Letter to Lucy

Darling Lucy,

How are you? Hope you are feeling better! I am missing you a lot! It has been two long days since you left us. I did n’t expect you to leave so suddenly when I was not home. Your absence is so strong, palpable in the air around me. At the same time I didn’t want you to suffer so much. I understand that you were having such a terrible time in breathing. You felt so in restless that you ran from the front door to the back door and to the front door again. Do you remember that? It was Thursday, March 29th when Lasu dropped his dog Milton here with us. I bet you were thrilled to see him around. That afternoon you even eat a little food from his bowl. Everyday, I used to give the same food to both of you,but you thought that Milton’s food was more special than yours. You are silly! It is the opposite. I used to sneak a piece of chapati, spoonful of Basmati rice into your food bowl, so that you will finish your food without any fuss. I am not sure what happened that night. I noticed you ran towards the front door and then to the back door. Dad thought you wanted to go for a walk and I opened the front door and called you to follow me without the leash. You leaped forward,sniffing the whole front lawn eagerly, but decided to come back inside and followed me to the kitchen. It felt like your heart had jumped through a hundred hoops.Your eyes were begging for something and maybe I did not understand properly. I gave you two pieces of the lemon bread and you ate them all,you licked the bowl clean and even licked the floor. Did you really like the bread or wanted to  make me happy?    

Hope you are having fun- enjoying your time in taking longer naps, smelling beautiful flowers and walking around. I have read in books that heaven is the most blissful place. I would love to know how you are passing your time. You are always shy at strangers at first but slowly warmed up to them. Make more friends and enjoy each bit.

 It is hard to come home without you following me around, dozing at my feet while I was reading a book or watching Netflix. Yesterday I warmed up two rotis for you and some steamed broccoli. I sat at the dinner table and pretended that you were standing there very close to the chair and begging for food without blinking your eyes. In the night I woke up three times to check on you; to make sure if you are breathing fine or if you want to go out. You were in deep sleep on your navy bed with two white pillows at both sides. You enjoyed leaning your head on the pillows. I did not hear your click-clock sound on the floor so I went back to sleep. But it is not that easy! I can still feel your presence. I assumed you were standing besides my bed and staring at my face. Your beautiful eyes with long white,expressive eyelashes. You knew very well how to tell a story through your eyes. That must be a god-given quality of yours!I  I am confident that you are an angel in the form of a dog.

You always wanted to go on a long drive like Milton does with Lasu. In the middle of March, during my Spring break, you were not feeling well; had a cough and lost your appetite. Dad was thinking of leaving you with Chad for a few days until we return from a trip. This is Covid time so we couldn’t fly, so I thought you may enjoy the ride with us rather than staying back here in Kingwood. A car ride! You came to the car wagging your long bushy tail and with a buzz of excitement. It made me excited, too.Three of us in our Toyota Rava left for Zion National park. It was a pretty long drive but we stopped time to time to help you in eating food and water. While I was driving, I noticed how occasionally, you lifted yourself from your dog bed, leaned on the back window and watched the scenery passing by. You stuck your nose out the window, drinking in the smells that rushed pass.Remember how windy it was while driving through the national forest and you wanted to drink water. We stopped the car on the roadside and opened the trunk to help you. I gave you a few pieces of the potato fry and insisted you to eat your medicine. You were so stubborn to eat the medicine that I had to wrap the medicine in a piece of bread to help you swallow it. It was not that bad. Was it? I bet you didn’t know that you eat the medicine. You looked outside and was surprised when the whole bag of fry flew out from my hand and the bag rolled over towards the other side of the road. You didn’t know that it was the wind and you thought I threw it. Right? We started driving. You sat there and watched the magnificent desert sunset with us.The sky was tinged with color, a motley jumble of pink, purple and yellow streaks that bore down from the west. It was so pretty!You lifted your head. A moment later, as if the two actions were secretly connected, a shaft of light came slanting through the clouds. It struck the sidewalk an inch or two from your right paw, and then almost immediately, another beam landed just to your left paw. As you turned your head towards me, a great bucketful of light poured down on your face, crashing against your eyelids. You blinked and I laughed. “It’s okay Lucy, go back to your sleep.” You lowered your head. As it got dark, you took a nap. I could tell you were weak and tired-too tired to finish your food. We were a little relaxed to see you enjoying all the food like lemon bread, pound cake, cheerios in warm milk. I was so grateful to you for giving us the company and your love.

We will be always grateful to you in bringing joy to our hearts. You reminded us to slow down and enjoy life around us and taught us to be calm.Every thought, every memory, every particle of the air and earth is saturated with your presence. In the morning when I eat the oatmeal I look around, expecting you to appear in front of me and beg for a spoonful of oatmeal. You always appear at the door when I leave for work and when I return and now I am looking all over for you. Fifteen years is a long time and you have given us so much happiness and love! Today I am wishing you all the best and praying for you to have a smooth transition to your next life. If you see us anywhere then please give us a hint or run towards us and give us a tight hug.I will even welcome you in my dream.

Until we meet again- bye for now

Yours loving

Mom

Haikus during my last drive with Lucy

“A long drive

She watches the scenery drive by

Beautiful national forest”

“ Cotton puff clouds

Dancing sunlight on the tips of the mountains

Her eyes at beautiful Zion”

“Vermillion cliff

Dazzles in sunlight in a stretch

Watching together”

Haiku after Lucy passed away

“A lonely home

My eyes search for her everywhere

Now she has wings”

Flood

“Up,” her mother says, pulling on her arm, hard. “Get your rubber boots on.”Ann couldn’t really figure out what is going on, so she stands up and starts to arrange the yellow coverlet on her bed, but her mother shakes her head. “Now,” she says.

Her mother has two rules: don’t leave the room without making your bed and dress before you leave. Today Ann is leaving her room in her pajamas, her bed all tumbled, so she knows that something is not right. Ann glances at her mother’s face to figure out a reason and she could see clearly the two lines on her forehead and lips, a thin line. No smile there, no good morning wish. All she could hear is the sound of the rain. It sounds like a truck is dumping a load of gravel on the roof. It has been raining hard for two days, but nothing like this.

The front door is open, and just outside it is one of the volunteer firemen. There are a couple of inches of water in their front hallway, and to Ann, it looks like the magic carpet in the cartoons, where you can float up and away.

“Hurry up,” her mother says, handing her the boots. And to the fireman, “My friend’s back in the house at the end of the street.”

“She ‘s up in the attic, and when I stuck my head up those stairs she let out a scream. I tried to calm her down but she says she’s not leaving her house,” the fireman replies.

Ann comes and stands in the middle between her mother and the fireman. “Let me try,” she says. “Go ahead,” her mother says, “Be careful, it is water everywhere.” She bends and zips her rain jacket and pulls the hood upon her head, the way she sometimes does when she is heading to the school bus. “It is not safe to stay here,” the firefighter shouts over the sound of the rain.

