Maya was hurrying up with her morning chores. She had to go to her shop in a few hours. Zidane and Imane, her twins, were rushing out the door to catch their school bus. Before they could board their bus they called out, ' Mama I hope you packed our lunchbox the way we wanted.' Maya called out,’ Yes my dear ones. I have packed the chocolate rolls and buns just the way you wanted them.'
After the kids boarded the bus, Maya rushed to the car. Her sister, Natalia, was waiting for her. She said,' Mimi you really should learn to take it easy.'
Maya just looked at her little sister and smiled. Natalia started her car and they were on their way.
Maya prayed a little prayer to the almighty above thanking Him for all the little happiness that He bestowed upon her. She was truly blessed, she thought. She was so young. She was just 23. And He had been kind enough to give her children like Zidane and Imane and a loving sister like Natalia. They were her world.
It felt like just yesterday when she had just graduated out of college and immediately got married to her love,Rupert. Rupert and Maya were neighbors.
They had been just casual friends while kids but as time passed by and they grew up they realized that they harbored more than just friendship feelings in their hearts. It was tough to convince their parents of their love as Maya was of Jewish origin and Rupert was Catholic. But their love for each other was so strong that they decided to go against their family's wishes and got married.
They shifted to a new city after getting married. When they had celebrated their first wedding anniversary, they were also celebrating the news of Maya's pregnancy. Rupert, as a child, had always loved chocolates and even as an adult he just adored them. Maya would think of it as a childish fascination. I mean guys never loved chocolates. Even when they would make love, Rupert would love to pepper their love-making with some chocolate. Maya never liked chocolates as much.
But during her fifth month of pregnancy, Maya had suddenly started having these cravings forchocolates. She would have chocolates all the time. Be it in her milkshake or food or snack time. She would always want her fix ofchocolates.
She sometimes would scold Rupert saying,' Thanks to you Dear I am becoming a chocolaty woman. It’s your entire fault', she would say in a mocking tone.
And Rupert would laugh away saying,' my dear,isn't it wonderful that you crave for something so sweet and divine. I mean what is more pure than chocolate. It is seen as a symbol of love all over the world. It is thought of as a comfort food for those who are in pain and heartbreak and it is also a way of developing new friendships with people and also it is used as a good accompaniment to good news which by the way I am going to use when you give me the good news soon. I am going to fill our neighborhood with chocolates.'
Rupert was such a child when it came to his loved ones. Ever so caring and loving.
Maya was smiling to herself when she heard Natalia call out to her. ‘Mimi what happened? Why are you smiling? Guess you’re enjoying the morning traffic eh..?’ she said with a sly smile. Maya softly hit her on her shoulder. 'No silly. I just remembered something funny. That’s it.'
Maya started looking out of her window now that she was distracted. An attendant of an apparel store was pulling the shutters up of the shop. And on display were some pretty floral dresses. One of them, a bright orange and fuchsia printed one caught Maya's attention. It brought back some memories to her.
It was a Sunday and Maya had wanted to stay at home that day.
Normally on Sundays Maya and Rupert would go out shopping and then dinner but today she was just not up to it and to top it she had had a bad day. She was just so upset. Rupert tried talking to her but she just snapped at him. She said,' Rupert you just don't know what I have to go through the whole day. All you do is sit at work but I have to run around the whole place. Keeping a house clean is no mean task you know. The plumber did not come in today and that little Labrador of our neighbor's ate up my marigold and this gardening takes the life out of me and my pregnancy is taking my energy away. I just feel sick all the time.'
Rupert felt bad for her. She could see it on his face. He took her hand in his and said,’ My dear, I am sorry if I unknowingly annoyed you but I am going to make up for it.' Saying so he got up and walked to the door.
Maya called out,' hey where are you going now?' He turned back and said,' just going out for a couple of minutes. I am getting you a surprise’, he said with a smile and walked out.
That was the last time she saw him. Rupert never returned back. He had walked out of the door to be gone forever from her life. That night she lay on the couch waiting for him. She had probably dozed off because when she woke up she saw that the time on the clock was 10pm and Rupert had left around 8.
