The Need to Do Well

She watched as one after another, her friends were called to go forward and meet with the teacher. Most of them went forward with smiles. They were confident they had done well. One to two had expressionless faces. Perhaps they didn’t think this was an important subject to consider needing to do well?

More than half of the class had gone forward. The last person had come back to the seat two rows from hers. Surely she would be the next one.

No, it was yet another friend. She too, came back beaming away.

And then, it was indeed her turn. She heard her name being called. Instinctively she ducked before she stood up, wondering if her legs would help her go forward and get back to her seat without drawing attention to herself by crumbling with fear.

Such insane fear. “it’s nothing,” she tried to convince herself. “Just some crummy pieces of cloth”.

But in the depths of her heart, she could not fool herself. These were much more to her. They represented the sum total of many hours of poring under dim light, of pain from the piercings of needles into soft flesh. She could almost taste the blood in her mouth again.

Heart pounding, she set her face as she approached the desk. The teacher barely looked up. Her hand reached out with the precious items.

“Here you are.” she said, without so much as a glance.

And that was it.

Over.

In seconds.

She mumbled some thanks, turned on her heels and somehow stumbled back to her chair. As she sat down, she was aware that she was clutching the proffered treasures to her chest. Relief mingled with joy. Before anyone could notice the tears welling up, she bent down to put her precious little bundle into her school bag.

For her these simple handicraft were not her own. They were her special gift to her grandmother who lay at home, unable to rise these last few days. This same grandma who sat patiently beside her, encouraging her on, cajoling her to not give up, pushing her to give her best, teasing her to maintain the standard throughout. The grandma who then fell ill a few days later.

She would take the offering of their joint labour home to show Grandma and tell Grandma that not only had she not given up, she had done well. She had done excellently. And she couldn’t have done it without Grandma. She did her best despite her handicaps. Her Grandma believed in her and she wanted to prove Grandma right. She needed to do well for Grandma’s sake.

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