As Rachel busied herself with the dough, she had a sense of pleasure and happiness. Every morning she woke up and she infused life into the statues she made. She used to talk to them, speak to them about her troubles and share the pains and pleasures of life. Rachel a professional statue maker today was busy with a special creation which she felt was deserving of her profession.
Everything was perfect about the child, the soft curly hair, the perfectly shaped hands, the beautifully long fingers, gentle shaped legs whcih automatically gave a lovely personality and absolutely
truthful lips. Everything was perfect and now she worked on the eyes.
She dabbed more of the powder in the bowl and made a perfect dough and took the other end of the paintbrush to carve the eyes. She first looked back at the eyes, and paused to look into them. They looked so beautiful she thought and added some eyelashes. As the puppy love eyes looked at her, Rachels heart skipped a beat. It seemed as if she would drown in those eyes. The very hands that made the idol now shivered as she raised her hands to fit the pupils. As she went towards the eye region, a big blob of plaster fell down. RAchel bent down to see and saw that it had fallen right in the pot of black paint. She climbed down the ladder to clear the mess and looked up and again felt a shudder as she felt the beautiufl innocent eyes looking at her, as if pleading her to keep it for ever. Rachel sold a piece a day and used to put up the best as the Sale of The Day. She had made this Angelic Child statue with making it the Sale of The Day in mind.
But now she couldnt and she just left it at that. She left the eye damaged as it had got when she was climbing down. There was a tear near the eye but Rachel let it be there. And she told herself she wouldnt sell this. This was her precious creation, her innocent child, her loveable companion.
Everyday Rachel used to open the shop and first clean the child of its mess, speak to it about her activities the previous day and fondle it with great care. The Angelic child used to look at her through wistful unmade eyes. Maybe the child was wondering why it was not complete why Rachel was happy with the unfinished look. Well it did not matter for soon the shop started getting popular because of the one statue the Angelic Child which looked beautiful but was not for sale. People used to come to the shop look at the antiques and artifacts but finally used to ask about this creation of Rachels. They used to hold its hands, speak to it, fondle it, cuddle it and then want to buy it. But Rachel never let it be put up for sale as she felt only the most deserving customer should get it and she was waiting for that day when the special customer would walk in.
Unknown to Rachel at times customers used to handle the idol and some broke a finger, some a hand, some used to spoil the carvings on the idol and others used to spoil the beauty of the statue and each time Rachel used to set it right and polish it to give a new look.
Time passed and Rachels shop grew and very soon she had her own franchise. The Angelic Child went wherever she went and was in the shop which Rachel used to manage. One day Rachels friend came along to the shop and suggested that it was time she let the Angelic
Child free and gave it a new home, a new surrounding, the idol deserved it like the other ones. Rachel was not really sure, and was hestiant as she had grown to like the idol like her own child.
After a lot of persuasion, Rachel decided to give the idol a fair chance. She decided that she would give it to the next customer who would she would come across.
Along came a bubbly cheerful girl filled with life, energy and zest and looked around the shop and her eyes fell on the Angelic child. It was instant preference for her and she whisked it away just as Rachel nodded her head that it was available . Rachel could not quote a price for her best creation and said it was a giveaway of the day and was for free.
As Rachels back turned and she faked as if she was putting things back in place , her eyes welled with tears as she was parting somethign so close tto her , something so precious. The girl who took the idol wheeled her way back out of the shop. As Rachel searched her pocket for the handkerchief to wipe the tear on her cheek she heard a big sound. She turned around only to see that her prized possession, the Angelic Child, her keepsake of so many years, her strength, lay there fallen on the ground all shattered into pieces. Rachel could not believe it and shocked she rushed down to pick up not the girl who had stumbled but her beautiful creation, the angelic baby. And as she sat there on the ground in disbelief one piece attracted her attention. There on the corner lay the beautiful eyes, tender ones , puppy loved and innocent as if asking her Why Did you decide to give me away?
Sometimes the simplest moments in life go on to be crucial epitomes of bonds.Today Rukmini Krishnan brings one such interesting tale of bonding The Sixth heaven on Tales to Read which takes you from the innocence of childhood to the realms of grown ups and how they connect.
As Mrs. Berger entered the class, the entire class went into a hushed silence. She peered through her spectacles, satisfied that the class looked neat, and clean proceeded with her Grammar lessons. Rachel sat with a pout as yet again Samantha had gained over and was next to Vivian. Rachel longed to be with Vivian for she really liked it when he gave her an eraser whenever she lost hers. The seven year olds were all ready with Mrs. Berger’s lessons.
As they worked away in speed, Michael who was not interested tto finish the exercises nudged Andy who in turn nudged Richard who looked towards Vivian. Vivian gave a stern nod and they all got back tto writing again. The bell rang, the class got over, and it was time to take a bite. Velvette came towards Rachel and they shared a cookie and made their way towards the corridor where the people were. They looked at the people play and each of them wishing Vivian was with them, this small seven year old toddler romance soon faded into oblivion with passage of time.
Clips replaced ribbons and belts replaced suspenders. They were all grown up. Now Velvette and Rachel were in the same school and the rest of the boys were in another school. Vivian had progressed to a High School in the town nearby. Velvette with her long pigtails and bespectacled face was every inch an innocent charming girl while Rachel was more brash, careless, and wild.
Time flew each one to oneself and the simmering soft corner for Vivian notwithstanding everyone settled down to a new life filled with responsibilities, kids, family, and commitments.
She clung the scarf snugly to her neck and quickly walked up the driveway and entered home just in time, for soon it started snowing. Velvette had just come back after a week long tour at her mother’s house and was again back to the grind. Her daughters were fine grown women now and were surely examples of Velvette years of tender loving care. Sheila, the first one was a Management Grad in Bruxton University nearby and was now working as an apprentice in a very popular firm. Shania the second daughter wanted to be counselor and was pursuing her Masters in Counselling in a local University.