“We’re fine,” Ann says as she holds her father’s hand and climbs the small flimsy boat in their front lawn to rescue their neighbor. “Just give me a chance to talk to her,” Ann says as they row off into the darkness. “She always listens to me.”

But nothing like that happened. Ann shouts at the top of her lungs to get her neighbor out from her attic but she wouldn’t.  She enters into her front room, the door is not locked and the flood water has started to fill the space. It is a one-story house, and the ladder to the attic is down. She is up there sitting on a stack of two huge suitcases, her legs pulled up under her nightgown. Ann wonders why she has those suitcases. She has never gone anyplace. Maybe she has some important or special stuff inside the suitcases.

“ Just go back down there, Ann,” she says sharply from the half dark and for just a moment she sounded a lot like her mother.

“Come with me. The water’s getting really high.”

“It won’t ever get up here. This is the highest place on the whole farm.” Ann thinks she is almost right about that. “Then I’ll stay here with you,” Ann says.

“We need to get going,” calls the fireman from below.

“You go with them,” she says. “Don’t worry about me. Leave,” she says sternly.

The water is deeper as Ann climbs back into the boat and they sail, like a dream, down their underwater driveways, and onto the water-filled road. It is hard to see much, no lights, no moon. The fireman maneuvered the boat around powerlines that come up suddenly like snakes skittering along the surface and pieces of things, of roofs and fences and strange brown chunks. They float past one of her friend’s barn where the cows are standing and mooing loudly. Ann couldn’t control her sob. “ Let’s help the cows, they are desperate and scared to death,” she begs.

“We will. But first we need to rescue the people, afterward, we’ll come back to rescue the animals.” the fireman says loudly. They stop by another house where Ann’s class teacher Mrs. Quindlen is standing at her front step with her shepherd dog.

After a while, they reach the church and they climb down from the small boat. Her teacher has a plastic bag full of knitting supplies. “ I can’t stand the boredom,” she says. Inside the building, Ann spots almost all her neighbors and they are all talking about the destructive flood.

Ann finds one of her friend sitting at a corner with her backpack and eating a sandwich in her hand. She waves with the sandwich.

“Were you scared?” she asks.

“Yes. But I pretended that I wasn’t.” Ann says.

“Why?”

“ My mother doesn’t know swimming and she doesn’t like to sit on the boat,” she says with a smile. “So I pretended to be brave to make her feel safer.”

“Even if I know swimming, that’s not the kind of water I can swim in. The current is too strong enough to suck us under. I was really scared.” her friend says, stuffing the last corner of her sandwich into her mouth. Ann walks around to look for her mother. Her mother is talking with one of her friend who is wiping her tears with a cotton handkerchief. She has the biggest ranch house with columns in front, a huge living room and a big kitchen. Everything is gone in the flood. She starts to cry again. Ann’s mother puts her arm around her friend’s shoulder and tries to comfort her. Ann turns around and walks over to the big glass window. There is nothing to see outside, except for water everywhere. She stands there, thinking of how to rescue all the cows and dogs from the barns. Hopefully, the fireman has already done that.

  • Midwest flood

Lost girl of Sanaa

People everywhere- skinny, skeletal people, in front of her, behind her. In the thick crowd, Maysun loses the grip of her mother. Someone bumps into her; she stumbles forward and almost fell. Only the thickest of bodies in front of her save her from going to her knees in the dust and dirt. She shoves her way around to the other side of the road, crying out, “Mama! Mama!”

There is no answer, just the ceaseless pounding of feet on the road. She calls out for her mother, but her cry is lost in the thud of so many feet. People bump her, push past her. She can’t stop in the middle. Her mother told her that the only way to survive is to flee the village, away from the soldiers, from the bumps. Her feet aches, a blister burns with every step. Hunger walks beside her, poking her insistently with it sharp little elbow. She tries to look back to trace her mother but the crowd push her forward. A woman limps along beside her, crying , her tears black with dirt and grit. The sun is growing stronger, become stiflingly, staggeringly hot. The acrid, stuffy scent of body odor and sweat fill the air. At the top of a small rise, she comes to a stop. Moonlight reveals thousands of people walking beside her, jostling her she has no choice but to stumble along with them. Hundreds more have chosen a hillside as a resting place. They have left their burning homes, bummed by the cold,heartless soldiers. Some have lost their parents, some their children. Maysun peels away from the crowd heading toward the collection of moonlit gray stone building in a distance and picks her way carefully through the valley. After a mile or so a trail leads her into a copse of spindly trees. She is deep in the woods- trying not to focus on the pain in her toe, the ache in her stomach, the dryness in her throat. Dehydration gives her a terrible, pounding headache. Dust has clogged her throat and eyes and made her cough constantly.She couldn’t walk any longer so she sits leaning against a huge tree. Instead of her effort not to sleep, her eyelids closes.

Maysun is in her school, a small building on the far edge of the village. The open windows and thick stone walls help to keep the sun at bay. Maysun loves science and when teacher asks her, she answers in all smile, “ When I grow up, I will be a scientist.” Mayson glances at her friend Hamida,who sits beside her, looking fearful. She whispers. “My mama says we should leave before the war gets worse.”

Maysun closes her notebook. Her eyes widened. “ I should tell my mama”

“My uncle says it is very bad in the nearby town. The soldiers have burned down the houses.”

The bell rings and students popp from their seats like springs.Maysun gathers her books in her bag and runs home to give the news to her mother. Her mother is in their garden. “Mama!” Maysun calls her mother throwing her bag on the kitchen floor.

“What happened?” her mother asks wiping her forehead, aware that she is smearing black dirt across her skin, and she stands up. She rises to her feet and moves toward her daughter. Before she reaches, a trip of women appear, as if sculpted out of the shadows. They stand clumped together in their front pathway. An oldwoman in rags,holding the others close to her- a young woman with a baby in her arms and a teenager. Each looked feverish, sweaty and tired. The old woman helps out her empty hand. “ Please spare some water.” she begs.

Maysun’s mother opens the small wooden gate. “Ofcourse. Come in. Sit down on the front porch.”

The old woman shakes her head. “ Just give some water, please.” Maysun runs inside and brings a jug of water and a glass.

“Drink.” The old woman says, holding the water to the young girl’s lips. The young mother makes a moaning sound and tightens her hold on the baby, who is so quiet-and her tiny fists so blue- Maysun’s mother gasps. The baby is dead.

“Go inside,” the old woman says. “Lock the doors.”

“Why…?”

Then they see the mass of black shapes moving across the field and coming up the road. Dogs bark and babies cry. They come forward through the field and up the road, relentlessly moving closer, pushing one another aside, voices rising. Suddenly the world becomes pure sound: the roar of airplane engines, the rat-ta-ta of machine gun fire, people screaming. Bullets ate up the grass in rows, people scream and cry out. Trees snapped in half and fall over, people yell. Flames burst into existence. Smoke fills the air. Maysun watches a man fly into the air like a rag doll and hit the ground in a heap. Her mother pulls her into her house and tries to lock the door behind her. The house begins to shake, the windows rattle, the shutters thump, dust rain down from the exposed timbers of the ceiling. Maysun hugs her mother, uncertain, her heart pounding. Suddenly the house shakes violently. “Let’s run!.” Maysun’s mother runs outside clutching her daughter’s hand. Outside in the dust, they continue running. Suddenly Maysun loses her mother’s hold in the crowd. “Mama! Mama..” Maysun opens her eyes. She tents a hand over her eyes and stares up into the bright and cloudless sky.

