A short story this time.
The first time I saw her was on a summer night. I never got a good look at her probably because my eyes had tears in them as I got out into the balcony trying to stay strong for my sister who just found out that she had breast cancer and the first thing she said was that she wanted to see everyone before she left. So my parents did everything they could to invite long lost cousins to people she grew playing around with including her ex boyfriends which she probably did not ask for but they never knew who she broke up with or when.
Anyway, I was out trying to get some air when she (a stranger at this point of time and for any time to come…FYI this is not my sister we are talking about) came and stood beside me. The first thing I noticed about her was her fingernails as her hands touched the railings. They were so dirty. I wish my mother had seen that. She looked at me and asked
“Brother of the patient?”
“Yeah. Do we know you?”
“Pfff. No. I was just walking by and saw a party so I got in for the free food.”
“What? I am sorry. I think you should leave. This is a highly emotional time for all of us and we cannot have random strangers walking in and out of our emotional space.”
She started laughing which made me ask her the reason and to this day I could never believe what she said.
“Aww please. Boohoo, my sister has cancer. Boohoo I am going to pretend to be sad but the moment she dies I am going to try to get her room”
“That is it. Leave.”
“What stage is your sister anyway?”
“Eww. That is a boring stage. Did she start chemo?”
“What the hell is wrong with you? I am going to drag you down myself if you do not leave my house right now.”
“Answer the question.”
“We just came to know about it today!”
“Shucks! Anyway all the exitement is once the chemo starts. The hair loss, the body pain, the complete inability to do anything. So fun!”
“That is it.”
I grabbed her hand and tried pushing her out of the balcony doors when she turned and extended her hand towards me…
“It will be rather impolite to let you go without you ever be able to put a name to my face. Natasha. Stage 4 cancer. Going to die in about a month. So excuse me for craving free food and tell your mother the soup was too salty. Bye.”
“Shit! I am sorry. Eat all the food you need. I am sorry”
I had more tears in my eyes. That is when I observed her for the first time. She had a wig on. A 90’s wig and bright red lips. She was thin but you could see she was not always like that. But her eyes, her eyes reminded me of an ocean. An ocean so pure, its never experienced human touch. An ocean so pure, it was still so blue.
She smiled at me and said
“We were born into this world thinking we have forever. So we plan accordingly. Love, Fun, Happiness…everything is according to a plan. But here is the thing, no one ever wonders how long is their forever. So when you wake up and you feel horrible and you decide that its just a bad day and not a bad life, have you ever wondered what if today was the only day left in your life? Would you want to feel horrible on the last day of your life? I guess not. Not me anyway! Your sister has a long road ahead of her and I am sure she will be fine but just do one thing for her that no one ever did for me. Don’t give her hope. Don’t tell her everything is going to be alright tomorrow because tomorrow might not exist. Instead do everything to make her smile then and there.”
Then she left. She did not give me time to take it all in. She was gone.
So today when my mother picked up a phone call and was told that a neighbor’s daughter had died of cancer, I knew it was her. The girl I had met eight years ago on one of the best and worst nights of my life.
My mom cried thinking about the death of her own daughter four years back while we got dressed to attend the funeral.
As I stood there, among the crowds, I looked at her eyes in the picture they had put up. It was a recent one. Her eyes were not so blue anymore. The ocean in this girl had dried up. Guess the universe could not dry up the ocean in a month so it gave itself eight years to kill itself. It had no plans to save her but all along was only reprieving her.
Image credits : http://www.kobbieciarni.com