It had been a terrible year. It was like Mr.Murphy had written the laws with Suzanne in mind, everything that can go wrong, will go wrong and it had.
The German Account closed down, the folly of servicing a single client shone through like snow on a sunny day. Her firm had to file for bankruptcy, goodbye to the perks of a high flying executive. The investments that she had made did not turn out to be prudent after all. The loss was more than she could afford.
Had it not been for Peter, she could have borne it all with a patient shrug. Peter was her pillar of support, her go to guy and the man with whom she wanted to grow old. Peter obviously had other plans. The new open letter, ergo the smoking gun was the text message that lay carelessly undeleted. She caught the one he had sent to Michelle and the one Michelle sent back. Sex, she probably could have forgiven but she could not forgive him giving his heart to another. It shattered her. She walked away from him.
It was New Year’s Eve. Everyone she knew was making plans with everyone they loved and here she was, an out of work, out of savings and out of love woman. She had to get away from Edinburgh. Grandpa lived in Inverness, the only place in the world where she could over stay her welcome.
Grandpa, in his time had been the lead guitarist to a forgettable band. The band withered away but Grandpa’s spirit was undefeatable. Susanne suspected that he really was no lonely man and had girlfriends tucked away somewhere in the Scottish woodwork.
Grandpa lived by the famous Loch Ness, though he had told her the story of the monster she had never seen it. Truth be told, her life had been scarier than the Loch Ness monster. She drove in on a cold winter day and found Grandpa waiting on the porch. He enveloped Susanne in the most comforting bear hug, it made the fatigue of the long drive disappear in seconds.
Over some well curated Scotch Susanne told her Grandpa the story of her woes. Grandpa heard her patiently, he was always a good listener.
“I just can’t wait for this year to end Grandpa, anyways, just a few hours to go!” Susanne sighed. Grandpa nodded and smiled.
A few minutes later Grandpa stood up lazily, “I have a package to deliver to a friend, drive me?”
“Sure, still not drunk enough not to drive,” Susanne said lovingly as she grabbed her car keys from her purse. Grandpa picked a cardboard box from the storeroom, it did not seem too heavy. Susanne rolled the car out of the driveway and waited for Grandpa to give her directions.
It was pitched dark and Susanne could not see any house in sight. “What’s going on Grandpa? This is not like a spy movie now, is it?” Susanne teased. Grandpa smiled and gestured for her to follow.
They walked down a country path for a minute and then suddenly they were at the most beautiful spot on the lake. In the blue moonlight the lake shimmered in front of them and a wooden jetty extended into the water that boasted a single dull yellow streetlight. It looked like a picture that could sell Scotland to the most reluctant tourist.
“What we doing here Grandpa?”
Grandpa handed the cardboard box to Susanne and said, “You are delivering a package.”
Susanne looked at her Grandpa quizzically and then opened the box to find nothing in it. She was even more perplexed.
“Now Susanne, into this box, place your feeling of inadequacy.” Grandpa said with a warm grin. Susanne began to argue but Grandpa stopped her with a wave of his hand. “Just do it, my love!”
Susanne simply looked into the box and said nothing. “Now into this box place your feelings of hate and remorse.” Sussane’s eyes welled up with tears. “And while we are it also fill it with your unshed tears.” Sussane closed her eyes as the tears rolled down her face. “Also put in your failings, your misgivings, your broken dreams, you failed relationship. Everything you know and think was bad in the year.”
Sussane began to shake with sobs that she did not even know she had hidden away in her being. “Now my love, walk down the Jetty and deliver the box to the Loch Ness Monster!” Sussane couldn’t move but Grandpa placed a loving hand on her, the hand of courage.
Sussane began to walk down the Jetty her form wracking with her sadness. Grandpa could not fight his tears as he watched his girl fight the battle called life. There under the pale yellow light he could see her stand with the box for a long while before she kneeled and let it go into the lake.
Her walk back was lighter, quicker. She smiled at him through her tears and hugged him tight.
