This story is close to my heart.It is the first series that I wrote and published. From then onwards, I have built up interest, confidence and zeal towards my writing and blogging.
This series is about a diffident Andrew who meets Clara ,an extrovert. Andrew’s life transforms. Hoping for a happily ever after Andrew proposes to Clara but before they could say “I do” a series of events changes his life forever.
It was a breezy Sunday afternoon on the 25th of May -Clara’s birthday. Andrew had written a letter to her and he wanted to read it once before handing it over to his fiancee,Clara. Andrew began reading it aloud :
Wishing you a very Happy Birthday. I miss you so much. I still remember the last birthday we spent together by the sea. The sound of waves , sand castles we built together, soaking in water , the resonance of your laughter and when you smeared the cake on my face.I still can feel you licking off the cream from my face.Every minute detail is in my memory and it just seems like yesterday we shared this moment together. A year has gone by so fast .
Andrew paused for a while . Closed his eyes to recollect those memories. He continued reading ….
I got a promotion yesterday Clara and now I head the team . I thank you for that . You have been my inspiration . I promise you, going forward I shall thrive to do my best . Just like you wanted me to.
I am exercising regularly . I have cut out on junk and yes I am now enjoying the so called “boring sitcom ” we used to watch together or rather you used to force me to watch .
By the way my noisy neighbours have finally vacated and hence no more loud music party nights .
Everything seems so dull without you Clara . But then I know you don’t like to see me that way . Hence for you , I keep up that smile .
I hope things are going smoothly with you on the other side . Are you liking the place ?? Or you know you can always come back. I am here waiting to welcome you with my open arms . I am sure you would have made a bunch of new friends by now .
( Andrew giggles and continues further )
Thats all for now my love . You shall hear from me soon . Untill then take care . Miss me .
I love you Clara. I love you. Miss you.
Hugs and kisses.
As he finished reading the letter, tears came rolling. He tried his best to control them but they were unstoppable. He folded the letter and put it in the envelope. He kissed it and held it close to his heart. Stood up and placed the letter along with a bouquet of yellow lilies ( Clara loved yellow lilies) on the grave of Clara .
Kneeling onto her grave , resting his head on it,he whispered-
“Come back Clara. Please come back.”
After a great morning run , Andrew got dressed to work. He stood in front of the mirror and adjusted his tie . He had worn a gray tailor made blazer. Those cufflinks were specially handcrafted marked with his initials AS on them .
Andrew headed towards the dining table to have his breakfast. He gazed at the widespread breakfast options in front of him . Andrew took his seat and saw a bunch of newspapers in front of him. Picked up one and started reading it.
He heard a voice behind –
“Good morning Andrew.
Stop reading the newspaper.Will you?
Have your first meal of the day mindfully. Please put the paper aside .”
Andrew put the paper aside.
” Good morning momma,” Andrew replied.
‘Coop’- Andrew’s Saint Bernard dog accompanied him while having his breakfast.Both had a good chat .
After he had a scrumptious breakfast, Andrew bid Goodbye to his momma and walked towards his brand new black Rolls Royce.
Andrew’s charming secretary Rosy joined him and they discussed work on their way . Andrew looked at his diamond studded gold Rolex watch – it was 10am as they arrived at the gates of Smith Industries. After they made it through the gates , Michael -Andrew’s chauffeur opened the door for him and Andrew stepped out and looked around the magnificent empire that he had built for himself.
As he was looking around , he had heard his momma Mrs.Alba Smith shouting-
” Andrew , Andrew, wake up . It’s 7am .
You are getting late . It’s your first day at work today and you don’t want to get fired on day one. Stop the alarm it’s been ringing ever since .
Wake up, Andrew.”
Andrew opened his eyes . Sprang on his bed and sat .Rubbed his eyes and stretched his arms .He ran his fingers on his forearms trying to feel the touch of the soft blazer and his Rolex watch.He looked around for his Saint Bernard- Coop and realized all that was in his dream.
” Andrew, what are you doing ?
Get ready and have your breakfast ” His mom called out again.
Breakfast ?? ( Andrew recalled the breakfast he had in his dream ) .
