The family room on the day before the results for Inaya’s second attempt of the annual O Levels final exams is a scene to behold.
Inaya lay curled up on the sofa, hugging a cushion, her head in Mama’s lap. Mama held her phone in one hand while absent-mindedly stroking Inaya’s hair with the other.
“Don’t worry,” Mama said without pausing, scrolling down a line of messages on the screen. Inaya only groaned.
“Cheer up!” Papa said without lowering his newspaper. “It can’t be worse than last time.” Inaya nearly squeezed the stuffing out of the cushion. “You’re not helping,” she said.
“It will be over soon,” Mama said. “Your result is tomorrow. Let’s watch TV today.”
Inaya covered her face with her hands. “I can’t watch TV. I can’t follow anything that’s going on in the show.”
“What do you want to watch?” Leena picked up the TV remote.
“What are you going to put on?” Inaya asked, raising her head hopefully.
“I’m just going to check what’s on right now,” Leena said. She started channel surfing. “Look at this one,” she said.
“Leena.” Inaya rolled her eyes. “That’s a high school drama.”
Leena stared at her for a moment. “Oh,” she said finally. “You don’t want to watch anything with school in it?”
Inaya shook her head furiously.
“It’s not like there’s ever anything about actually studying in it,” Leena said, but continued to switch channels. “What about this one, we’ve seen this one before.” She gestured to the screen.
“No!” Inaya said. “I already know what’s going to happen.”
“All right.” Leena sped through several sections of channels. “What about the news?”
“Yes!” Papa’s voice came enthusiastically from behind the newspaper.
“You already have news right in front of you, Papa,” Leena said, grinning.
“I can always use more,” Papa’s voice came briefly, but was immediately replaced by the rustling of paper as he turned through several pages to the sports section.
“Ahem!” Inaya waved her hand to catch Leena’s attention.
“Well, we can watch a video online on the TV,” Leena said. “What do you want to watch?”
“Funny things,” Inaya said.
“Hmm.” Leena looked thoughtful.
“I know a funny one!” Jasir bounced into the room, the bowl and spoon in his hands clattering with each bounce.
“Be careful, you’ll spill that,” Mama said, in the middle of holding her phone aloft in one hand and typing on the screen with the other.
“It’s fine,” Jasir said. He set the bowl down on the side table. “Leena, let me tell you what to put on to watch.”
Inaya sat up straight to see what was in the bowl. She shot a hand forward to grab it. By the time Jasir turned around for it, the last spoon was already in her mouth.
“What did you do?” he asked, jumping forward to grab the bowl.
“I ate it.” Inaya grinned widely.
“That was my ice cream...” Jasir looked sadly down at the empty bowl.
“Get more,” Inaya said, settling back in front of the TV.
“There isn’t any more in the freezer,” Jasir said, frowning. “What am I supposed to do now?” He crossed his arms.
“Take the dirty bowl back to the kitchen sink,” Mama said.
“I didn’t even eat it,” Jasir said, but he picked it up and went to the kitchen.
“Jasir,” Mama called out.
“I’m doing it, I’m doing it,” he called back.
“No, Jasir, open the freezer,” Mama said.
“I don’t want to look at chicken legs,” Jasir said, but he shuffled over to the freezer and threw it open.
“Don’t fall asleep with your face in the cold air,” Leena said.
“Don’t try to be Mama when she’s already talking to me!” Jasir shouted back. “What do you want from here, Mama?” he said more gently.
“Take out the box of rolls in the back,” Mama answered.
“Oh no,” said Leena, her eyes wide.
“Oh yes!” said Inaya, grinning.
“What?” Jasir pushed away several things in the freezer before his hand landed on a box. “Is it the one that says crispy rolls?”
“Mega crispy,” was Mama’s answer.
Jasir opened the top flap. “They look like regular crispy rolls, Mama.”
“Those are not the ones I want.” Mama looked up from her phone screen. “Do I need to come there to look myself?”
“No, no.” Jasir hastily put the box back and shifted a few other things. “I think I found it, but it doesn’t feel like there’s much in there.” He squeezed it. “Not even one roll.”
“I’m not looking for rolls,” Mama said. Jasir’s only response was an excited squeak, for he had peeked at what was inside.
“Secret stuff!” Leena looked even more wide-eyed than before as Jasir returned, bearing the box.
“Open it and give one to everyone,” Mama said. Jasir lifted the flap and pulled out a tray of frozen chocolates, then held them in front of her. She picked one, then Jasir held it out to Papa.
“This is the only way I can get one of these,” Papa said, sticking a hand out to accept his share. “When she ever brings them out for you kids.”
“I didn’t even know we had these,” Inaya said as she circled around the box before picking one.
“I suspected.” Leena held a chocolate up to inspect whether it was the one she wanted before eating it.
“The rest are all mine,” Jasir said.
“Take one and put it back in the freezer,” Mama said.
“It was worth a shot,” Jasir said, as he popped a chocolate in his mouth before returning the box to its place.
“It’s not that big of an emergency,” Leena said.
“Big enough to get the box out,” Jasir called from the kitchen.
“But not big enough to finish it in one go,” Leena called back.
Mama set her phone to one side and added, “There are two or three emergencies’ worth of chocolates in there. Don’t be in a hurry to finish them.”
“I’m not in a hurry to have emergencies just for chocolates.” Inaya sighed.
“You’ll be fine,” Leena said. “It just feels the worst before you find out what it is.”
“Find out what?” Inaya asked.
Leena blinked rapidly. “Your result,” she said.
“Oh...” Inaya looked alarmed. “I forgot about it for a second.”
“Inaya!” Leena and Jasir said at once.
“What did you put in that chocolate?” Papa said, lowering the newspaper.
“Inaya.” Leena knocked sharply on the bedroom door while passing by. “You need to get out of bed if you want to use the computer to check your result.”
“I know,” Inaya’s voice came back from behind the door. “Go away.”
“Just reminding you,” Leena said.
“She had better not waste the turn on the computer she took to check her result the moment it came out,” Jasir said.
“Like you’re not trying to squeeze in as much as possible at the computer before she finally gets here,” Leena said. She checked the clock. “Wouldn’t it be out by now?”
“I don’t know why she doesn’t just...” Jasir’s voice trailed off, as Leena spoke, “Use her phone.”
They looked at each other. “She already did, didn’t she?” Jasir said.
What will this result day bring? Find out in the next episode of Hackschool Project.