“The New Year is just a date Susie,” Grandpa whispered in her ear, “nothing will change till you don’t. To welcome the future you have to let the past go. However hard it is, the goodbye has to be said.”
Homer looked down at the swirling waters below. The water would be cold, very cold; he would die of hypothermia if he did not drown. There were other easier ways to die but then there were better ways to live as well and life had been all but hell for him. As he stood on the Mohican Bridge he could see the city on both sides of him, there were the shining lights of Christmas and the sounds of drunken revelry. He was sorry that he would have to make the Police and the Morgue Attendants work on Christmas day, extracting his dead body from the river and doing the autopsy but there was no going back now. He could not live another day.
“Don’t do that,” said a beautiful voice.
Homer turned around to see that a beautiful young lady had stopped her car on seeing him ready to kill himself and had decided to dissuade him.
“You are making a big mistake, don’t take your life,” she said with a beatific smile.
“You have no idea about my life, my tragedies, my misery, if you were in my place you would have killed your self much sooner.” Homer shouted over the icy wind.
“Perhaps, but how do you know for sure that you are worse off than me? I might be more miserable than you and still living?”
Homer shook his head as if to say no one could be more miserable than him. They argued for a while, the beautiful lady dissuading him and Homer resentfully wanting to kill himself and then she offered him a deal, “Suspend your killing by a few hours. Have a cup of coffee with me and then if you still want to kill yourself, go ahead and do it. I will not stop you.” She stretched her delicate hand towards him. Homer hesitated for a moment, then slowly stretched his hand towards her and she grabbed it.
She drove him to a coffee shop where they sat themselves by the window. The snow fell silently outside shielding them from the world. The Lady introduced herself as Gaby, she worked at the Bank of Providence, Homer had never heard of that bank but then Homer had not heard of a lot of things. Over three cups of coffee he told her about his misfortune, the debts that he had gathered, his wife leaving him with his children and the final nail in the coffin, the tragedy of failing on the mortgage of his house. He was homeless, penniless and without a family on a Christmas Eve.
“Is that all?” the Lady said with a smile. Homer looked at her like she had lost her mind. “Is that not enough?” he thundered back. Gaby shook her head and smiled. “I have a large house, you can use the guest room and try to find a job? Does that work for a start?” Gaby asked Homer.
Homer did not answer immediately but they did speak all night. The sun was rising above the icy rooftops when Homer agreed to take the guest room that Gaby offered him.
As the days passed him by Homer did find a job and slowly but surely he began to pay his debts back. Though the best thing that could happen to him was Gaby.
He learned from Gaby about her life and her tragedies but most of all she taught him how to smile.
They fell in love. By the next Christmas they were engaged. Gaby called her friends over for a quite party that did turn drunken and gregarious yet, it was the best time that Homer had had. It was wonderful.
As the years flowed by Gaby and Homer only fell more in love. Homer began to do really well at work and soon received the promotion he so deserved. He bought them a house by the river from where one could see the Mohican Bridge. He would look at the Bridge on many a quiet evenings and shudder to think what would have happened should Gaby had not met him that dark night and held his hand.
They had two beautiful children; Gaby was both a good mother and a loving wife. Ten years later on a Christmas Eve Gaby held Homer in her arms and asked him gently, “Would you say you were wrong in trying to kill yourself Homer?” Homer smiled and held her closer, “Yes. I would have missed out on a great life. Thank you Gaby.”
Then suddenly Homer heard a sharp ringing sound in his ears and his vision seemed to get blurry. He felt dizzy, a cold wind slapped him across his face and he was back there! Back on the Mohican Bridge with Gaby holding his outstretched hand. Homer was stunned beyond words, “What did you do? How did this happen? You have brought me back ten years?”
“No,” replied Gaby with a smile. “We never went anywhere. I just created the illusion to show you the kind of life you can have. The life that you are going to take is invaluable, don’t squander it.”