Andrew came from a middle class background with good family values. He was an average looking guy. Andrew lived with his mother( momma) in the suburbs . Pension that came from his late father’s government job was used to run the family.
Andrew held a degree in advertising. After he had completed his education , he tried his luck for a job at many companies but in vain . He was academically sound but did not have the aptitude he needed to be in the advertising industry.
Finally Andrew had managed to get an offer from Joles Advertising through one of his contacts. Infact Andrew was given an opportunity to prove his prowess in the first six months of his job which he had happily accepted . He thought that the Almighty had given him a chance and answered his prayers.
Andrew had worn his favorite blue shirt and his father’s watch which had a lot of sentiments attached to it on his first day of work. After he had seeked his momma’s blessings, Andrew headed out to the nearest bus station . He had carried along all the required documents in his backpack.
Andrew did not want to get late and hence he had rushed to the bus station. On his way , he stumbled upon a stone . He regained his balance and looked up at the sky and hoped that this wasn’t some kind of a bad omen.
He saw the bus approaching the station and ran towards it . He managed to get inside and looked around if he could find a seat. After some rush and push Andrew got a window seat . He wondered to himself if he had to go through this sort of a journey everyday.
Andrew closed his eyes and took a deep breath like he wanted to recover his lost energy.After a while, Andrew sensed a pleasant fragrance lingering and suddenly opened his eyes.Looked around .The bus wasn’t crowded as the last stop was about to approach and therefore it was not difficult for Andrew to spot the person.
Andrew saw a bunch of ladies getting down from the bus and he was sure it was from there. What caught his attention was a lady dressed in white . He wanted to get a glimpse of her and hence stood up. By then the bus moved and unexpectedly a dog ran in front of the bus. To avoid any accident ,the driver applied brakes and there was a jerky movement.
Andrew lost his balance and fell back onto his seat and the bus cruised ahead.By then he had lost track of those ladies as well as the lady dressed in white.
Andrew got off the bus and reached the office.After security screening, when he entered the premises, the office structure resembled the one he had visioned in his dreams. Half day had gone by completing the formalities. Later, the staff took him to his desk where he would be working and Andrew sat comfortably on the chair with a broad smile on his face.
While he was seated in his chair, he thought about the morning incident. Andrew was interrupted – “Hello Andrew , I am Imran . I occupy the desk next to you .
We weren’t introduced earlier as I was in a meeting.
Good luck and I’m looking forward to working with you . ”
Andrew then introduced himself .
As it was time for him to leave, Andrew gathered his things and headed home . While in the bus , he recalled all the series of events since morning that happened to him. Firstly his dream , leaving home , the bus journey and his first day at work.
Andrew was trying to figure out how he could do his best at work . As the job mattered a lot to him, he wanted to work hard and keep up the job and Andrew made a promise to himself that he would do so.
As his stop arrived,Andrew got off the bus. He halted at the same point where he had stumbled upon the stone in the morning. Stared at it and thought maybe that it wasn’t a bad omen after all, but a good luck charm -a hope that he would meet the girl some day.
After Andrew reached home , he had a chat with his momma and told her about his day . Had dinner, kissed his momma good night and they went to sleep.
Andrew was ready to leave the next day . He had dressed his best hoping that he might bump into the lady in white . On his way to the bus station, he stumbled upon that stone again . It irked him as it had hit him hard but then he headed to his stop as he did not want to miss the bus.
As he was early, he found a window seat. Andrew made sure that he would not close his eyes today as he didn’t want to miss the chance of seeing that girl .
“White lady” is the name I shall give her, Andrew had murmured to himself.
Andrew kept his eyes wide open like a cop who was hunting for the robber who had escaped from jail . The bus slowly got crowded . The stop at which the ‘White lady’ got off yesterday had started approaching and Andrew had become more anxious. As he had not found anyone around , he thought maybe it was just a one time experience and gazed outside the window.
As he was looking , he saw that group of girls again standing at the bus station. He also noticed the ‘White lady’ but could not manage to get a glimpse of her. The bus moved forward. He was disappointed.
