Author's Note: I have intentionally avoided mentioning the location of the story. Hope, everyone who reads it connects with it.
Akash's life had vaporised, the day he wrote his biology paper. Those complex organisms he studied, had created a havoc in his life. But like every other student, he forgot his misery after the exam, until that dreaded day arrived. For him, the open day had indeed opened a Pandora's box.
A round table conference was declared by his parents and his intellectual relatives were invited to express their concern and stimulate Akash's performance in his upcoming exams.
"Is this your bloody result? You have shamed your parents. Never expected this from you!" Abhi uncle announced, while adjusting his creepy wristwatch.
"I am sorry, it will never happen again," he replied.
"You aren't a kid, Akash. You have to get serious about your exams. If you can't even score a first class in your eleventh standard, you are bound to fail next year!" said the ever poking Shipra Aunty.
Following the footsteps of Abhi uncle and Shipra Aunty, even his dead relatives called him up, from graveyard, to know his marks.
'Why in the world should an engineering student mug up the treatment for elephantiasis or the reproductive system of yeast?' he wanted to ask them. Poor boy! He ended answering all of them with a plain 'sorry'.
Post the grilling session of his relatives, it was the smashing session of neighbors. Though Ravi Uncle, his neighbor was willing to assist him.
"Akash, I can help you with Biology," said Ravi Uncle. His parents were convinced that, Ravi was the man who could be Akash's 'Agony Uncle'.
"Just tell me which chapter is bothering you?"
"Diseases! I am finding it difficult," Akash replied.
"Aah! It's a cakewalk for me. Malaria, Tuberculosis, Jaundice just tell me which one do you want?"
"Microfilaria of Wuchereria bancrofti," he replied.
A minute of pin drop silence was observed, after which Ravi Uncle scratched his bald head, put on his horn-rimmed specs and said, "Sounds interesting! Let's see, I may help you one day. Ok, I have an important meeting, I must leave. Bye." He hurriedly left for office realizing, he himself needed a teacher to teach Akash.
A year had leaped ahead. Akash had turned a new leaf. Maths and Physics had turned into his soul-mates and Biology, his new fiancé. Toiling for hours with disgusting organisms, had turned into a habit. His grades were gradually increasing, but his coaching class wasn't very excited about his improvement.
"Mr. Tyagi, things aren't looking good. Our reputation is at stake. Just look at his grades. Out of 35 tests, he has attempted only 25," Jaiswal passed the printout of Akash's yearly report and continued, "If your son doesn't score a ninety in the upcoming exams, I am sorry. We will stop his coaching."
His father was shocked. Mr. Jaiswal was about to throw out his son for being below average.
Jaiswal, the branch manager-cum-owner of Excel Classes, was indeed a dynamic figure. This sixty year old man had the courage to charge thousands of rupees for coaching and still throw out children. All the prospective engineers studying in Excel, hated him and wanted to blow up this dynamic man with a dynamite.
Prelims were about to start, as Akash was thrown out of his class. Mr. Tyagi, like any father, was worried about his son's future. Books had replaced pillows and notes had replaced blanket, as the last minute preparations were on full swing. 'Coffee', the national beverage for exams was being sipped every night. Engineering entrance exam was giving nightmares to all the parents.
"So how's your preparation going?" Mom asked him.
"Almost done. A bit of revision and let's see, some more practice papers, I guess." he replied.
His relationship with his Dad had dried up, post the Jaiswal goof-up. Dad had convicted him for wasting those hundred thousand rupees, but Akash was determined to brake his shackles.
Time went by, as the dreadful exam day arrived. Parents were visiting temples, classes were giving last minute tips while students were trying to soothe their nerves. Akash had to tolerate Abhi uncle, Shipra Aunty and many of his stupid relatives who called him up every hour to check his preparation.
Post the exam, a debacle of a performance was expected from Akash. And then it was the result day.
"How many marks have you scored?" The question was unanimously propounded, right from his house maid to his neighbor. And boy! Akash had literally slammed all his critics with a spell binding 94% score. Suddenly the situation turned upside down.
"Thanks for taking my advise, I knew my advise will never fail," Abhi uncle declared, during the second round table conference held, to celebrate Akash's success.
"Great Job, Akash. I am happy that I could help you with Biology," announced Ravi Uncle, his cheeky neighbor.
Mr. Tyagi was really upset. While his son was working for hours, none of them had even called him once. But after his success, everyone was trying to steal his share of success. 'What sort of a family is this?' he kept thinking, only to realize, even he had deserted his son during his tough times.
The next morning Mr.Tyagi picked up the newspaper to receive a shock of his life. The Excel Classes had given a front page advertisement with a photo of Akash and Mr.Jaiswal. Soon he realized, Akash had never taken a snapshot with Mr.Jaiswal. Immediately, he rushed to his son's room.
"I am really sorry Akash," he said with a broken voice.
"For what?" asked the cucumber-cool Akash.
"I had unknowingly planned to ruin your future. This moron has morphed your photo to market his class," he showed him Jaiswal's photo with Akash.
Akash smiled and looked at his father.
"How can you smile? He is misusing your talent for his own sake, just like our bloody relatives!"
"Dad, the day he threw me out of his class, I had closed his chapter. Also, I am not the only kid in this city to score a 94%. So, Jaiswal is simultaneously marketing me with his class. And why should I bother? I have worked hard and scored well. I am at peace with myself. And look at Jaiswal or our relatives. What have they done in life? They are taking my share of success because they don't have their own. So in a way, I am happy for them. At least I could share my success with those who never got their own."
Tyagi hugged his son tightly, with wet eyes, as this kid had taught his father, the essence of life.