A/N: this is my biggest writ. So please try to bear with me.
IF YOU WANNA MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE...
She’s once called the sunshine. Once. Long before. And now she’s called a harridan, a nothing, an old brat. People see her now as if seeing a skunk. She lives alone. Not once. Only now.
‘I told you Sel. That’s not how it should be done.’ Her brother as usual taught her something. He’s her younger, but emotionally, physically, morally, mentally, in total, in everything, except for age, he’s the older one. She quite dislikes him – if ‘dislike’ is the word that has lesser magnitude than that of ‘hate’. But he did ‘love’ her, though he knows that he’s been disliked.
Another random day.
‘Listen Selena. Don’t mess up everything. See, he’s younger, but how perfect everything he is doing! Learn from him.’ Her father indexed her brother. She disliked her father too. She disliked everyone who compared her with her brother, as if he’s the international system of standards kept at Paris.
The only being on earth that did not compare her for her awry ways is her mom. Now she’s sleeping. Never to wake again. She never realised and acknowledged the love of her mother. Everyone is crying. And she’s laughing. She didn’t even know how to behave in a funeral – you don’t have to cry, if you can’t, but at least, keep mum and never smile. She didn’t realise it. She’s mature enough, as per her age, to know the ways of the world, yet she has something inside that kept her away from it.
She spoiled it again. Though she had friends and despite the numerous occasions they’d tried to pinpoint her awkwardness and show her what is right, she’s the same. Always. Now the entire congregation blamed it in her. She’d spilt drinks on music system, bumped on the dancing crew, and caused fire to the carpet. Almost everyone hated her.
She never accepted the fact and tried to change her. Introspection is a word unknown to her. Now she’d brought an emo guy saying that he’s her better half. Her dad opposed it. Brother said that he knows him and that the guy is not to be trusted. She stepped out. With that guy. Nothing in hand, except for fate lines and an empty wallet. No one knows where.
He promised her to bring the moon and the stars. He hardly did bring her even her meal. He can’t help her living. They say love never grows thin with ageing. That grammar fits only for ‘love’, and not for ‘carnal desire’. The latter is what tied them together for eight months. And now he’s nowhere to be seen. Disappeared into thin air! Without a word. Her assets now – a flat with a prepaid mortgage and a foetus – both 3 months.
She was once called the sunshine. Once. Long before. Not now. Now she’s a failure. Selena is a failure.
She was stamped the mascot of the family. Once, not now. She was the mascot of the family, the sunshine of their family until the birth of her brother. The devil in disguise. That is, when she completed eight years on the face of earth. That is, when he started breathing. That is, when even parental love started to disintegrate. They started to show their love completely on her brother. She’s left to decay. Left to take care of herself. Unkempt hair, gawky dressing, clumsy attitude were all that she inherited after his birth. Homework never done. Health, a linear slope –down slope.
She carries her baby now. The birth of a disaster. Though she managed to herself a job – a typist job – she wondered if she’s skilled enough to bring her up. When she approached the doctor for an abortion, that was too late, and hence the product lay in her hands now. People would wonder if she’s ADD. She never consulted a doctor. Only twice did she went to doctor – once for abortion, and then for delivery. She didn’t care for regular pregnancy check-ups and that didn’t inhibit the birth of a little angel. A cursed angel.
‘You can’t understand a thing. Clayhead.’ Her teacher shouted. She came home sobbing. She can’t understand trigonometry. No matter how hard she tried. She cried intensely, trying to grab the attention of the inhabitants of the house. Her dad entered home as usual in haste. And throwing off his bag on the couch where she was crying, asked what happened. She just threw her head sideward signalling nothing. He went upstairs. Then came her four year old brother. He tried to speak to her. She brushed him aside. He stayed by her side, at a distance.
Then came a concerned mom. She received the same lateral-head-sway. She kept everything within herself. She spoke to none. She never started a conversation. Conversation with her is always 100% speaking. She never spoke back, unless a question is in effect, making the word ‘conversation’ pointless.
Her mom always tried to get her child back to track. Like a normal child. She never called her crazy or abnormal, but the little girl never realised. Kept everything suppressed inside. A mind full of depressions.
‘Ma’am, I’m sorry to inform you that you’re one among those who’re given pink slips.’ A voice intruded her typing which further read, ‘ugh, company’s in recession. Get your settlement in accounts section.’
Anything and everything said in such an environment is equivalent to speaking to wall. She lacked sense. She’s grown up but still a child by heart. She fought the informer, made a mess of the documents in her rage and finally caught his collar, which incensed him to his extremes. Slap!
