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❝ It can take years to mold a dream

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❝ It can take years to mold a dream. It takes only a fraction of a second for it to be shattered. ❞ 

~Mary E. Pearson

***

"May I come in, ma'am?"

"May I come in, ma'am?"

"MAY I COME IN, MA'AM?", with a sudden jerk, Anika landed back on the Earth from her dream world, and by the dream world, I mean The Harvard University.

It took a few seconds for her to recover and know that it was her assistant calling her and that she was getting late for her meeting.

Anika immediately closed her laptop and hurried towards the conference room. She was late to reach there. By then, the meeting had already kicked off. She apologized to all the people sitting there for her delay and quietly took her seat. The presentation started. The head was explaining the strategies for the upcoming project and the possible ways to implement that project. She tried hard to concentrate on the presentation, but her happiness of getting admission into her dream university didn't allow her to do so. Her chain of happy thoughts broke when she heard the people around her clapping. That was the sign that the presentation was done. She too joined others and clapped in appreciation for the presentation for which she didn't even concentrate for a word.

Anika was the first one who hurried out of the office towards the bus after regular office hours. Though she knew that the bus will be leaving only when all the employees had boarded the bus, but excitement makes a person mad. And that's what happened in her case. She had a pleasant smile on her face all the way long to her house. Even one of her colleagues asked her the reason why she seemed to be so happy today, but she just lied saying that it was nothing. She wanted to share this big news of hers with her parents first.

Usual Anika would just ring the bell of her house and wait patiently for someone to open the door. But today was unusual. She rang the bell, hardly waited for 2 seconds and started banging the door with her fist. A man in almost his 50s opened the door with the expression as if he's going to kill the person who was banging his door continuously. But as soon as he saw Anika, his irritated expressions turned into a smile. She entered the house, hugged him and chirped merrily,

"I am so happy today Dad!"

She went directly to the kitchen, her dad following her, she hugged her mother very tightly and chirped again, "I am very much happy today!"

"We are also very much happy today my child!", said her father. 

Anika held a confused expression all over her face. She didn't tell them about her admission, then how did they come to know? She looked at her mother. Her mother cleared all her doubts saying, "Do you remember Mr. Rairikar, your father's friend?"

Anika thought for a second and replied, "Yes. The one who shifted to another city, that is Bangalore for his business almost 17 years back, right?"

Her mother nodded.

Anika continued, "I don't remember him actually since I was too small then. But dad always keeps telling us about him."

"Right. He called your dad today.", her mother, Sunita said.

"So?", Aanika asked, still confused about the connection between their happiness and getting a call from her father's old friend.

Her dad interrupted the conversation, "He wants you to be a part of his family. He wants you and his son, Nirav to get married."

Anika stood there shocked. She knew that one or the other day, her parents would search for a boy to get her married. And she was okay with that, but she never thought that day will come so soon.

"Nirav is a very hardworking boy. He has completed his engineering and MBA and is looking after his father's business from past few months. And he is really good at it.", her dad continued.

She finally summoned some guts and decided to speak, "Mom, dad, I also have a big news for you. You know that its been my dream since so many years that I want to pursue my masters from The Harvard University. And today I got the admission letter from them. Also, I have got a scholarship which will include all my fees."

The expressions on her parents face changed. The expressions were neither totally happy nor totally sad. They wore an expression which was mingled with different emotions like happiness, sorrow and a proud feeling for their daughter. There was an awkward silence in the kitchen for a few moments. 

Her dad finally decided to speak and he said, "We are really happy for you dear. You have worked really hard to achieve this. But Rairikar's family is really good, so is his son Nirav. What if you reject this offer now and regret lifelong? Because you know finding a good and trustworthy person nowadays is so difficult. You won't get such chance again. Plus about your career, you can still continue your job after the wedding if your in-laws are okay with it."

"But dad....."

"No dear, please. And Sunita make sure that our daughter gets ready beautifully tomorrow evening when they will visit us.", saying this her dad patted Anika's back affectionately and went to his room. Her mom went behind him. Her brother, Anish watched the entire scene quietly from a corner of the kitchen. Anika tried her best to hold her tears back and went straight to her room.

Anika took a quick shower and sat quietly on her bed thinking about her current situation. She was in a big dilemma. One side was her dream and on the other side were her loving parents who had taken so much efforts to raise her. There was a soft knock on the door of her room. She immediately opened the door and met with a pleasantly smiling face of her brother.

"Would you mind if I come in di?", asked Anish.

(NOTE: "di" or "didi" means sister, generally an elder one is called so.)

She made a way for him and closed the door again. She sat silently beside him on the bed. There was silence in the room for a few minutes before Anish decided to speak, "I can understand your current condition di. Trust me, I knew that one or the other day you will have to face the wedding proposals and this marriage stuff, but never expected it to be this soon. Its a tough decision for you. But its time for you to prioritize the things now. And deciding whether you want to give your dream a priority or the happiness of mom and dad which means getting married should solely be your decision. And always keep in mind, whatever would be your decision, I am with you. I'll always be there to help you."

Saying this, he stood up, hugged Anika, wished her good night and went out of the room. Anika sat there thinking and re-thinking over the situation again and again.

 Anika sat there thinking and re-thinking over the situation again and again

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