Note: Don't know if something this crazy has been attempted before in the blogoverse,but what the heck!When a guy sitting in Kolkata and a girl sitting in Leeds,U.K. suddenly decide to pen a story together, you know what to expect.:-P A story which might not live up to your expectations.:-D But anyway, I had fun doing this. The story is majorly Rachika's. All the beautiful metaphors in this story belong to her. And all the crap and boring stuff,yep,you guessed it,they belong to me. This is a simple story. Hope you enjoy it.It has a soothing,unhurried style, all thanks to Rachika, who I just discovered,has awesome command over the language. Do tell me what you think about it.:-) Feedback and criticisms are more than welcome.
“Susan made me proud on a number of occasions, Thomas,” Jacob looked fondly at his son-in-law as he said these words,” but her choosing you has been the decision I have been the proudest of. It’s true. I couldn’t have asked for a better son-in-law. Am I not right, Sheila?” Jacob looked at his wife for approval.
“Yes,” Sheila’s eyes shone with an affection which melted Thomas’ heart.”You have become the son we never had.”
Thomas smiled gently at this lavish praise. Just like any doting father, Jacob Johnson had his fears and apprehensions about Thomas, when Susan had announced her decision to marry him. But over the passage of time, all those nagging doubts had been allayed. Jacob was now confident Susan couldn’t have chosen more wisely.
“Let me bring in the food, “Thomas said and went into the kitchen. He had made some lovely Beef Bolognese and cherry tomato salad, with Chardonnay and vanilla ice cream, for the Johnsons. These had been Susan’s favourite and it had more or less become a tradition now for seven years. Ever since Susan left them.
“The picture of your wedding day is still fresh in my mind,” Sheila mused after he came back into the living room. “Jacob was so fidgety that day. Frantically pacing the room and wringing his hands. Worrying his old self to death just because Sue was a little late in her preparations.”
“15 minutes is a little late, “her husband grimaced. “45 minutes is catastrophic! Her bridal make-up session was supposed to get over 45 minutes ago. What on earth was she doing for so long?”
“Cut the poor girl some slack, will you?” Sheila barked at her husband. “It was her wedding day, for Christ’s sake. The day she dreamt about since kindergarten. She had to look her best.”
Thomas smiled inwards as he observed this quarrelsome exchange between the old couple. They were like two hamsters in the same cage, climbing on each other; you could still see they were children locked inside ready to jump out. Presently they started arguing about when was the first time Susan had started walking. And suddenly Thomas realized how she wouldn’t walk again in and out of their lives again.
How he wished Susan was with them right now. His mind went back to the day he discovered he loved her.
January 20th.He was 15 then. He wished Susan hadn’t missed school that day, he’d needed help in his math homework and she was the only one who could make him understand. Susan Johnson was a strange girl he’d always thought; maybe he’d drop by her house and give her the day’s homework and schoolwork and in return she could just teach him those darned math problems. How he hated math in his younger innocent days, he thought.
After school that day, he’d gone to Susan’s to give her the work. As her mother shouted for her, she came down, and to be honest that was the day he realized why people said you only fall in love once. She wore a blue cardigan, over a pair of plaid corduroys. Her hair was tied in a braid, she wasn’t a beauty but to him she meant everything that day. They exchanged the schoolwork and she taught him those problems. Susan was bright like the winter sun on his skin.
“And the proposal, “Sheila’s dreamy voice shook him out of his reverie. “You made the day so very special for her, Thomas. I am glad you two stuck to each other even through college.”
Susan and he had ended up going to the same college; she’d taken up Art and he had taken English. They had become close, almost two peas in a pod. He had thought Susan Johnson was the only one who could understand his failures and achievements. After five years of being friends he had finally confessed his love for Susan Johnson, the one girl whose smile was brighter than the summer sun, whose touch was as heavenly as rain on a hot summer day. And to his surprise she had confessed her underlying love for him. He’d been the happiest that day .January 20th, 1978. It felt like the world was his oyster and he was the pearl ready to shine brighter than the big ball of fire millions of light years away. And this was possible only under Susan’s love, only under her care, only under her look.
He planned a simple on the roof top proposal with the stars and moon, the holy cosmos being witness to their liaison. He’d told her to come to his house roof that night, for he wanted to just bask in the moon. He knew how she admired the moon, stars and the cosmos. It was her big day as was his, and he wanted it to be perfect. That was one of those happy days when even being hit by a truck would not have stopped him from flying with the woman he loved.
“Could you bring me another fork, Thomas, “Jacob called out to his son-in-law, bringing him back to the present again. “This one seems to be a bit blunt.”
“Sure thing,” he smiled obligingly.”I have a new set upstairs. I’ll get them.”
After getting the fork, he rushed down the stairs accidentally knocking off a painting. He picked it up and put it back in place. Just as Susan had left it. He didn’t want to replace or re-organize it; he still felt her touch now and then, scraping the plaster of his clumsy work. He seemed to realize it had been long now, since he’d last looked at the painting, the one his wife had painted. Ah! Those good old days when life was easier, food was on the table, there were no worries.
Memories came flooding back to him. Just after she passed away, he would sit all day in his striped pyjamas. Drink tea in the morning. Gulp down whisky in the evenings. Just sit and stare and blame God. Not that he was a firm believer but he needed to blame, needed to make God realize what a big mistake he had done to take the one and only thing that mattered to him.
Now, seven years later, it felt good. Things felt good, the sun felt warm on his skin, not like in the dark days, the moon was good to him too, it was no more his friend, he’d sleep at night without dreaming about how empty he’d felt. He didn’t even see his therapist now. It had been too long, seemed like dog years since he last saw his therapist.
He put the frame back and moved to the dining room where his in-laws were waiting for him.
Today was January 20th. Seven years. For seven years, his in-laws have been visiting him on this very day. They had the same things prepared and talked about her and laughed and cried and just sat and went about it. Though the common thing they shared was the love for their daughter and his wife, the hole she had left in their lives, which had brought them together. A hollow place, filled with warmth and sunlight. Giving each of them, giving Thomas the will to go on and live. Live like there was no tomorrow.
Thomas had already started looking forward to the next January 20th.