Ah, you haven’t fallen asleep yet?
No, mama. I don’t want to go to school tomorrow.
Why not? What happened?
She’s leaving for another school tomorrow and- her plump pale face turns a lighter shade of pink and she starts crying.
Oh! Ardita. Don’t you cry, love. Want me to tell you a story?
Yeah. But, I want a happy ending. The other night, you told me about a mama pigeon which lost its babies, and it was so sad! Tears well up in her shiny big eyes and she clutches her plushy baby elephant, Alfie, giving it a firm hug and caresses its back with her tear-stricken cheek.
Tell me a lovely sweet one, like how Aunt Colourful tells me, she whimpers.
Hmm. A happy story, you say? Do you remember Aunt Colourful’s little tale about a red balloon and an orange balloon?
Ahan! Her face lights up with a tint of excitement and she sniffles. The red balloon was an unhappy balloon because no balloon in the balloon land wanted to be his balloon friend. But, one day, an orange balloon goes to him and says Hello, Mr.Red Balloon! How do you do? and Mr.Red Balloon was veyiee suprised because no one EVER talked to him. The other balloons were suprised too because orange balloon was a beautiful orange balloon and the red balloon was a wei-yed balloon. Soon, both the balloons became veyiee good friends. One day, the red balloon asked her Why do you want to be my friend? and she says Because you love me and he asks Do you love me? and she says Yes. That’s why I am your friend. They both float away in the light blue sky happily ever after. The red balloon was once again veyiee happy. She looks at her mother with those glistening protuberant eyes and takes in a deep breath. Her lips start quivering. I-I miss Aunt Colourful, mommy.
She promised you that she will be back soon, didn’t she? I will make you talk to her first thing in the morning, okay?
Thank you, mama.
That’s a delightful story, honey. I’ll let you stay back at home tomorrow, but you’re going to have to listen to my sad and happy story without any interruptions. Is that all right?
Intuh-ruptions. What does it mean?
It means a break.
It also means you will not stop me in the midst of my storytelling time.
While I’m telling you the story, honey.
Oohh! Yeah. I get it, mommy. I promise me won’t Inteh-rupt you. She flashes her white teeth and rests her head on the pillow.
There, there. Let me tuck you up in your blanket. Look! You’re a burrito Ardita now!
ARE YOU READY PILOT ARDIE?
Yes Cap’n! I’m ready for the take-off!
ARE YOU READY FOR THE TURBULENCES PILOT?
Yes Cap’n! I’m ready for the rock n roll!
Then off we go on another great escapade!
All right. Stay put. I’ll get you a glass of water.
No, mama. I will get it myself.
But you are all rolled up in your blankie! I will be back in a jiffy.
I’m not thirsty.
Just stay here with me and tell me the story, mama, She pleads.
Ardita, don’t be silly. I’ll be right back and you wait right here. The mother hurries away to fetch a glass of water and soon returns.
I love you, mama, She whispers before gulping down the water.
Something’s the matter Ardie, and you will not tell me what it is! What’s bothering you sweety? You’ve been acting so strange lately!
Ardita puts the glass aside and lies down on her bed. The mother tucks her up in her blanket again. The story, mummy.
She sighs. Yeah. The story.
Once upon a time, lil Ardie, there was a young boy named Obedient. He was called so because he always listened to his mother and father. There was never a time when he mistreated them, didn’t listen to them, or shouted back at them no matter how much they scolded or scorned at him for doing something naughty. Even the most obedient kids have a playful side to them, don’t they Ardie?
Yes, mama! One time, Cooper squirr-ted pink paint all over Lionel’s face because Lionel wouldn’t stop teasing Cooper by calling him a girl because Cooper likes pink. Cooper became very angry and painted Lionel’s face pink, mama. She sniggers. Cooper is a very kind boy, but Lionel wasn’t being very good with him and that’s why he did it! But the home-room teacher gave Cooper a detention because he was being naughty. It wasn’t Cooper’s fault at all, mama!