At work,Andrew was given his first assignment . Before starting , he closed his eyes and prayed to God and hoped he delivered it on time successfully.
Tarun – the team head introduced Andrew to the manager.
” Andrew, meet Mr. Michael .
He is our manager . It was Mr.Michael who agreed to give you this job . ”
Andrew stood still and thought to himself-
‘Michael ‘ – this name sounded familiar. Then he recollected his dream.
He remembered- “Oh yes !! It’s the chauffeur . Michael the chauffeur .
My manager ?? ” Andrew giggled to himself.
” Andrew, what’s going on? Share the joke .”
Andrew had come to his senses .He replied-
” Sorry sir . It’s nothing .
I shall do my best . Thank you for the opportunity.”
Michael walked away and Andrew was relieved.
The next day on his way to work , Andrew intentionally stumbled upon the stone in the hope that it might turn out to be lucky but it was a futile attempt.
At work, Andrew was busy with his work . He was concentrating on the assigned project . Andrew used to stay back in order to meet the required target. One month had gone by and his manager Michael wasn’t convinced with his work.
Andrew would get nervous when he had to give presentations . Out of fear he would stammer while talking to the clients.Ocassionly ,he would also mess up.Andrew had lacked the confidence in spite of knowing the subject well . Hence he had failed to get a job at reputed firms . He read many self-help books , attended seminars that would boost up his morale but yet none of this had helped him.
One morning he was sitting at his desk working on his computer. He closed his eyes for a moment and wished that some magic would take place. Something that would whirl things around. Just then he smelt the same fragrance lingering near him . He opened his eyes. There stood a lady in front of him smiling. He sprang from his seat. Andrew could not believe what he had just seen. He rubbed his eyes , pinched himself to confirm that he wasn’t dreaming.
Tarun, his team head introduced her to Andrew .
“Andrew meet our new intern .
She will be joining us from today. ”
Andrew’s joy had no boundaries . He felt ecstatic and at the moment he wanted to jump up high but controlled himself.
“Hi, my name is Clara. Clara Joles . ”
Clara Joles was from an affluent family. Clara had lost her mother early in childhood. She was mostly taken care of by her nanny, Martha. Joles Advertising was run by her father James Joles.
She was the only heir . Her entire life was like a fairly tale experience . Clara never had to face any hardships. The clothes she wore, accessories, everything around her was carved especially for her and anyone would want to have that kind of a lifestyle.
Her father had persuaded her to do her graduation in advertising. Clara was a bright student. She had scored straight A’s in the university consistently. She had that charm in her . Clara was a perfect combination of beauty with brains.
Clara wanted to come out of this comfort zone as she knew that it was a brutal world out there . She enjoyed using public transportation , eating street food , buying unbranded items. Clara wanted to lead a normal life just like others. Clara had a bunch of good friends from her college and she loved spending time with them .
After she had completed her graduation, her father had insisted her to join their firm . She had agreed only upon one condition that she should be considered eligible only based on her merit and treated like any other employee in the firm . Special treatments were a strict no .
It was her first day at Joles Advertising. Clara did not join her father but instead preferred coming to office on her own. She had spent some time talking to her mother standing in front of her potrait. Her eyes were damp. Clara missed her mother. After a heartfelt conversation, she left home to join her new office.
Based on her interest ,James had assigned her into Tarun’s team . Tarun and Clara were introduced formally and Tarun had explained the nature of work to her . After their discussion, Tarun introduced Clara to his team . Andrew was sitting in front of his computer with closed his eyes waiting for some magic to happen and was interrupted by a soothing fragrance that came from Clara .
“Hi, my name is Clara. Clara Joles . ”
They shook hands, greeted each other with a broad smile.
Andrew and Clara’s friendship had blossomed in no time . They spent a lot of time together – tea, lunch , dinner, movies. Andrew was at his happiest phase .
Andrew’s work life also changed dramatically. He had not only started taking keen interest but also had improved in his interpersonal skills. His presentations had gotten better. Interaction with clients had grown stronger . Overall ,as a person Andrew had seemed confident .
