The missing link (From life)
“Why do I need to stay with your family? I mean I like them and all, but you’re just going away for a month, right? I can take care of myself. Plus your sister is there with her new-born baby, it will be so chaotic :S, don’t you think ?,” Stephanie blurted out like a kid who’s forced to go to school on the day of a test that she has least prepared for.
“Haha, you sound like a baby you know,” laughed Jack.
“Laugh all you want, but I really don’t want to go,” she pleaded with puppy dog eyes and also let out a laughter when as she heard herself.
“I know you don’t want to go honey, but mom insisted quite a lot for you to stay with them while I’ll be away. It’s been so long. I turned her down twice but she was persistent, you know how it was” he said diligently.
“But there will be so much….so much work and all and you know I don’t like kids, I’ll miss youuuuu so much. Why does your company have to send you all the way to Australia and that too for a month. And why am I not allowed” she mumbled and she rambled.
“c’mon my family’s not all that bad. It’s just a month hun. It’ll be quickly gone. And you know my company needs to set up a new plant in Australia, so as the head of the department, I need to go for research and all and wife is not allowed as per company policy, but hey just a month right” and he picked up his bags and they left for the airport.
“Hey Steph, ah we meet after a long time. Jack got on the flight awrite ?,” asked Jack’s mom Rita in an excited voice.
“Hey Rita, yeah I spoke to Jack till he had to switch off his phone before the take off,” replied Stephanie in a tone quite opposite to that of Rita’s.
Rita welcomed her daughter-in-law inside and everyone else including Jack’s dad (Adam) and his sister (Laura) with her one-month old toddler (Aiden) greeted each other. Just when Stephanie (for a split-second) thought that Aiden was kewt inspite of her I-don’t-like-babies attitude, Aiden threw up all over her neck and dress causing Stephanie to retaliate in disgust and words like “ewwww”, “gross”, “what the hell”, “urghh” filled everyone’s otherwise peaceful ears.
Laura apologised but no one could stop laughing at this instance. Stephanie was a little confused at everyone’s reaction and thought that here she’s soaked in white vomit and a spoiled dress and everyone else is finding it funny ? Amidst her thoughts and strong reaction of confusion and disgust evidently glittering on her face, Rita caught her and understood what Steph might be going through considering the fact that she’s not so very fond of kids. So Rita went up to Steph and explained to her that the reason behind the giggles and laughter was the innocent and unintentional antics and raw behaviour of a kid that amuses a grown up all the time and makes him/her fall more in love with him. Steph gave a kids-are-weird-and-I-don’t-understand-the-stupid-things-they-do look, so Rita left her by herself to ponder some more over the enlightening piece of information about kids Rita had just given her.
Days turned into a week and Steph’s thinking about kids grew more stronger but in the opposite direction. Every time she went to kiss Aiden on the cheeks, he threw up on her. After innumerous throw ups and potty stains and aimless leaks on herself and the sleepless nights because of constant cries of Aiden at night, she was growing weary and was in a perennially flustered state.
She needed her dose of affection from her husband and so whenever Steph found some solitude, away from the chaos and the chores and the toddler’s irritating behaviour and Laura’s always-prancing-and-yelling-and-tsunami-causing-6-year-old Henry, she used to call Jack for some relieving talks.
“When are you coming back? I’m missing you. I can’t stay here. You don’t know what Aiden does to me all the time,” she was on the verge of crying.
“I miss you too hun. And haha what Aiden does to you or what you do to him?” he said trying to tease his wife.
“Eww, I dont like kids Jack. He’s just always throwing up on me, and peeing on me ALL THE TIME. C’mon, there’s a limit to everything,” she said.
“But how would a kid know that Steph, you need to understand,” he replied trying to explain her the ways kids work in.
“I don’t know all that. I’m just getting damn irritated now. Anyways, I don’t want to talk about all this now. I just want to talk to you, about you. Anything new at your end ?”
“Listen just take a deep breath ok. Just try to have fun with the kids. Well, the only thing new today is that I had your favourite Tiramisu”
“Even I want tiramisu,” and they talked for another ten minutes talking about Australia when Rita walked in and Steph disconnected the call.