Shifting Sea

Jane can see a shimmering aura surrounding her, setting her apart from others. She feels uncomfortably distinct from the other students in her class. Sometimes they are friendly, more often they are not so friendly.Jane’s mother has told her many times that she is special. She understands that she has no choice in the matter. Jane is a shy girl, too shy even to turn away quickly from a rude stranger. She is almost twelve. She is thin, underdeveloped for her age.Medium height-but with narrow shoulders, bright almond-shaped eyes, thick curly hair.

Every Morning after Jane’s father leaves to work, her mother brushes her dense, dry curly hair,  with a half-broken hairbrush and reminds her to brush her teeth before she runs off to the nearby school. Much of her waking life Jane is with her books that she gets from her school library. The actual world is blinding to her. A maze. But if there is a way to be memorized through the maze, she will memorize it. The great adventure of Jane’s young life until now : reading books, drawing pictures and taking care of her four younger siblings. She cares less on her dress, her food or how they live.

Her mother is always proud of her when Jane shows the report card from her school, but her father is different. When he returns home from work, he asks Jane to stop wasting her time in reading, instead she should work with her mother in the kitchen,or take care of her other four siblings. “Jane, stop reading books,books are useless.” he says haltingly, awkwardly, taking a sip from a glass bottle. “ Learn cooking, cleaning the house which will be useful in future. In his aggressive barking voice he accuses the girl.Jane leaves that part of the room to the other end because their house is just one long room. She doesn’t like the smell of the liquid that her father drinks, nor his voice.She hides her books under a bed cover and dashes to stay with her mother.Jane’s mother pinches her mouth, refuses to utter much, the unspoken words become a din like nocturnal insects in the dry heat of summer. She doesn’t like to argue with her husband but she couldn’t stop. “ Let her do what she loves to do.” she says, “ Now a days girls are going to college, working and I want Jane to finish her school.”

“Stop the nonsense!” Her father screams slapping his palm on the floor. “ Jane is a girl and girls don’t need to go to school.She needs to do only the household chores until I find someone for her.” Jane’s mother serves him food in a banana leaf and sits there quietly. She understands that there is no use in arguing with her drunk husband.

After Jane’s father asleep,her mother lays down on the floor with Jane on one side and the other four of her children on the other side. “Not to worry dear,”she assures her. “ You will finish school and go to college.”

Jane smiles and whispers. “In that case, I want to be a scientist.”

Her mother doesn’t understand the word, but pulls Jane closer. “ Sure,if you set your mind, then you can achieve it. Come, let’s sleep.” Jane’s mother has never gone to school but she has taught herself to read and write. She is determined to send her daughter to school. Jane lays awake for a while thinking about her dad’s anger.Whenever her father drinks the awful stuff,he shouts and get angrier. It seems like his face starts to change shape and swims and a little bit of space opens up between her parents.  It is almost midnight, when moonlight shines diffusively through the filthy window.Jane stops thinking,turns her head toward her mother and closes her eyelids.

Days pass. One late afternoon,after school, Jane memorizes her timetables on the front veranda, when she spots her father at the door with a stranger.Jane glances at them as they approach.Her father clears his throat. “Jane,come meet my friend Mr. Roy.” he says. “Come.” Jane closes her notebook,takes a big step,and folds her both hands. “Namaste!” The man is old, short and skinny. He runs his hand over his bald head and a fake smile flashes on his lips. His head shines like the glass balls people place in the flower beds around their houses. It looks like it might shatter the instant her bangs into something. He winks at Jane. Her father walks forward. “Go, ask your mother to make a cup of tea for our guest.” he says. Jenna scuttles inside to call her mother. Her mother is sweeping the kitchen floor. “Mom, dad wants you to prepare a cup of tea for the guest.” Jane’s mother stops sweeping. “ Your father came early today!” she gives a surprise look and asks, “ Who is the other man?”

Jane shrugs her shoulder. “No idea mom.But for sure very old.” she says, “Can I sit here and memorize my timetable?”

“Sure but first finished sweeping the floor.” Jane’s mother walks out of the kitchen with a chipped white cup with black tea: the only cup they have.Jenna could hear them talking for a while and her mother comes back inside and starts to switch on the stove. Jane is surprised to see her mother cooking so early. “ What happened mom?” She asks.

“Nothing dear.” she says. “The guest will stay to eat dinner. We have only one potato and a handful of rice.” Jane closes her notebook. “I can get something from the nearby store.” she asks, “ Would you like me to get something?” Her mother shakes her head. “We will cook what we have but get one or two green pepper and a bunch of spinach from our backyard.”

“Sure.” Jane leaves.

After the dinner,her father and the old man drinks from a bottle, Jane sits there with a book on her hand and her mother sits quietly. A fat fly buzzes in circle just above his head. It settles on his arm, he tries to swat it. Then it lands on the back of his neck, he swats again. The fly escapes and perches on the broken window frame. A twinkling laughter escapes from Jane’s mouth and she quickly covers her mouth.The old man looks at Jane with long, narrow eyes, fixed so hard the corner looks like keyholes. He purses his lips, whistles and beats out on the bottle in a rhythm.He comes toward Jane and spins her around. “ I like your sweet daughter.” he laughs, running his hand into her hair above the temple, twisting her hair around his index finger. Jane snatches her hand free from the old man and runs to her mother.  Inside her head is buzzing with scary thoughts, on top her scalp feels loose. He tongue is licking her brain, it tastes sickly salty.Her mother wraps her both hands around Jane. “ Get out from my house.” she screams. “ My daughter is not in a marriageable age and you are like her grandfather! Shame on you!” Jane’s father springs from his seat with a raised hand.His eyeballs glistens and turn into little squares. “ Don’t utter any word. If he wants to marry our daughter then it is perfect.” he says. “ There is no age barrier for a marriage.And he will keep her happily.” Then her father turns toward the old man. “Sorry for all these.” he folds his hands. “ We will be happy to give our daughter to you.Please come and sit here. Come.” he requests. Jane and her mother sit there dumbfounded with tears in their eyes.