Oh, Ardie. That’s terrible! But you must know that life, my dear, is not always fair with people. It will make you angry. It will make you want to bellow-
Bellow? THAT IS SUCH A LOVELY WORD!
Hush child! You’re too loud!
Sowie, mama! But what does it mean? She mutters softly.
It means to shout.
Oh! Okay. What does it make you want to bell-low?
It makes you want to bellow WHY ME LIFE? I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN SUCH A GOOD GIRL! WHY MUST YOU BE SO MEAN TO ME?
Ardita titters at her mother’s agitated actions.
But that makes you stronger, Ardie. No matter how unfair it is to you, if you keep getting up every time life pushes you down saying Nah Nah Ardie! You’re weak, you’re miserable, you’re petty, it will make you stronger and powerful.
Life was never fair with Obedient, Ardie. He was always chastised, or scolded, by his father. The father was a very very grumpy man because he had to look after his big family and for that he had to work extremely hard in the scorching heat so that his family could live a comfortable life. He always returned home tired and whenever his kids did something stupid, he’d get angry because he wasn’t getting his much needed rest! Nonetheless Ardie, the father loved his family immensely.
Obedient had two elder brothers and two younger sisters. So you see, it was a big family, wasn’t it?
One fine day, one fine shining shimmering day, when the Sun was gleeful and enjoying-
Does it mean happy?
You’re a smart kiddo, aren’t you?
YES I AM! She smiles. Go on, mommy.
Ah! Yes. So, that day, the Sun was very happy and seemed like it was enjoying the view of people hustling and bustling about and little kids rolling in the mud filling the air with their shrill laughter. It was a beautiful day, Ardie, and that day, Obedient’s family decided to go to another city by train.
Soon, they boarded the train and after what seemed like a century! The train finally left the station, choo choo! Ardita grins.
Obedient loved choo choo trains, lil Ardie. Every time he sat in one, he felt like he was racing against everything and anything outside. The humongous tress, the tiny shrubs, the wide hills, and the bright Sun, he’d whiz past them like a Superman! And even the mighty roaring wind that beat against his face would say No Obedient! I’m faster than you! You can’t beat me in this race! But our Obedient would smile and say O sturdy wind! I will not falter at your mightiness! I will zoom and vroooooom towards the finish line, and you can never stop me wind! Now, watch me get to the finish line!
Did he win, mama?
He never won, Ardie. Nature always beat him to it. He’d get to the finish line all right, but the Sun would be there already, the trees and the wind too! He never gave up though. He would enjoy every single bit of the race and its thrill whenever he travelled by train.
The city was quite far away from his town, Ardie. It was a very long journey and as night dawned all the passengers in the choo choo train fell asleep, except our dear lil Obedient. He was wide awake and stared at the window for a long long time. The voice of the train was peaceful. He wanted to sleep, but he kept his eyes peeled because he wanted to listen to the sound of the train as it drove forth on the railway tracks. He even pressed his ear against the floor of his compartment and woke his father up. What is it child? The father asked. Where is that sound coming from, papa? Obedient asked. Ah, it’s from the engine Obedient. The train’s engine is underneath you.
Really, papa? he asked astonished. That is so amazing, papa! I love listening to the sound it makes!
Oh! You foolish child. Do you believe me for everything I utter?
Yes papa, I do.
Then don’t, Obedient. You mustn’t believe everyone for everything they say.
But, why not papa?
Sleep, child. We’ll reach the station soon, the father says and soon starts snoring. The mother makes low grunting noises and Ardita laughs.
Mama? Why does the father say that?
Because he was joking, Ardie, and he did not want Obedient to be so naive and believe everything that was told to him, the good things as well as the bad things. But, that doesn’t mean you must stop believing everything, Ardie. It means you have to be smart enough to see through the lie.
How, mama? How can I be smart?
You’ll learn that soon love. Obedient was smart. He knew that all the harsh things the father told him whenever Obedient climbed his neighbours’ trees to steal some mangoes, or read a book in the company of dark, or break the neighbours’ window while playing cricket, he knew his father never meant any of it and he’d scold him because he cared for his child and didn’t want anything bad happening to him.