Oh! There was so much snow waiting to pour down. Glad I just missed it. Velvette told herself as she made herself a cup of tea. As the snow lashed away at the glass panes, the glazed glass only took her back to some years when she was in Costa Rica with Arthur. Arthur a bundle of energy, vibrance and intelligence and certainly the perfect match for Velvette. Today the family had grown and Arthur was in Kenstown while Velvette lived with her younger daughter. It was a small family yet Velvette missed something. She did not know what.
Rachel typed furiously at the laptop as if there was no end. She silently thanked her mother for having made her learn to type the right way. Today Rachel the blogger was a well known figure yet she lacked the zest in her life. Her husband Robert was recovering from a recent accident and her children Krish and Kay were well on to making their life successful. Kay was a Commerce professional seeking apprenticeship in a firm and Krish was in the Tenth Grade. Time flew and after a lot of ups and downs, which are best avoided in Rachel’s memory, today she had a family she could be proud about. Yet there was something missing. Rachel did not know what.
Vivian today a Tax Planner was every bit a shrewd calculative Tax professional. None could evade his eyes and Vivian the mild one could turn on his antennae tto swipe roles. Suddenly there would be an air of darkness and the smile would be replaced by a firm stiff upper lip. Vivian was a ruthless boss and anyone working with him would have to have tonnes of patience. As he drove down home, the real Vivian came to fore. He listened to the music in the car and smiled thinking of his wife Beth and his two sons Adam and Atkins who he knew would be waiting for dinner. As he drove into the driveway the shrill voice of Adam came through the window and Vivian kept the chocolate ready for him in his pocket. Everything was so perfect and Vivian silently thanked God for all the good things. Yet there was something missing and Vivian was trying to find out what it was.
Andy brushed the speck of dirt he saw on his Saville Row suit and eased himself into the Porsche. A staunch car enthusiast, Andy was here by sheer dint of his efforts and hard work. A simple, modest schoolboy worked his way to the top and today Andy was a well respected figure in Financial Circles across the world. His wife Pam an entrepreneur specialized in ethnic décor. A good house, a happy family, two handsome sons Ryan and Shane. Ryan a dapper young man of 18 years was out on military training and Shane was still in school. Andy smiled to himself as he listened to the Western Classical songs on the Blu Ray. There was everything, yet there was something, he longed for. He hummed a tune but it had no meaning, He sang a song but the lyrics made no sense. There was something missing. He did not know what it was.
Richard looked every bit a perfect husband with his family. As the photo session got over, they came out of the photo tent and enjoyed the party. The photograph was part of the party organized by one of his friends. Richard married to beautiful Penelope had everything he prayed for. A good family, a lovely wife, and amazing kids. He was working with a very popular firm in the city and had a lot of things to boast about. As they made their way back from the party Penelope looked at Richards face and shook her head. She failed to understand what is it that made Richard think so much. Richard, Andy, Vivian, and Michael met every weekend. Andy away in Middle East, still managed to come up with reasons to visit his friends and they used to meet up.
The meetings were filld with laughter fun and enjoyment. Still they felt a lack and this was killing them.
Michael made his way out into he open and jogged. He loved his morning jog and used to come back home after picking up the milk, newspaper and some fruits. A man of firm beliefs, Mike as he was called was happier being alone. He loved listening to old classical and was very possessive of his friends. Not a man to emote easily, milkshakes were his favorites. He believes in living life king-size especially after he lost his parents at a young age and is a living example of zest combined with tolerance. Yet Mike felt the lack of something, which he could not pinpoint or find out.
Six people six destinations six professions and there was something lacking. The phone beeped. Velvette looked at it and sent a reply to the message she received. AS she logged into a social site she sent out a message in a group she saw was her school. She looked for known faces and she found herself typing only for five names. Vivian, Richard, Andy, Mike, Rachel.
Mike opened the laptop and showed his boss the presentation. Mr. Williams approved it and Mike made his way towards his seat. He had to finish this presentation in an hour’s time and it was imperative he worked well at it. Mike however settled to scouring the social site for few minutes. He typed his school name and out came the group. He searched for known names and he hit upon Rachel.
Vivian finished filing the tax papers and decided to call it a day. As he made his way towards home, he could only wonder what his cook would have cooked for him today. He looked at his cell phone and began deleting the unwanted messages. He could not still fathom what Shaun had told him on Mike’s birthday about Velvette. That she was in trouble and had problems and Vivian could not understand how to connect to her. Time had flown and old bonds had been replaced by new ones. For Vivian, Velvette was just the mild bespectacled girl in the class. But now years later when he came to know she was in trouble he wished to reach out to her. He opened the social site and searched for Velvette.
Velvette was online and looking for good information. She as a content writer liked to write on anything that pleased her. The ping brought her back into the screen. Vivian? Goodness Gracious! After an eternity, Vivian! The Vivian of Springdale Elementary School? Mrs. Bergers class. The Vivian! Whoopee she felt and she quickly accepted the invite. Now she was calling herself Violette and had a beautiful tattoo on her shoulder to show off. She was no longer that bespectacled charm instead was a graceful swan oozing with feminine elegance now.
Rachel was just basking in the glory of her article topping Google and was teaching her son the elements of science. The day passed with not much ado and she settled down at night to writing some more articles. Her phone showed her some messages from a phone social site. She opened it and she saw a host of conversation. ! Goodness! She thought and then she saw Vivian’s message and Mikes missed call. The Vivian! Good Lord! After so many years, they had connected and Rachel quietly thanked the social sites for featuring the phone numbers.