Next morning,sunlight comes slanting through the gaps between the wall of the room. Jane opens her eyes to find the sun round as a ball and is ‘wrapped in a cotton wool. Birds are squawking, who knows where they are hiding, there are none in the air.The old man and her father are sitting on the front veranda.The old man’s shoulder is hunched,his collar bones rounded.They are busy making deals on Jane,the old man is ready to give lots of money in exchange to marry Jane who will be his third wife and in promise to give him a son. You could see the gold and black molars,the worn down stumps and gaps between his teeth. Jane looks for her mother. She sits in one corner of the kitchen with her youngest son on her lap, her legs are stretched out into the aisle. she is feeding milk to the little one. Jane sits there leaning against her mother.Her mother doesn’t say anything and Jane starts the conversation. “ So what will happen mom?” she swallows her tear and continues. “ I am just a kid. I want to go to school, I want to be a scientist.” She glances at her mother. “ Why are you so quiet today? Are you not going to help me?” Her mother pulls her closer and tightens one hand around Jane’s shoulder. “Your father is a crafty bastard. He has taken money, cows and a few goats as a bribe from the old man.He wants to buy a small store and start his own business and that way he will be able to take care of your four siblings.”

Jane pulls out from her mother’s embrace. “ What about me?” she asks. “ What about my dream? My life?” she shakes her mother in her small hand. “You want to sale me to the old man in exchange of money and goats? Really mom?” Jane covers her face and cries. “ You promised me that I will continue my school. You lied to me!” Jane’s mother looks up to the ceiling and back to her daughter’s face. Her beloved daughter whom she has promised to fulfill her dream. She has to do something but what. She leans her back against the wall and searches for a way to set her daughter free.

Image result for quote of child bride

My world in his unspoken words

“I can’t believe he’s already one! He is growing up so fast. Wow!” Rumi says breathlessly and then glances at Dr.Thomas. “It’s a little concerning that he has not talked anything; even a single word!’

“Not to worry. Some babies talk late. Girls usually talk a little sooner than boys. So have a little patience!.” he say with a small smile, Rumi thinks she worries too much. She gets ready to leave the room, but at the door, she turns around. “ I wonder if his hearing is okay. Milo doesn’t seem to hear me. When I call his name, he doesn’t look at me.”Rumi pulls the chair and sits heavily. “ The other day I clapped my hands as loud as I could and he didn’t even turn his head. He just keeps sitting on the floor, looking out the glass doors at the leaves blowing around in the backyard. As if I didn’t exist.” So? She takes a deep breath and glances at doctor Thomas .

Dr. Thomas puts the pen down and opens his mouth to say something but then Rumi starts her other questions.   

“ I have seen him bouncing to the music, so he’s definitely not deaf. What a crazy thing to think. But Dr. what’s going on with my Milo? Please tell me that he’s fine..”

“He’s fine Rumi. Give him a little time. I will see you in a month.” Dr. Thomas gets ready to see his next patient.

At home after lunch, Rumi sits with Milo. “Say Juice. Juuuuice. Say I want juice or say swing. Look at me Milo.Tell me something. Why are you screaming?” Rumi asks and then carries Milo to the backyard. They sit on the deck and look at the sky, Milo’s favorite thing to do and now it is same with Rumi. She stares at the blue sky for a long time and feels as if she is the weightless sky, floating and free.  She is her son’s imagination and unspoken words. She turns her head and notices the happy face of her son.

Milo was a beautiful and bright-eyed boy. She loved him instantly. She dreamed of him a genius in math, best in sports, a wonderful debater like her father. But she should have had much simpler dreams. Each year Rumi lit the candles on cute Mickey mouse cakes, sometimes on Barney cake and sang “Happy Birthday.” Then her husband used to say,come on Milo! Make a wish and blow your candles! And then he wouldn’t, so they had to blow them out for him. She always makes a wish, the same every year. “Please say something, look around and enjoy your life.” She never stopped wishing. They visited countless doctors, therapist to help Milo. In one bright sunny day, she marks his face wondrous and joyful with the unexpected discovery of a new fascination, on light switches. He opens the musical card, shuts it and opens it again. The same song every time he opens it, but the cards are heaven to him. He spends rest of his days smiling and flapping his hands . That’s all he wants every year.

“ How about a prescription for him that will make him talk.”

“Are you serious!” her husband asks. “Don’t be so silly! Therapy will work best for him.Don’t worry so much.” He says. Milo is her world. When she returns home from  the errands, Milo screeches and jumps up and down, flapping his hands. That’s the way he shows his excitement and happiness. One evening after her walk, Rumi entered into house, with a new idea in her mind. It was weird, but she wanted to give it a try. So she jumped up and down in the same way as her son, flapping her arms. Milo was so excited, that he continued that for a few more seconds. Rumi watches her son and wish he can smile and say, “Hey, mom,glad you’re back” or he can run around and hug her and say, “I love you mom.”.

In one visit to the doctor, he surprised her with the news that her son Milo has autism. Rumi couldn’t move from the chair. “Are you sure?” she asks the doctor. “ Maybe you are reading somebody else.” she waits for the doctor to say something. But it is just a field of silence.

From doctor’s office to her home, she confronts with God while driving. “ Why are you punishing me? What did I do?”she asks. “ If you want to punish me that’s fine but why to my son?” she wipes her tears. “Let him live and enjoy his life,please.” She is angry with Him but she still have faith that Milo will be fine.

“Come Milo, let’s go to the playground.” Rumi says, grabbing the car key. It is a cooler day. She drives him to the nearby playground. Some Children are running around, playing hide and seek. Rumi takes Milo to the swing, the one which gives him extreme pleasure. All he wants to do is play in the swing. You have to push him over and over.After twenty minutes,Rumi gets bored standing there in one place and pushing the swing.”Milo, would you like to play with those kids?” she asks, “ Look! They are having so much fun.” she stops the swing. “Come let’s try. I will be there. Come.” Milo screeches  whipping his head. Instead,he wants to play in the sand box. He scoops up as much as his hands could held, raises his hands high and let the sand spill down. The feeling of sand moving through his fingers mesmerizes him. They stay in the sand box until the sun goes down.

It is another gorgeous day! Rumi finishes her prayer and walks into the kitchen. Milo sits on the kitchen floor and organizes his rocks. He loves to collect smooth, white rocks, mostly round. He arranges them into a line. Rumi sits down on the floor with her son. “ Would you like to play with you?” she asks with a smile. Milo glances at her mom’s smile-stunning brown eyes and knows that he doesn’t need a voice to tell her anything. Her face is like his now. He is delighted with her mom’s contribution to his rock project.So both of them sit there and arrange and rearrange the beautiful rocks in lines.After one hour, Milo jumps up and flaps his hands, a happy dance.

 

Everyone wants her to carry on.Move on. She doesn’t want to. She wants to be here, alone. Rumi stops the car and sits quietly looking at the beach. Her son’s favorite place. Rumi crouches down on the sand and writes Happy Birthday Milo! But with each pulse of waves, her writing washes away. The next wave crashes,and deposits a single white, round rock at her feet. Her heart quickens as she picks up the beautiful, smooth stone and rolls it inside her hand. ‘I miss you so much!’ The first tear is slow, hesitant, and then they come fast, one after another. Rumi Looks at the sky. The moon is bright- yellow and rest of the sky is dotted all over with brilliant white stars.  The moon, the heaven, the universe and her beautiful boy among them.

