What sunshine is to flowers,
Smiles are to humanity.
These are but trifles, to be sure;
but scattered along life’s pathway,
the good they do is inconceivable
Sarah looked around the airport, the entire airport glistened with the big billboards advocating the fairer skins, stressing on the external beauty, flaunting the most perfect female forms. Sarah sighed, Anayesha still fresh in her thoughts. She did everything possible to make that girl feel comfortable in her own skin and rise above the barriers created by the society about the colour of skin.
She mumbled to herself, “ When would we rise above these prejudices ?”, but first she needed to pacify her grumbling stomach. She went to a nearby food court and grabbed a sandwich to eat. She looked around the food court, reading people’s expressions, a few shone with absolute glee of meeting their loved ones and few having a tinge of sadness of leaving their loved ones, a few excited at the good news they might have received and a few having a feeling of hopelessness and despair on a piece of bad news they might have heard.
The airport single-handedly bears the weight of these emotions and the never-ending commotion.
After a hearty meal, Sarah came back to her bench and picked up her basket. She opened it and took out a bunch of colourful rings, around half a dozen studded with colourful stones, embedded in silver and gold, creating a colourful haze of a rainbow, reminding her of Sanchi ¸the brightest of all her friends, who was nicknamed Rainbow.
Sarah went back to the time, when she was a child, Sanchi being her inseparable friend, along with another bunch of friends she had.
Sanchi loved to wear brightest colours, loved wearing innumerable bangles and carried shades of a rainbow in her whole persona. Her eyes shone when she smiled, she looked like a whiff of fresh air. She was the only child of her parents and was loved dearly. Sarah had many childhood memories of night over at her place where Raju Kaka, her servant would treat them with various delicacies. From her first pav bhaji to bhel poori, she had tasted a few delicacies at her place only. Sanchi was a chatterbox, constantly chirping like a little bird.
Together they would hang around playing innumerable games together, exchanging bangles and dolls. Her smile like a ray of sunshine would light up any place. After finishing her studies, Sanchi got married to an architect. Life was kind , soon she was blessed with a beautiful daughter, Shubhi. And then it happened, it happened like a grey cloud shadowing the mighty sun, a storm ruining absolute calm.
Sarah was busy at that time but as soon she got time, she made plans to visit Sanchi and share her grief. She boarded a plane for Delhi, to reach Gurgaon, the city which was now the abode of my dearest Sanchi. She landed at the Indira Gandhi airport, took a cab for Gurgaon. It was getting dark but city was glowing with city lights. The glitzy malls, the steel towers, the metros, make the city a glamorous hub.
Gurgaon is a mind-blowing transformation from a small town into a glitzy urban centre. A corporate hub, it is home to many corporate offices. It has a huge population of migrants from all parts of the country and their manic aspirational push drives the city. This surge of aspiration also makes people angry and frustrated, that’s why there is a violent undercurrent running through the city. Amidst all these undercurrents, heavy traffic jams, continuous honking of cars, after an hour and a half, Sarah reached ‘Golden Retreat’, upmarket, plush apartments at the outskirts of the city. The whole apartment’s big courtyard carried a look of serenity, green foliage, palms, petunias and statues of Buddha were giving the place an unrestrained calm. In the background, a mellifluous music note was playing, Sarah’s entire tiredness of the journey was gone. She squared up to her shoulders, getting ready to face Sanchi.
She got inside the lift, along with her luggage to reach the seventh floor, where Sanchi was residing. She rang a bell outside the apartment no. 711, and held her breath. Someone opened the door, and Sarah was shocked by what she saw. Sanchi, her rainbow, was draped in a pastel dress with innumerable rings and necklaces, her eyes the pool of darkness, her sunshine which was her unique character was nowhere to be seen. The whole house reeked of negativity. Sanchi hugged her violently and cried her heart out. Sarah allowed her to cry her heart out, consoling her frequently.
Once she was calm, she started narrating her grief, “Sarah, you know, Shubhi was our life, my whole life revolved around her. She was such a bright child, always excelling in both studies and sports. Such an inquisitive child she was, always serenading me with questions. Being an only child, she was the centre of our universe.”
“Everything was moving swiftly and then we shifted here, to these apartments and everything changed. Shubhi, won all the events that were organized in the society, be it a fancy dress competition, a swimming competition, a dance competition or a debate. Prashant too got a promotion very soon. I am sure our happiness became the cynosure of their eyes. These apartments are jinxed, Sarah, the people living here were jealous of our happiness.”
She continued, “That day, that doomsday, we went out with Shubhi, many people were standing at the gate, they might have cursed us. Prashant was behind the wheels, Shubhi that day wanted the silver anklets for her school’s dance performance. We got the prettiest anklets for her, how happy she was! We were driving back, that suddenly a truck from nowhere hit us, head-on. We all survived, even the Silver anklets survived but my angel could not. Prashant is such a good driver but that day he failed me, the god failed me”, Sanchi broke down again.
“What are these necklaces and rings for, Sanchi?, Sarah asked.
“My Guruji told me that this place is not fit for us, it is jinxed and the people are evil-eyed here, so these things will save me from evil, Jai Guruji”, said Sanchi kissing the necklace with a picture that might be of that Guruji.
Sarah was bewildered, is it the same Sanchi, she knew or has her grief changed her into something so unlike her.
Precisely, that moment Prashant entered the house. He was polite and after exchanging pleasantries, went inside his study. Sarah and Sanchi had a cup of tea, she kept looking any signs of a rainbow in her but found none, all she could see was sorrow, distrust and darkness.
