The bus went off. Isis stood standing on the road. Now again, she would have to return home. Return to the place she dreaded the most. Their family was having one of their monthly "periods"; these were time frames within which her father would suddenly remember that the house was his, the T.V was his and that she, her sister and mother lived on his alms. Her elder sister worked, contributed far more to Isis's studies than he did but her father always forgot to remember that. The argument would commence at a slight disagreement between her mother and father. Her mother was a housewife. Oops, sorry homemaker. Not much of that feminist crap worked in the house though. As Isis's father pointed out, he was "the head of the family".

Everything should be as he wanted, he should not be disagreed with and all things should go on as he wanted them to be. Last Friday, he told her mother that he had not been given gold ornamnets in dowry. So her mother pointed out that she had not exactly been welcomed with jewels, her in-laws were poorer than her family. And that was it. The petrol had been lit. Now it spread to every family member, lighting them up and burning them secretly.

Her family was well off. But her father always behaved as if they were down in the dumps. Isis reluctantly walked home. The sky smiled, the birds sang. The grass was green. She loved this time of the evening. Today at school, she had got 16 out of 17 in Maths Test. Maths was the subject she dreaded the most. But a 16 out of 17 was pretty good. She was satisfied. But she knew Maa wouldn't be happy. Didi wouldn't be happy. They would ask her to do better. Tell her, there's nothing more important in her life than to succeed, to be the best...second best was no option....... Would she like to leave studies and get married like her mother? Would she like to struggle as her sister did because she was not the best? Would she like to suffer? No, she would not. She should study, get good marks, give competitive exams and she will surely succeed. No one was better than her. No one could be better than her. She had to be the best.

As it happened, Isis was always the second best in class. Sometimes the third best. She devoted all her energies to become the 'best'. She was an introvert, easily became detached from the rest of the group. Fellow students looked at her with a sense of amusement. They laughed behind her back, made fun of her. When Isis was small, her mother would go and talk to the kids. But who would protect her now? She was never assured that she could face the world on her own. She felt inadequate.

Bowed down with her bag, she walked up the stairs to her flat.

The End

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