"Pratibhaji, she is brilliant. What can I tell you about her. I am so glad she continued in this school even though you took up St. Lawrence High"
Anuja had always been an intelligent child, after all she was the vice-principal's daughter, but Pratibhaji wanted to see how Anuja would do if she was left to study by herself, without any help from her. And Anuja had again portrayed her true capabilities.
She had been studying day and night. She felt good about it. She was sure she would ace her final BMS exams, and be a Merit ranker. Once these exams got over, she had to start studying for her IELTS. Yeah, people kept saying it was easier than the exams for American Universities. She did not want to go abroad at all. But her mom was pretty charged up about it, she had even announced to Anuja that she had all their finances arranged for her studies ahead.
Getting into the University of Bedfordshire was a convoluted process. At times she thought she got through, and had been accepted into the MBA program, at times she thought they were ready to reject her. Another person from her class had gotten through London University already. Vikram was almost set to leave too.
She was sick of all the shopping, all the aunts and uncles making a big deal out of her leaving the country. She was sick of the million envelopes she got stuffed with money. She wasn't even going to be using rupees anymore.
She checked into the airport, with 2 bags and her laptop bag. "Beta, come outside after your check-in..", her mother whispered into her ear motioning across to the 20 or so relatives who were there to bid her goodbye. She warned her mother that she would not come out after check in or whatever it was that she was waiting for.
After checking in her bags, and security, she sat on one of those blue plastic-cushion seats. She put her laptop bag on her lap, put her arms around it, and put her head down. And then Anuja cried, and cried hard. For all her dreams she was leaving behind. And for new beginnings without being herded.