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There was a girl in my class in middle school named Ruksana. I heard other classmates tease her about what used to happen in 5th grade (I joined the school only in 6th). It seems whenever the teachers praised Ruksana for doing extremely well in tests, she covered her face and burst into tears.

I remember being stumped.

Why had she cried? It was the weirdest thing I had ever heard until then. Wouldn’t the normal reaction in such cases be a huge grin splitting your face from ear to ear? Well, I know it is not always so, for my own smile under similar circumstances those days used to be a tremulous one. But tears? Why would anyone cry tears?

That was of course, then.

It is not as if I don’t shed tears at all. I do, but when sad. It has been said of me in my early childhood that when things didn’t go right, I’d sit and cry quietly for a while, then get up and get on with life. I must say that made things pretty easy for my parents. They knew just what to expect when they scolded or denied me something.

People crying at weddings has been a real surprise to me. At my own, all the photos show me grinning happily, quite unlike the picture made popular by Bollywood movies, of a coy bride tearfully bidding farewell to her parents. May be I just couldn’t wait to get out of my natal home and start living.

Imagine my surprise when some years back I discovered myself choking back tears in vain watching a music talent show (I have mentioned this somewhere else, so forgive me for harping on the fact again). As everyone knows, I love music and cannot do without it. And there I was listening to contestants performing beautifully and fighting tears. This was crazy. I was NOT sad. Why the hell was I fighting back sobs?

Then I found something else happening. Whenever I checked comments and read ones openly appreciating a blog post, a poem or a photograph, tears stung my eyes for no reason, and I was glad for being in front of a laptop screen far away where no one could see me. Tonight, reading comments at my poetry blog I was overwhelmed yet again and suddenly it struck me, though belatedly, just why Ruksana cried in fifth grade.

©Shail Mohan 2016

Daily Prompt: Stump