Mahima was your typical teenager. You know, the giggly, non-stop chattering one that you meet everywhere nowadays. She lived with her parents in a small 3 room house on the outskirts of Nithali. Nithali was your typical bustling town with its markets and trade, small time theater and smaller playgrounds. Mahima’s father worked as a supervisor in the chemical factory and her mother was the typist in an accounting firm.

Mahima studied in Class 8 in the only private school. Her parents had discussed and decided that the only inheritance that they could pass on to her was education and they would scrimp and scrounge to ensure that Mahima got the best of education. Although they took pains to ensure that they didn’t let Mahima see their struggle, she was aware of their sacrifice. The only way to repay that she knew was to ensure that she did very well at school. She was always among the top 5 in her class and made her parents extremely proud.

It was during the middle of the school year that a new girl joined her class. Her name was Stuti. Stuti was an extremely shy girl and would speak only when spoken to. All the students misunderstood her and labelled her as a snob. The teachers knew that Stuti had a lot to catch up on since she joined so late and they asked Mahima to help her out. At first, Mahima was resentful that she had to spend the free periods and snack time, explaining lessons to Stuti. However, as she got to know Stuti, she realized that she had found her best friend and could not thank her teachers enough for having forced Stuti on her. She couldn’t have been happier.

Unfortunately, life suddenly decided to change the smooth road into a gigantic cliff. The chemical factory was locked down due to environmental issues. Mahima’s father was jobless and after 20 years with the same firm, had no idea on what to do next. They were subsisting entirely on her mother’s earnings. It looked as if Mahima would need to stop her education if the situation continued.

The final exams were around the corner. This was the time when Mahima needed to focus her entire attention on her studies but with the turmoil at home, it was proving difficult. Stuti was her rock during this time they revised and attended mock tests together. There was an essay on “Why education is important to me” and Mahima poured her heart out in the response. Stuti sent this response to the Edumust NGO who were conducting an essay competition. The exams were over and the long summer holidays began. Mahima was exploring ideas on what she would do when the next school year started and she would not be able to go to school.

She was surprised to get an official letter from Edumust. She didn’t remember having given her address anywhere. She opened the cover with trepidation which changed to great joy when she read that she had won the first prize for the essay “Why education is important to me”. The letter went on to state that the prize included scholarships for her to complete her school, undergraduate and postgraduate education.

The essay being published on the Edumust website garnered lots of publicity and there were many people who reached out to Mahima’s father offering him suitable jobs. Very soon, he accepted a good position and life swung back to normal. Mahima could not thank Stuti enough but received just the simple sentence – “Friends help each other – I don’t want any thanks.” It is no wonder that Mahima and Stuti would continue to be friends for ever and ever.


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