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“Surprise!!”

I always like that word. It brings me back sweet memories of the past. This one is the most memorable of all…

It was 3 years ago, the day after the SPM examination. I had toiled and burnt the midnight oil just for this examination and now that it was over, I felt so relaxed. No more was I told to get ready for tuition or to turn off the television or to stay in the room and study. I was free to do whatever I like; shopping, go to the movies, watch the midnight show, chatting and surfing through my home internet and most of all, savour everything that was laid in front of me. My mother said I lost 10kg since the exam and I was determined to gain it back.

Then came the day when the SPM results were given out. Despite my care-free days and pleasure, my heart thumped just to think about what I might get. Would I get the Grade One that I always wanted? Or would it be Grade Two or Grade Three that I would not want to get? Or worse, would it be an S.A.P.? My heart beat twice the normal rate at that thought.

With my new Levi’s jeans and Versace T-shirt, I stepped in line with my other friends who were also queuing up to get their result slip. I stood behind 10 people and there were 5 more behind me. One of my friends, Teresa, tapped me on the back.

“Nice shirt,” she said, her voice obviously nervous.

“Thank you, Reesa,” I replied, calling her by her nickname. “So, are you ready?”

Not quite. I did not study very well, that I have to admit.”

“Do not worry, so did I.”

We went on chatting until Teresa pushed me slightly, signaling me that it was my turn. I shivered nervously and cold sweat broke, sending a chill down my spine. I told the office girl my name and registration number. She checked the name list and looked at me once in a while.

“Did you really take the exams?” She suddenly asked me. I was stunned. Why would she ask me that?

“Yes, I did,” I answered.

“Your slip is not here. Did you really, really…”

“Of course I did! What’s wrong? Don’t tell me you have lost it!”

“That’s strange. Your name is here but…your slip is not with me. Where could it be?”

The circuits in my brain snapped. How could this office girl lose the slip that held my future? I ran out of the office and dashed into the Principal’s room. ‘The Principal is my father’s best friend,’ I thought, ‘he must have kept it!’

“Miss Pyriana! Can’t you knock before you come in?” the Principal scowled at me when he saw me standing at the door, gasping for breath.

“I am sorry, sir, but may I ask you something?” I apologized and asked him all in one breath.

“Yes, you may.”

“Did you keep my SPM result slip?”

“Heavens, no! What makes you think so?”

“The office girl didn’t have my result slip. I thought you helped me keep it…”

“Pyriana, just because I am your father’s friend, does not mean that I can take his daughter’s belongings! If I did, I would have told you earlier.”

It made sense. No one would take away his best friend’s things without asking, unless he wanted to be a thief. I apologized and left the room. He promised he will ask the Education Ministry about this before I left. I thanked him and started walking home.

Teresa got her slip, and she got a Grade Two. Lucky her. Her family would be so happy and yet mine would be so disappointed. They had high hopes for me, the second and youngest child in the family, ever since my big brother stopped schooling because he failed his PMR. He would be the most disappointed one for he always hoped that I could take his place in the SPM. I had lost all hope…

When I got home with a heavy heart, I shuddered to think what would happen if I break out the news. Would they break down and cry? Would they create havoc in school? Would they blame me for losing the slip and not believe that it was the school’s fault? Would they…

“Surprise!!!”

I was suddenly greeted by my family, beaming from head to toe. They were wearing party hats and the whole living room was decorated with balloons, ribbons and paper graffiti were stuck on the wall, reading, ‘Congratulations, SPM Girl’. The Principal and a whole lot of friends, including Teresa, were there, all wearing party hats.

“What’s…What’s all this?” I asked, feeling so dumb and stunned, gawping at all the decorations and gagging at all the commotion. “Sir! Teresa! Why are you here?!”

“I’m sorry, Pyriana,” the Principal smiled as he put a party hat on me. “I lied to you. Actually, I did take your result slip two days before the actual date the results were to be distributed. I secretly called your father to tell him the news and while you were gone today, we decorated this place.”

“The Principal and I got here as soon as you left the school,” Teresa winked and explained, “I knew the short cut to your house, so we got here before you did.”

The Principal handed me the slip. I burst into tears of joy when I found out I got a Grade One; nine A1 for all my Science Stream subjects. My family embraced me and said, “We’re so proud of you, Pyriana. You did well.”

Everyone congratulated me and celebrated my achievement for the rest of the evening. My other relatives came later at night and the celebration went on.

I am now a student in the Medical College finishing my final degree, as I want to become a surgeon doctor. I must admit it was the most pleasant and unexpected surprise ever.

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