How Blue is my Sapphire?
© Copyright 2018 by Swetha Arun
The ring of the archaic bell echoed through the corridor. The excited faces leaped out of their rooms and ran towards the front hall. I walked the blue and grey painted corridor, gathering my wild thoughts, a mix of anger and agony welling up as I was reminded of my parents. I could hear the faint howls, as young kids with dreams and hopes were deliberately put into hands of two strangers. How dreadful. “I am happy to announce that Mr and Mrs Cameron have decided to adopt our Lara.” I stopped short. No. This definitely can’t be. All the eyes looked at me, some cursing I was the chosen one, others happy that I was leaving. My eyes caught the fairly good looking couple who were in their early 40’s.
“Lara is a good student of ours. She excels in academics and other activities. May God bless you my child. Be good and keep up the name of Riverdale Orphanage”, the house mother told the couple who nodded enthusiastically and gave me a warm smile. My lips curved into a maddening smile, little do they know what a “good kid” I am.
The brown painted mosaic house, rather a palace, loomed as the Ford Mustang moved forward with a steady pace towards the house, my house. I gasped as the car came to a halt in the front of the main wooden door raised eight feet from the ground. The garden stretched out in the front yard circled with flowers of different colours as though giving a little life to the massive house. “Come in, Darling”, I heard Mrs. Cameron’s sweet voice. I walked beside her taking in every detail of the house as she showed me around. “We have enrolled you in the Riverdale High School. It starts from today since the school had already reopened a few days back and we don’t want you to miss classes. Whatever you need is kept in your wardrobe. Make yourself at home and do feel free to ask me anything.” No one can be more sweeter, I thought. “Thank You Mrs. Cameron.” “Please call me mom, Lara.”
My name was not Lara then, although I didn’t recall the name my parents had given me. I had left house when I was seven. My drunken father, a burly dork worker, enraged by the arrival of an accidental daughter, beat my mother regularly, blaming her for my birth. When I tried to defend her, I too was badly beaten.
One night there was a horrific fight and my mother never got up. I stood over my lifeless mother and felt an unbearable upwelling of guilt for permitting this to happen. Hypnotically, I fled the house after doing something terrible. Something I never dreamt of doing.
The sound of giggling of the excited students heard through the entire senior school corridor. I walked, feeling alone amidst the crowd around me, students, some eagerly waiting to get their class allotments, some whining that they didn’t get the same class as their best friend’s, and some cluelessly wandering not knowing where to begin. A tall guy with blond tousled hair came towards me. He wore geek specs which added on to his nerdish face. He had a striking resemblance, “Why does this happen to us? Why can’t people just forget the past? Why does it keep haunting us, blaming us for all the wrong decisions we ever took? Who are you again?”, he told me, abruptly. I took a long pause and said, “All of us live with our past. All of us allow it to shape our future. But some of us know how to shrug the past. I think you should too. I am Lara, Lara Cameron.” He smirked, not knowing how to respond to what I said. His brown eyes reminded me of someone I wanted to forget but thought of everyday. Someone I last saw eight years ago.
“Dad, I need a laptop. Everyone is school has one”, I made the puppy face which, of course, Mr. Cameron couldn’t resist. First step done, many more to go. I thought, today is the day, the day of my avenge.
The moonlight poured in, illuminating the hall and the stairs that winded up. Taking slow steps, I made my way to the master bedroom, peeping in making sure mom and dad were fast sleep. I tiptoed to the grey metal box inside the cupboard, glancing at them I typed in a four letter code into the pad and the screen said ‘processing’. I could hear the thumping of my heart as I waited, the screen flashed green and the metal door opened. Of course, the fortunate are always unworthy of the money. Unlike people like me, with so much money, we would have done wonders. Stashing all the money from the metal box in the bag, I closed the door, almost, when a high end alarm split through the house reverberating every corner. I froze, behind Mr. Cameron had got up.
“Who’s there?”, he asked and walked towards the metal locker. “Thief! Thief!”, he screamed and Mrs. Cameron bolted awake. Both of them rushed down. Behind the makeshift cupboard, I sighed, relieved.
I walked down the steps, the wood felt cold beneath my bare feet. Mom and Dad were arguing about something, I strained my ears to hear the conversation. “I couldn’t see the man’s face. It was dark, but I definitely saw someone tall. There was a lot of money Sarah.” Mrs. Cameron sensed a pang of loss and panic struck as she didn’t know what to do. He saw me coming down, immediately regaining composure, he said “Oh sweetheart, sorry that we woke you up. Everything is fine darling.” “What was that?! It sounded like an alarm. Tell me what went wrong. What happened Mom?”, I felt guilty for what I’d done but a smile of triumph crossed my lips. Mrs. Cameron’s embrace made me feel better. “What’s the matter?”, I asked as I sat down at the dining table beside dad. “Ohh, it’s nothing darling, really. Everything is fine.” I paused and stared at dad expecting him to say something. Did he see me? Does he know it’s me? Can’t be. Please God, he couldn’t have seen me. My only hope was this, my last string. My mind raced. “We are robbed. Someone stole the entire money kept in my locker. I don’t know how he got to know the code. But everything is gone. We should call the police.” I gazed down, planning my next move. Dad went on sensing my concern. “It’s okay sweetheart. I’ll have it sorted out tomorrow morning. You go get some sleep”, he kissed me on the forehead and both of them trudged back to their room.
