Devi sat on the shoulder of the gravel walk with legs dangling nonchalantly over the ledge. The promontory was just a couple of yards high from the main park below. The park almost deserted now as people hurried to get home. Brushing away sweat from her eyes, she looked out to the far horizon now dotted with gray clouds. Far out to the right much heavier clouds gathered threatening rain. I have to head back soon, too she thought. Yeah, it was rather late in the afternoon for a walk usually done early mornings… but no reason this time, none convincing enough anyhow, shrugged Devi picking herself up.
Shaking off imaginary dust from her pants, she started walking back up the path. It was a short trek to the main road but the park designers put in a rough gravel walk winding around trees that gradually thinned out when it got to the big gate. Doesn’t make walking easy, she mused. She thought, oh yeah, mom would always say life is not easy. She got this so wired into my head even before i could set eyes on goals and even before i could set foot on that journey pushing those dreams. When I finally left home to seek my own fortune, it was then that I came face to face with the ‘not easy’ stuff —because there it all was before me --disappointments, bum situations, hard knocks, and jerks. In turn I got bruised, torn, and shaken all over. How often did I cry “enough!!” – and frantically hit the panic button with a thousand screws askew --and burned wires sticking out of my frazzled brain. Geezz…So this is what mom meant!
Devi halted, steps faltered her heart grew heavy as thoughts flashbacked through the years. Feeling a heavy lump in her throat and eyes going moist, she uttered scars take long to heal alright. She lifted her eyes, released the sigh and blinked away the tears. Yes when you have had a life like mine, you'll know everything revolves around – pain and struggle. It’s the fierce battle for relief that hits the button to push harder. No other way to do it-- and when all that doesn’t work still, then you also cry harder and hurt even so much more.
Cold winds started whipping up leaves on the park grounds. Hair wildly flapping in the wind, she intuitively looked back to check on the cluster of dark clouds formed earlier. Now they were much darker and heavier heading in her direction. The sight jarred her thoughts back to the present; Devi now quickened her steps and hurried down the path till it brought her to the main gate. Finally out into the open, she quickly ran towards the waiting shed as heavy clouds broke into unrelenting rain.
Rain! Into each life some rain must fall— not original but another piece from Mom’s list. She missed no chance to hammer that into my head—making sure I understood very well what she meant--- At fifteen?! Ugh! --When all that I had in mind was that cute boy next door-- Tall and lanky, thin lips always curling up into an eternal smile, and gorgeous blue eyes. Blue! Girls went gaga over him—never mind if he was a GI baby –somebody’s souvenir of a long gone ugly war. He was cute! But then I grew older and outgrew the boy (well, who doesn’t!) and yes the rains did come. In fact, it poured buckets-- I got fired from my second job, got kicked out of my flat, friends thinned out, was betrayed by a boyfriend, mom died and an only brother in that same year, dad joined them a few years after, and money dwindled all too soon.
Devi looked down to her soggy shoes as old forgotten memories continued its parade. Drenched, she thought still looking at her wet shoes-- nobody can stay unaffected by it— none can survive untouched by it all. Life makes sure of that and spares no one. We all get our share of pain—in different measure but it falls on everyone absolutely. We all get unmercifully drenched. Soaked wet down to our feet!
The rains still pounded on the pavement heavily without letup. Darn, she thought, peering through the thick curtain of rain, what’s taking the shuttle so long. Distracted, she strained through the thick rain to the other side of the road down to a low-lying bush which caught her eye. Small and sitting squat on the ground, yet with its tiny lavender blooms bravely holding on to its stalk under the pounding rain. Amazing, she mused, and so pretty-- a ray of color, hope and courage on a bleak silver gray and heartless canvass-- So much like life, isn’t it? She mused.
Blooms! Take time to smell the roses. Yeah, it’s not original-- again I know, but Mom said this, too. She said that at one time in our life, there is that precious moment or one unforgettable person which and who will always stand out in one’s memory which is akin to the sight of beautiful red roses in gorgeous full bloom taking one’s breath away-- always remembered, never ever forgotten!
A rose moment-- who says that banners and streamers welcome you into the workplace-- that 24-karat smiles greet you on every floor the Sup takes you to meet the corporate family as they call it. Well, maybe one or two then there are the quick smiles, half smiles, quarter smiles, and no smiles. But I hate most the eternal smirk. Ugh! It cuts you up more like a double-edged sword. To a naïve just-fresh-out-of-school young girl of twenty-two, this is akin to the ugly withered witch in the dark cold deep forest who’s out to steal my basket of red apples. Did I get that all mixed up... was it snow white or little red riding hood? He-he. So the Sup and I got through all the floors and cubicles and then back to my first-ever corner desk when the clock struck lunch. Hurriedly, she mumbled where the canteen was and then melted into the woodwork. Must be related to Cindy—Cinderella if you want to know. Anyway the room suddenly felt so desolate as I stood there glued to my shoes. Panic! -- heart thumping I grabbed for my bag and ran to the ladies’ room. Empty! So glad for it heaving a sigh of relief. The place was impressively very clean. Maybe I could…??? So I got out from my bag the sandwich mom packed for me this morning, moved the stool at the make-up counter closer to the open window, sat down and ate my lunch. I was starving. A quarter off my sandwich when the door opened and a girl came in. She may have noticed the sandwich in my hand but said nothing. Instead, she said “Hi!” --showing a nice set of pearly white teeth. She washed, dried her hands, and then looked in the mirror checking her make-up. I remained quiet so embarrassed because she obviously knew what I was doing there. Then she turned to me and said “The view is truly fantastic from that window. New here?” and smiled. Not waiting for me to reply, she headed for the door and added “You’ll be fine; it's okay. It’s only that way for some few days.” Smiled again, opened the door and stepped out closing it softly behind her. Never saw her again but I never forgot her since. Although I was told that people in the big city rush and hurry all the time unmindful of each other, but not this one, she certainly took time for me.
Oh but of course there're more-- snippets in the most unlikely places and situations although remotely connected to my own pain and suffering —yet so much immense wealth of pleasure and inspiration derived from it despite the restive ripples seen on the surface of life so to speak— so much like a pool of calm cool waters refreshing and resting my soul and spirit. I guess one just has to learn to seek out these treasures which almost always are hidden beneath the hassle-and-bustle of life’s endless grind and hard cover-- to see pearls where others may think none exist. And appreciate it! I guess this is what Mom meant.
The heavy downpour now had trickled to a light drizzle and Devi slid out of the shed deciding to walk home. The comforting thought of hot chocolate nudged her to quicken her steps. But for one brief moment, she looked back over her shoulder to the tiny plant -- lavender blooms still upright—and Devi smiled. Ah yes, nature and people – brothers, too, in the same landscape of life. And grinning widely now, Devi whispered to the wind “Mom, I found myself another pearl!”.
posted on Wednesday, September 14, 2005 6:10 AM