I waited for the phone to ring and there it was 'crrrr-iiii-nnng'!
Abba's baritone voice coming from the other end calmed my soul and I knew immediately that everything would turn out to be ok.
"How are you doing, my little one?"
"Stay strong, I am always there for you", he said
I never felt better. The view from the veranda on my tenth floor apartment, echoed with a similar enthusiasm. The sun was lit that day, the weather as pleasant as I could have ever imagined it to be.
Abba's words were like music to my ears. I remember, one time when I had brought home a poor report card. He simply smiled and muttered slowly into my ears. "My darling, report cards don't matter at all.
These are only life's own way of testing our characters; don't worry about this little piece of paper!
Gather as much knowledge as possible and that should be your life's primary motto."
Perhaps! This was the very message that encouraged me to take up a rare subject like Actuarial Science, when most of friends were busy with Physics and Biology.
Then there was this other time, when the boy next-door made faces at me and laughed at my pig tails, calling me mean names. I remember crying my eyes out and complaining to abba. He was composed like his usual self, reassuring me that the boy was most certainly jealous of my beautiful tresses and actually wanted to wear a similar pig-tail with colourful ribbons on himself.
Since that day, I never felt low when people called me anything untoward. I knew it was only because they couldn't reach up to my level. Yes! That's what it must be, because Abba said so.
Today, when I am at the top of my game, an investment banker, at one of the leading financial institutions of the globe, I still look upto to Abba's advice before taking a major decision. Thousands of miles apart and yet in contact every day!
"You can't stay lonely forever you know that…right, my little Meenu."
"You must find somebody who enjoys a ride on the roller coaster just like you do" and he would go on forever.
"Stop baba…," would be my reply, every time!
"There's nobody like that and you know it. For now, work is my utmost priority and my free times are occupied with constructing model fighter jets, just the way you taught me. Next time, I come to visit you, I am going to bring a brand new box and we are going to work on this together. You'd be proud of me Abba – I can complete a pack within twenty minutes now."
"Meenu, ma… I am always proud of you."
If I ever had a safety net, it was him. If baba had asked me to jump across an abyss, I would have done so without even thinking twice.
"Meenu maa, what are you thinking?" his voice punctuated my chain of thoughts
"Abba, I am here. Abba"
"Have you made any final decision?" Abba asked almost inadvertently.
"Yes, I have been thinking about it. I think you are right. Stevens is perhaps the right person for me. I will say yes to him when he asks me on a second date."
"He will beta, he might even ask you to marry him. I think he is the right person for you."
I was looking at the beautiful clouds through the windowpanes, and wondering how close they resembled cotton candies drifting through air.
"Why didn't I ever sit here with a cup of coffee," I muttered to myself.
'Crrrrr---iiiiii---nnnng' --- 'Crrrrrr---iiiiii-nnnng'--- Crrrrr---iiiii----nnnng'
The phone kept on ringing and with every ring, my heart beat ran faster, blood rushed through my veins and my subconscious tried to break away from its cage. My head felt light and my body burdensome.
"Meenu! Meenu! Are you there?"
My state of trance broke. I was jolted back to life. As if I had crashed into a tree at high speed.
"Meenu! Meenu! Are you ok?"
"Yes I am ok", I collected myself. It wasn't abba on the other side, it was Manu chahca, abba's immediate younger brother.
"Meenu darling! We are extremely sorry! We tried our best. We couldn't save bhai, please forgive us…" and then there was a pause and a lot of wailing.
"Bhai was uttering your name at the end, he was saying you will be fine, Meenu.
We are so sorry…"
Then I don't remember much. Maybe, I hung up. Maybe, I didn't.
But I do remember sitting by the window pane, looking out at the beautiful blue sky and the tufts of cotton candies floating by.
What a beautiful day it was! It was as if abba was still trying to calm my soul; one which was desperately trying to break free.
The author, Mehrin Mubdi Chowdhury, is a Journalist at The Daily Star, mother of two boys an amateur artist and novelist in the making. You can reach her on [email protected].
This story is part of a collection produced through by Mayflowers Writing Workshop run by author Shazia Omar. To join the next session, please email [email protected].