I picked up the cup, my tongue tingling with anticipation of what would soon drip into my mouth. The warmth from the cup made my frail hands cling onto it tightly as if in a heartfelt embrace. As the first drop of the hot chocolate leaked into my mouth, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of euphoria and my entire body felt as though it had been submerged in a heated Jacuzzi. Every muscle, every vein, every particle of my body felt at tranquil. Such was the aroma, the flavor, the sensation of this irreplaceable invention, this ambrosia for humans causing in them an intense realm of positivity. Such was the effect of hot chocolate.
Soon enough, there was a coat of brown over my bristly white beard. As I rushed to take another sip, my eyes wandered to the window in the corner. Through it I could see the haven of pearly white outside. Somehow, that vast but desolate expanse of snow reflected the very state of my mind and my soul. Life had become so monotonous in the past few years. It was as if someone had sucked out the emotions and feelings from my world as bees suck out nectar from flowers. But then, this was how life had been after Alyssa left me. The last time I saw her was still vivid in my memories.
I remember her on her deathbed at home. Her wrinkled and shrunken face seemed to me the most beautiful thing in the world. Her smile was so serene and gentle.
“If I die, my deathbed will be at home, on this very bed, right next to you. When my time comes I wish to leave without any struggle. I wish to be with you till the very end,” she had said the moment we knew that she had had cancer. And that is how she had gone.
Now, life seemed to me as nothing more than a wait till I too got to meet her. But, while I was on this planet, I intended to make the most use of it. I intended to drink as many hot chocolates because every sip I took, she also took. In my mind and spirit and dreams we were, are and will always be together.
Suddenly, the bell rang. I slowly got up, picking my walking stick and trodding slowly to open the door. The room was extravagant albeit diminutive, it was designed to my taste. There were vivid paintings all around. I had always loved any form of performing or visual art. It was just such an ardent and passionate way of portraying a message or an emotion to the world. As I swung open the door a group of three unruly boys streamed into the hall.
Hans didn’t even wish me good morning. Such was the attitude of children to their grandparents these days. What could I do? That is what happened when parents neglected their children. His mum and dad were never at home. They were always either at work or socialising at their exuberant parties. In my opinion quality time with one’s children was much more important than socializing or even work for that matter. But who cared about an old man’s values these days? Hans and his friends rushed of to his room to play with those boring, mechanical toys- the ones which showed artificial sceneries and people and families on big screens. Honestly, I just didn’t get the point of them. Why do everything using a screen and a rod-shaped-toy with lots of buttons when you could experience it yourself in nature with your own people? Everybody in his generation had similar thought processes as Hans and I was absolutely disgusted at what the passage of time had done to the youth of the world.
Actually, if I think about it not everybody was like this…. There is Pierre, the boy who lives down the street.I admire this lad’s spirit and virtues more than most of the people I know. His outlook towards life is just so inspiring. It teaches everyone that life is an adventure not a journey. It is an experience not a race. It is a blessing that everyone should utilize to the fullest extent. And that is exactly how he lives his life- freely and vigourously. Actually speaking, we have become kindred spirits recently. He seems to enjoy my rather eccentric personality and I his effervescent one. Ugh! It is the bell again. I have to go and get it again as Hans and his friends won’t.
“My! My! What a pleasant surprise?”
“Good morning grandpa. How are you doing today?”
“Better now that you are here. To what do I owe this pleasure?”
“Well, it is beautiful outside today and I was wondering if you would accompany me on a walk?
“Sure son. Give the old man a few minutes to get his muffler on. “
See, here he was again. If the world had even a few more people like him trust me when I say, it would definitely be a better place. And it is not like he is an introvert or not up-to-
date with today’s world, like me. He is just the kind of person who is able to balance it.
“So, Pierre how come you wanted to go for a walk in the morning out of the blue?”
“The weather is absolutely utopic and and well…I wanted to show you something something extremely special that I had seen on my way home yesterday,” said Pierre who was careful to walk slowly to let me match up with his speed.
“Oh wow! It is people like you who help make an old man’s life exciting. Before anything else all I want to say is thank you Pierre.”
Through the rest of the walk, the two of us were fairly quiet.
“Here we are, grandpa, the museum of Kunsthaus Zurich.”
“Pardon me son, but I thought you wanted to show me an interesting specimen of nature or something like that, something which you had found on your way home.”
“It is something I discovered on my way home. It just so happens that this something is in your favorite museum.”
As always as soon as I entered the museum I was filled with wonder. Wonder at how art so seamlessly seemed to encapsulate the very essence of life and human existence. Pierre led me through one of the store rooms at the back into this musty, desolate room with a small door at the end of it.
“A few days ago, our school was here in this very museum for a field trip. And, while we were exploring, I happened to stumble upon this room. I came back yesterday and found something that completely bowled me over.”
Pierre reached out to open the door and showed me a piece of paper taped onto the wall.
Baffled, I started reading the letter.
I had known for a long time that my time had come. I just did not want to tell you to ruin the hell of a roller coaster we both were on. I did not want you to worry. I did not want you to search in every possible nook and corner for a remedy, because I knew you would do even that for me and we had less time. I wanted to spend the time that you would have taken to find a way to make me live longer with you instead. Every second, minute every day I wanted to be with you. Why? Because you made me happy and loved me and that is all I ever wanted. So, I spent every second of my time with you failing to imagine how you would carry on after I left. I was extremely selfish Albert. I was desperate to be with you. And this was the only way. I am so sorry for going to have to leave you. You have always been a brave man and I knew you somehow would be able to handle it. But, I have to say that every moment we spent together counted. You were everything I had ever wanted. And I loved you Albert, I loved you with all my heart. I know that death will not separate us. We will forever be in each other’s heart.You also know how much I loved this place and how often we used to it. I really wanted to create some permanent memory of us in the world and I thought what place better to do it then this museum. So, I have created a place here. A place where you can come and think about me, about us and the memories we spent together. This is where we belong Albert. In each other’s hearts. So, let us cherish and nurture this passion of a love forever.
My knees gave away beneath me. With a slight cry I fell onto the floor. Suddenly, there was nothing else around me except myself and that card. The slightly faded ink on the paper, blotted as drops of salt and water fell onto it. These weren’t tears, they were memories of my past. They were the emotions that I had kept bottled up inside me. They were feelings.
Alyssa. My sweet Alyssa. She knew that nobody came into this room. Nobody knew about it.
It was just us. So, she hadn’t just gone suddenly. She had left some part of herself behind. But, what she did not realise was that part of her spirit, her memory was not this room, it was actually….. me. She had left me behind. And the way in which she had left me was actually the best possible way. In complete oblivion.Happy till the end. She hadn’t realised that she wasn’t selfish but selfless. She had borne the thought of leaving me one day all by herself. With nobody to share those feelings with. It was her who had been brave. Not me.
And the only way I could do justice to what she had done was to leave it all behind me, get up and live fully. That is what she would have wanted me to do. That is what she had done.
Lived life to it’s fullest. Taken advantage of it. Not allowing it’s ups and downs to slow her down, to discourage her. But, instead take it in her stride have the courage to begin again.
That is what I have to do from now on.
Slowly, getting up I picked up the card and stuck it back on the place where it originally was.
Ignoring Pierre’s bewildered expression and firmly shutting the door, I grabbed Pierre’s hand and walked out; ready to live my new life, with a new beginning; this time not with a soulmate but a companion. I was ready to take on the world.
God had given me another chance and I planned to make use of it fully, just as I had last time.