 

Image result for free autism graphics

Puzzle

Laughter too depends  upon memory a memory of previous laughter.

“Grace – not Gracey?” – That is your name?”

At first she can’t comprehend this. He takes out a little notebook from his pocket and painstakingly inscribed in it what appears to be a diagram in logic. “My days of mastering symbolic logic seem to have abandoned  me,” he says pleasantly, “but I think the situation is something like this..”

Grace is uncertain how to respond. It is fascinating to her that Dave has language skills, mathematical abilities  but he can’t retain new words, concepts or facts even if they are embedded in familiar information. Like many brain-afflicted individuals he carries with him word books, crossword puzzles. His knowledge of world geography is still impressive.Grace is speaking carefully to him: “Mr Dave- let me explain to you again that I am a Professor and has been working with you for a while. You have met me before.”
Dave  nods vehemently, even little impatiently. “ Grace- yes, doctor Grace.”

“I ‘m not a doctor I’m a professor. Please just call me -”

“Professor Grace.” Yes..” Well that makes two of us. I’m not a clinician either.” he laughs. He listens to Grace as she explains to him on the tests they will be doing on him. He listens politely at first, then becomes bemused and beguiled by her. She is wearing a pink wrap around skirt with black tights beneath, a black jacket over her thin frame tightly and not the crisp white lab coats of the medical staff, there is no laminated ID on her jacket to inform him of her name.

“ Why you are here, doctor and why am I here?”

Grace stares at him and then says, “ We are hoping to establish some facts containing memory.” Dave is eager and hopeful, cooperative but as the tests become more complicated and accelerated, he is thrown into confusion. He seems to be failing about like a drowning man. Restless, exhausted, without knowing why, he stands at a window and stares outside. He may be trying to determine where he is. But he is a proud man, he will not ask any questions. Like an athlete too long restrained in a cramped space or like a rebellious teenager, he begins to circle the room. He stretches the tendons in his calves, reaches for the ceilings-stretching vertebrae, mutters to himself.Grace would like to clasp his hand to comfort and encourage him

Grace walks toward him. “ Would you like your sketchbook?” She hands him one. He is pleased to see his sketchbook. He pages through it growing, holding the book in such a way to prevent anyone else seeing its contents. Then he discovers his little notebook in his pant pocket.He opens it eagerly, records something in it and slips it back into his pocket. Grace glances at Dave and thinks how sad, how exhausting, the amnesic can’t remember anything. His brain resembles a colander through which water sifts continually and never accumulates; those years before his illness, resembles a still, distant water glimpsed through dense foliage as in a hallucinatory landscape.

Dave looks worriedly at her as if he can read her thoughts. Grace feels her face burn like one who has dared to touch another intimately and has been detected. With an uplifted finger, to retain Grace’s attention, he leafs through his little notebook in search of something significant. In his bright affable voice he reads: “ There is no journey, no path, only emptiness.” He pauses to add, “Maybe this is the wisdom of Buddha.” he laughs with inexplicable humor. Grace smiles with him remembering how he used to explain to her the views of different teachings. He is always good in teaching and explaining. It is almost seven-thirty in the evening when she leaves.

Next day the test is on counting ability count as high as you can without stopping. He begins counting and continue for an impressively long time, then suddenly stops,distracted by Grace’s earrings.  “Looks like a pyramid upside down or may be pineapples?” he laughs.

“Please continue counting.”

“Counting’- what? What was I counting?”

“You don’t remember the count?”

Dave stares at the illustrated cards. His finger twitch. He looks blankly.

Grace leans forward. “You are doing fine, please continue.”

Dave looks at her again. She is a pretty woman with light brown skin, straight black eyebrows, dense wavy hair. The dimple on her cheek deepens while she smiles. Who is she? He has seen her somewhere? He thinks in a school where he used to teach? He extends his hand and shakes the woman’s hand.

“Hel-lo! I think we know each other we met in a school-did we? In a high school?”

Grace hesitates. Then gracefully she slips her hand into his with a smile.

“Hello, Mr Dev I’m Grace- whom you have never met before today.”

 Just after the rain,Grace knocks at the door before entering the room. “Good morning!” she smiles. “ I’m, Grace.”
“Yes, welcome.” Light coming up in his eyes, a slight leap of hope emerges.

“Welcome, Grace!”

Her hand grips in his, a clasp of recognition.

Grace thinks He does remember me. Not consciously but he remembers. Well there is no scientific data to prove. The amnesic will discover ways of remembering sometimes it bypasses the conscious mind altogether.

Suffused with happiness, Grace feels like a balloon rapidly, giddily filling with helium. Eagerly he smiles at her, leans close to her  to shake her hands. In his strong hand,Grace’s small hand. “We have met before?” he smiles gallantly.

“ Do you have an idea how long we’ve been working together?- Grace asks.

His smiles wavers. He speaks thoughtfully, gravely. “ May be two weeks a month? May be less?” He is still gripping her hands; gently she detaches. Grace has volunteered to take Dave to downstairs to the first-floor cafeteria, for lunch, sometimes for his medical tests or to the garden downstairs.She has become lonely. Work has become her addiction, her salvation. In human relations you never know where you stand.She is determined to help Dave in each step of his recovery. She has high hope.

It is a bright, sunny day when Grace returns to Dave’s room. “ We have some very interesting tests for today, Dave. I think you will like them.”

“Tests- yes. I’m good at them.” His smile is anxious and hopeful. Grace shows him the brainteaser puzzles consist of numbers, varicolored squares of plastic which you move around your thumb until there is an ideal conjunction of numerals and colors.Dave takes it from her with a bemused chuckle “Excuse me! Like this.” And within seconds, he has lined up the squares to perfection. His smile is that of the triumphant. Grace laughs – he used to teach the children the same way, the tricks to solve the puzzles.  After two days Grace returns to check on Dave.

“ Hello!”

“Yes- do I know you?” Dave asks, “I can hardly remember you.”

Grace is little frustrated. “Yes, we are.”

He gazes at her plaintively.

“ Are you my wife?” he asks anxiously, “ Or may be a lover?”

A twinge of excitement sparks in her. She wants to say yes I’m your wife, but she stops. He walks over and takes her hand in his strong dry fingers. She has been anticipating this she doesn’t pull her hand away from his grasp so quickly. They stand their clasping hands.

“Do you remember me?” Grace asks.

“I think I met you in your school am I correct?” Dave asks carefully. His hairline is receding from his forehead and his dark hair is fading to a beautiful shade of gray, his forehead is slightly creased with bewilderment or worry that quickly eases away when he smiles. He looks handsome in a neatly pressed khakis, a striped shirt.Grace still loves him dearly.

 

His memory is like a box of jigsaw puzzle pieces that has been overturned, but these countless pieces might be fitted together again into a coherent and illuminating whole.