‘Listen, we’re not trying to complain Selena. Try to understand it dear. What your dad says, what we say, your brother says are all for your good. Won’t you stop at least once to look back at all the mess you’ve done?’ a well wisher told her once. She’s a high schooler then. Mom’s still alive.
She threw a death glare at her and said, ‘I’m what I’m. If you’re hating me and want me to change myself for you, then get the-’
‘Fine miss.’ She spelt and sped past. Sped past her field of vision. Sped past out of her life.
‘I told you this is how it all will happen. Had you worked properly, you wouldn’t be among the ones who’re sacked.’ Said her Russian neighbour Mrs. Lee. Mrs. Lee is a homemaker who takes care of her child. The only support she’d is her neighbour. Something worked out weird between them that no matter what Mrs. Lee should say, Selena never would contort her moods.
Mrs. Lee is the only being that knows the art of handling Selena. Selena nodded and buried her shoulder into Mrs. Lee’s shoulder, who readily gave it to her head. She thought that Selena is growing – she cries! Yet she’s unsure of for what Selena is crying. If it is for the job lost and the ramifications, then it shows Selena’s slowly thickening maturity.
Mrs. Lee vow to change the life of Selena. She found Selena’s brother and sought his help. Finally he was so happy to find her living in their neighbouring city. He burst out happy tears seeing Mrs. Lee.
‘Hey Sel, try this.’ He handed her a book. She didn’t even look at what he’s offering. He thrust the book into her hand. Her dad saw him apprehensively. He wanted her to read it since she’s about to complete her UG. She ran her eyes over the cover. “How to win friends and influence people.”
She read it completely but it didn’t alter her to a millimetre. It is another theory book to her. It only helps people who puts it into practical use. She didn’t take the slightest of measure to put the words given into action. Dale Carnegie is not to be blamed.
Selena found something peculiar resting on the table. She rhythmically patted her one year old daughter, who’s on her shoulder, to sleep. Meanwhile, she focussed on the yellow slip. It said, “I can change your life. I can change your misery. Trust me. I’m sent by the heavens.”
She laughed at it. She was raised a Catholic but lost her faith on God right after her so-called husband disappeared. She discarded the slip as madness.
‘Mommy mommy, I won this. I won this. Elocution competition. Second prize. Wow!’ frenzied a ten year old Selena.
‘Wow you’re amazing dear. You’re amazing.’ Her mom bent down and kissed her on the forehead. Though her mom is more than in ecstasy seeing her child’s first victory, she decided to not show too much of zeal, fearing it may give her over-confidence or may give contentment to Selena that this is the end. So she expressed only a very little thinking that it would inspire Selena to work more. No it backfired.
Just a “congratulations” from her dad. Selena ‘decided’ that none likes her. She felt her spirits crumble.
Day 2, another slip. Now brown. She became curious.
It read, “Mrs. Lee can take care of your baby. Now I want you to go to the lakeside and start reading Dale Carnegie’s book. Yes, how do I know it? Only you, your brother and your dad knows it. How do I know it? Because, I’m the lord. P.S. Trust me and do it now.”
Though she felt crazy, she had a little fear too. Will it be really a messiah? She can’t decide. Neither of her brother or dad can come here, for they don’t know her abode! And the only other being she knows, Mrs. Lee doesn’t know it! Undecided, she went to the lake that is close to her flat.
Tying her blonde hair into a short bun, and wearing a grey overcoat, she made it to the lake. A rock pulled her attention. She ascended it and started to read. Before setting to read, she, for the first time, acknowledged the beauty of nature.
When our mind is pure, and intentions moral, from somewhere will come a power, that can give us everything we desire. That power grazed on Selena. It gave her self-realization. For the first time in her life, she introspected, there, sitting on that rock. Introspection with retrospection. She felt her visage become wet in tears, when she read the first chapter.
Only when we’re in tragedy, will everything come flocking to us – like wisdom, realization, and so on. It is no wonder why it didn’t affect her when she read it the first time. She was insouciant then, but now she’s the heaviest onus on her shoulders.
A particular letter – FATHER FORGETS by W. Livingston Larned. One line gave life to her tears. Life to her awareness. “It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of you.”_____(1)
‘Sel, I know you’re trying to do it. To gain good marks, but no, it isn’t your best. You can receive straight A’s. This isn’t your best. I expect more of you.’ her dad said while having a tété-â-tété with her.
He added, ‘see your brother is-‘
She got up and just went away without a word.
Another slip. Pink again. “You cried my child! No its not your fault. Ok now, trust me and read the next chapter. P.S. I know you doubted me. That’s okay, half the world doubts me. And, go and sit in that same place. You looked so beautiful.”