“Ah, nice weather outside, want to go take a walk in the lawn ?” Rita asked a very frazzled Stephanie.
In a desperate attempt for a break, Steph accepted and they both headed towards the lush green lawn outside. The cooll air and the intoxicating fragrance of the flowers and the soil, Steph felt a little relaxed. Both of them got into a general chat about life, family, career…and kids when Rita asked Steph as to when she and Jack were planning to have kids.
“I don’t know Rita. To be frank, I think you know what I feel about kids. I’m not particularly fond of them. They get onto my nerves. So Jack and I aren’t planning for kids anytime soon. It’s a huge responsibility. And being in touch with my inner (and I think outer) retaliation, I don’t know if I ever want to have kids,” Steph replied in a subtle and tired manner.
“Well, yeah I’ve noticed how you feel about kids, Steph. And as a wife, I can understand what you mean, but being a mother (and I’m a mother to you as well) all I want to say is that you should keep your head clear and then arrive at any decision. Becoming a mother and raising a family is one amazing wonder of nature and life, something that everyone should experience atleast once. You get the opportunity of raising a life inside of you and protecting and moulding that life into a good person when it’s out in the world. Kids are a great responsibility, yes, but they’re also a part of you that you will cherish for the rest of your life. No one will force you for anything, Steph. But if you would just listen to me this once and keep an open mind about kids and the whole process and if still you feel that what you’ve decided is apt for you and Jack, then so be it, but I don’t want you to regret this decision twenty years later when you will have no one by your side apart from each other, to love you, to remind you of who you used to be, of who you are now, of what you’ve become, of what you’ve accomplished,” Rita got emotional and hoped Steph would understand.
“Hmmm, I cannot promise you anything, Rita. But I think I’ll give it a try to whatever you just said,” Steph smiled trying to heed Rita’s advice.
In the following days, Rita could see that Steph did consider her advice after all. Whenever Aiden did his usual stuff on Steph, she did get irked like the usual, but this time she also tried to control and understand it. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, maybe clear off her head and comprehended Aiden’s innocence.
Rita could notice that Steph’s tolerance level had increased, she was getting less annoyed with Aiden’s antics day after day and was trying to seep in more instead of urghing all the time. She was giving herself some time and space to deal with what raising a child actually means. There were times when Steph returned to her old self and got a little frustrated with Aiden, but that could be excused in front of all that that she was trying to understand and to some extend change her perspective towards kids too.
Steph started spending some more time with Aiden. He used to get excited and would gesture his hands and legs involuntarily at her mere sight. Earlier she would refrain a little and just smile but eventually she would take him into her arms and incessantly talk gibberishly with him. And he, no less, would cheer up and give that splendid smile without any pearly whites which used to make Steph giggle as well, everytime. Steph probably didn’t even notice how deep her affection was growing for Aiden. But there’s always a part that doubts the current behaviour and Steph did get irritated sometimes with the cries of the kid and the responsibility was daunting. But apart from that she now derived great pleasure from kissing him and hugging him and playing with him and before she knew it, her 30 days of enjoyment expired when Jack showed up at the house.
“Jack , omg! you are home,” she ran at the sight of him and hugged him and squeezed him tightly and Jack kissed her.
“You are early, weren’t you supposed to come after a month?,” she asked confused and excited and more than anything, she was happy.
“Erm, it is one month Steph, don’t tell me Aiden tortured you so much that you’re suffering from partial memory loss now,” scoffed Jack.
“Whoaa! one month’s over ? When ? How ? Why? And hey, Aiden’s a kewt baby, he doesn’t torture,” and she spanked Jack and went to her room.
“Whoaa, what happened to her Am I missing something ?” Jack asked in sheer confusion and amusement.
“Oh you have no clue,” said Rita jovially and in a mission-accomplished-cum-grateful manner.
“Did someone possess her and make her love Aiden, is it ?” he looked at his mom and sister.
“Jack, shut up,” said his mom, sister and Steph at the same time and they just laughed. Jack spent some time with his family, played with Aiden and chatted until it was time for Jack and Steph to leave when Steph’s brightly lit face because of Jack, faded a bit at the thought of leaving Aiden which almost everyone noticed.
