settled the issue of beds amicably with a coin toss. The luck of the draw was in Cheryl’s favour. She picked the bed under the window and Joyce settled for the one by the door. The bathroom was a non-issue with Joyce being an early-riser and Cheryl preferring to lounge in bed as late as possible.

 “I am here to study Literature”, Cheryl told Joyce as they unpacked. On receiving no reply, she turned to find Joyce standing over her bed, looking baffled. Neat stacks of clothes covered her bed, while she gazed into the cupboard lining her side of the wall.

“Problem?” Cheryl asked. In reply, Joyce moved aside and just waved first towards the clothes on the bed and then the cupboard. Understanding dawned. “You have more clothes than cupboard size”, Cheryl smiled. “Look, I can lend you the left-over space in my cupboard after I have stowed away my stuff.”

“Thanks. But I don’t think that that would be enough.” Joyce looked dubious. “Anyway, I guess that will have to make do and I will have to lice partially out of the suitcase.”

All the unpacking, adjusting and running around to figure out the hostel amenities and rules tired the two girls out quickly. They ate an early dinner in the mess and settled into their room for the night, chatting quietly.

“So, what do your parents do? Got any siblings? Feel free to tick me off, if you think I am prying. My mom says that I don’t usually know when to stop.” Joyce grinned unabashedly. Having given Cheryl an unsolicited account of her family, she had moved on to knowing more about her new roommate.

Cheryl wondered how much should she say. On one hand, she had moved here to avoid the fame of her family but on the other, it was no state secret either. “My father’s a surgeon. My mom used to be a model. Now, she has retired from the arc-lights.”

“How cool! Is she anybody I could know? She must have been from before our time – no offense meant – but, still...”

“Angela Woods. Her maiden name was Cromwell.” Cheryl tried to keep her voice nonchalant and hoped that it would not strike a chord.

“Sounds familiar but I can’t quite place it.” Joyce scrunched her face in an attempt at recall some information but gave up after a few second. “Yet, it must be so awesome. Your mom being famous and glamorous and all. Does she...” Joyce’s question trailed off when she saw the expression on Cheryl’s face. Not quite anger. Neither sadness. Just something not happy.

“Yeah, it is. I am tired and wouldn’t mind turning in. Good night.” Cheryl smiled and got into her bed, switching off the bedside lamp.

Joyce knew a brush-off, when she got one. Curiouser and curiouser, she thought. She switched on her laptop and connected to the net. She quickly googled Angela Cromwell and the results were impressive, to say the least. But why was Cheryl so cut-up about it? Now that was something that Joyce did not understand. She would have been so proud of her family.

She whistled softly and glanced towards Cheryl. The other girl was almost completely still under the covers. Joyce felt almost certain that she was awake.

Why? Joyce mused again when it suddenly struck her. All the sites and articles spoke about the parents and the siblings – their achievements, their glory. Cheryl was just the daughter or the sister of the beautiful, the famous and the prodigies.

Joyce glanced one last time at Cheryl before shutting down her computer and turning in herself.

The Ordinary Offspring - Prologue & Chapter 1

Here's the beginning of something I attempted to write in college. Am trying to revise and edit it and you, my dear readers, should you choose to be, are going to be my beta audience. Please feel free to share all your thoughts on "The Ordinary Offspring"


The marriage of a reigning beauty queen is generally of some interest in the media. So, it was natural that when Angela Cromwell, Miss Universe, decided to get married immediately after fulfilling her year long contractual obligations, it created quite a stir. The stir turned into a media frenzy when the name of the groom was discovered - Daniel Woods.

A child prodigy, Daniel had performed his first surgery two months shy of his sixteenth birthday. His feats evinced even greater interest when some reporter discovered that his parents never went to college. He was the kind of son who made his parents not just proud but also famous. That he was good looking and photogenic made his courtship to Angela look more and more like a fairytale.

The marriage ceremony managed to remain private despite some very innovative paparazzi.

Angela continued modelling for several years, taking breaks to give birth to her three children. When it became clear that her film career was not likely to ever really take off, she gracefully withdrew from the world of glamour and settled in the small town of Paraliena with Daniel and their children.

The three Woods’ children were born at a gap of almost one year each.

