Jaya looked at Parineeta in disgust. She could feel the waves of anger building up in her as she saw Parineeta`s defiant face and her mutinous scowl. In fact, as far as Jaya could remember, this was the normal facial expression that this fourteen year old girl wore most of the time. Jaya recalled the time when this young girl was brought into her English class. All her students had stopped and stared at this pretty, young thing as she had sauntered to her place in the class. Her bearing bore class and her clothes and looks had the assurance of a rich family.
Jaya had considered her intelligent and smart, a fact soon to be dispelled as Parineeta settled down at the school. Her behaviour was appalling and so was her attitude. She was unresponsive in class and she used to sit with a listless and tired expression on her face. Sometimes, Jaya would also find her sleeping in the classroom. She was a loner and all the attempts made by other students in her class was thwarted by her.
Jaya just couldn`t understand this young girl`s behaviour. She was fast losing patience with this young girl and her antics. Jaya loved all her students but Parineeta..... There was such a brash arrogance in her that everyone was put off and she was left to herself. And now this....Such appalling marks. Jaya prided herself on the fact that none of her students failed in her subject. She had always been proud of her reputation as a good teacher but now....here was this chit of a student who was threatening to blow up her reputation as a teacher.
All her temper and impatience boiled up on the surface and before she could prevent it, her anger found expression in harsh words on Parineeta`s behaviour. As she raved and ranted, she could hear the sniggers and the laughter of the other students who were thrilled with her scolding of this arrogant girl. Jaya finished her tirade with an order to Parineeta to bring her parents over.
As she said that, she watched the expression change in Parineeta`s face to one of fear and sadness. Before Jaya could understand the meaning of this peculiar expression, Parineeta ran out of the room to the accompaniment of laughter and giggles of her fellow students. Try as she could, Jaya couldn`t forget that look of fear on Parineeta`s face. She knew she wouldn`t be able to stay in peace till she found the answer to the expression. But how?
Jaya decided to follow Parineeta back to her home. As Parineeta left the shool that day, Jaya followed. To her surprise, there was no car to take Parineeta home. The girl was walking. Her body language had changed from a brash, arrogant girl to a tired, listless and lonely girl. It was as if there was a persona change in her. Jaya got more curious.
After fifteen minutes of walking, Parineeta reached a shop. Jaya saw her go inside and to her shock, she saw Parineeta standing at the counter, waiting to serve. The tiredness and the exhaustion reflected on her face was shocking. Jaya was horrified. She felt compassion over taking her as she saw a small lonely girl eking out a living to support her studies. Now, she understood the listlessness and arrogance of this young girl. The arrogance was just a cover to hide her vulnerability and social status.
Just as Jaya turned to go away, she saw an old man approaching her. As soon as he saw her, he smiled and said " I know who you are. Parineeta has talked a lot about you. She admires you greatly. I am her employer. She is a very brave girl. Her parents, who were very rich, were killed in a car crash. Her relatives swindled her out of money and threw her out. She has been looking after herself ever since. She wants to continue her education. She wants to make something of her life but she is afraid to trust people."
As he was talking to her, Jaya saw Parineeta talking to a small boy in a wheelchair. She saw a smile light up for the first time on Parineeta`s tiny face as she took hold of the boy`s hand. The old man looked at Jaya and said, "That`s her brother. He was crippled in the car accident with his parents. Parineeta has sworn to look after him and make him okay. She is not willing to let anyone take him away from her."
As Jaya looked at the two young children in front of her, she felt a wave of compassion and respect for that brave and gritty girl. She was determined to help this proud girl in any way she could, because she deserved the very best life could offer her.