Jack asked Steph if she was awrite to which she replied in a colourless tone that she was fine.
“If you’re going to miss him so much, why don’t we have our own kids ?” Jack said even though he knew what Steph’s reply would be.
But his eyes popped out and his jaw dropped open like a monkey when Steph replied, ” I think that could be a possibility.”
“What do you see?” she asked in a quaint and innocent voice.
“Oh, tell me fast what you see down out of the window” she couldn’t hold her excitement any longer.
“Ha ha calm down, calm down my dear sis, whatever I see it’s beautiful” replied her sister Clara.
“Hey you cannot tell a bride on her wedding day to calm down silly, and now you are going to kill your lil’ sister if you don’t tell her how is everything outside and then you’re going to be chased by cops as the official bride killer ha…ha” mocked Liz.
Clara and Liz always had this sweet and sour relation. They were five years apart but were like a twain. Always supportive, always understanding, they enjoyed this sisterhood since its very beginning. Best friends, best advisers, best partners-in-crime, they were anything and everything one could imagine…sometimes even like a mother and daughter.
Clara was thirty two years old and was married for seven years. She had three adorable brats: two boys and one girl. Liz was always the one to spoil them royally. Clara was a strong person, she always had been, right from the time their mother died when they were kids. In spite of her father, she felt it was required of her to take the lead for her baby sister. If it hadn’t been for Clara, the relation between Liz and herself wouldn’t have been this smooth and comfortable and a joyous one too.
While Clara was the older one, Liz enjoyed all her liberties and privileges of being the youngest. Smart, beautiful, confident, fun-loving and yet she had that peculiar and complacent nature that distinguished her from the rest of the crowd. She was as innocent and appeared as fragile as an angel. With a soft countenance, she was the type that required to be handled with care. Forgiving was her nature, but only to some extent. She made her own decisions with a little help from others but it was her heart that made decisions of her life more than her head.
“OMG! and then your doppelganger will haunt us all (considering it won’t be so easy to kill you after all) haha” chuckled Clara when Liz spanked her head.
“Ouch, that hurts. Ok, ok, my lil drama-queen, I see something really beautiful and magical outside. It’s perfect. Just like you wanted it to be. I see a lush green lawn sporting an emerald green colour overlooking a serene and rejoicing lake. I see long draperies in hues of golden and red flying effortlessly from the tall golden roman pillars ( I guess all we require now are some ducks and hens and the poultry effect will be complete haha ).”
“you jealous old woman”
“Haha and oh! the aisles are intermittently decorated with clusters of Asian lilies, sunflower and orchids just like in fairy tales. Guests in different shape, size and costumes are chattering with each other and (ha ha) oh I see your lovey-dovey down there too.”
“Hey why don’t I get to see him ”
“Coz you’re the bride remember. And now after browsing through the floral settings, my eyes finally are reaching to your much-awaited gazebo in white decorated with blossoming orange roses. Oh Liz, everything is just like a dream. I’m so happy for you (that you’re FINALLY moving away from us)” and Clara juggled between expressions of laughter and shedding tears.
“Aww Clara, it sounds just like heaven, and c’mon don’t cry (and laugh too), I won’t be that far after all to haunt ya” and she found her sister and hugged her after wiping her tears off.
“Well, on a serious note, there is something I’ve been meaning to ask you.”
“Yep go ahead.”
“You are sure you want to do this, right? I mean with your current condition, your eyes, your health and everything? I’m sorry I’m just a little worried Liz. I want you to be happy, really happy after all that you’ve been through.”
“I know things haven’t been quite the way they normally should with me, but maybe this is the way they were supposed to happen with me and that might not be normal for others but it is normal for me. In fact it’s more than perfect for me Clara. This is what I want. This is what I really want...”
And she trailed off at the approach of footsteps. It was Charles, their father. Both Clara and Liz stopped talking. Their father wasn’t a big fan of Jason. To top it more, he didn’t even trust Jason with his low financial status, his small house and everything and him striving to become a writer of which Charles didn’t approve of.