Rachel was already in touch with Mike so it was nothing unknown to her. Yet to be connected like this suddenly required lot of patience and time. Rachel was glad they had got connected and was amazed to see Richard, Andy also had joined in, and they were all a group now. They could chat, exchange news, share, and care.
It is a small world and the world has like minded people. Technology is the only element that binds people together these days. Today these six comrades of kindergarten school feel no lack. What they were missing was the camaraderie, the fun, the laughter and the tears and the simple language of acceptance without being judged. They had it back now suddenly out of the blue and had filled the gap that never seemed to have an end. Yes, a sixth heaven exists right here in their group. !
As Rachel adjusted her scarf, the lift door opened and she went in. She was quite smitten by the lift which had no floor numbers to enter. Instead you had to press the floor you wished to go right outside the lift and the lift automatically took you there. As she entered the office, she was quite impressed with the ambience. They asked her to write on osteoporosis. She did and she landed with the job of a writer.
Thus started Rachels unprecedented and unplanned career. Soon, she was writing 20 articles a day and quite happy with herself. Time was when she met Steve who was also on a writers assignment. He introduced Rachel to Tanish who ran a company that dealt with artworks. Tanish wanted some articles written for his company. Rachel did well with this and one afternoon Tanish called to confirm payments made by him when Rachel got talking about her blogs and her passion for writing. Tanish casually mentioned he would link her to Melissa an editor with a local news journal.
Rachel had come far from a mere stay at home mom to a writer on public websites. And now this job of a freelancer was what Rachel was waiting for. Melissa saw Rachels blogs and instantly gave here a computerised managed system where in RAchel could log in and write and publish her articles.
Rachel was in India and it was Navratri time. It is the festival of nine nights. As she wrote just to keep tabs with the current celebrations, RAchel just ached to go to sleep.But all her hard efforts paid off, for today that article has topped Google. Rachel is me and this has been my story.
At times, you do not realise how Lady Luck smiles at you. Not quite realising my potential, I wrote on an occassion in India, which is the festival of nine nights, Navratri. And imagine my joy when I found it is topping Google search since the past week. What more could a writer want and more surprises was on the way .
My father said, Hardwork always pays. Success reigns for those who work hard towards a better cause. As I climb up the ladder of success I look back and thank all those small obstacles that made me a better person.
Six degrees of separation. For every person you interact with in this
world you would have six people responsible for the acquaintance.
Strange but true. This is a true story and there could be no further
evidence. Call it coincidence, madness or impractical. But 90% of the
time six degrees of separation works.
RACHEL & MRS SMITH
Rachel looked at herself in the mirror and got ready to go to her French Classes. As she walked with Richard she was only discussing how best to avoid meeting Robert who she was going to get married to. Her fathers promise to Roberts father and the alliance was a long time promise that had to be kept. Try as she might she did not know how to avoid her marriage to Robert. Well fate has its ways, she said to herself wryly as they entered the French class. She wondered whyever Mrs. Smith met Roberts mother and suggested Robert and Rachel get married. If it had not been for Mrs. Smith, the marriage would not have come up.
Robert looked at his father lying on the hospital bed and sighed wondering why things happened at the wrong time. Here he was a research assistant in one of the best chemical companies and there his father was diagnosed of cancer. Robert had to leave his job and take care of his father and his ageing mother. Everyone wanted Robert to get married to Rachel before his father died. Doctors had given up and had said it was only a matter of days.
Andy looked up from his papers and looked at Katie ready with a sweet smile on her face. Andy was Katies mentor and guide and they were in the same hospital. Love bloomed in the air and Katie soon proposed to Andy her senior , and soon enough they got married. Andy used to live in his uncles house which was nearer to the hospital. His parents lived in Rushington, a small town in the countryside. As Andy and Katie came back to their uncles house from the church, he saw Roberts mother waving at them. Robert was Andys uncles neighbour. Later Andy and Katie settled in Thorville a beautiful place in the suburbs.
RACHEL ROBERT ANDY KATIE
Soon Robert and Rachel were married and they lived in the beautifully big house that Roberts parents had made with lot of expectation and affection. Time passed and Keith, Roberts brother was soon back with the family . He had been in London pursuing further studies. Baby bells rang in Rachels life and she gave birth to Kylie a beautiful bonny girl. Keith met Susan and they got married and now it was a big family living together. Obviously it was a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth and soon Robert and RAchel decided to find a separate house and reached Thorville . Soon the family got back its lost harmony and time just flew by. Rachel got acquainted with Andy and Katie and soon Andy and Rachel were the best of friends.
RYAN & STEVE
Ryan was an Engineering Grad who was struggling in doing well at the University. He was frustrated, sad, upset that Samantha walked out of his life. Ryans father Patrick was Rachels colleague at work and they lived in the same area. Patrick needed Rachels help for getting some information from the Internet for his friends daughter. Rachel said she would mail the details and Patrick gave her Ryans email id. Rachel mailed it and found Ryan online and got talking. One thing led to another and soon Rachel started solving all of Ryans problems. Ryan had a friend Steve who helped him in their environmental endeavours. Time flew and Ryan went to Atlanta to pursue his Masters while Steve and Rachel continued the environmental activity back home. Steve was a content writer and introduced Rachel to this art.
Ted was an ambitious content designer with a lot of plans ahead in life. He was in love with Melissa who had her own publication. Ted and RAchel got acquainted through Steve who introduced Rachel to Ted. Ted liked Rachels way of writing and appreciated her blogs . Rachel confided in Ted her ambition to write a book and to be recognised as a writer in public. Ted gradually started sharing his personal problems with Rachel. One day Ted stopped calling Rachel. Rachel waited for a fortnight and called him wondering what was amiss. Ted said his father was unwell and was suffering from cancer. Rachel told him if he needed any help she would surely help him.
SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION WORKING
The next morning Ted told Rachel he needed a second opinion on his fathers treatment. Rachel introduced him to Andy. Andy advised Ted what to do. Teds father is fine now.
Mrs. Smith – Rachel- Robert- Ryan-Steve- Andy – Ted…..Six Degrees of Separation !!!
As their lips parted and he made his way towards the car, Rachel looked wistfully at the sky and sighed to herself. “Why do I have to bear partings always… Why does he have to go away?”
Richard looked behind, waved at Rachel and as the car went down the lane, Rachel took all her time to turn back, adjusted her jacket, and brought the hood closer to her ears as the sedan took a turn and disappeared into oblivion. The early morning mist around made it even more difficult to trace the car until the end of the road.
She looked at the beautiful orange leaves on the trees and made her way towards home, happy, but wistful that she had to spend yet another fortnight without him. Rachel and Richard had been together now for seven years and it had been a long glorious way down the memory lane. She was happy in his company the most and Richard had her as the “confession” box as he used to call her. Both of them from the same Universities and today settled in their respective lives as successful professionals. Work separated them as Richard had his assignment at a nearby rainforest region where he had to trace the movements of animals and research on them.
Rachel was happy with the biographies she used to write on people she met casually on the streets. Life was perfect and Rachel and Richard were engaged to get married soon, once their commitments at work were done with.
Nothing ever seemed to thrill Rachel more than being with Richard, tending him, spending hours talking to him about nothing, while he used to sit and “hmm’ while working at the laptop. Much as Richards’ “hmm” used to irritate Rachel, yet the incessant banter continued. Time was when Rachel had pounced on Richard once while they were studying together in her house, and had professed her love for him. The only complaint Rachel had was the manner in which Richard used to doze off during conversations. It had taken Richard a year to express his love for her and soon they were in a relation. Time flew after High School and Rachel found herself protecting Richard from every new girl in town. For the tall, handsome hunk that he was, he was always the target of all the girls. Of course, Richard liked all the girl attention and oft found himself in arguments with Rachel regarding the way he was with these girls.
First Sandra, then Maggie, then Shyla, then Pat, and a quick fortnight with Nysa, and then there was Katherine who was the most challenging. Katherine had even attempted to kill herself for his sake. Rhea was another feature who he also thought of marrying, much to Rachel’s disdain and soon he was off her. Yet there was so much chemistry between Rachel and Richard that they always got back together. They laughed together, spent time writing on stuff, which never mattered and had every thing under the sun to share. Richard liked to paint, he used to paint on any topic, soon Rachel egged him to create his own paint site, and there it was Colours Unlimited his website that never gained popularity initially. But Rachel egged him on, and soon it was well on the way to becoming popular. It was a happy pair they made, they were quite settled, and then Penelope came in. She was Richard’s cousin’s friend. Hours on end, they used to talk much to Rachel’s frustration. He used to tell her he was going to sleep (something, which was unusual, for he used to drop off to sleep) and then the next moment, Rachel called; she used to find the phone engaged. Bickering, fights, arguments started over Penelope and Rachel strictly told Richard not to meet Penelope when he came down the next time to meet her. As she held his hand and drew closer, they kissed but there was no warmth. They hugged but there was no comfort, they made love but it was only for the sake of it. There was something that had snapped and Rachel missed it.
Penelope? Rachel wondered. She asked Richard about it and he apologized and came back to his earlier ways and said he would make it up. Once on one of his trips he was going back, after making up with Rachel, when he was taking the bus back home. He saw Andy his friend in college also taking the same bus. Richard was happy he had company but was woe befallen when he saw the beautiful looking girl beside Andy, Patricia. After a few minutes, he spoke to Rachel and then suddenly told her “I am going to call Penelope.”
Rachel was shocked and dissuaded him but he asked her not to interfere and insisted he wanted to talk to her at the dead of night. Rachel gave it up quite knowing it was seeing Andy with a girl which had led him to do something like this. Richard always had the feeling that he had missed out on fun as he was steady with Rachel since High School. From then on, anything regarding any girl in his life was taboo and she never discussed about it.
She waited this fortnight for him, but he said Natalie was coming with her friend and he had to take her around. Natalie was their friend in college who had once taken Richard out on a lovely and memorable evening out as a farewell treat. Natalie had already invited Richard once for a weekend out to nearby Lake Hashing on a campout and Richard was almost going for it but didn’t after Rachel and his friend Ted had stopped him from going, seeing through her intentions.
Now Natalie was back with her friend, as she wanted to see the place around. Richard was not coming for the weekend. Rachel let it pass when he told her he was out with Natalie for the evening. Around midnight, Rachel called to wish him a good night for she always did, but Richard did not pick up. She assumed he had gone to sleep.
The next morning, Richard called her and said he had slept over at Natalie’s and slept with Natalie.
Rachel felt the world crumbling down and her faith in shatters.
” Only remember that I do not want to hear about you from a third person” so saying Edgar walked out of the living room and made his way out into the driveway and drove his small sedan out.
Rachel looked at herself in the mirror and imitated her father ” I do not want to hear about you from a third person. Do you understand that, Ms.Rachel Edgar Smith?” With a tinkle of laughter, she left out and took her bicycle and the very next moment went to meet Renauld who was waiting for her at his gate. Together they cycled down the lane and reached school.
