10 years have passed and Alisha is now working in the hospital as a doctor. She is married and has a child who is two years old. Her life revolves around her work and her family.
It has been a tiring day. I rub my eyes in an effort to stay awake. I was hoping that no one would call me in for work today. My body needs to rest but my mind pushes it to move. Work, work, work. I sigh. I grab my mug and go to the pantry. A cup of coffee on a day like this is just what I need.
I sit by the stool and wrap my fingers around the mug enjoying the warmth that spreads in my palms. I hear the sound of footsteps coming but didn’t bother to turn.
“Hey,” she greets me, her voice is beautiful and full of energy. I wonder how she can be so energetic with all the work that we are both doing.
“Oh. Hey,” I say lazily.
“I am sorry to say this but uh, you look like a zombie. Look at those eyes,” she teases, trying to cheer me up.
I make no effort to even smile. It was brief, that one action she did. She puts her hand on my shoulder and gives me a comforting press. She slips in a cookie in front of me and walks away.
A note is written on it that says, missing my buddy. But it isn’t that which makes my heart skips a beat. It is the cookie. It is.. Strawberry chocolate chip cookie. Memories from before threatens to my mind. Memories that I try to bury. Memories that I no longer want to remember. Not because it was a bad memory but in fact, it was one of the sweetest. But a sweet memory can turn to be painful, too painful when you know you can’t have it anymore.
I arrive home early that day. The sound of my child’s laughter from somewhere in the house calms me. My husband is home too. Earlier than the usual. Suddenly, there is silence. I smile, they must have heard the sound of me coming. Perhaps they are trying to clean things up. Father and daughter. I roll my eyes. They know how I can get tired from work and can’t stand the sight of toys laying around.
I go to the kitchen, trying to stall and give them time to clean. I hear my daughter’s giggle. Her sing song voice is so soothing. Nothing calms me like her voice does. Like the harmonious melody a bird creates. My eyes water as I remember the one who told me I was her lovely little bird. She told me I was like a bird, one who would give life to her mornings. One who would give her the harmony, the peace she needed.
Mum.. I thought. She was the reason I came home early today. Not that she will be here to give me the hug I needed but those dreams we had together.. The drawing we did. I have to find it. And of all, that letter she wrote for me. The one which I try to so hard to forget, a memory I try to brush away but I guess it’s time for me to face it. I promised her anyway.
“Oh!” I say as I am surprised to see a cute little girl. Smiling. Giggling.
I was so lost in my thoughts that I barely notice my two year old daughter is now by my feet.
“Mummy..” She looks up to me and smile. She holds a rose out to me. She glances to her left and I see my husband leaning against the wall. My husband winks to our daughter. I am confused. Did I forget something?
My daughter open up her arms, and I lift her to my embrace. She kisses my cheek. “Hep-py mother’s day,” she says in her sing song voice.
“Oh, thank you sweetheart,” I say, taking the flower from her little hand. At that, the tears I have been trying to hold falls down my cheek. On mother’s day, mum would take me to the beach for a picnic. We would pack along some sandwiches, drinks and most importantly, strawberry chocolate chip cookie.
I couldn’t take it anymore. I have to find it. Her last words for me..
“Sweetie, stay with daddy, okay? Mummy need to go upstairs,” I say to my daughter then look at my husband and hold his gaze. It was as if he knew what I wanted to do all along because just then he says, “You know where it is. I am not forcing you. But if you are ready.. Then today is the day.” He smiles faintly.
I nod and head to our room. I find the drawings and the letter on a drawer that was never opened the moment I locked it. Not until now. My hand shakes as I try to unlock. With a click, the drawer unlocks revealing a paper rolled and tied with a red ribbon. And a letter in an envelope.
I take the paper and open it with care. The black ink has faded over the years but the love I have for her, has never fade. It has never fade. I start from the top left of the paper, looking through the dreams we drew together. Dreams we talked through that night. I feel a sharp pain stabbing at my chest. A strong surge of emotion comes at me. Of longing, of sadness, of love, of what happiness used to feel like. Being with mum. And.. And dad.
Looking at these dreams we had and where I am now, I know I should be happy. I know I should be thankful for I have achieved most of them. There are some which I haven’t like traveling to Finland but those were the kind of dreams which I couldn’t yet achieve due to time and financial constraint. Not one that I can never achieve. I believe, insyaAllah..
My hands tremble as I try to open the letter. This is it..
Assalamu’alaikum my dear,
How are you? I know this must have been hard for you but I – I had to leave. My time has come. I know you are a very strong girl. You got that from your father, that inner strength. And an intelligent mind from him too. I wrote this letter because I know that as time goes by, my condition may get worse and this sickness might take away memory of you. But remember what I said last time?
I love you not with my mind, nor with my heart. But I love you with my soul. Because my mind might fall sick and forget you. My heart might stop once it fails. But my soul.. It will always live. And it always love you.
Dear, remember the story I read to you when you were little? About the princess who got lost and was finding her way back to her parents? And how the story ends with her being able to find them and live happily ever after? Perhaps now that you have grown up, you would think the term happily ever after never really exist. It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
But let me tell you. It does. That lost little princess finally met her parents and live happily ever after. Just.. Not here. Not here in this world. But at Home. That is my ultimate dream with you, Alisha. To go back to where we belong.
Paradise. A place of timeless harmony. A place where there would be no more sadness or sorrow. A place so beautiful. A place no eyes have ever seen, no mind can ever imagine. Under beneath which rivers flow.
And there, we will finally meet. By Allah’s mercy. That is my ultimate dream with you, my dear princess. We will work towards that, okay?
I look up from the letter. Tears streaming down my face. That was the dream she had all along.