Lonely at the top

a poem by Nandhithaa Shailaysh Shanbbhag, India

Her mom’s beloved daughter, her father’s pride
In her mantelpiece, trophies jostle side by side
She is a born genius, she tops in every test
Be it sports…be it dance, she is always the best.

Apple of her teacher’s eye, she is praised by all
An “all-rounder”, since an age tender and small
There is not a thing that she does not excel in
There is not a competition that she cannot win.

She looks so cheerful, as she studies and plays.
“Little Miss Perfect”, about her everyone says
Nobody can guess that her smile hides pain
Beneath the mask, her tears fall like rain

Surrounded by pals, yet lonely as no one can see
She has fallen headlong into an abyss of misery
She is imprisoned in a cage of expectation gold
She has to achieve to keep up the image that others hold

What will happen if by chance she falters in the race?
What will happen if she fails to get that coveted first place?
A wild fire rages in her mind and fear clutches her heart
What will happen if she has a breakdown, just falls apart

What will happen if things go suddenly off-track?
When she looks into the mirror, a loser glares back
Will all the applause and praises turn into frowns?
How will she live if she lets her parents down?

She yearns for someone to talk to, who will understand
That a scared little girl is trapped under this façade grand
She longs for one day to be just a teen, without a care
But the lights of fame come at the cost of despair.

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