Dave drops her hand and moves back to his chair.  “ I’m Nobody! Who are you? Are you Nobody – Too? ”He recites the lines with a chilling sort of merriment, the poetry of Emily Dickinson…

Cheer Up A Lonely One

It is a  Saturday afternoon.  A few white clouds suspend idly over the horizon.Outside it is still warm and a few bees drone in the honeysuckle that run wild over the side of the house.Peony is almost done with her sketch. She decides to take a break and walk in the nearest trail. After one mile, the path huggs a ravine, and she trotts to the edge of the embankment to look down the stream below. The water move sullenly; only the light coming through the trees and glancing off the stream’s surface indicates the direction of the current. She inhales the moist, spoiled odor of the rotten leaves. A rustle in the dry grass makes her turn her head to check the sound. A black dog stands there, wagging its long tail.The dog barks at her and its face seems so familiar. Now she remembers that she has seen this dog last week in the school playground chasing the squirrels. The playground was full of parent and children so she assumed that the dog belongs to one of them. Peony crouches down on the grass. “Come here! Come!” The dog wags its tail slowly at first, then faster as if something long held motionless inside it has gained momentum enough to break free. The swing of her tail rocks its chest. The dog leaps toward her and licks her face.

“You are friendly! Aren’t you!” She tries to keep the dog still to check its collar. But the dog doesn’t have a collar. “What happened to your collar?” she pats her. “ Are you lost? Are you?” The dog licks her again and follows her to the embankment. Suddenly the dog jumps down. She screams. “No!” It is too late. But there was no rustle in the bushes to alter the dog to a skunk or gopher, no distant bark to set her hair on the end. There was no food below emitting its siren scent. Well now she can’t leave her there. She looks down in bafflement. The dog tries hard to stand up, but could not. She looks around and there is nobody to help her.It is a quick judgement to leap to. She slides down the embankment on her backside to rescue the dog and carries it to her car, straight to a vet’s office.

While the doctor operates, she sits in the waiting room, paging through limp pet magazines, inhaling the ammonia scent mixed with disinfectant. A steady parade of sick animals and solicitous owners come in and out of the office. She knows she should coo at the pets or inquire after their maladies but she is worried about the stray dog. Two hours later, the vet appears from surgery and informs that the dog has broken her one back leg and cracked a rib but she would cover fully, and return to her ‘old dog self’ in four to six months.

“Old dog self?” she asks.

“You know,” the vet says, smiling a beat too late as though she has to remind herself to do it.

“This is not my dog.” she says, “She followed me in the trail.”

“Well, pick her up in two days and keep her until she recovers. Then we will help you in finding a new home for her.” he says, “ Or, if it is a lost dog, then we will take a picture of her and leave it on the front desk,for the people to see. If someone recognizes the dog, then we will call you immediately.” He smiles. “Does it sound alright?” He asks again.

“Sure, I will keep her until we find the owner or if someone decides to adopt her.” she says. The vet walks back inside to his office. She calls her husband at his office to tell the surprise event. “What?” her husband says, adjusting his voice.

“She followed me and suddenly jumped up the cliff,” she says.

“You mean she fell?”

“She leaped, Carter. She just leaped!” When she said the words, she felt something open up inside her. “ I followed my heart Carter. It is not fair to leave the dog in that condition.”

“I Don’t understand,” he says carefully. He is silent for a moment. “We will talk about this when I return.” He says finally.

“Of course,” she says putting the phone away in her pant pocket. She walks into a room to see the dog. She has splints on her hind leg and lays in one cage. “ Oh, I’m sorry sweetie.”

“It is normal,” the vet says, “Not to worry. Pick up the medicine from the front desk, and she will be fine in a couple of weeks.”

“She just looks so helpless,” Peony says.She feels great affection to this poor dog.

For the first two weeks after the surgery, the dog couldn’t move. Still she tries, staring at the hysterical yips of the neighbourhood dogs greeting passing trucks or the sound of mailbox squeaking open and closed, her instinct trumping the pain of her broken body. Peony has to lift her and carry her outside to do her business. Afterwork,she returns home and sits on the floor next to the dog bed and stares into her large, wet eyes, wondering what has drawn the dog to her.In the meantime she has named the dog ‘Destiny.’

 

Peony loves volunteering in the Senior Care home. Mrs Smith is same age as her grandmother yells at a ghost. “Get out of here right this minute!” Her accent is always thicker when she is torn from her dreams. She hurries into the bathroom to turn off the faucet. Peony walks behind her. “What happened?” she asks.

“The ghost is running up my water bill.It has to stop.”She shakes her head ruefully.

“Peony smiles. “I don’t see anyone or if the ghost comes then he may be thirsty.”

“He’s a she, and ghosts don’t drink, darling.They have no bodies. She just plays with me.” She yells, shaking her fist in the air, as if the ghost is hiding just out there. Her upper arm wavers and Peony remembers how she had played with the loose skin as a child. And her grandmother used to laugh at it. Peony walks closer toward mrs Smith.”Would you like me to sit here with you?”

“Sure.”

Peony looks at Mrs Smith’s hands. Arthritis, that devious sculptor has taken its shape and it must be painful for her to do anything in her hands. Mrs Smith brings a two cups of green tea and sets them on the small coffee table. “ I’m tired of waking up in the middle of the night. I’m too old for it.”

“ You shouldn’t.” Peony says sipping the tea. “There is no such thing as ghost.”

“How dare you say that?” Mrs Smith screams and Peony almost spills the tea on her dress. She puts the cup back on the table. “I’m sorry, it is just my believe.” Mrs Smith changes the subject. She pushes the chair back and walks toward her closet. She brings out a small sewing machine to the table, with it a ivory silk material and a pair of scissors. “ You are coming to give me company so as a gift I will make a nice dress for you.” She shows her the material. “Do you like this one?”

Peony touches it. “O’ I love it.But you don’t have to do anything. I just come to spend time with you, that’s all.” she smiles.

Mrs Smith doesn’t say anything. She takes her measurement, cuts the material. He hands shake as she cuts. She struggles to thread a needle with fingers that are beginning to bend at odd angles like old trees.

“Want me to do it?” Peony offers.

“I can thread my own needle, thank you. Been doing it more than half my lifetime.” She is stubborn.” She is watching me again.” she mutters.

“Who?”

“The ghost.”She gestures at the empty room. “Honey, I’m still trying to figure out the reason people do what they do when they’re alive.” She finishes ripping out the stitches, sighs audibly and fits the material to the machine again. The stitches are uneven but she continues. Peony feels her heart rises in her face as she watches Mrs. Smith’s awkward, determined work.

“Who is this ghost who bothers you all the time?” Peony asks gently.

“ She doesn’t bother me. I don’t have patience for her.”

“For her?”

“Yes, she is my darling friend, used to be my neighbor. It has been a few years that she passed away.” A deep sigh. But she loves to come here everyday to bother me.” Mrs Smith lifts her eyes from the sewing machine. “ You know how friends are.” she smiles. Peony sits there nodding her head and listening to Mrs. Smith.