Andrew had given the credit to Clara for his behavioral change . Clara had inspired and transformed him.Andrew took care of himself. Exercise became a part of his routine. Everything went on smoothly.
Clara had completed her internship. She decided to continue working as an employee in the company.
Tarun- Andrew’s team head and manager Michael were contented with Andrew’s work.
Andrew wanted to propose to Clara . He had told his momma about it and before proposing he wanted Clara to meet his mother.
One Friday morning, he decided that he would invite Clara home the next day and on Sunday would take her out for lunch and propose to her . It seemed like a perfect plan to him.
Andrew visualized those scenes when he sat in the bus . Andrew had worn his favorite blue coloured shirt which he had worn on his first day to work.
Andrew wanted to talk to Clara during the lunch break. He had butterflies in his stomach . Andrew had even put his cell phone on silent so that he would not be interrupted in the middle of the conversation. Andrew looked at Clara and smiled. Just when he wanted to ask her out ,he heard his colleague Imran calling out for him –
” Andrew , Andrew you have a call .
It’s urgent. It’s about your mother.”
Andrew’s heart was pounding. He ran to his desk to answer the phone. On the line was his neighbor. They informed Andrew that his mother had a heart attack and was rushed to the nearest hospital.
On hearing that , Andrew galloped to the hospital. Clara accompanied him. On his way to the hospital,he prayed and hoped for his mother. Clara calmed him down and assured that everything would be alright.
They reached the hospital and enquired at the reception. Andrew rushed towards the room. His neighbors were waiting outside the ward. Andrew entered the room slowly and could not believe to see his momma in this state.He was so happy in the morning when he had sketched out the weekend plan and in a jiffy things had toppled.
Andrew sat beside his momma and held her hand . Mrs. Alba Smith sensed his son and opened her eyes gently. Upon seeing each other,tears rolled from their eyes . Clara stood behind Andrew. She extended her hand towards Clara and Clara moved towards Mrs.Smith and smiled . Clara held her tears as she did not want to make Andrew feel weak.
Mrs.Smith placed Andrew’s hand over Clara’s and clasped it tight like she had blessed them.It was an emotional moment for all the three. She looked at Andrew who had been her strength and reason to survive after her husband’s death .
She removed the oxygen mask from her mouth.Made an effort to talk.She fumbled and said –
“Love you my son . Love you. Take care.”
Those were the last words she had uttered and closed her eyes.
The heart rate monitor showed a straight line graph. Andrew knew that he had lost his mother. He rested his head on her hands and wept. It was like he had lost a part of his world . Andrew was inconsolable. Clara tried her best to handle the situation.
There was a void in Andrew’s life after he lost his mother.He wasn’t interested in going home . Andrew spent more time outdoors. Clara stood by Andrew and helped him heal .
Couple of months had gone by , things had gotten back to normal. Andrew moved to a new residence close to his office. Clara would often visit him at home . They had noisy neighbors who enjoyed having late night parties. Andrew and Clara often watched television together with a bucket full of popcorn. It was their favorite pastime .Clara loved watching sitcoms and most of the time forced Andrew to watch it with her .Since he didn’t want to hurt Clara , Andrew would happily sit through.
One day while Clara watched her favorite show , Andrew got down on his knees and proposed to her. It was a romantic moment. The room was illuminated with scented candles.There was a bottle of wine to celebrate. Clara immediately agreed and wore the ring.
The next day both met Clara’s father Mr.James Joles . Considering Andrew’s financial status and background Mr.Joles wasn’t happy about Clara’s decision to marry Andrew. Clara convinced her father and after a lot of hesitation he agreed.
It was Clara’s birthday and Andrew had planned the perfect celebration by the sea side. Clara’s favored Strawberry cake was ordered. They had a memorable evening. Andrew gifted Clara a Labrador puppy . Clara loved it and she had named him Coop. Andrew was surprised when he heard that name and had smiled ear to ear recollecting his dream.
Both of them wanted to complete their work assignments before they took a break for their marriage and honeymoon.
They had begun shopping for the wedding. They visited places to finalize the venue. Clara wanted to keep it simple and have only close knit family and friends.
