Jennifer was lost in the beauty of nature. She was so engrossed in the patter of the rain that she felt her soul tear apart from the physical being that she was and fly away to be a part of nature. She could feel herself talking to the Mother Earth in the language of the heart. Those raindrops that dropped into the puddle of water, cleansing the world of its dirt, made her heart leap with joy. Though rain was commonly related to a sentiment of grief and misery of human hearts, she believed otherwise. It represented undying love, purity, care, the force that urges life to move forward. The only sorrow that she had with regard to the rain was for the birds. Those poor beings would be drenched to the skin…
The voice never reached Jennifer’s world for she was lost in a far away realm. In her world of reverie, she pictured herself flying high above the palm trees among a group of majestic eagles. There she saw herself swooping down to a garden, not to seize her prey, but to share the beauty of nature with those butterflies waiting patiently for their turn to suck the sweet nectar from the hibiscus. The pouring rain never bothered her. In fact she could feel herself flapping her arms harder and harder as she rose above the plants, the shrubs, the trees; up she rose through the sky. The rain came down harder, but she saw herself reaching her destination the grey dense clouds. Her outstretched hands almost got a feel of those wet clouds...
She awoke from her reverie to the sound of her name. The name brought her back into the reality; her world of restricted joy; restricted wonder; restricted wisdom; restricted dreams; restricted beauty.
He wished her luck and said a quick goodbye to her and rushed outside. She saw him hail a cab. Once again she was alone. The feeling wasn’t new to her and so it didn’t bother her much.
Jenny went in to her room to get her pill. On her way back to the living room, her eyes fell upon an old photograph of her family; her parents and her little brother. Reflected on the dusty glass frame of the old photograph, she relived her past yet another time- the accurate particulars etched clear in her memory. Her mind journeyed thirteen years in time, back to the sixteenth of October, 2001.
She was returning from the amusement park with her family. Her father, John Mechuns, an acclaimed architect, was driving homewards, in their old grey SUV. She didn’t remember much about him; but what she did, was etched in her memory. It was just three days since his fortieth birthday, and hence she clearly remembered his age. He was very unlike a man in forties. What with his crazy jokes, his funny gestures and his eyes that gleamed with mischief, he behaved like a boy who had just entered adulthood. But from her past experiences with him, she knew that when situation demanded, he could turn into an extremely fuming, hazardous man. She had never been on the receiving end of it, and did everything possible so as to never end up on that side. But whatever said and done, she loved him more than anything.
Her mother Jean, on the other hand, had a very contrasting character. She was gloomy and lethargic all the time. Although she would easily qualify for “the most pleasant, sweet and compassionate hostess competition”, in reality, she was the owner of traits which were nowhere close to the aforesaid ones. Jennifer respected her, and obeyed her; but never truly loved her. In fact she has wondered very often how her father could end up with a woman like her mother, considering the fact that theirs was a love marriage. The very fact that theirs was a love marriage cut off Jenny and Tony from the love of their relatives.
Jennifer had a little brother- Antony- her very dear Tony. Tony, who was no taller than a walking stick, adored his little big sister to the extent that he refused to have his lunch until she feeds him the food. His big round eyes, thick curly hair, his staunch tummy, and his soft cheeks…
On their way home, that day, destiny had in store for them a rather ghastly present. In an ill-fated moment their ride was rammed over by a tourist bus. There was no point in any investigation who was at fault, for whatever done had been done. Three souls from the run down SUV flitted away to the realm of the gods, long before help arrived, leaving behind the beautiful little child smeared in blood and mud, to fend for her in a world that could easily consume her.
The next thing that little Jenny saw was a white hospital room, where she lay wound up in casts and bandages. It hurt to move her right wrist. She couldn’t move her left wrist either- but that wasn’t out of pain. She felt her left wrist held tight by someone. When she turned her head, she saw her classmate, Sean, holding her hand, sitting with his eyes closed. After a while, Sean’s parents came in through the door. Promptly, she tried to get up, but she couldn’t even budge from her position. They came in, hugged her, kissed her and pacified her for a very long time. It took her another day to realize why she had been the recipient of all that caresses.