“You mean…” Homer was truly at a loss of words.
“It is darkest before the dawn but the dawn never fails. Trust in the dawn.” Gaby pulled Homer back slowly from the edge.
“Who are you?” Homer finally formed a sentence.
“Gaby, though that is a recent name. There was a time when I was called Gabriel.”
Homer watched her as she smiled and walked away. He loved her, now she was walking away, how was he going to live without her? Just then, like she had read his thoughts, she turned around and smiled, “There is a Gaby waiting for you somewhere. The vision of the future was a gift of the Christmas Spirit. Merry Christmas!”
Yuri Pavlov was a man who spoke his mind and for that reason he was a man in prison. His wife, Irina, had warned that it would happen when he insisted on taking on the government with his sharp editorials and edgy comments against the policies and the rule of the land. The charges were trumped up but the sentence was long.
Luckily for him ,he was housed in a penitentiary for political prisoners. He had some allowed comforts and Irina had visitation rights.
Winter was approaching and soon it would be Christmas. Irina had decided to take their ten-year old, Boris, for a holiday to Istanbul but before that she wanted to wish Yuri a merry Christmas.
The meeting room was cold, there was apparently no heating or it had failed and it wasn’t important to fix it. A low intensity light bulb hung from the ceiling casting pale shadows on the walls and the floor. The moment Irina walked into the room Yuri knew that something was troubling his wife.
“What is the matter? ” he held her hands with his own hands cuffed to the table.
“It’s Boris. He has begun to stammer,” Irina wiped a tear as she shared her pain with her husband.
“Is it because I am in prison?”
“No Yuri. I think it is because he is having problems in school. His teacher says that he is a clever boy and does his exams well but in class he has become very quiet. He struggles to answer the questions in class. The teacher cannot understand how that can happen. Great at his written tests but so dull when it comes to any verbal communication.” Irina had clearly done everything that she could about the problem before she brought it to Yuri. Yuri thought for a moment and then asked Irina if she could take a letter from him to Boris, on her way to Istanbul? She could give it as a Christmas gift from a Father to his son.
Istanbul was not as cold as the harsh winter of their country. Irina made sure Boris did not feel the absence of his father. They bought Christmas gifts and hung them in socks and even found a big Christmas tree in the Hotel under which they could exchange their gifts. When the toys were unpacked and embraced with glee Irina gave Boris the letter from his father. It was a Christmas gift for him. Boris tore the envelope open and read the letter with a happy urgency.
Merry Christmas. I wish I was there to share the fun holiday with you, unfortunately I am paying the price of honesty and I am okay with that too.
My gift to you is not this letter but what I write here for you. It might not seem like much of a present right now but I am sure as your grow older you will see the value of what i’ve written here.
The Pause. What is the pause? The pause is the silence in a conversation. We all experience it all the time when the conversation dries up. We don’t think much of it. It’s fine. But when it comes to the pause between a question and an answer the entire meaning changes.
In a quiz contest the lesser you pause the more intelligent you are, press on the button and beat the rest. But should you go to a man for advice the more he pauses the more you would value the advice. It is strange how we as a society have learned to interpret the pause. A great mathematician will floor you with his speed and yet a jury that deliberates endlessly on a case is better at its job then a quick one.
The pause has different meanings at different times. But let me tell you my boy that the pause is a useless way to judge intelligence. Albert Einstein said that he was not better than others, he just stayed with a problem longer. If you cannot come up with an answer fast enough it doesn’t mean you are unintelligent and if you deliberate endlessly it again doesn’t mean you are astute.
What defines your intelligence is the answer you come up with not the amount of time that you take to arrive at it. As you grow up people around you will fool you into believing that memory is intelligence, speed is intelligence or then quick comprehension is intelligence. Believe me my dear, none of them are intelligence. Don’t let them fool you. Play the game, don’t get fooled by it.
Remember Boris, interpreting the meaning of your pause is not your problem. It is the problem of others. Don’t pretend to understand for the fear of the pause. Pause as long as you want. Don’t feel the need to compete with time. No one has ever won that race in any case.
