by Anantinee Mishra
Tessa Mellark closed off her Jane Eyre’s copy with a defeated sigh. She had been trying to read the damned thing since the previous hour but her concentration seemed to have gone to the woods. She stretched her legs and yawned wildly, pushing her overloaded-with-thoughts head back to the pillows. She was in her room, in the apartment she shared with her parents and younger brother Jeremy in Los Angles.
She was seventeen and had never felt so conflicted in her life. She was to start applying in colleges, and ever since she had learned the spelling of the word, her mind was set on Harvard, all the way along with Massachusetts. That was like on the opposite coast of America. Everything was set in her mind regarding it. She would be majoring in Psychology there, and after finishing she would take up a job in a research center before she saved enough to open her own practice. And after she had done that, she would find a nice guy, marry, have two kids-one boys, one girl-and have her happily ever after.
Only if life was so straightforward and simple, huh?
But as she had grown older, and saner, she realized that it wasn’t that simple at all. She was a girl who was born and bred in Los Angeles. And Harvard, Massachusetts was…far. Like really, really far. And she had never, ever been more than three days apart from Mom and Dad and even that irritating little bro Jer. And that too had been when she was eight and had gone to great auntie Sara and screamed and cried until her father came to get her. Go on; call her an attention-seeking brat, but that was just the way she was. Maybe a brat, maybe not.
It was crazy, to be honest. A girl who couldn’t stay more than three days apart from her family had dreams to go across the country. A girl who couldn’t sleep anywhere else except her comfy and bouncy mattress and absolutely abhorred snores had dreams which would require her to sleep in an unknown room with a roommate who could very likely snore like anything.
Tessa didn’t even bother repressing a shudder (she was alone anyway, what was the point?) Just thinking about that made her want to go out and drown six shots of Tequila.
There was University of California Los Angles always, her mother had said kindly one fine morning when she had expressed her doubts. She heaved a sigh at that. UCLA was good, but Harvard? Harvard was the best. Like the best of the best. You puff out your chest and hold your head high and have an arrogant, superior spring in your step and they know. They know that you have studied in Harvard. That you must have excelled. That you were part of one of the prestigious universities in the world.
But, god help her, she was so scared. So, so scared. She had the will to fly, the right weight, and bones for flying but she didn’t think she had the wings. She had the ambition, the will to go to Harvard, the grades and knowledge required for a major but the courage? The courage to pick up the damn laptop and apply for Harvard, the courage to, if the acceptance letter came, pick up her suitcase and go and graduate and say proudly that she had the guts to let go. Let go of her fear, insecurities, and Los Angles.
But she didn’t. That was the whole point of the story. She didn’t have the guts or courage to do that. This was no dramatic film when an emotional dialogue would provide a sudden ray of sun or inspiration. This was real life. That wouldn’t happen here; she had to choose on her own. She had to decide on her own.
She didn’t want to make a choice that she would end up regretting for the rest of her life. And she knew that if she didn’t apply for Harvard, she would regret it. Like hell. She would know that she had the opportunity at hand; the kind of opportunity students would kill and offer the heart for. And just because she was such a scaredy-cat, just because she refused to man up, she had let that once-in-a-lifetime chance go.
There, she was at the crossroads again. Her dream, or her fears. Her ambition, or her apathy. Harvard, or UCLA.
Tessa smiled as she punched her pillows to a more comfortable position. She had convinced her mind, for today. She leaned over and plucked her Jane Eyre’s copy and propped to Chapter Seven.
She had made her choice for tonight, tomorrow would be another question.
One she didn’t have to worry about today.
And that was enough.
About the Author:
Anantinee ‘JHUMPA’ Mishra is a prodigy author, poet and TED speaker. She is twelve years old studying in std.8th at Apeejay School, Saket, New Delhi. She has published two books and many stories and articles in magazines and journals. At the age of ten, she published a 21,000 worded anthology of stories called ‘Treasure of Short Stories’. Last year her debut Novel ‘Manhattan to Munnar’ got released. Recently she has been conferred with a title ‘PRODIGY AUTHOR’ and an ‘HONORARY DIPLOMA’ by the Hon’ble Vice President of India Sh. M Venkaiah Naidu.