“Dad is quite freaked out at me, Renauld and has said so in so many words, that I should not be seeing you.” said Rachel
“However is that possible, Rachel,? ” Renauld asked in exasperation, all his books toppling down. Rachel and Renauld had grown up together and now were well on their teens. Everything was working perfect, except that the local community at the Parish was not allowing them to be seen together as it was against the law of the Parish, that a boy from the nearby town should not be going around with a girl from Bloomingdale where Rachel lived.
Rachel, a loving daughter, did not like to be separated from her childhood friend and still met him on the stealth, unknown to her parents. But one day, she decided to call it off, for she did not want to betray her parents. And sure enough, Renauld also agreed as, he too was a well brought up boy from a good family. Old times, and those days when children used to obey their parents.
Soon time passed and Rachel went on to becoming a writer. She loved writing and soon her books on children became the hot topics and the favourites in town. Renauld was a successful businessman and after Rachel got married, their friendship was in the back burner.
Rachel now a happy woman, a loving wife and a disciplinarian at home. A mother,stern with rules and liberal with mistakes of here children, Rachel had three of them, Ryan the elder one, Kate the second, and Christopher the third. As the children grew, Rachel was more than happy they never troubled her for any major cause. Ryan graduated and went on to becoming a photographer, Kate was pursuing her Masters in Commercial Arts and Christopher was in High School.
One day, Pam, Rachel’s best friend called and told her that Christopher had sent a message to his friend, and Rachel’s friend’s daughter Samantha that his relation with Daphne was over. Samantha’s brother happened to see this message and queried with Christopher. Pam saw this and reported all to Rachel. Rachel sat down and thought for a long while, on how to tackle this situation. She did not want to hurt Christopher, lest he stopped telling her everything. She did not want to keep quiet lest the kids take her for granted.
When Christopher reached home, Rachel cleared her throat and waited for Christopher to finish what he was doing. Rachel had decided what she had to say. She said ;
“Only remember that I do not want to hear about you from a third person” !!!
The tiny fingers gripped the huge palm tighter…The smallness of her hand was really miniscule in comparison to the huge size of her mother’s hands….warm and soothing, firm but convincing. Katie looked up to see her mother’s face …and turned her direction towards her mother’s focus of attention..
“Clear the way for the children, monsieurs et Mesdames…” boomed the voice of the burly security guard at the gate of Springdale Nursery. The first day of school and all the anxious parents had gathered at the entrance to the school. As the bell struck and signaled the time of beginning of school, the parents started waving goodbye, giving hurried last minute kisses…bear hugs, warm embraces…emotions were high and flowing .
Katie’s grip tightened…and she thought to herself, “ No, I am not letting go of my mama’s hand…I am gonna take her inside…”…Even as she was lost in these thoughts, Rachel bent down, fixed Katies’ satchel properly, adusted her pinafore and gave her one warm peck in her cheek… “Be a good girl…ok? Mama will be waiting for you right here…Go off you go…”
So saying and leading her into the corridor of the school, Katie stood there looking at her mother…big tears in her innocent eyes…
Rachel patted Katie on her head and asked her to be a brave mama’s girl…and fondly led her in….Rachel sat with Katie on her bench. The parents were allowed to be inside the classroom on the first day of school. Rachel felt that only Katie was the best dressed and best looking child in the class, How mothers can be self effacing…is a proof of Nature’s way of sending across the warmth of motherhood all over.
After quarter of an hour the parents were asked to go out….Hardly had the parents moved out of the room, than they heard a din which they would forever cherish and remember in the years to come.. The din of the two three year olds wailing at the sudden separation from their mother…The noise of wailing infants, sobbing miserably as if doomsday had come calling on them…
Feeling really proud but beleagured, feeling satisfied but insecure the mothers walked out of school…and waited the full hour outside the school. As the bell rang after an hour signaling end of the first day of the tot’s school, the parents rushed to the gate each one trying to be the first to see their child come out…And as the tiny tots came out, tears trickling down their faces, with dirty cheeks and running noses, open shoelaces and broken buttons, satchel in place but hair all in a mess, the scene was like a battle won and the warriors being received. Each mother wrapping her baby in her arms, lifting her up, checking to see if her child was alright….and then tightening her hug…
But Katie’s tears remained…every day for the next week till she settled down in her classroom…Katie shone like a bright star …and was the teacher’s favourite…A year rolled by and soon it was time for the summer holidays to begin. …
Very soon Rachel and Katie were again at the gate…this time she was in Higher Nursery Section….Again the small fingers gripped the huge hand tightly, the grasp tightening as the school gate neared…again the reluctant goodby, again the slow turning back of the bobbing infant head, tears welled up, with a single question on her lips.. .. “ You would come to pick me up wont you..?” The fond waving of a goodbye till the small infant figure disappeared amidst the crowd into the school rooms….the long wait till the school was over and Katie rushing into her arms…
Five years passed and Katie was now in the Second Grade. Yet the first day of school was always an experience of excess salt water for her….Tears…Katie had now grown into a cute chubby seven year old…yet her eyes were the same…welling with big tears, Katie would pause at the gate for Rachel to give her a kiss and then ask “ Would you come to pick me up..?”
Rachel failed to understand how Katie never failed to cry ….on the first day…even as her grades soared and she was good at everything…Katie remained the crybaby till the Seventh Grade…
The tiny hands had now become young hands, the small baby had grown into a beautiful 16 year old…Katie had now become a lovely looking teenager, and she was with Rachel in her first day of college…
Rachel accompanied Katie to her classroom, waited outside to see if there was anything else to be done…and then it was time to say goodbye…Rachel hugged Katie and planted a warm peck on Katie’s cheek…Katie hurriedly said…. “Ok, mom, I am going in…..bye..”
Rachel slowly walked down the steps, and edged along the corridor…she got herself a lemonade and in slow steps walked out of the college gate….