It was Sunday and they had decided to meet in the evening to buy the wedding ring . Andrew was waiting outside the store for Clara . It was 5pm . He saw Clara on the other side of the road . Both waved hands at each other. Andrew recalled the first day he saw Clara on the bus and how he wanted to get a glimpse of her . Never in his dreams had he thought that he would marry the same girl .
As he was reminiscing , Andrew heard a loud sound . It was Clara . Clara was hit by a truck which had run over her .
“Clara” …..Andrew screamed and he ran towards her .
Andrew managed to make way through the crowd and reached Clara . Clara was bleeding profusely.Ambulance was called. Andrew held her hand tight but Clara was in an unconscious state . Andrew informed Clara’s father about the incident and he reached the hospital directly.
Clara was taken to the operation theater. Andrew and Mr.Joles were waiting outside . Andrew was palpitating. He did not want to lose Clara .
Doctor came out of the operation theater and kept his hand on Mr.Joles’s shoulder and notified him that they could not save his daughter as she had suffered brain damage and severe internal bleeding.
When Andrew heard this news, his world had shattered. After his momma, Clara had meant everything to him . He went inside to get a glimpse of Clara . Andrew was trembling. The lady who would go non-stop talking, who would win people by her charm and wit was now shushed. Andrew moved closer and stared at Clara without batting his eyes .
Andrew sat and exchanged a few words with Clara . They were supposed to get married in the next fifteen days. Andrew was in great pain .
After a week, Andrew had resumed work. He missed Clara’s presence in the office. Clara’s few unfinished assignments were handed over to Andrew. Andrew worked diligently. It was the only way he could keep his mind occupied.
Things could not get back to the way they were but Andrew had made an effort not to worsen it . He attempted his best to keep himself cheerful but Clara’s memories would often moist his eyes .
Months had gone by and not much had changed for Andrew. He led a mundane life . Coop his dog would give him company. He would write letters to Clara and Andrew felt that in this way could keep their relationship alive . He could not erase her from his memory even for a single day . Andrew would visit Clara’s grave often and read out the letters he had written to her .
It was the 25th of May -Clara’s birthday. On a breezy Sunday afternoon , Andrew visited Clara’s grave and read the letter which he had written. After he read , he placed it on her grave along with Clara’s favorite flowers -yellow lilies.
In the evening , he visited the beach where they both had spent her last birthday and reminisced those memories.
Andrew had more responsibilities at work as he was heading the team.He had become workaholic. A vacuum was created in his life due to the loss of his momma and his love Clara.
One day at work, Andrew suddenly felt his head spinning. There was a haze in front of his eyes . He grabbed his water bottle and took a few sips and continued working.
After a couple of days, he felt the same . Andrew had thought that maybe his schedule at work had created such a problem. Michael suggested to him that he should take a break from work for a couple of days . Hesitant at first, Andrew later agreed.
Andrew mostly rested at home during this period. He watched television, played with Coop and followed his daily routine.
When Andrew was returning home from grocery shopping , he felt his head spinning again.His hands were full of bags . He stopped for a moment and regained his balance. He then continued walking towards his car . After he walked a few steps, Andrew collapsed on the floor.
When Andrew opened his eyes, he found himself in the hospital. From his identity card , people who had brought him to the hospital had informed his office staff . Imran, his colleague, was sitting beside him.With his half open eyes , Andrew saw Imran .
Just then , the doctor visited the room with Andrew’s test reports. Doctor notified Imran that he wanted to have a word with him . Imran followed the doctor into his cabin . Imran took his seat and the doctor explained the report to Imran .
“On an average Andrew has a maximum of six months” – when Imran heard this news,he was devastated.
Imran was shocked.He did not know as to how he would divulge the news to Andrew that he had brain tumor. Since the tumor had spread,he would survive maximum for another six months.
Andrew was taken home a couple of days later . As the matter was sensitive , Imran had carefully selected the words and told Andrew about his illness. What Imran had not mentioned to Andrew was that he had another six months of time in his pocket.
His manager wanted him to quit his job but Andrew wanted to continue working. As they did not want to disappoint him, he was asked to extend his leave as it could deteriorate his health further. Hence they had suggested that he could resume after his health had gotten better. Andrew had lost a good amount of weight and he looked fragile.
