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CHAPTER 1

Dimple couldn’t stop smiling. It was like two invisible puppeteers, standing stage left and stage right, were yanking on strings to lift up the corners of her mouth.

Okay, or maybe something less creepy. The point was, the urge to grin felt irresistible.

Dimple clicked on the e-mail again and read it. Stanford . She was going to Stanford. Even though the acceptance letter had come in the mail weeks ago, she hadn’t allowed herself to really, fully believe it until her student log-in details had come via e-mail. She’d thought that, at the last minute, Papa would have second thoughts and renege on the deposit. Or that Mamma would call and tell them Dimple had changed her mind (and if you didn’t think Mamma would do something like that, you’d never met her).

But no, it had all actually worked out. Everything was settled. She was officially enrolled.

Now, if only . . .

Dimple clicked over to the other window she had open, her smile fading just a tad.

Insomnia Con 2017:

A fabulous opportunity for rising high school seniors or recent grads! Come learn the basics of web development on the sunny SFSU campus this summer!

Just shut up and take my money, Dimple thought.

But it wasn’t that easy. It would be an incredible opportunity—this was true. She’d have a leg up on everyone else when she started Stanford in the fall. And think of the contacts she’d make! Some of the biggest names in web development had gone through Insomnia Con: Jenny Lindt, for instance. The woman was a genius. She’d basically designed and coded the billion-dollar Meeting Space app and website from the ground up. It made Dimple salivate just to think of sitting through the same classes, participating in the same activities, walking the same campus as she had.

But she didn’t know if she could push her luck with the parental unit.

The summer program cost a thousand dollars. And while Papa and Mamma were solidly middle class, they weren’t exactly flush. Not to mention she’d already stretched her luck about as far as it could go, she was sure, by asking—nay, haranguing—them to let her go to Stanford. She was sure the only reason they had agreed was because they were secretly hoping she’d meet the I.I.H. of her—no, their —dreams at the prestigious school.

I.I.H., for the uninitiated, stood for Ideal Indian Husband .

Uggghh. Just thinking about it made her want to banshee-scream into a pillow.

“Diiiiimpllllle?” Mamma sounded screechy and frantic as usual.

When Dimple was younger, she’d go running downstairs, heart pounding every single time, terrified something awful had happened. And every single time Mamma would be doing something mundane like rummaging in the kitchen cupboard, greeting her casually with, “Have you seen my saffron?” Mamma never understood why it made Dimple so livid.

“Just a minute, Mamma!” she shouted back, knowing full well it would be more than a minute. Dimple now knew better than to rush when she heard her Mamma call. They’d arrived at an uneasy truce—Mamma didn’t have to modulate her tone if Dimple didn’t have to drop everything and rush to her aid for saffron emergencies.

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