I couldn’t believe I was a part of the majestic hooding ceremony, after today I’d be Dr. Lorelei Bright. In a grand amphitheater adorned with celestial motifs and vast cosmic murals, under the radiant glow of a thousand suspended stars, we gather to celebrate the pinnacle of intellectual achievement. “Welcome to Yale’s hooding ceremony. The ceremony culminates in a breathtaking display of knowledge…” the emcee’s words triggered umpteen emotions. The ceremony begins with a symphony of knowledge, as the audience is serenaded by a harmonic fusion of efforts, resilience, hard work and modern innovation, played by an orchestra of professors and doctors.
Amidst the reverberating sound of claps, I yet again hear those same sonorous cries. The impaling emotions scathe my confidence. I try my best.
Plunk… plunk! Blood puddles encircle me. Her blood is on my hands too. Blood squirted out from her carotid artery, just like water from a garden hose. She is lying on a pool of blood after slumping to the ground. I’m violent, incontrollable and descending into madness but why?
Leila was my best friend ever since those naïve kindergarten days; our friendship thrived on indubitable love and sisterhood. We needed each other to ride through the highs and pick each other up through the lows until one day. Like all other friends, our teenage thrived on secrets.
My entire childhood and quite a chunk of adulthood was rife with stories of me being privileged, simply because Daddy had been the head of United States Department of Education. To some extent it was true, as I never had to do anything to get into the premier schools of Connecticut. Things started to deteriorate during our doctorate days. Life was tough without Daddy. Leila aced each and every semester and I was nowhere to be found.
“Hey, but why would you do that? I’d worked hard to obtain the approval of the advisory committee and attended innumerable conferences and seminars to get to where I’m today. But you are already privileged.” Leila had hollered at me that night, when I wanted her research papers for a while. Everyone has a way, they want to be perceived, livid and boiling with rage I hissed at her.
Finally, my name was announced. I shakily stood up faking a smile (by now, I had mastered the art of it). Smoothing my sweaty palms on the shiny black gown I was adorning, I trudged toward the dais. The blinding camera flashes made me jittery, but I tried my best to pose in my coveted academic regalia. After all, I’ve been yearning for this.
Leila smiles at me every day, her smiling photograph on my work table is a testament of the friendship we had. The newspaper cutting lies languidly in my hidden drawer “Mysterious death shrouds exceptional immunology student Leila Jenkins of Yale University: Carotid artery slit, clues in torn research papers. Investigations are on.”
Privileged truly I’m and today I thrive on my secret.
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