My mom would always say, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door for yourself!”. Well, this is what I believed growing up.

Born in a middle-class family, all I had in the name of a family was my mother, maternal grandma, and a younger brother. However, that is not to say that my life was miserable – the love I got from my mother never made me feel incomplete in my life.

In fact, I was fortunate to study in a good English-medium school. I was among the most studious students in my class, regularly securing a top-three rank. Everything was going well, until my tenth-grade board exams beckoned. Right before the exams, our principal convened a meeting with the students and announced that the best performer in the forthcoming CBSE exams would get a 70% scholarship in grades eleven and twelve! As soon as I heard this, my mother’s face appeared before my eyes. She might have never said so, but I had always known how big a struggle it had been for her to pay my school fees.

And that was motivation enough for me. I started studying harder from the very next day. I felt confident – a confidence backed by the single-minded pursuit of my goal, staying in school beyond the school hours to consult my teachers on the doubts I had during my self-study sessions.

One day, our class topper walked up to me and warned me that I should quit trying to take his place. He said that he would not let anyone dethrone him as the class topper. I kept quiet, hoping that my performance would do all the talking for me.

And so it did. Come the pre-boards, I gave it all I had. I was quite happy with my efforts and was really looking forward to the parent-teacher meeting where the exam results were to be announced.

My mom was with me, and I felt so happy thinking how proud she would be to see my name in the first place. However, I was in for a couple of shockers. The first one was the smug look on the face of the topper, who was already there with his mom. The way he flashed a confident smile at me, pointing at the blackboard, told me all I needed to know. A look at the blackboard only confirmed the news: I had finished second to him. All my hard work had gone in vain!

Honestly, a rank had never bothered me, for I always believed in focusing on working hard instead of the results. However, it had assumed immense importance for me for the sake of my mother. I wanted to do her proud.

I kept staring blankly at the board as he walked over to me and offered the most condescending consolation I had ever received in my life, saying that I should not worry about a 1.5-mark difference.

Back home from the meeting, my mind kept thinking about how he had pulled it off. That is when my mom, who had sensed my disappointment, came to me and said, “Don’t think about what he did. Think about what you didn’t.” And yes, that was it! She could not have made it any easier for me.

With motivation coming in the most unexpected of ways, did Himani MH still held an ace up her sleeve?

I started analyzing my mistakes, putting more efforts into my preparations for the big exams. I went into the boards with a confident mindset, wasting no time thinking how he would fare.

As is often the case with time, it flew by and soon it was result time. I remember that we were in the middle of our summer break, eagerly waiting for the results since morning. The delayed declaration kept increasing both my and my mother’s anxiety. And then it happened.

Having forced myself to sleep on that hot afternoon, my nap was interrupted by my phone, which rang incessantly. It was a call from my school.

“Congratulations! You have made us proud,” was the first thing my principal said.

“What happened, sir?”

“Well, you’ve topped this year!” and then he asked me to come to the school at once with my parents. I almost fell off my bed the moment I heard this. I ran over to my mom and gave her a tight hug.

My mom responded by saying, “I always knew you’re the best, my girl!”


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