Chris, the oldest, turned out to be the replica of his father and the more he grew, the more striking the resemblance became. He had the same shade of brown hair and a pair of deep brown eyes, same as his father’s. He too turned out to be a child prodigy and by the time he was sixteen, he was working alongside his brilliant father. He had a very good idea of how extraordinary his own achievements were. Impatient with those not equally gifted, Chris quickly earned a reputation of being arrogant and insensitive.

Bertha, the middle child, inherited her mother’s beauty and her father’s prodigious talent – the proverbial ‘beauty with brains’. Her gorgeous blue eyes sparkled with wit and humour, Bertha was an ardent believer in the philosophy of Carpe Diem. Life was an endless party to her. Not irresponsible but not responsible either, Bertha lived only for today and couldn’t care less for what was to come.

Cheryl, the youngest, always saw herself as standing a little apart from the lovely tableau that her parents and siblings presented. Sometimes, she wondered if this was her real family. Not because she was not loved. Not because she saw herself as the ill-treated Cinderella. Simply because she was so different from them. And they were as aware of it as she herself. She was pretty, not glamorously beautiful. She was intelligent but not a student extraordinaire. She was special in a way that everyone is – just not like her family. She was different from them because she was like everyone else. She was ordinary.

By the time Cheryl turned eighteen, Chris had been a practising surgeon for more than three years and nineteen year old Bertha Woods was already a supermodel. Cheryl’s siblings always had the spotlight trained on them. She never tried to attract attention herself for the fear of being found lacking, but she became an object of interest by default. Her being a Woods was enough. And she hated being dissected in public, being an object of curiosity. Nobody ever said it outright yet it was always implied whenever her siblings were discussed in media. When would Cheryl Woods shows signs of genius or turn into a great beauty or may be both? After all she did have superior genes – the best, some claimed. How could she remain ordinary all her life?

Cheryl grew to despise the intense scrutiny that surrounded her family and the limelight that spilled over to her. She only waited to escape.

Chapter 1

Cheryl was happy – no, not happy – but relieved. The papers were still there. She could feel their outline through the thin material of her handbag. She smiled and walked into her parents’ kitchen. Her parents were having coffee at the kitchen table.

She stopped for a moment and watched her parents. Her mother was relaying the latest wardrobe malfunction that had happened in one of Bertha’s shows. “I keep telling Bertha that modelling should be classy. Clothes slipping off on the catwalk, when they should be on, is definitely not classy. Not even hot. I am just glad it has not happened with Bertha. Yet.”

Daniel listened with a smile. Interested but amused, Cheryl was sure. She walked up to them.

“Hey, Mom. Hi Dad.”

“Hi sweetheart”. Daniel pulled her down for a kiss.

“Where have you been the whole day?” Angela asked.

Cheryl slid into a chair next to her father. “At the university. They have accepted my application.” She smiled. And waited.

“Congratulations, darling. I am happy for you” Angela hugged her daughter.

“Me too”, Daniel said smilingly. “The lab at the university is one of the best in this part of the world.”

Here goes, Cheryl thought. “I am sure. I would not be seeing too much of it, though. Actually not at all.”

“Of course you would”, Daniel assured her, though he was faintly puzzled. “All students with science subjects do.”

“True. But I do not have any science subjects.” Cheryl closed her eyes for a moment before continuing. “I am taking up English Literature as my major with History and Philosophy as my minors.”

“Did we”, Angela responded, “not decide that you would pursue Science with the option of choosing a branch of your interest for specialization later? That is what…”

“That’s right, Mom. That’s what you decided. Not me. I do not want to study Science. I like reading. And I would like to write someday. Be published.” She turned to her father. Desperately hoping that he would understand. That the fleeting expression of disappointment she had seen only a moment ago in his now inscrutable eyes, was not real.

Daniel put a hand over Angela’s. “When do your classes start?” he asked.

“In September. Dad, Mom, I know that you…”

Daniel raised his hand to interrupt. “You do not have to explain yourself, Cher. We only want you to be happy. So, if this is what you choose, then this is what we want for you.” He got up, smiled, kissed her and walked towards the living room.

“There’s one more thing,” Cheryl said. Daniel stopped in his tracks and turned to look at her. “I will be moving to the university hostel.” She rushed on. “I know since it is only an hour’s drive away, you wanted me to stay here with you. But it would suit my schedule to stay there. And it’s time I moved out anyway.”

“Cher. It’s okay. Relax. You are welcome here if you change your mind. Anytime.” Angela opened her arms and hugged her daughter.

Cheryl saw her father slip out of the room. She burrowed her face in her mother’s arms.