The short story puts into words the everlasting relationship between a student and her teacher, which was built through a brief amount of time and only grew stronger through that time.
Lea walked toward the gate of her apartment building. The serenity which embraced that November afternoon, was suddenly interrupted by the chirping of the birds.
It was 3 p.m. Lea stood just outside the gate. The road outside the gate wasn’t unusually empty, especially at this hour. She stood waiting for an auto rickshaw to whisk her away to her desired destination. Bombay is honored with a pleasant climate usually in the months of December and January. But, it was oddly pleasant that afternoon. The cool breeze which blew after taking short intervals every now and then, kissed her face.
After waiting for a few minutes, Lea noticed an auto rickshaw advancing toward her. She put her hand out, signaling the driver to stop the rickshaw. He stopped right in front of her and Lea got into the rickshaw and established a small space on the seat. She told the rickshaw driver where she wanted to go and instantly he set the rickshaw going.
Lea watched the places pass by in front of her, in flashes and slowly she found herself drifting into her own world.
Lea hated firecrackers. She hated the sound of firecrackers. Every time she heard firecrackers, it made her feel like a bomb had exploded somewhere.
But exactly a year ago, it wasn’t the sound of firecrackers which trembled every bone in her body, but the news of the death of Fiona.
It was the day of Diwali. People were celebrating the festival of lights with gusto and amidst all the celebration, Lea woke up to that day with a call from Fiona’s husband that his wife and her teacher, had passed away after becoming victim to an accident. As soon as she ended the phone call, she sat still on her bed. She felt like someone had just pierced a knife through her throat. A certain numbness had eaten her up in that moment. She couldn’t believe that she had lost Fiona forever. She couldn’t breathe. She started gasping for breath. Lea felt like a very significant part of her ceased to exist, without which, a sense of emptiness began creeping onto her.
Lea grew up with parents who were overly strict. She was never really close to them and her coyness never allowed her to make too many friends or get close to anyone, even. Fiona came into her life when she was 12 years old. Fiona was her 6th grade class teacher. Fiona would notice how Lea would sit by herself in class, not talking to anyone and scribbling poems in one corner, in her little notebook.
Lea had a deep inclination toward writing from a very young age and Fiona understood how good she was at it, through the little poems Lea would create.
Fiona in fact, was the first person to encourage Lea’s writing. She would encourage Lea to participate in various writing competitions. Through that entire time, Lea slowly started opening up herself with Fiona. She began to share a lot more than she expected herself to, with Fiona. Lea saw both the kind of mother and father that she always wanted, the sibling she never had and a best friend, in Fiona. And Lea came to become more like a daughter and less a student, to Fiona.
Lea trembled when she heard a voice calling out to her. Suddenly she looked up and realized that it was the auto rickshaw driver. She shut her eyes tightly and opened them, trying to come back to her reality. She exited out of the rickshaw, paid the money to the driver and walked toward the florist which was close to the cemetery. She bought a bouquet of roses.
Fiona loved roses. The red ones, to be specific. She carried the bouquet of roses and walked toward the cemetery with them.
She stood for a few seconds looking at the grave in which Fiona was buried in, a year ago. Lea remembered the time after the funeral, when she walked up to Fiona’s husband. The pair of them stood looking at each other, not knowing what to say. They just held each other’s hands and tears came cascading down their cheeks. They let their tears speak the words of sadness and hurt they felt about Fiona’s death, that their mouths could not utter.
It’s been a year since the death of Fiona. Fiona doesn’t cry anymore thinking about Fiona because with Fiona it is only the happy memories which remain. Lea doesn’t feel that she has lost Fiona, anymore because she’s there, with her always and forever.
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