Saturday 22 March 2014

Somewhere in the Mist

She lived in Oakland; Anna, the chubby girl in her mid 20’s was gifted with dimpled cheeks, curly hair and cat eyes. She was known for carrying a lovely smile and a pretty face. Deep inside, she hid profound grief; she was an orphan who lost her parents at the age of 11 and was brought up by her grandfather who also passed away about a year ago.

After a tiring day at work, now at her plush apartment, Anna had her dinner alone, and went to bed. It was half past 10. Lying on her bed, she was feeling short of sleep due to numerous thoughts that crept her mind. She was hugging her favorite doll and her long term companion, whom she called Dolly. Turning on and off the table lamp beside her bed she was looking at the photo frame hanged on the front wall. The photograph was taken on her 11th birthday when she and her parents were out for a holiday, where her mother – a thin lady with her brown unkempt locks of hair, dressed in a pretty white gown was standing beside her father. Her father, a tall and fair man, had dimpled cheeks; she inherited hers from him!  In the photograph, she was standing in the middle of her loving parents with Dolly in her hand. She recalled that her grandpa often told her the story of the true love of her parents.

This comely thought was soon overridden by the flashes of the life changing incident that occurred to the family that night while returning home. She always wondered whether it was her fortune or ill fate that she was the only one spared alive out of that fierce accident.

With a tear rolling down her eye, her cheeks turned pink and soon she fell asleep.

The next morning she got ready for her office in a lovely pink dress with polka dots. She took the 9:20 AM bus to her workplace.

As always, she reached the office by 9:45. Her closest friend for the last 3 years, Isabella called her to say she was waiting for her at the café`.

Bella, as Anna called her, was a thin and tall young girl, not as pretty as Anna, had a dusky complexion and thin hair extending up to her waist. She and Anna shared a lot of similarities on one hand and evident differences on the other. Unlike Anna, Isabella had limited friends. Isabella lived in the town with her parents, grandparents and a younger brother. She belonged to a middle class family who had limited resources for their living.

She said, with an alternate appearance of irritation and smile on her face, "Bella, I bet, you'll never change. You have such a weak memory!"
And Isabella replied, hiding her laughter, “Did I make some mistake again? “

Anna’s face drooped and she said, “No you didn’t. Let’s go back, I have a lot of work to finish today.” Regaining her senses, she continued with cheer, “What are you doing this evening? How about going to go for the new movie at the mall?”

“Sorry Anna, I have to take my grandmother to the Doctor today. She isn’t recovering well. We can plan for the movie some other day. Let us get back to work. Anyway, there is nothing so special about today!”

In a low tone, Anna replied, “You are right. We can go out some other day.”

It was 5 in the evening. Anna had already left for home, at her usual time. She took the 5:10 bus, reached home at 5:35, and changed her clothes. She played some soft music and sat in front of her parents’ photograph. She was unhappy today.

It was the day when she lost her parents years ago, and also her birthday.

Soon after, her phone ringed. It was an SMS from Bella. It read – “Need your help, come home soon.” Anna was worried on reading this. She tried calling back but couldn’t reach her. Without giving a second thought, she left for Isabella’s house in the town. It was 6:30 in the evening. She reached there by around 7 PM. She tried making calls to Bella throughout her transit, but couldn’t speak to her. This increased her anxiety.

As Anna reached in front of Isabella’s house, a ramshackle cottage, the darkness of the dusk caused her difficulty in seeing the entrance. While she was rushing in, she accidentally bumped into Isabella’s pet dog. She recalled that Isabella told her the name of her pet was Rusty. Rusty began barking at her. This added to the procrastination. Within moments, she saw Isabella’s grandfather, a stooping old man with barely countable hair on his head, stepping out of the house, called Rusty towards him and directed Anna to the entrance. The door was already open, she peeped in. The lights of the hall of that small dwelling were off. A startled Anna turned back to see Grandpa and Rusty, but couldn’t find them there.

She panicked and worried about her dear friend. Soon after she heard several people singing the birthday rhyme, “Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Anna…” and the lights turned on. It was Isabella’s family in the room – her mother, father, brother, grandma, grandpa and Rusty in a corner! She couldn’t find Bella anywhere. She was gratified by this surprise but resentful that she was made to wait for the whole day. A scrumptious birthday cake was kept on a simple wooden table. She was glad to see the whole family offering a candid welcome. She had been missing this for years. The absence of her parents and her loneliness was filled by affection she received from the lovely family of her friend.

A thought abruptly struck her, Bella could be seen nowhere. She asked Isabella’s mother about her. Her mother took Anna to the nearby room where Bella was lying, enervated. Anna was shocked to see her Bella in this condition, her eyes filled with tears. Isabella’s mother narrated to Anna, that her daughter had an asthmatic attack in the evening in spite of which she was desperate to celebrate the special day for her close friend, and willing to bear this ailment for her sake.

Anna hugged her and broke into tears. She had no family, but Bella had. She was rich, Bella was poor. She was beautiful, Bella wasn’t. She made everyone smile, but was unhappy deep inside. Bella was in poor health but had the urge to bring back smile to her friend. Anna hugged her and realized that it was their differences which made their bond special and that there is nothing called misfortune, but the way you interpret what occurs to you.


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