She had just adjusted herself when the telephone rang. She picked it up expecting it to be Rupert and started talking, Rupert where are you? I am so worried. It’s already 10 in the night. I am scared. Where.......’ she stopped talking and listened to the voice on the other end in shocked silence.
In the next few minutes, she was running across the road trying to catch a cab. Rupert had met with an accident and was admitted to the hospital. When she reached the hospital, she was told that the doctors could not save him as he had been hit badly on the head resulting in a blood clot. Maya did not know what to say. Rupert had been with her a couple of hours ago and now he was just gone.
She just sat stunned on the bench in the corridor of the hospital when a young boy, probably a teenager came up to her. He stared talking to her,' Ma'am I am sorry. It was my entire fault. My car was the one that hit your husband.'
Maya was hearing but wasn't listening. She just looked at the young boy. Indeed it was his fault. She just lost her young husband to a freak accident by a young boy who probably was in a very jovial mood. He did not mean to do it but she had lost something so important to her.
She was lost in her thoughts when the nurse came up to her and gave her a bag. The nurse said,' this bag was found in possession with the body when he was brought in here.'
Maya took the bag from her hand and thanked her. The nurse walked away and when she turned to sit down she saw the boy had also gone. She opened the bag to see what was in it. She pulled out a pretty orange and fuchsia floral dress. It was the same dress which she had taken a fancy for when she and Rupert had gone shopping last week. At the time, Rupert had not liked it so much. She had sulked a great deal but then later gave up and completely forgot about it too. But Rupert had not forgotten about it. He had intended to give it to her as a surprise. But now here it was lying in her lap with stains of his blood.
'Oh my poor Rupert.’ she thought. He was so kind and loving. He was gone now but even while leaving he left her something that she wanted and went. With tears in her eyes and smile on her lips, she put the dress back in bag. In the end of the bag there was something else too. She pulled it out. It was a bar of Rupert's favorite Swiss chocolates. She held the chocolates close to her chest and started crying silently and hard.
Natalia was saying something to her,' and that's how I managed to bring that little girl on the right track. I mean kids these days are just so stubborn. I really would want to meet their parents. And then.....', and she went on and on.
Natalia was a teacher at the school in their town and also a very strict girl herself. Always so disciplined and obedient. But she was the best sister anyone could ever have. She was the sole support to Maya after Rupert had passed away. She was the only one who came back to Maya to see if she was okay and needed help. Her parents were not talking to her and neither were her friends. It’s only in your difficult times that you realize who is your own and who is not. Natalia was of great help to her. She helped her settle the hospital bills and help her in the settlement of their other dues. She was able to arrange a decent funeral for Rupert only because of Natalia's help.
And now after a year Rupert had passed away, Natalia was here itself with Maya and her children. In fact the young boy who was responsible for Rupert's death would also visit Maya on and off. He was a kind child. He accepted whatever punishment was given to him by the court for his act. He indeed had been really sorry and now as if in an act of his repentancehe was also working and helping Maya in her shop after school.
They had reached her shop. As Maya got down from the car, Natalia called out,' Mimi I will be here by 5 and then we will all go to the beach. I promised the kids you know. And Ray is coming too.’ she said with a twinkle in her eyes. Ray was her fiancé.
As Natalia drove away, Maya took out the keys of the shop and opened the door. The smell in the air of the shop always filled her with positivity and energy to go through another hard day. It was only here that she found immense peace and somehow felt Rupert was close to her. She opened her drawer to keep in her keys and her bag and she caught a glance of the wrapper of the Swiss chocolate which she had found in the bag on the day of Rupert's accident. She smiled looking at it. And then went on to open the shutters and also started arranging her stuff she had carried with her from home.
Just as she had finished arranging her stuff on the racks, she got a call on her telephone. She picked up the phone and she said,' Hello, Oh yes Mrs. Downer. Your chocolates are ready. You could come and pick them up anytime you want. Thank you for your order and have a good day.'
As she kept the receiver down, her telephone started ringing again. She picked up the receiver and said,' Hello Chocolate Love Shoppe, What would you like to have today?’ she said with a smile.