Dinner was a strained affair, Prashant and Sanchi talking in monosyllables and Sarah could feel the undercurrents of tension between them. The moment Sarah was shown her room, She sat down on the bed with a long sigh. Does time change a person so much? How could a rainbow change into grey, the grey of clouds, the darkness that blinds you? Could she ignore all this and go back to her life or should she bring the rainbow back with all its glory? She slept with a heavy heart with a silent prayer to god.
Next morning, when Sarah got up, Sanchi came with a cup of tea. She had a huge vermillion mark on her forehead, and greeted her with “Jai Guruji”. Sarah hugged her tightly and addressed her as “My Rainbow”, she smiled a little. Sarah got up and removed the curtains to let in the sunshine, Sanchi came running and brought the curtains down,
“Hey Sarah, don’t remove the curtains, all the evil eyes of our neighbours will ruin our little happiness too, Jai Guruji”, Sanchi muttered under her breath.
Sarah felt noosed as if something stopped her breathing. She wanted fresh air and left on the pretext of going for a morning walk. Once was out of that house, she exhaled out all the negativity. She started jogging and pondering over that what happened to her sunshine friend?
Why she was wasting her life on whims and fancies? After jogging, she went to the clubhouse to meet the residents of the apartment, to her surprise, they were genuine, smiling people. Now Sarah was certain, there’s nothing jinxed about the place and people of the apartment. With determined steps, she went back to Sanchi’s house. Sanchi and Prashant were waiting for her at breakfast table. Again, it was a strained affair, the same tension hanging in the room.
”Hey guys, I will be leaving tomorrow, can I have a coffee meet with both of you, today evening at 6:00 in the balcony”, Sarah asked both of them.
“Sarah, please stay na! It’s good having you around for few days”, pleaded Sanchi.
“I know Sanchi, but I have my work and other engagements, it’s my sincere request to both you to join me at coffee in the balcony”, Sarah requested again.
Prashant and Sanchi agreed to her request. Prashant went to his office after breakfast and Sanchi went back to her daily chores. Sarah took a bath and went back to the clubhouse to meet the residents of the society, who promised to meet her again at 11:00. After lunch, she and Sanchi relived a few memories of our childhood but still, her smile was missing.
“Sanchi, can you show me the anklets you got for Shubhi, that fateful day”, Sarah asked her.
Without uttering a single word, Sanchi got up and came back with a red box and handed over it to me. Sarah opened the box and looked inside, a pair of silver anklets with red and green beads were lying there. Tiny anklets, perfect for an eight-year-old, cute, chubby girl, who would have worn it and the entire house would have been delighted by its tinkle, thinking this her eyes got wet.
Sanchi moved out of the room in jiffy.
At 6:00 p.m. sharp, Sarah took out the thermos of coffee and coffee mugs into the balcony. Soon sombre-looking Sanchi and Prashant joined her.
“Look at the sunset guys, isn’t it beautiful?”, asked Sarah.
Nobody answered but kept looking at the sunset and enjoying their dose of caffeine.
She started again” Every sunset comes with a promise that there will be sunrise soon. Every time when it sets, it comes back with audacity of hope , sunshine, a new morning, a new beginning. The sunrise is a hope that how much darkness is there, the sun will eventually come to warm our hearts. Sun gives us light and hope in the morning and at night, when there is absolute dark it sends its messenger, Moon with its borrowed light.”
“You might have lost your sunshine for this particular moment but believe me, the sun is there, it might be hidden under clouds, now. You know why you were left unhurt in the accident, because God had plans for you, to serve others with your good deeds.”
“Sanchi this grief would never go wearing these stones but will keep reminding you of your sorrows. Whatever happened to you, nobody could be blamed for that other than destiny. At least, you have each other, to trust, to love, to live again. You said that people around you have evil eyes on you, on the contrary, they understand your pain. They have their own bunch of problems, that Mr.Kant, he is fighting cancer, Ms Kaul has recently lost her husband and Mehras haven’t seen their kids for last five years. This is a time of sunset for you but sunrise is waiting for you, only if you try to. You know why those silver anklets were not harmed in that accident, because they will guide you towards your happiness”, Sarah stopped speaking.
“How?, asked both of them in unison.
“Tomorrow both of you, come to drop me to the airport, I will explain to you then”, She told them and went inside.
The sun slowly dipped nowhere, taking along the gloom of its departure along with it.
Both of them stayed there for a couple of hours, Sarah could hear them talking, crying, laughing, she smiled to herself.
Later at dinner time, they both came inside hand in hands and smiling. Dinner went off well as all of them were talking about the current affairs.
Next morning, when Sarah got up, Sanchi came inside with a cup of tea, wearing a bright dress. Sarah smiled as she removed the curtains to let the sunlight in. All the curtains and blinds at her home were lifted up, the house was bathed in sunlight and she could feel the positivity and sunshine seeping back to Sanchi. She got up to get ready for her flight.
Later, while going towards the airport, Prashant asked Sarah, where she was taking them.
“I will show you a way towards happiness, you want it or not, your choice and Sanchi, I need a promise from you, if you get your happiness back, you will take off these rings and beads”, Sarah looked at her questioningly.
“OK! I promise”, said Sanchi.
They drove towards the outskirts of the road, where a small muddy road leading to a big building. A signboard was hanging there ‘MAMTAMAYI ORPHANAGE”
The three of them got down and went inside.
“You can be a sun to any of these kids and can bring sunlight to your life. Look at them, all in need of love, shelter and care. You will find your Shubhi somewhere here only”, Sarah told them.
She could feel their eyes filled with tears. She left them there only, took a cab to airport, wishing a lot of happiness for them.
After a few days, Sarah got a courier from Sanchi. A big thank you card, her stone rings and bead necklaces and a photograph of Prashant, Sanchi and little Shubhi, the adopted girl. The girl was wearing silver anklets with red, green beads. All Sarah could see was sunshine in the picture.
Pic credit FreeImages.com
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