That’s the first time anyone had said she’s beautiful. Not even her once-the-husband said it. He never said it. She can’t remember if he said it. Even if he had said, it wouldn’t have come from his heart. He’s, after all, just a lusty beast. But indeed, Selena is beautiful. Only that no one said that to her.
Slip number 4. Pink again. Day four. She thought that God had decided to stay with pink.
“I guess you didn’t get it properly. Look back. Everyone used to blame it on you. And in a secret corner of your heart, you enjoyed it.”
She realised the truth. She quickly shuffled the pages to find the words germane to what the slip said; what the God said.
The words of William James: “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”_____(2)
She went again over the words. She fished out the word “craving”. She left her baby to Mrs. Lee and went to read the next chapter. She decided to seek out a job after reading the chapter of the day. She remembered that her rent is due in ten days. She has to find a job immediately.
She cried again. Cried more. She was tongue-lashed by everyone. She ate the entire thing just because she liked it. It is supposed to be for everyone. To be shared. After all, it is not even hers. It is Mr. Henderson’s family party turned into a disaster. The special dish is gone.
Her dad simmered, ‘Why didn’t you see this from other person’s perspective? Everyone will need it and you just simply ate it all. Have you any idea of how much Mr. Henderson spent for that?’
She didn’t know. She was nineteen yet stood like a baby projecting a “puppy dog face.” She failed again to grab his words. She didn’t gain experience. She became a failure again.
The particular paragraph that she read earlier kept on running in her mind. The words of Henry Ford: “if there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view, and see things from that person’s angle as well as from our own.”_____(3).
She kept on repeating those words mentally and went to Mrs. Lee to get back her baby.
‘Ugh, Sel, I found this slip on my doorsteps. It read, addressed to Selena. Here it is. And I didn’t read it!’ She set out a sheepish smile through her teeth. Selena smiled back. She glared at the wall clock and found that it was 13.45. She was sure that Mrs. Lee had fed her child, and so she decided to cook something for herself. She amused her girl and cooked. Multi-tasking!
She asked her daughter if she’s hungry. Receiving a negative answer, she started eating. She looked at the second slip that came just within 2 hours. It read: “Let that introspection keep rolling. And did you forget something? Job? And remember to speak with other person’s point of view. Also keep this in mind when seeking job.”
She gave Mrs. Lee the onus to take care of her baby and receiving wishes from her set out to her job search. She decided to visit ‘her place’ before going. She sat over the same rock and read a random page. The following words caught her attention: “I would rather walk the sidewalk in front of a person’s office for two hours before an interview than step into that office without a perfectly clear idea of what I was going to say and what that person—from my knowledge of his or her interests and motives—was likely to answer.”_____(4)
Fortunately, that fitted in her current situation. She started to walk with a determined mindset.
Her brother was watching her, concealed behind that tree, as always. He set out a sigh of relief, of happiness that she hereafter would take care of herself and her family; for he was sure that she’d get a job now itself. He decided to go and meet her after 2 days.
He followed her, and after reaching a closer distance, still undisclosed of his presence to her, folded another pink slip into the shape of a paper rocket, and rocketed it at her. It hit her. She took a roundabout view of the lake and the surroundings. No one there. She wasn’t naive to think that it came from high heavens. Even if so, will the God rocket a message onto anyone? She started to think rationally.
Anyway, she opened the folds to see the same handwriting. The one which she suspected to be of her brother’s, but dropped the idea weighing down the probability. Handwriting didn’t bother her anymore. She saw the folded trails yet run on the words. It read: “My child, I know you can take care of yourself hereafter. And try to bring up your girl in the best way possible. Don’t be afraid to fall in love again if you think there is someone who will truly love you. This will be final message from me. I have to go and help another disturbed human. So, bye my child. My blessings will always stay by your side. And grow faith on me. Don’t miss church. I think you now understood your brother and everyone around you. And finally, say your heartfelt thanks to your neighbour. It is her sincere prayer that brought me to change your life. P.S. do read the rest of the book. Daily one chapter. It will change your life. And remember, I’m the light of the world. Don’t doubt me just because I rocketed this to you.”
She didn’t believe that it was the God, but that’s the last thing that bothered her. Determination shone in her eyes. She flipped open her Sony Ericsson and read the title of the first song on music player. It read, “Man in the Mirror.”
She soliloquized, “if you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.”
She felt as if she’s reborn; been given another chance at ‘living’ life.
A/N: 1. I would have extended this further, but keeping in mind the length, I shortened this and decided to cut short this story here itself... ha ha it may get annoyingly big, if I keep on touching every failed aspect of her life!
2. (1,2,3,4) – taken from Dale Carnegie’s above mentioned book. I don’t hold any rights to those lines.