I love you.
Your Loving Father, Yuri.
Boris looked up at his Mother. He did not understand a word of it. But Irene who read the letter over his shoulder couldn’t stop her tears.
“One day you will really need this letter Boris. One day the world will realize that they need Yuri out of prison and not in it.”
It is but a season, though a season it is.
A pall of gloom now, where stood a blue sky.
Yet, amidst all the death around, there is a death,
to which my countrymen, you and i must never die.
Sorrow is a conjurer, turns too much to so little,
Hardens woe to numbness, then tears will run dry.
Yet, to the memory of these pyres burning,
my fellowmen, you and i must never die.
Only constant is change, a lighter air will come.
breathless no more, when this has passed by.
Yet, to these dying cries for just a mere lungful,
my dear hearts, you and i must never die.
Answers to questions, then questions to answers,
Where the fault lay, thinking heads will pitch a try.
Yet, to that unasked ask of looking within,
my soul-friends, you and i must never die.
He did it, not i, its easy to blame.
Have we not created, then believed this lie?
Yet, to the blood that has tainted our hands,
i beseech, you and i can never die.
Hope is a lonely warrior, alas, alone she won’t survive.
Fallen, but with lessons learnt, tis certain she will get by,
And then if we solemnly promise history, to never forget,
to such a death, in times to come, you and i will never die.
in these dark times i have here a piece of my heart….
embrace it should it embrace you.
or ignore should it not….
i miss the old normal
bear hug a bro normal
butterflies on a date normal
party till late normal
i hate the new normal
the déjà-vu normal
the always blue normal
death on the news normal
“There was a time when people used to line up for your advice, i don’t see anyone now?” she asked her teacher.
“When i gave advice i wasn’t wise. When i turned wise, i stopped giving advice.” the teacher answered with a grin.
“Can you please elaborate?” she knew something astute was coming her way.
The teacher shook his head, “When i grew wise i realized, people ask for advice but never follow it. In the end people do what they want. The only advice they follow is a teacher called experience. Experience is the biggest and only teacher.
“How can you not believe in God?” wondered the religious man.
“Of course i believe in God. Just not a God of any religion, but that one true God.” said the spiritual man.
“That’s rubbish! Without religion you can never reach God. And do you want to know what is the biggest difference between religion and spirituality?” asked the religious man boastfully.
“I know what it is!” answered the spiritual man.
“What?” the religious man smirked.
“A spiritual man has never killed another human being in the name of his God.” and with that the spiritual man rested his case.
He did all he could but like a thousand others, his father succumbed to the Covid.
“It is an unknown enemy, what can you do?” his friend said consoling him.
“The Covid i can forgive, some humans i cannot.” he said matter-of-factly.
“Humans?” his friend asked confused.
He nodded, “I was desperate to take my father to the hospital, this ambulance driver charged me ten thousand rupees for just two kilometres. I was helpless. I paid, but i realized that the real virus is people like these who profit from human suffering. Unfortunately there is never going to be a vaccine for them.”
He woke up groggy; alcohol at the party. And she was there, his ex, but he felt nothing for her, just an indifference.
And sure enough there was a message from her, “Hi, was nice seeing you yesterday. I saw no hate in your eyes for me after what happened. It should have felt good but it hurt me deeply. I realized that i wanted you to hate me because then i would have meant something to you. You made me realize the opposite of love is indifference. Hate is also holding the person close to your heart.”
It brought tears to his eyes.
“Are you scared of ghosts?” she asked him.
“I am more scared of the living dead.” he answered promptly.
“The living dead?” she probed further.
“Have you heard the news of people killing animals for fun? Crackers in a fruit that killed an elephant? Dogs strung by a rope and dragged around? The ones who do this are the living dead. They have no feeling. Now tell me what is more scary, a soul without a body or a body without a soul?”
She stared at him speechless.