Ohh daddy, daddy. So innocent you are. I smiled to myself as I thought about the sleepless night I spent unlocking his locker. All that money, he doesn’t deserve it. The rich are never worth the money. I love you so much daddy.
Two hundred miles away, a short, slump man was on his way to Riverdale. His shoulders hurt carrying the heavy black bag. The usual Friday crowd filled the train leaving him no vacant seats. He gazed out of the window, eight year old memories flooding back. Precisely, on this day, eight years back, he had been on the verge of life and death, he was killed, no, thought to be dead by his murderer. He had been lying unconscious, blood pouring down from his forehead forming a pool beside his scared face. Four days later, the French Judicial Police had rescued him, heard that his murderer had fled the country thinking he was dead.
“Riverdale Station”, announced the crisp voice of the attendant. He stepped out, the cool winter breeze welcomed him. Finally the day has arrived, the day he had been waiting for eight long years. Back in the vintage mansion, a red dot blinked in the GPS system on her computer. He has arrived. The time has come, I thought. Carefully packing everything. I took one last glance at them, I am so sorry mom and dad, I am so sorry. Without a second thought, I dashed out of the house, heading towards the rundown street next to the station.
The cold breeze turned chilly, I drew my jacket closer, I saw him, I felt like a hundred knives stab me all at once, he looked the same, he looked my same, old dad.
It was on a bright Sunday morning, one month back, I saw the news that bewildered me. ‘Convicted with the charges of murdering his own wife, Mr Cameroon has finally completed his time in prison. Although he claims he hadn’t done the murder and the sudden disappearance of his daughter remains a mystery. The French Judicial police have decided to close the case.’ All those years of regret and mourning had been for nothing. That day when he killed my mom, I thought, I had killed my dad. But he is alive, my dad is alive. Deep inside, my heart jumped in joy. Since that day, I devoted everyday to finding him. I spend night and day making plans and escape routes, praying for a way out. When Mr and Mrs Cameron adopted me, God had listened to my prayers. Now here I am, standing in front of the person I thought I killed eight years back. Without exchanging any word, we hugged, for what felt like an eternity. All those held back emotions burst out without cue. Tears fell unbidden, as I looked into my dad’s eyes. “I am so sorry dad. I didn’t mean to…”, words failed me. “It’s okay Lara. I shouldn’t have behaved so. It was my mistake. I never understood your mom. I regret it everyday”, he cried as he reminisced that night, the night that had changed our lives, the night that went wrong. “It’s over. It’s the past. There’s no point in grieving about it anymore. It’s life, it is a whirlwind of the most terrific things anyone can’t possibly ever imagine and the most wonderful wonders anyone can come across. The past we’ve had can be a lesson for the future. I know mom was too much a price to pay, but we can’t do anything about it now, can we? Let’s move on dad. Let’s hope that we have good days coming ahead. And I have enough money for us to start a new life. We can perhaps go to Colorado and settle down there. Rent a small house and you go for work and I’ll go to school. If there’s hope, everything is possible. After all, hope is said to be the most addictive drug of all.”
I am Swetha Arun, living in Trivandrum Kerala. I just finished my IB Diploma Programme and am awaiting my results. I took English as my HL subject and I am keen in pursuing it further and hence I am choosing to do English Major along with creative writing as my undergraduate studies. I’ve applied and got offers from UK, Singapore and Australia but haven’t decided where I want to go.
Words. They were my escape, my string of hope, my hamartia and my friends ever since I turned 12. The time when people weren’t an option to befriend. I was thirteen when I started turning every incident of my life, however small, into words. Maybe it was just the satisfying feeling I got after writing that helped me cope with the next day or the fact that I had some means to cascade my over-flowing thoughts onto something, that helped me shape my convictions. Now, I am 18 years old and I flip the browned-pages of my blue bounded diary, only to realise that, through years, our relationship has only gotten stronger, making me a better person each day. And as I sit here, writing an essay on what I want to become when I grow up, I know at heart that nothing can break our bond. And so, I decide, or maybe it was decided back when I was 12, that words were meant to accompany me throughout my life. And so, I decided turning my passion into my career, making words as an instrument to change the world. Writing sentences to metamorphose the abstract ideas and thoughts that make an impact.