It wasn’t going to be easy, she knew, but somehow, she had to confront him. She took a deep breath and entered the room. Her heart was beating at an alarming rate. Her palms were sweating. She was shaking from top to bottom.
Her facial features had always been a problem. She’d spent ten years of her life home-schooled by her father. From her fifth standard onwards, she’d gone to schools, and every year was progressively worse.
Her mother had been in the police force, which meant frequent transfers. You name a major city in India, there’s a seventy percent chance she’s spent at least a year there. Every new city meant a new school for her. Every new school meant new children, and with her face, you do not want new children.
Her face was best left undescribed. Suffice it to say that if you imagine the worst face possible, and multiplied it by ten, you wouldn’t be close to understanding how bad it was.
However, that didn’t stop her. In every city, every school, she was at the top of her class. There were bullies, and there were friends, but no impediments in her education. She was top of the country in both her tenth and her twelfth.
The newspaper never showed her picture.
Now, after four years of college, and a huge graduation party, she was in the U.S. to further her education. She’d gained admission in none other than Harvard University, in their Computer Science division. She was happy. But…
This meant new people. New people from a whole new country. She’d heard enough about racism to know that the U.S. would probably be worse than India. If someone with flawless features could be shunned because of their skin colour, she stood no chance at Harvard.
Now, she was here. At the door of her new lecture room. She hesitated before entering. Her face was to the floor. She had the hood of her sweater on. A student went past her, not noticing her at all. She stood there.
Top of a country with one and a half billion people. Twice. What did she have to fear? Why was her head down? Why was she ashamed? She stepped away from the door.
There was no reason. She didn’t have to be afraid. Twelve shools in twelve cities couldn’t keep her down. What chance did one measly University stand?
She picked up her head and walked in to see her professor. To her shock, his face was a sight to behold.
“Ah,” he said, “it seems our class has gathered. Hello there, I am Professor August Pullman.”
She smiled as she walked over to her seat. She pretended not to hear the whispers, “Are they related?”