“Wait here. I will be back,” he told me as he walked inside the house, coughing. He stumbled and I heard a loud crash. I wanted to check on him, but he had asked me to wait. I heard a voice sobbing softly. People came and left, wooden-faced. That evening, I smelled lilies and heard the wail of terrifying silence. Everyone from his house came out, except him. I knew where he was kept. Should I follow him? But, he had said he would be back. I waited in the garden, amongst the daisies. He always kept his word.
Lucy woke up, optimistic, knowing that something was about to change. She ran down the street when she heard the postman’s bike a couple of streets away. A letter from her wayward son! The postman looked at the 90-year old Lucy jumping up and down and realized that his efforts had been worth it. He had braved the storm, the governmental warnings, and a pickpocket to reach his destination. He smiled at Lucy. At this, Lucy became self-conscious and looked angrily at the postman. The grinning dumbo! After all, how would this man know how important her letter was!
Peter turned off the alarm clock in haste. It was 9. In 15 minutes, he was in the living room, ready for office. However, there was no sign of breakfast. “Maisy, where is my breakfast?” She stared at him and turned away. Peter had slapped her yesterday and she was acting up. The next day was the same and so was the next. If he made extra food, meaning to save some for the night, she ate everything. Anger rose in him, but he thought of its consequences. “Maisy,” he began in a low voice, “I am extremely sorry.”
Meghan stood at the entrance of the church looking at the white flowers which had begun to wither prematurely. Her husband, egged on by his friends, had carried her down the steps. They had been together for a month when he was called away to the sea. He described the calm and stormy waters in detail, calling the sea his mother and best friend. Although a little sad, he was highly excited when called away to the sea. “I am going home”, he had told her. Meghan adjusted her black veil as she went in to attend the service.
Meghan smiled at the colourful flowers and wondered if he would carry her down the steps or would be too tired to do so. Her fiancé had been called to the sea after their engagement. She thought about the fierce storm and six months of fear, wondering if he would come back. However, he was never in any doubt. He had called the sea his mother and best friend. His faith had been rewarded and he returned home, cherishing life and his loved ones. Meghan adjusted her white veil and took her dad’s arm as she entered the church.
“I want to thank my parents for encouraging me.” Cheryl’s eyes scanned the nooks and corners as she spoke what she had memorized before the concert. “A special thanks to my music teacher…” Aunt Thelma was huddled in a corner, her eyes shining. She had taken Cheryl to her piano lessons every alternate day, learned piano for her and practiced with her. But, there was no mention of her in the speech prepared by her dad and supervised by her mom. “Thank you, Aunt Thelma” whispered Cheryl. Thelma could not hide her tear-streaked cheeks and a subtle, victorious smile.
Vimmi felt the caressing breeze and inhaled the scent of pine trees. “What does the Kumaon Valley look like?” she asked. “Fabulous.” He replied, guiltily. She had always wanted to come to Nainital for their honeymoon, but Vikas had refused marriage for 7 years, citing his career. Vimmi backtracked after her accident, but Vikas refused to go away. He had not realized her love for nature and her fervent desire to visit Nainital until now. “Why don’t you take a walk while I wait here?” she smiled. “I am scared.” He replied, helping her up. “You lead the way.”
Fali looked out of his cabin window. He recalled his dad’s toothy smile, their old boat, and his simple childhood as a fisherman’s son. He still heard his dad’s wild laughter, echoing in the sea. Now nobody around him laughed loudly and neither did Fali. They smiled out of necessity. However, one thing did not change. The waters had ruled his father’s life and now they ruled his. “Sir, the Captain’s cocktail party begins in 10 minutes.” A young officer stood there. Captain Fali Dastur nodded his head without bothering to smile. He followed the officer to the deck.
Sid looked at the threatening blue water as he stood at the edge of a swimming pool. He remembered the day 60 years ago when his coach pushed him inside the pool. Sid had told his disappointed mother that he would never go anywhere near a pool, a beach or even a pond. He had kept his word till now. His granddaughter looked at him with determination and tenacity. “Grandpa, don’t you want to get rid of your arthritis? You can do it. Get in.” He felt some of her courage entering him as he stepped inside the water.
Roy smelled something foul as he sat in his desk. Was Mrs. D’Souza roasting almonds? Rosy and Roland bounced into the room, “Dad, we are off to the Halloween party.” They jumped and down; their black costumes and weird make-up irritated him. “Hurry up then.” He had wanted to send them to a boarding school after Lizzy’s death, but a shred of humanity in the corner of his heart prevented him from doing so. Roy choked as the odor spread through the room. Now he recognized it as cyanide; the one he had administered to Lizzy 5 years ago.
David’s memory was put up in the living room. After the birth of the triplets, he was moved into their dad’s study. As the children grew, he was relegated to the cupboard deep inside. He heard the kids coo, crawl, walk and then speak their first words. David wanted to see his sisters and brother play. He wished to hear his mother’s voice. No one had said his name for the past 3 years. Though he wanted it to be this way, he still felt a sense of loss. Had he survived, he would have been 5 years old.