Girish Joshi

The Magnanimous Daughter

7 min read
Oceans remain unmoved despite all the tides and waves until a tsunamis hit them.

That was the first night I couldn’t sleep, but when I woke up I saw my father staring at the newspaper and smiling. He kept on circling my roll number on the paper, for him his son was about to be a doctor. Mother was so ecstatic that she forgot to cook that day but you know what your grumpy old grandpa wasn’t grumpy that day. I gave my first premedical attempt in 1989 Hima, this was eleven years before you were born. Your grandmother still has that newspaper in her closet and in your grandpa’s wallet, you’ll still find the wriggled bill of the restaurant where we dinned that day.

Do you always wanted to become a doctor, said Hima with glistening eyes.

I want to serve. It gives me pain to see someone suffer. I want to ease the diseased. Every time father took me to temple, I would only pray to god to eradicate poverty and suffering, but growing up I have realized we all have a ration for suffering.

What stopped you Dad? What stopped you from living your dream? asked Hima.

It turned out that my roll number on the newspaper was a result of a printing mistake. We went to Delhi to inquire and complain but our pleas were unheard, just like my pleas were unheard in the temple. Exactly four years later few officials were caught running a scam of changing roll numbers, who knows if I was one of their victims. My mother and I could dissipate our agonies with tears but my father, my father had to suffer the pain in solitary. I’m telling you Hima, fathers are often misunderstood as strong and vain but in truth, they are the most emotionally venerable beings.

We were transferred from Ajmer to Jodhpur and I had joined an undergraduate course in Biology. I started preparing again. I loved solving problems. I don’t remember the exact margin but I could not make it through either the second time and nor the third time Hima, he said rather rudely.

But I want to give it another try, I cannot abort without trying, that would be a pity. Your daughter is not pitiful, is she? Hima was firm and confident, she knew she had to convince Prashant, her father, for another attempt. She knew that all the odds stacked against her but she was a fierce fighter, unfortunately, Prashant knew the scars of a lost battle makes for a disdained life. He loves his daughter much to see her suffer his fate, of which he was certain.

I will not allow you to waste crucial years of your life in pursuit of an intangible dream. Hope is a dangerous thing and seeing your performance in your first attempt I don’t have that either. I’m happy with my life serving the nation as a civil servant. I’m sure you’d also find something meaningful. I don’t want you to stop like a stagnant lake, I want you to flow like a river and never stop, until one day you meet your ocean. Even before Prashant could gasp Hima was ready with her reply.

But you are my ocean, my everything. I have nowhere to go. I dream your dreams. Your opinions inspire mine. I look up to you for all the big fights in my life and even today I’m looking to you. I want to fight once more dad. I don’t want to give up on my dreams, your dreams, said Hima tearing up.

Prashant just kept staring at his daughter, my ocean, he indeed was named after the largest ocean, where else could her daughter go if not for him. Who else could she look for support if not for him?

I want to try again father and I’m not afraid of failing again. I’ll learn to live with the scars of failure but it the scar of desertion I can’t live with. I know I cannot ease the diseased without suffering myself first. I don’t want to become a doctor to fulfil your dream. I want to become a doctor to serve. I’m ready to be a stagnant lake if you are ready to be my ocean.

Oceans remain unmoved despite all the tides and waves, so was Prashant. Emotions were rupturing but he stood unshakable like the Pacific on the globe.

Hima you don’t understand the real world. It’s very competitive out there and I don’t want you to feel miserable once you fail. Talking is easy, any fool can do it. You don’t know what it takes. The endless turmoil of labour without the certainty of success. You don’t know what it feels to be labelled a failure all your life. The boy who could never become a doctor, the boy who missed the bus on the mark. You don’t know what it takes to give up on your dreams Hima so you better listen to me and do what as I say.

Then show me what it takes? cried Hima with anger this time.

You want to know what it takes, I’ll show you today, said Prashant has he stormed out from the room towards the closet he hasn’t opened in years. He never would, for it reminded him of his raw dream. He came back with the mark sheet of his third attempt. His best attempt. His last attempt.

See. What do you see? Compare it and compensate it for your results, that’s what it takes and you still remain a failure Hima.

Hima couldn’t stop marvelling at her father, her 35.2% aggregate was peanuts in front of her father 83.7% aggregate and her 254987 rank died of shyness in front of her father’s 137 rank. Hima couldn’t stop blushing, she kept looking at the piece of paper her father called his failure. To her, it was an inspiration.

In the moment, you wouldn’t believe, her tears ran up her checks and back to her eyes. Yes her smile was that wide and bright. Prashant was perplexed but he couldn’t help but smile seeing his daughter smile.

Dad, I want you to continue the story. Tell me about your last attempt, said Hima in her most feminine voice ever.

What is there to say? I gave my best and waited to be wretched again. And here I’m a civil servant and not a doctor.

But how is that possible dad? You scored the 137th rank in the state, questioned Hima.

Dad, how many seats you think they had in medical colleges in your time?

There were four colleges in Rajasthan, so around 600 seats give and take, said Prashant unaware of his daughters intent.

That means there were 300 seats for general students, factoring in the reservation and you secured 137th rank, said Hima. She was just going crazy, unable to contain herself from unfolding the mystery.

But I never received any communication, nothing in the newspaper, nothing in the mailbox. I just kept waiting, or probably I was so certain of my fate that I gave up without even trying, said Prashant as every next word was less loud than the last while he was trying to recollect past.

You must have attended the counselling, said Hima, otherwise how would they allot you a college.

Prashant was dumbstruck. He couldn’t believe that he gave up on his dream without even trying. He couldn’t believe that he was so ignorant that he ignored to attend the counselling that was held in Jaipur in the spring of 1991. They kept calling Mr Prashant Mehta, rank 137 please visit the registration desk on the microphone but the boy never showed up. The boy had deserted despite winning the battle.

But the war was not lost, how could he lose the war when his daughter was holding the baton. A tsunami of emotions was going inside him and he knew what he would say to his daughter when the clouds break away. His daughter was not a deserter, she was a warrior.

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