Andrew read books, watched television, played with his dog Coop,sat in front of his momma’s photo and spoke to her, wrote letters to Clara . He basically found a way to keep himself busy so that he would not think about his illness and brood over it. Imran visited Andrew frequently . Sometimes Tarun also accompanied Imran .
They would go out bowling, stroll by the beach , visit pubs , movies – anything Andrew wished to do they would kindly oblige. Andrew was deeply moved by this gesture.
Andrew and Imran had been to the beach one Sunday evening. The weather was pleasant and there was a gentle breeze . Both sat on the sand and watched the sunset. Andrew looked at the back and forth motion of the waves and thought to himself as to how his life had changed,the series of events that had taken place in his life . He had no inkling that things would shape up this way .
While all these thoughts ran in his mind, he paused for a moment and looked at Imran . Imran was absorbed in watching the sunset.
“Imran” Andrew softly called out for him.
Imran turned towards Andrew and smiled.By the look on Andrew’s face , Imran realized that he wanted to have a deep conversation.
” So Imran , tell me something – How many more days or months do I have ??
Please tell me the truth .”
Imran thought that it would be unfair to hide it from Andrew. With a heavy heart he replied-
” Roughly ninety days more .”
Imran explained to Andrew that he had no bad intentions about hiding the truth . Andrew understood the reason behind it and thanked him for being there by his side . After they had their dinner- ‘lobsters’ Andrew’s favorite, Imran dropped Andrew home .
The following day Andrew visited the grave of his momma and beside his momma’s was Clara’s. He spent half a day talking to them . Andrew told them that he would be visiting them soon and they would have a great time together. Andrew had informed Imran that he wanted to be buried ne to his loved ones.
Weeks had gone by , Andrew had become pale and frail. He wanted to spend the remaining days in the house and not at the hospital as he had memories of Clara in that house . He had decided that he would breathe his last there .
Imaran had the spare keys to Andrew’s house . Sometimes he would spend the night there . Imran would visit Andrew every day before going to the office and on his way home . Andrew called Imran on his cell phone and had asked him to bring chocolate chip ice cream when he would visit him in the evening. Imran had happily agreed .
Andrew wanted to rest for some time .Lying on the bed,he stared at the ceiling. Andrew knew that his time had come .His eyes were dim but then he remembered that he had to eat his chocolate chip ice cream which he had asked Imran to get in the evening. He opened his eyes wide again .
Memories from the past started appearing in front of him . It was like he was watching his life again from the beginning on the ceiling of his roof. Andrew saw himself playing with his dad , his momma running behind him to feed , time he had spent in his school with his friends and then college. Andrew’s head started throbbing.Just then he heard a voice telling him to close his eyes . The voice was none other than Clara .
Andrew closed his eyes . He saw Clara . Clara had dressed herself in white . The same white dress when he saw her for the first time in the bus .Clara stood barefoot on the grass. Yellow lilies had blossomed in full swing in the garden where she was standing. Nature was at its best . At a bench nearby, he saw his momma seated who waved at him and was knitting a sweater for Andrew . Clara had chocolate chip ice cream in her hands . Andrew smiled when he saw the ice cream.
Andrew ran towards Clara and hugged her tight. He told her how much he had missed her .Clara too expressed her feelings for him . Andrew then whispered to Clara –
” Love , now I won’t be going anywhere. I shall be with you forever.
We will create our new world.”
When Clara heard this , she looked at Andrew and smiled. Then she told him to have his ice cream as it was melting.
When Imran came home in the evening, he saw Andrew lying on the bed. He went closer to Andrew along with the ice cream and explained to him that he had to go to three different shops to find chocolate chip ice cream. Imran did not observe any movement or response from Andrew. Imran checked on Andrew. His body had gone cold and Andrew wasn’t breathing.
Andrew was later buried where he was asked to – next to his family. Imran was sad that he had lost a good friend but then he knew that he would be in a happier place with his momma and Clar. Imran placed flowers on the grave and with his eyes moist, walked away in grief.
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