This time at the gate there were tears……but today they brimmed in the mother’s eyes….How times change…Rachel suddenly realized her child had grown into a confident woman….from the small fingers that clung to her hands…years back…to confident hands waving a goodbye…Rachel had traveled a long journey of motherhood….
And on a busy Sunday morning Rachel busied herself with her regular household chores. Sundays always brought about so much of added work to a household….thought Rachel. She had to mow the lawn, wash the laundry, go to the grocers…and then the regular chats with her kids, an extra dessert whipped up. Still she dreaded a Sunday as she had to listen to Robert raving and ranting at the slightest drop of a hat. Robert to whom Rachel was wedded for the past 20 years, was always a picture of calm and quite till he lost his temper. Then he was worse than a matador bull in a corrida.
As always, Rachel unwound and then sat in front of the computer and surfed the Net. If at all there was anything that could be labeled as obsessive behaviour in Rachel’s part then one could pinpoint her interest with the technological working of a computer. Rachel was a wiz at it and the very recent concept of blogging had caught on to her imaginative creativity. Rachel let her imaginative juices flow the moment she was in front of the screen and then within the blinking of an eyelid there she was ready with yet another incident from her life woven into a yarn of a racy story.
Rachel for the past fortnight is a contented individual as she had had the benefit of meeting up her old friends of childhood on a regular basis. The town had organized an interactive meet for all the students of Springdale.So Rachel was again back to her childhood every weekend as she got the opportunity to again relive the past with them. Rachel relished every moment like a cherry on her pie of life.
Enter..Press…and post….and there she smacked her lips as if she had had her favourite meal and looked back in delight at her creactivity. Today Rachel had not as much written anything…but had let her brains do some work. Today she had adopted a different technique to satisfy her ever thirsty creative brain. Rachel had seen some photos of her friends in school put up on the notice board. She saw Susan, she saw John, Mike, William….But she didn’t see herself. Rachel felt left out. She instantly took out her camera and took a photo of the group photo put up on the notice board. There were the kids all in their preparatory mould…so innocent yet so real. Fondly looking at the childhood memories trapped in a 4 by 6 size card paper which we call a photograph Rachel, went back home.
Rachel rummaged through the photographs in her trunk. She was looking for a lone photograph of hers which she could paste alongside her childhood friends. She didn’t get any. And as she sighed a sigh of having given up, she chanced upon a photo where she was sitting with her brother who had his arms around her shoulder. Rachel felt she could make do with this.
Rachel cut her photograph and pasted it alongside her friends….and mailed it to them . There she was with John, Mike, Susan, and standing beside William, with his arms around her….The arms that were on her shoulders were her brothers’ but it looked as if William was putting it around hers.Rachel relished this childish prank as she felt this would embarrass William who was her childhood crush.
… Though Rachel had no such feelings for William anymore with the passage of time, one can never forget the mysteries of reliving the childhood with fondness as we grow old. Even after so many years, Rachel had this innate thrill of embarrassing her crush just once more… So quite triumphantly and with an intention to pull his legs Rachel wrote to William and said :
“ Bill, how would you feel reconsidering me as your sister of so many years…as it’s my brother’s arms around me…but in the photo it looks like they are your arms….
Into the street she stepped and felt the cold rain falling on her cheeks. As she looked up into the sky, she felt liberated…Suddenly everything fell into place like a jigsaw puzzle.Rachel had for long contemplated to give herself this pleasure of freedom, liberation and elation. she was glad she got it. As she squared her waterproof cap on her head a little more tighter and pulled her trench coat tightly towards her chest, Rachel heard the pitter patter of the rain drops on the roof of her car. Raising the engine a little more than usual, Rachel raced down the deep alleys and bylanes of the city she had got used to by now.
A decade back, Rachel would have been lost in these zigzag roads and winding lanes which no less resembled a mini Formula One race track. All the same, Rachel whistled to herself as she normally did when she was confused or had to take a call on something. Today, she had to take a call on whether what she had done was right or wrong. Today, she had decided to give her camouflaged love life a break. Today she had told Richard that she needed to move on. Today she had broken to Richard the news that they couldn’t get along any further. She remembered how her voice had quivered on the telephone as she told him that she had to set aside her innermost desires and had to consider that truth was far from reality.
Richard and Rachel had met up on very unforeseen circumstances.Travelling eastwards; Richard had taken the wrong train, and had bumped into Rachel who was the lone passenger in the cubicle in the Metro. As the underground rail would take another twenty minutes to reach the next station, Richard had to plonk himself in front of Rachel and get into unwanted conversation. The next station saw Rachel and Richard headed towards the exit together only to find that it was raining heavily. Richard could have sworn murder to the rain god that day as he was way behind his appointment with Lee&Bros, at three in the afternoon. Rachel sensing the impatience in Richard asked him if he had to be dropped anywhere. A ride offer from a total stranger and Richard had decided to go ahead with the bargain and had eased himself into the yellow convertible that Rachel had fondly parked in the railway station parking area.
It wasn’t long before that Rachel and Richard kept bumping into each other in the city and every meeting of theirs was under very strange circumstances. Over many cups of coffee, pizzas, rain showers, sunny afternoon lunches, Rachel and Richard became a couple and were considered a couple by every one. Rachel adjusted her blouse collar and powdered her nose just a wee bit and got ready to meet Richard in his house. Today Richard had a lot of paper work to be completed and she had offered to help him. In the two years Rachel had become Richard’s untold secretary. Rachel used to take care of every small thing that Richard needed and so, it was that Rachel gradually fell in love with Richard’s presence in her life. Today, Rachel had told herself she was going to somehow express her love to Richard.
