It was a lazy Sunday morning, lazier than the usual. People who have retired from active life like me would know that Sundays had no special significance for them as it did in the case of working people. I was just weighing various options of killing the time when it struck me that I had not paid a visit to one of my very close friends for quite a while. Calling him my close friend is an understatement really for we are so close that his whole family treats me as one of them. The thought of visiting him dispelled my gloom instantly. I put on my best shirt and eased myself into my car to hasten to what I expected to be some unbounded jollity. My pressing his calling bell did not produce the kind of instant result which was his hallmark. In fact, I had to buzz it a second time before the door opened reluctantly to let me in. When I entered his house, I was surprised to observe tension written large over everyone’s face which was quite unusual. I know them as a bunch of cheerful and jolly good people laughing and joking all the time. I was even more concerned to observe his only daughter standing in the corner of the drawing room crying inconsolably. She was such a fine, spirited and vivacious girl that everyone felt drawn to her instantly. Seeing this nice little girl crying like a child broke my heart. Being the man of the world that I was, I could immediately see what it was all about. Priding myself for my uncanny ability to unravel domestic mysteries, I drew my friend aside and chided him for making such an issue of so common a thing. “A nice intelligent girl like your daughter couldn’t have made a wrong choice. Why don’t you see the boy first and talk to him before taking any further action?” I asked him adding that it might be one of those short-lived affairs that these modern girls were prone to have. “Give her time and she’ll get over it” I advised him. My friend suddenly flared up. “Boy? What boy are you talking about?” he shouted in a quivering voice if shouting in a quivering voice could ever be possible. “What nonsense are you talking about?” he yelled to make his meaning clearer. I was not at all offended by his angry outburst for I knew instantly that I had no business to interfere with a family secret so directly however close I might be. I apologized profusely for my indiscretion but persisted with my harangue on how such sensitive matters should be dealt with. Hearing my diatribe, my friend became red in the face. His wife held out an imploring hand and assured me that there was no love affair behind this family drama. “She wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing” was how the proud mother summed up her daughter’s sterling character. “No?” I asked incredulously, “then what is all this child bashing about?” My friend heaved a sigh and informed me that his daughter has secured 92% in aggregate in the plus two examinations. Had she failed or scored around 60%, he would have been very happy for she could just continue her studies through some correspondence course with an obscure university. Having scored 92%, she would expect her father to secure her a seat for some professional course which meant nightmarish days ahead for my friend. He would have to run from pillar to post through the length and breadth of the country to find a professional college that would take her in. He would have to spend all his life’s savings on this chase alone greasing all and sundry besides finding an equally hefty resource to meet the cost of her education itself. Being a middleclass man, he was rattled about the burden that all this would place on his head. When he told me that she had so badly let him down by scoring 92% for all the love and affection he showered on her, my heart bled for the poor fellow. And when he broke down finally, my eyes became misty too! PS: With the plus two exams round the corner, I have been pondering over the kind of trouble that middleclass families with bright children would have to face. Worse would be the nightmare if they belonged to a forward community! May God help those families through the crisis!