“When will this writer of yours start writing for good and start earning something huh Liz?” he used to often say because Jason was still a struggling writer. And it were these very reasons that made Charles oppose the wedding from the very beginning, but who would go against Liz ?
“Hey dad” Clara said.
“Hey kids, so Liz how you feeling?”
Liz looked in the direction of the voice and with an awkward but warm expression replied that she’s feeling good with a mixture of wedding jitters and fully loaded excitement.
“Not getting cold feet are you?” he asked with the obvious pretense of a joke, but everyone knew that he secretly wished for Liz to get cold feet and she would re-think her decision.
“No dad, not with this one”
Her dad looked away, he didn’t have much to say, especially after the epic quarrels battled in the past with this wedding and Jason, it was awkward for him to say anything more. He could no more see Liz go through another series of troubles.
“I’m happy dad, if that’s what’s worrying you. I know you don’t like Jason and you are just worried what the outcome might be, but I want you to let go off your worries now. Jason is not perfect, no one is, but together we, him and me, we are perfect in our own way and that is what counts, isn’t it dad?”
“I know sweetheart, but it’s very difficult for me to give you away to someone whose future doesn’t seem so bright. How will he keep you happy Liz?”
“Dad, for once try to see Jason as I see him. Try keeping all the materialistic factors at the side for a moment and look at Jason for the man he is, for the man who knows how to live his life to the fullest. He loves your daughter very much dad in spite the fact that she has almost lost her vision now” and a roll of tear left her fragile eyes.
“Dad, I am happy and it’s Jason who makes me so happy. Even though he doesn’t have much wealth but he’ll never be poor. He will never be poor, dad, because he has stocks of love, respect, warmth, care, affection, understanding and trust in his heart for everyone. Where can I find anyone like that who makes me feel special in spite of my disability? Where can anyone find a person like him anywhere who raises your self-respect and worth every time you are stuck in a fall? I love him dad and I want you to at least try to get to know him without your pre-conceived notions about him, without you being bias and judgmental about him. It’s still not too late. At least for my sake, dad.”
“Jason, hey since when have you been standing here? Its bad luck to see the bride before the marriage” said Clara in a mild shock and Liz composed herself too.
“Uhm just the part where Liz spoke up in my defense. Hey, Mr. Charles how are you?”
“How can a father be at this time, Jason?”
“Still the same. Mr. Charles I want you to know that I will keep your daughter very happy.”
“That is what they all say, but who knows the truth.”
“Dad” both Clara and Liz shot up.
“No he’s right Liz. A father can not be too sure about his son-in-law if he marries his daughter who has a disability. It’s but natural that he will always fear and be concerned about her, or if her hubby’s treating her well or not otherwise why else would one marry someone who cannot see when the guy can get any other girl. Maybe the guy has ulterior motives. Is it the wealth then? Or what could it be, isn’t that right Mr. Charles?”
“Well, finally I see something sensible out of your mouth huh.”
“Yeah well your daughter has been of utmost help to me in that department. Uhm can we talk somewhere in private?”
“Yeah sure,” and they left the room and headed towards the guest room.
“So what is it, let’s get this over with,” said Charles.
“My feeling exactly. So coming to the point, life is too short to make the wrong decisions especially when it comes to love. All you see is me marrying your daughter who has lost her vision. But what you don’t see (or rather don’t want to see) is I am marrying your daughter for what she is in spite of her vision. I understand your concern for Liz as a father whose daughter is getting married, but what I don’t understand is your incessant doubt about this relation. I don’t know why everyone is making a big deal about Liz’s vision when for me that does not even reside in the same vicinity as my love for her.”