The next day had been one of immense grief. It wasn’t the news of her departed family alone that plunged her into sorrow. Her little mind was far too young to completely understand what it meant to be an orphan. The sorrow was only superficial. Had she been five years older, Jenny would have plunged into an abyss of depression from which there would be no return. Had it been a Jenny ten years older, she could have been talked out of dejection, for the human mind would have grown enough to grasp the way of the world. But as long as one doesn’t know what one has lost, there is no space for sorrow; all that’s left is a space for a new beginning. The reason that made the little child drown in sorrow was the realization that she was now one among the very unfortunate who had to live on the wheelchair. Her legs were damaged beyond recovery. She was reduced to a being on the wheelchair…
The rest of her childhood had been one in which she finds herself sitting on the fated chair, while her friends played outdoors. Heaven knew how much she craved to play alongside her classmates. God alone knew how much she craved to wet her feet in the puddles made by rainwater. She alone knew how much she craved to wear the latest high heeled shoes. But that was not to be. Destiny had another story in store for her and she could but accept the reality. She would continue to sit on the cursed chair for the years to come. If anyone had taunted her a little bit, she was sure that she would have hanged herself to end the pain forever.
Suddenly, a limousine drove up the driveway and honked. She gestured to the chauffeur of the posh car, to wait. She directed her wheelchair to her bedroom and started changing. When she was done, she took an envelope from her dresser and drove the chair towards the car.
Only when she was seated comfortably on the back of the car did her thoughts come back. The rest of her life came flooding back to her.
Sean’s parents took her in the very next day. So technically she wasn’t an orphan in the real sense of the word. Even when amongst Sean’s family, she was estranged in her islets of memories. A lonely girl...
It was Sean that brought back joy to her life. That stupid plum boy in the hospital room had grown even before she knew it. He started taking care of her like a big brother. He was always there when she needed him. It was he that pulled her up from the abyss of depression, pushed her up the stairs of self confidence and drove her into the world of literature.
After Sean and Jenny were left to fend for them by destiny, God’s will, or fate, call it what you will, they decided to shift from their place to the land of opportunities and development- India. The move was one that drastically affected their lifestyle. Unlike California, they seemed to be a centre of attraction for their new neighbors. People realized that they weren’t siblings nor were they married as of yet, but they refused to believe that they simply considered one another as a sibling. How could a boy and girl of the same age live together and grow together and yet be of no relation with one another. The only way that this scenario was probable for the neighbors was a love affair that united those two “strangers”. Nothing else came close to explaining their relation, or so they believed for sure.
There had been stories about a girl who grew up with her boyfriend- how she was raised by his family, when she lost her family; how he raised her when he lost his family later on. She hated the way rumors spread. The very fact that people misinterpreted them to be a couple irked her. She was always smothered by the stares, glares, smirks, and jeers that people so very generously gave them when Sean and she went to places together.
A few months after he had lost his parents, they were seated together in a restaurant. When an old couple started grinning at them from the adjacent table she lost her cool. She got so frustrated that she turned around and glared back at them with fury radiating from her eyes. The couple got scared, she believed, for they cleared the building in two minutes. She turned back at Sean and asked him, “Why can’t people understand that boys and girls can be together without falling in love with one another? Haven’t they heard about a brother- sister relationship?”
She clearly remembers his answer. He gave a hearty laugh and said, “A brother-sister love is beyond the brains of a layman. A sister’s love is a chaste love a bit too much for others. You can’t possibly expect them to understand?!”
She smiled thinking over his answer and unknowingly hugged the package to her bosom. When the destination of her journey loomed ahead, she quietly opened the envelope and tore open the package inside. A huge roar arose from the gateway into which they had turned. The place was packed with people- people waving at her car, people cheering the car, people streaming towards the car with cards and flowers.
When the car finally came to stop, a few officials ran up to the limo to make room for her. As they cleared the path for her, her gaze shifted to the book in her hand. On it were the words, “A Sister’s love- a chaste love” in bold and towards the bottom end of the page were the words, ‘written by Jennifer Mechuns.’ The page also contained a symbol on the top left corner that read, ‘International Bestseller’.
The relocation hadn’t been a total waste after all…
She tore her gaze away from the book and looked around. The people were cheering her on. She was no longer a being confined to her wheelchair; she was a being that could travel places quicker on her wheelchair than others on foot. She was now the person who could connect to the minds of millions. She was an author. Now she could fly like an eagle and enjoy the rain…
She beckoned the chauffeur to open the door and out she rode her wheelchair like a princess on a pacing steed…