On a sunny day, on my way to the shop, I passed by the garden I admired for the lavish green it enclosed. On that day, amidst the leaves and trees, there were sorrowful faces. After so many years, the three orphans were once again gathered under the same roof. Yet this time the woman who had gathered them was in a wooden box they were carrying towards a pit in between the shrubs.
Years ago, the woman in the box had taken them in one by one and offered them a home. Now, after a long time, they were together, thanks to her.
Of the three orphans, especially the girl had left an impact on my memory. I remember clearly the day she was brought to the old woman’s house. Her large dark eyes were shining with fear on her tiny face where tears had made pathways through dried up blotches on her cheeks… on the cheeks that had known nothing but caresses until that day. She looked tired and small in worn out dusty clothes.
I probably remember her so well because of her mother.
Years ago, her mother came to my shop with red puffy eyes. I had seen her around a few times but never had a chance to start a conversation. My shop had been a popular spot the townspeople liked to frequent. They were eager to spend their newly acquired wealth on goods they had never seen before.
Once the war broke out, my customers dwindled. So did the supplies delivered to my shop and I was left with considerable time to listen to stories.
On one such day, she entered my shop with swollen eyes. I asked her if she would like to sit down. She responded with tears and her story that had brought her there. She poured out the string of events one after another with the insatiability of those who are overwhelmed by an accumulation of experiences they cannot quite make out what to do with. She needed to hear them herself by speaking them out loud.
Thus, she began talking. She had moved from her family’s home where she had spent her whole life to our town a few months ago with her husband whom she had met only a month before their wedding. At her new dwelling, in between the alien surroundings, she had to learn to share everything, from her food to her bed, with a complete stranger. So to learn, she watched. She watched this man until all terrifying strangeness about him became a source of comfort. She observed him up to the point where a new life in a new town did not appear so daunting as long as he was present.
Then, a few days ago her husband had left to join the fight and she had lost the only person she knew in this town she had moved to for his sake.
From that day on, I became her confidante for the next three years. I was there when she received news from the front. I held her hand when she found out her home town had been hit by a deadly attack. I was by her side when she came to the realization that she would not be receiving any news from the front anymore. I reassured her as gunfire approached closer day by day.
I was also there when she found out she was going to be a mother. I witnessed her joy when despite everything, she told me about her dreams and hopes for the little bean growing in her.
At a moment when she had no one left, she was eager to embrace her child, to reformulate her existence and grow roots strong enough to hold them upright whatever may strike their little family. I knew, in spite of the war, the dirt, the destruction of everything good, she was ready for her child. Despite the ugliness of fast approaching blood thirst, she wanted to bring her baby up to be aware of others, thoughtful, sensitive and with belief in a safe future.
I knew she was ready to give everything for her little child. I knew it from the way she wrapped her little baby’s hands around her fingers. I knew it from the way she considered tomorrow, and from the way she thought about years to come. I knew it from the way she held her child when her house was destroyed in an air raid and from the way she was holding her little girl when the bullet hit her. I knew it from her dried blood on her daughter’s face when the little girl was rescued from under her lifeless body.
Now, looking at the young strong woman’s sad face in the garden, standing by the grave of another who brought her up to adulthood, I cannot help but think of that friend who felt strongest holding her little daughter.
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