As she walked into the room, Rachel cleared her voice and took Richard aback by confessing her love for him. Richard wouldn’t have understood what she meant and why she said it and would never have taken the pains to understand it either as he was already racking his head over Anna who he loved deeply. But Rachel’s entrance at a time when Anna had stood him up , made Richard consider Rachel’s love with a tinge of reluctance but with a lot of acceptance.
The love spider had woven its web well and Richard and Rachel were soon a couple in the reckoning. They fit hand in glove in the relation and so it was a total setback for Richard when he came to know that Rachel was married to Thomas. He reprimanded her for keeping him away from the truth and could not fathom why in the world she would want to love him when she had Thomas in her life. Anyway what was done could not be undone yet he could stop it he thought. Yet the hypnotizing effect of Rachel was such that Richard kept getting drawn towards her always. Rachel too couldn’t keep herself away from Richard.
Thus it was that time flew with the passion fruit being eaten by both Richard and Rachel everyday and very soon they were at the throes of passion. Rachel for the first time may have experienced what they call the game of love. Days passed, months passed and years…..
Crash bang boom…Cut to the present. Rachel tightening her grip on the trench coat, remembered how one evening she had suddenly decided to call their relation off. She realized Richard was unnecessarily bound by her and so was she Richard also on his front needed his own life partner. For Rachel it was impossible to live without him, their long conversations, their incessant passion, their flaming attraction. Yet, she played the game of life like the game of chess.
CHECKMATE ….she told herself. She had checkmated….she walks out of Richard’s life and creates a life for him. Richard is now to make the next move…Would Richard be able to clear this checkmate….Well point to ponder….
And don’t forget to put the spoon back into the box…after your meal time..Ok? Rachel kept looking at the watch and murmured a hurried “Alright mama” and tugged at her mom’s frock to rush her into taking her to school as early as possible.
Rachel’s sole aim of reaching school early was only one….to be able to be seated next to Vivian…
With light brown eyes and a kind of wavy tinge to his hair, Vivian was the meek, docile, timid blue eyed wonder of a family and the kind of student a teacher would love to pamper. Always well mannered and ready to please the teacher with the right answer to every question thrown. Vivian was everyone’s dream come true…So it wasn’t any wonder that everyone used to clamber around him just so that a l’il bit of his intelligence could maybe rub off on them ! Every mother around used to insist on using his assignments in case of an emergency and each child was given Vivian as the yardstick of measurement.
We really wouldn’t know about other kids, but definitely Rachel’s mom was insistent that Rachel sat next to Vivian with whom Rachel shared a one two relation. One two in the sense that if Rachel topped the class one year then Vivian would be the second topper and vice versa.
Even today, as Rachel rushed down the drive with her mother and waved her a goodbye after the bye bye kiss implanted on her cheek…she heard her mother calling out… “Remember to sit next to Vivian…” Not that Rachel did it only because her mom told her. From the time she could remember Rachel had her heart fixed on Vivian…Puppy love…but Rachel hardly felt so. For her that was love and that was serious. The small tender mind couldn’t may be differentiate between love and closeness…but it was a feeling that was there and she couldn’t deny her tender mind that.
“Hey there, Rachel, hiya..!” Andre’s voice trailed down the corridor…
Andre was a nightmare to every girl in the school. A prankster and a burly figure he was mischief incarnate and was the last person to be serious about studies or about what the teacher said. With his looming figure and his extra height, Andre anyway looked bigger than his age. and loomed large in the benches. Thus it was that whenever Rachel entered school she used to dread encountering Andre as he would immediately rush into the classroom and sit plonk next to Vivian thus depriving her her prize catch.
Even today as Andre’s voice boomed down the aisle, Rachel murmured a quick hi and with eyes focused on the empty place beside Vivian rushed into the room before Andre could make a hasty entry.
“Phew! That was close…” she said to herself nervously looking at Vivian…Vivian just glanced up from his book and smiled. Vivian had a half smile which endeared him more to Rachel. Wiping the sweat off her forehead…they rose up when the assembly bell rang..
The school anthem over, they all waited for Mrs.Berger’s entry.
“Roll your r’s and dull your s’s. Remember children you must slash the t’s and dot the i’s…always…hullo Rachel ….what are you looking at..?”
Mrs. Berger’s stern voice stirred Rachel out of her thoughts. Rachel was lost in thoughts of how to avoid sitting next to Mike if the need arose. “Mamma has told me not to sit near Mike”
“See, he gets low grades….so you musnt sit near him.” Rachel’s mom always told her. Not that Rachel really measured people as to their performance academically. But she had to obey her mother.
Anyway, as Mrs. Berger’s voice jolted her out of her reverie, Rachel looked at the slightly graying bespectacled formidable personality teaching them English. Mrs. Berger was a rotund, loud and stern lady who was any student’s nightmare. But get into her good books and Mrs. Berger’s heart would melt like chocolate and then there was no turning back. Her soft assurances, stern instructions, firm convictions and affectionate endorsements only endeared her students to her. With her flowing gown swishing to and fro and her heeled shoes clicking on the floor, Mrs. Berger was a sign of endurance, tolerance, patience and conviction all rolled into one.
Mrs. Berger had the ability to make any child write well and this she ensured only by her insistence on the usage of the red,blue and green line books…These books had equally spaced gaps between them and every child from Bloomingdale would surely have the scene of Mrs. Berger holding the hand of the child and encouraging it to write well etched in their mind. The moment she saw a child struggling with its handwriting and she would call the child toher table, make him or her sit on her lap and lovingly but firmly teach the child to hold the pencil properly and write.
