Asmi stared blankly at the wall in the principal's office, tears streaming down her face. She was shocked at what the Principal had just told her. How could she have been so blind, she wondered. It had been so glaringly obvious but she had refused to see it all along!
She had always looked for appreciation from her father. She strived hard to be the best at everything, all the time looking for a pat on the shoulder, a congratulatory note or even a kind word from him. But she had never received any. Her father was always so oblivious to her accolades but always had something nasty to say to her if she did badly at anything or made a mistake. Every time he rebuked her, her resolve to do better got stronger. She always thought he reprimanded her only so that she would do better. She believed that he was quietly proud of her. When she found out that she was the disappointing girl child who was born when her father wanted a son, it broke her heart. Asmi had cried for days before she decided she would be the son that her father never had. She had since strived to excel in sports, studies and every extra curricular activity she could take part in.
When she was enrolled into the "big" school, she was proud that her father had finally seen the potential in her. She was now certain that he was secretly proud of her but was too proud to admit it. She continued to do well. Her illusion had just broken now. The Principal had called her into his office to let her know that she had just been chosen for the "best student of the year" award. He had also told her that her mother would be so proud of her. He mentioned in passing about how hard her mother worked to make sure she could pay for her school fees. In that moment it all came to her. It started to make sense now, all the fights that her parents had before she was admitted into this school and how her mother had started to work late, soon after.
She stared at the window and could see her mother approaching, her face suddenly older than her years. In her quest to please her father, she had taken for granted all the love that she got from her mother. She had never stopped for a minute to admire or thank her silent pillar of strength and support.
"I'm sorry, ma", she said as she ran to her mother encompassing her in a hug. "I'm so sorry. In all my efforts to be the son that my father never had, I have failed to be the daughter that you deserve!"