It is almost September when Destiny returns to normal self, bouncing and happy. Her hair has grown back in the places where she’d been shaved for the surgery. She goes for a long walk in the trail; Destiny with her gimpy legs and peony with her heart. And nobody called her to get Destiny, so now they are enjoying each other’s company.

Unique but Delightful Universe

Invisible

Life appeared to be vastly calm as they started the train ride. Toby loves the sway of cars on the tracks, the blur of trees and towns on the other side of the window. Lillian glances at her four-year old son; wide smile and bright eyes. Suddenly happiness bubbles inside her. Toby will love her friend’s farmhouse. The train arrives at Albarracin , a small town. They descend from the train. Outside her friend Jenna is waiting with a big stuffed bear.

“Welcome! How was the ride?” She asks as she takes the bag from Lillian’s hand.

“Wonderful! Toby loved the ride.” Lillian replies.

“Come, let’s get in to the car.It’s little bit of a ride.” They walked towards the car. Inside the car Lillian settles herself with her son in the back seat while her friend drives.  Toby insists Lillian to honk the horn.

“We don’t need to but I will do it for you.”Lillian smiles and honks softly. Toby claps his hands. “It sounds like the SeSame street blue monster bobbing its nose. Right mom?” He asks leaning towards her mother.

“Yes, it is.”

The house sits at the edge of an expanse of water, clear and blue like the robbin’s nest. Toby jumps out from the car as Lillian opens the car door. Lillian follows her son. Toby stands there mesmerized. His eyes follow the beautiful yellow ducklings as they waltz on the muddy shore. Toby sits there at the edge of the water, sticking smooth stones. He seems quite contented. Lillian chats with her friend as her son stacks the stones and stacks them again and his posture relaxed, at ease. Jenna watches Toby and looks back at her friend. “So how is it going with Toby?”

Lillian sighs. “ Well, you never know. Sometimes he is so calm and other times he turns everything upside down.”

“Did you check with the doctor?”

“Yes, last friday he had an appointment with dr. Robertson.” Lillian smiles. “It is funny when Dr asked him to draw a road runner from a picture book. Then he said “Beep, beep.” Lillian tries to remember the funny picture. “ Toby did. He is good with eyes but with bodies! Not that much. His roadrunner looked like feather duster attached to a gardening rake. But I liked it because he gave it a try.”

“ Does he have any friend?”

“ There are two boys of his age group. Sometimes they come to play with Toby.” Lillian glances at Toby. He has made a tall shape with the  wet rocks. Toby looks at her mother. “Mom, look they look like crispy double vanilla sugar wafers! Looks delicious! Can I lick to taste it?”

Lillian laughs. “ No, Toby. Don’t lick the rocks. They don’t have any taste but we will have a real wafer.” Lillian walks towards Toby. “Let’s go inside.”

 

In the living room Lillian sits with her friend on a couch. Two cups of green tea sits on a tray in front of them on the small table. Toby quickly gathers up all his cars, brings them to the couch. He begins lining them up in rows. But the rows are different than usual, the colors all mismatched . Yellow meets red meets green. He is trying to express something, he doesn’t know how to. Lillian leans over towards him. “Toby, would you like me to play with you?” She puts her hand softly on his shoulder. He ignores her and becomes more anxious. He rearranges the cars without any order and move them frantically so they are crashing into one another, tiny toy accidents.

“ Let’s go and play outside on the trampoline.” Lillian says with concern.Toby puts his thumb in his mouth and walks outside with her mother. A bright smile flashes in Toby’s small face. He bounces on the trampoline like an elephant crashing from side to side. Lillian laughs and giggles  with her son.

            

 

Wonderland

No way! Really! What a surprise!!”
Gabriella makes a 360 degree turn holding her cellphone.She leans against the dining chair and reads the current weather again “ Winter storm warning in effect until midnight..A strong arctic cold front has pushed through…Temperature will continue to fall across the area with most of Texas below freezing  already and freezing rain will turn into sleet and snow. University and most of the offices are closed today due to this inclement weather.”
Her overly excited legs pad on the cold tiled floor towards the kitchen window.  She opens the wooden blind.
“O,My!” Her voice an octave higher.
Outside, the flurries of snow has been roiling in the air and dancing in perfect synchronization, thudding against the ground. The morning light struggles through the murky cloud and dazzles on the snow. The tree branches hang low with the weight of snow. A thick white comforter of gorgeous snow covers the rooftops. All the  brown and golden fall leaves on the deck look exquisite.

“Is it a fairyland!”  A loud clap of laughter bursts from her mouth.Her eyes dancing now. They go wide and shiny and bright again. Her eyebrows are so high, the’re nearly hidden beneath the long bangs on her forehead and then, in an instant she takes a decision.

There is no point of wasting time. She loves winter and her favorite is a day in snow! Robert Frost’s poem A Winter Eden flashes in her mind
A winter garden in an alder swamp..

As near a paradise as it can be

And not melt snow or start a dormant tree….

So near to paradise all pairing ends:

Here loveless birds now flock as winter friends,

Content with bud-inspecting…

A feather-hammer gives a double knock.

This Eden day is done at two o’clock…”

It is too exciting for Gabriella to stay inside. After bundling up in jacket, woolen hat, scarf and glove, she opens the front door and steps out to take a walk in the green belt trail. As she takes a turn towards the trail, from the trail of her eye she glances at the older couple standing on their  front porch. They wave their hands with a smile. Gabriella stops at the curb.

“ Good morning Gabriella!” Mrs.Bezos wraps her grey and white shawl around her exposed neck. “Are you going somewhere?”

“ Morning!” Gabriella waves her hand. She points at the trail. “ Yes, to take a small walk in the trail.”

“ Are you crazy?In this weather!” The small smile is still in tact on her face but her eyes widens for a moment and her mouth slightly ajar. She gives a quick shake of her head. Her husband steps in.

“ Sweetie, the roads are now very slippery so don’t venture too far.” He thrusts both his hands in his jacket pockets.

“I know.” Gabriella nods her head, “ You stay warm.” She continues her walk. The native Texans don’t like the snowy weather. They enjoy more of a clear, sunny weather.It is extremely cold with icy rain and slippery concrete sidewalk, but it is perfect for Gabriella.  Her breath is pale against the numbing air, she blinks as the ice perfectly touches her face and dust her eyelashes. The wind whispers as the snow falls like confetti on her deep blue woollen cap.It is almost forty-five minutes of walking, there is not a single soul in the trail and her mind is completely enveloped in Percy  Shelley’s poem on snow –

        The cold earth slept below;

        Above the cold sky shone;

            And all around,

            With a chilling sound,

From caves of ice and fields of snow

The green grass was not seen;

            The birds did rest

            On the bare thorn’s breast,

Whose roots, beside the pathway track,

Had bound their folds o’er many a crack

            Which the frost had made between…

Her cell phone lights up in her jacket pocket. She adjusts her footing on the icy road and stops.

Her husband is in the phone.

“ Where are you? In a venture?”