“I respect Liz for who she is, I love her for what she is. I’m not marrying her out of pity but because I have known her in and out and that is what I love about her. I never wanted to give this explanation to anyone because for me, this wedding does not require an explanation. Why should I explain? But you have been persistently pushing the envelope so far that I had to justify myself time and again. Liz is the most amazing person I have ever met Mr. Charles. She is incomparable. She makes me feel alive, special. She instills positivity, faith in me. She showed me what it’s like to love, to support, to care. I see my best friend in her. That best friend with whom I can share anything and everything and with whom I want to spend the rest of my life with. You can keep your wealth Mr. Charles because I really don’t care about it. But because of your doubts I don’t want to lose my Liz because losing her will mean losing myself and I can’t afford to do that. I believe in raising mountains if you have love, but I don’t believe in raising wealth if you don’t have any love. We have been through these discussions many a times and there is nothing more that I can do to make you believe and trust in me but to let time unfold my words in reality. I have tried every way to make you believe in my words, in my feelings because you are really important to Liz and I wouldn’t want her to get hurt if you are not happy with us. I LOVE your daughter Mr. Charles and I will really like it if you give her away today with some satisfaction and content in your heart. That will make Liz happier than your expensive Harry Winston necklace and these grandeur gifts. I won’t take any more of your precious time and wouldn’t keep you waiting to meet your daughter. See you at the wedding” and Jason left with a muffled smile and a disturbed expression
“What happened, is that old-filthy-rich-always-opposing-dead-man still causing troubles?” asked Jason’s cousin in the hallway paces away from the room he came out from after observing the whole scene.
“Hey watch your language Larry, there’s no reason for abusing and name calling. He is Liz’s father and I want you to respect him.”
“But he’s never been nice to you.”
“That doesn’t mean he’s not nice. He’s just worried for his daughter and that’s justifiable. Now enough with the argument. You are not abusing him and that is final. I’m going down to meet the guests. See ya later.”
“How can you be not angry with him but save his image Jason ? You’re one weird guy” Larry said to himself after Jason left.
The scene was set, the bride was ready, the groom awaited impatiently. The band started playing “You and Me” by Lifehouse. It was this song by which Jason had proposed to Liz. Jason stood there smiling to himself and muttered, “this is our song Liz” and almost as if Liz could hear him from the end of the aisle, she replied, “Yes it is, just you and me,” and she continued walking the aisle with her father.
They reached the spot where her man was waiting for her and she turned towards him. Everything was good…till now. The bridesmaids and the best man were all pretty and smiling. The priest welcomed the guests and asked if anyone had any objections to this union? Jason, Clara, Tim (her husband), her kids, aunts, uncles, all but Liz looked at Charles expecting him to object just like the usual. Instead, Charles smiled and nodded in denial and surprised everyone. The vows were read and it was time to exchange the rings.
“I, Jason, give you, Liz, a piece of my heart in the form of this ring as an eternal symbol of my love and life to you. Please handle with care and don’t knead dough with my heart hahaa” and they chuckled and exchanged rings and the priest announced, “you may now kiss the bride” and both Jason and Liz sealed their love and union with the eternal kiss.
“You are smiling. So, is it safe to say that you’ve had a change of heart?,” asked Clara in a teasing manner when she found her dad seated and admiring the newlyweds dance happily.
“What, I’m not smiling; I’m just, you know, just just…”
“Just happy. So what brought about this change dad?”
“Well, as much as I would hate to admit, but your old man might have been just a stubborn ass after all. Maybe I now see what Liz meant by weighing Jason not by his bank balance but by his heart. Just noticed an incident with Jason and Larry, that’s it. There maybe a lot to know about Jason I guess. I hope I’m not too late.”
“No you’re not, dad. Better late than never what say “and they both hugged each other just when the newlyweds came to take Clara and her dad to the dance floor.
“I’m happy for you, and for him too. You both have my blessings” Charles whispered in Liz’s ears while dancing with him. Liz smiled with gratitude and affection and hugged her dad.
“Hey, what’s a dance without the family” jumped in Jason and started dancing with them.
“Is it too late to make a fresh start Jason ?” blurted out Charles loudly in the loud music that was playing.
“Nope you’re still on time…dad” and they just hugged each other with Clara, Tim and the kids joining in too.
“Who wants the bouquet?”
“Me, me, I, me, me” came the chattering replies.
Liz threw the yummy and colourful bouquet behind her, only to find it caught by a well deserved recipient standing away from the crowd, her father.
“See ya at ya wedding dad, ciao” with laughter Liz and Jason left in their “Just Married” blue car…