That was Mrs. Berger…
As Mrs. Berger entered the class, Mike entered too…He rushed and sat in the last bench. Rachel looked at him behind nervously… “Nnnoo…don’t think of him…”
With curly hair and well developed arms, his tanned features gave Mike the look of a brawny youngster ready to view life headlong. He had the devil may care damn attitude and confidence showed in anything he did. A brainy imp, he had mischief, friends and fun in his life in that order of priority. Maybe he wasn’t a bookworm and maybe he might not spend his entire life trying to get good grades, but he definitely would be the first to help out a person in distress. With a tender heart but a rough attitude, Mike was the teacher’s target always and it was no wonder therefore that he was often found getting caught for no fault of his own.
People like Mike are what make the world. Such people live and let live. They are not a farce and are true to their nature. Mike though might not come across as the perfect take home boyfriend but certainly was the perfect friend. This realization dawns in on people much later…and by then people like Mike would have met and made innumerable companions so it’s people who underestimated who would have lost out.
Maybe it was this disposition of his that deterred Rachel’s mom from encouraging her to sit with him. Rachel being a tomboy was likely to sit anywhere she pleased …at least that’s what she thought. If only Rachel’s mom had known that Rachel;s sole destination was Vivian…and to be beside him.
“Ahhhhhhh” …..The wail sent a wail of siren across the classroom..Everyone writing the assignment was shaken up with shock with the agony with which Steven screamed….
“JESUS CHRIST….how did you manage that..?” screamed Mrs. Berger in absolute shock and alarm. Her alarming tone brought everyone in the school running into the classroom….
And what they saw sent chills down their spine…there was Steven a picture of agony writhing in pain as he held the scale on his throat…his face turning blue Mrs. Berger told everyone to move away from him.
As Rachel, Mike and Vivian looked on in fear; Andre came forward and helped to ease the scale out of Steven’s mouth. Steven slowly began to breathe easily but he had to be rushed to the doctor.
“Oh, dear, and then what happened…” gushed Rachel’s mom listening to this story in absolute disbelief. She couldn’t believe a mere simple innocent scale could cause havoc in this manner….Rachel also added how she hadn’t sat near Mike that day.
Time passed and Rachel’s everyday jugglery to sit near Vivian continued and it was on those days when Susie used to come early that Rachel’s emotional security was threatened. Rachel hated Susie because she used to chat up Vivian and Rachel couldn’t do it. Rachel was waiting for a day to snub Susie but she never did get it.
Susie, Rachel, Vivian, Mike, Andre…Mrs.Berger…
Time passed and gradually all these names which were once live characters eased away into fond memories…each in a different intensity in the mind…A year passed, two , then five and slowly it wasn’t long before three whole decades passed.
World had gone a full 360 degree roundabout turn…convertibles were replaced by swanky cars, dial up telephones with granpa size handles had been taken over by digital telecoms, telegrams were passé and e access was the order of the day. You could order everything but maybe God on the Internet.
Thirty years down, social networking sites were like the closely held links of every day activity. Companies, advertisers, monopolies, friends, relatives all alike held sites like Facebook, Twitter etc as their family member.
IN such a scenario, it was pretty coincidental that one of the sites saw three friends chatting up. One had grown to be in charge of taxation of income, the other was the head of Information Technology in his firm and the third was happily married and a mother of two, but her passion for writing hadn’t ebbed. One of her such passionately written articles was chanced upon by one of her other two friends and they mutually admitted to themselves that she really had done justice to creativity. The more committed of the two gave her a call and they both got talking and chatted up totally oblivious of the world around them, the hubbub of activity seeming to take a slow motion and as if the entire globe had come to a standstill. Such was the energy and vibration when these two were chatting up. Not to be left behind, the second friend also called her up and very soon some hearty jokes and fond memories were shared.
One thing stuck out….When she spoke to the first friend it didn’t dawn on her that her mom had told her to keep away from him….Yes we are talking about Rachel, Mike and Vivian…It is they who happened to bump into each other on the social site and it was Mike who took the iniative of calling Rachel up. The same Mike who Rachel kept away from as was her parent’s advice. But today, all relations seemed meaningless to her, but Mike. Why? The only reason being he was her childhood pal, she didn’t have to worry about what he thought of her….no pretensions, no inhibitions…..
How childhood fears turn into adult comforts, how parental advice given in childhood later on break all norms and individuals mature to take conscious decisions for their benefit is a fitting example of this relation between Rachel, Mike and Vivian…
Today, Rachel and Vivian are able to laugh about the so called crush she had on him and how she loathed Sophie just because she was her threat. This is the beauty of friendship, palhood and camaraderie. It is truth, honesty and genuine emotions at their height.
Andre is with the logistics department in a company. Rachel came to know that very recently he wasn’t keeping too well. Yet he is still the same spirited soul that he was.
Mike the apparent threat to Rachel in her childhood was her best childhood pal now, and it is Mike who constantly is gushing in appreciation of her written work. With a loss of both parents at a very young age, Mike has hardened up on the outside but is still soft to think about his pals fondly. Mike is still a living example of how the strands of friendship never wear or tear.
Vivian married to Betty is a proud father of two sons and still has retained his sense of humour in fact has opened out a great deal and has become more of an extrovert. He vividly remembers Steven’s scale incident and shares it with equal feeling even today.
The three are in the process of finding the whereabouts of Susie and Steven.
There is just one common link between the three….Mrs. Berger. All of them fondly remember her….
So after all, Rachel, Mike and Vivian have finally learnt to roll their r’s and dull their s’s and haven’t forgotten to slash their t’s and dot their I’s as that’s the reason they have found themselves together again. As regards Rachel’s mom I guess she is a proud mom today as she regrets her decision of the past and feels good to see Rachel in the company of her genuine pals.
Such is the story of a journey of friendship and such is the truth of true friends. As the famous saying goes….the trio are maybe thinking about it… “And miles to go before we sleep….”