Before Gabriella answers he says, “ The roads are so slippery and it is extremely cold! You

should not have gone out.”
“ I am returning from my walk and not to worry. It is getting very slippery but I am careful.”

“You are really crazy! Who takes a walk in this type of weather? Okay walk slowly and come home.” He hangs the phone. Her husband likes the cold and snow, but he prefers to stay inside and enjoy scenes from the living room window with a cup of hot cocoa or read his newspaper sitting near the fireplace.

 As the icy rain falls harder and faster, Gabriella decides to turn around and return home continuing with Shelley’s poem on her head  
“The wind made thy bosom chill;

            The night did shed

            On thy dear head

Its frozen dew, and thou didst lie

Where the bitter breath of the naked sky

            Might visit thee at will.”

 

 

 

A few lovely things in Life

Almost

Can you believe this! Anne leans closer to the cold window and looks at the front yard. All the trees, mailbox, lawn are covered with snow and it is almost seven-foot of snow.

“ I am telling you it is global warming. It may be a fake news or not a science after all for our president but it is the reality.” The nature suddenly has awaken form its torpor and unleashes the worst snowstorm in living memory. O’my! She is cursing the cold in her small,old,one story brick house. They get snow every winter but not type of Siberian winter which has struck Erie, Pennsylvania in error. Snow is always pristine from distance. Her basement, largely below street level and has poor heating. Snow is alway a nightmare. But Anne loves to do her morning yoga and meditation there. The frost-covered glass impedes light from entering through the small window and the inside gloom is hardly dispelled by the naked bulbs dangling from the ceiling. The basement has only the essentials; one long beige colored sofa, a thick oriental rug to cover the floor and a small wooden table with two chairs on both sides. Anne has her yoga mat, exercise balls and barbels in one corner of the room. She loves the quietness of the room.

The storm begins on Wednesday with a heavy snowfall followed by a fierce squall that lashes the streets. The forces of wind causes trees to bend and freezing weather kill many birds who has forgotten to migrate, fooled by the previous month’s warmth. A state of emergency is declared. Most of the offices, library and a few department stores are closed, although it would have been an adventure to visit the stores for Christmas shopping or to buy something special for the New Year’s eve party. Anne does not have to go to the university, so she takes the advantage of unexpected freedom to decorate her house elaborately for the upcoming New year’s eve party. She has arranged all her beautiful collection of clocks on the mantel as a countdown decor, has folded colored paper cubes to make decorative strings of lights, has taped giant confetti to her bare stone wall in the front living room.

“ Hopefully, all our family members and friends will make to the party.” She opens the thick wooden blinds from the window and glances outside. It is still snowing. The two tall red pine trees in the front yard of her neighbor’s house are almost covered in snow. She spots their puddle running around in the snow wagging her small black tail.Anne hears her husband Richard’s footsteps in the kitchen.

“ Good morning! You have already started baking!Let me know if you need any help.” he turns round and opens the back door to let the dog out. “Wow! Look at the snow! And it is still snowing! It is like the North Pole in here.” The bitterly cold wind fills the kitchen. He comes back into the kitchen closing the door. “ For the love of God, turn the heating up, don’t be so stingy.” Richard increases the thermostat and returns to the kitchen . “ A hot cup of strong coffee will do miracle.”  Richard makes coffee and takes a sip. “ This is wonderful! He walks towards the kitchen window and glances outside towards the snow.

“ I am not sure if guests will be able to drive here. Look at the snow fall.”

“ Let’s keep our finger crossed.”

“ I have an idea. We should prepare some healthy stuff for this party. Like sautéed Brussels sprout,avocado salad roll ups, Stuffed mushroom with feta cheese, garlic.”

“ We have most of the items and let’s go through the list first before adding up more items. I have already made green pea soup with carrot and celery, Mexican spicy corn bread and zucchini chips.”

“ That sounds wonderful. Hey, do you remember that tonight is Nora’s performance in  Warner?”

“ Yes, I do and we will try to make, it but we have to check if the theater will open tonight.”

Anne leaves the room to get her cell phone and confirms that it will open just one hour before the play starts.

Nora is Anne’s adopted daughter. She was five years old when they adopted her.She is the best gift in Anne’s life. Anne had all the fun with Nora helping her in homework, making school projects, playing Barbie, building legos, riding bicycle. Nora has given her the happiness that she will never find anywhere else in life. Nora is always gets lost in the maze of a feverish imagination and boundless curiosity, constantly wearing her heart on her sleeve, weeping for suffering humanity and mistreated animals. Anne has helped Nora several times in rescuing animals. And Nora always love to act. She has worked in school dramas, college plays. Theater arts is her favorite subject. Tonight, seventeen years old Nora plays the role of Mary and Nick her best friend, plays the role of gorgeous George of the story “It is a wonderful life”- a Christmas comedy-drama  based on the short story ‘The Greatest Gift’. “ In the story,they are both optimistic,innocent idealistic. George dreams big and is driven by a thirst of adventure. But he sometimes misses the truth what is right in front of him that Mary, the prettiest girl in town, is destined to be the great love of his life. Nora loves the story because it teaches loyalty and devotion. George Bailey is the poster boy for loyalty. He is epical loyal to his family, his business and to Bedford Falls. While they are practicing in the back stage Nora suddenly stops.

“Come on bring the words to life and give them more emotion.”

“Fancy talk. I don’t know how to.”

“Imagine that you are telling a story to a friend and he wants to know every detail of the story.  You should tell with some emotion, more details.”

Nick nods.

Richard gets out of the house and shovels and tries his best to clear the snow from their driveway. Around five in the evening they set off in their Lexus, travelling twelve miles until they reach downtown theater district.The road is slippery and hard to drive. The car headlights reveals a desolate cityscape as Richard drives cautiously, peering out through the semicircle free of frost on the windshield.The streets seems like those of an unknown city; for a minute her thinks he is lost,even though he has taken the route so many times before. Time seems at a standstill. The hum of the heating blower and the relentless back and forth motion of the windshield wipers give the impression that the car is suspended in a heavy fog. Anne from the passenger sit sighs.

“It is so dark! Drive slowly. The roads are so slippery!” Anne turns her face towards Richard.  “  It is only for Nora’s sake that we are coming. We can not see her sad.”

“ I understand. Don’t worry.” He concentrates in driving.

It is almost six thirty when they reach at the theatre. The parking lot is full.

“It is surprising to see all these cars!”

The decoration inside the building is mesmerizing! The room is full, instead of roadblocks and snow storm. The whole family took the front row straight across.The show is a huge hit. Anne hugs Nora after her performance. Nora looks very pretty with broad shoulders, a long neck and sparkling, spinach colored eyes. Her strapless blue chiffon dress with narrow chiffon ruffle neckline is breathtaking.

“ Both of you did  such a wonderful job! We loved your acting!”

“Thank you mom. I am glad that everybody came to see the play in this severe weather.”

“ This is your first performance on stage and we could not miss that. I can say confidently that It will be a promising new year for you.” Anne laughs hugging Nora.