Obedient knew all of it and he quickly drifted away to his dreamland with a smile.
Years passed by and our lil Obedient grew up to be a handsome young man. He moved to another city, far away from his home, to study in a college.
I WANT TO GROW UP AND GO TO COLLEGE MAMA! Ardita squeals excitedly.
The mother smiles. You will, Ardie. 12 years seems like a very long time, but time certainly does fly by quickly!
One day, he decided to pay a visit to his old mother and father. He missed his mother dearly. Obedient was the only one among his siblings who’d go out and buy all the groceries. He’d sit beside her and clean the vegetables. He’d watch her cook from afar and help her with all the daily chores. His lovely mother would even save some extra chicken curry for her beloved son because he loved her curry so much! She was a beautiful, poised and a very graceful woman, Ardie. All the good manners and good thoughts that Obedient imbibed, I mean learned, were from her. She once told Obedient that one must never be mean to anyone because we all, in the end, seek kindness and love, Ardie.
Even a big bully like Lionel, mama?
Even him Ardie. He’s still shrouded, or covered, by the dark to see that there are people who love him for the good person he is and not for the bad boy mask he wears.
You think he’s acting?
We all have different characters within us that surface in different situations. They are all tied to the Oh-so-many! emotions we harbour.
Hmm…. Cooper and I will say sorry to him, mama. It wasn’t that nice of us.
What did you do Ardita?
I laughed at him and called him Porky the pig. I feel so terrible now! She closes her eyes and exhales slowly. That’s the first thing I’ll do once I reach school-apologize.
The mother ruffles her hair. It all takes time, Ardita. It takes time to put things in their places.
Yeah. It takes a lot of time to put my toys back in their proper places. I don’t like cleaning my room because it is so boring!
Then you shouldn’t create much mess in your room love. When there is less clutter, you have less things to sort out.
But I have so much fun while playing that I forget that I’m making a mess mommy!
Ah! It happens to all of us here, doesn’t it? We lose ourselves in doing something, we forget the consequences it brings in its wake.
Ma, what happens next?
Oh yes! The story! Ah. Yeah. So, where was I? I’ve forgotten where I stopped….
You were telling me about Obedient’s mother and how much they loved each other.
Did I tell you he decides to pay them a visit?
Aha! So, Obedient booked for a train ticket and the day for his long journey finally arrived. He didn’t call his mother up to tell her that he had already left for the station because he was going to see her the next day anyway. However, during the train ride, Ardie, Obedient gets a call from his eldest brother. He told Obedient that their mother….
MOMMY! NO! PLEASE DON’T TELL ME WHAT I THINK IT IS! Mommy no she didn’t….she didn’t…. Ardita covers her eyes with her palms and tears roll across her face. No! No! No! No! I want a happy ending mommy. YOU MAKE ME CRY ALL THE TIME! YOU ALWAYS DO! YOU NEVER TELL ME HAPPY STORIES LIKE AUNT COLOURFUL!
You always do. She sniffles. You always make me cry.
The mother stiffens and stares at her daughter.
I saw you and daddy fight last night. I-I-I wasn’t sleeping then. It was so horrible. You made daddy cry. You make everyone EVERYONE CRY. She screams.
I-I’m so sorry you had to see all that, baby. She whispers and tucks a lock of Ardita’s hair behind her ear with her quivering fingers. I promise that will never happen again. She breaks down sobbing.
Mama! I’m sowie. I’m sowie. I’m so sowie. Please don’ cry. She wipes her tears with her little palms and hugs her mother. You won’t leave me and daddy, will you?
Never, Ardie. She says and kisses Ardita’s head. I’m always here beautiful. I’m always by your side. Do you want to sleep with me and daddy tonight?
Mmm. She nods her head.
We can watch Inside Out too, if you’d like.
But daddy is already asleep!
He’d love to watch a movie with you.
Won’t he get mad, mummy?
Well, he’s not Obedient’s dad, is he? Lil Ardie’s dad is always excited about watching a movie with his daughter, even if he’s awoken from a deep slumber. Let’s hop out of the bed and shake your snoring daddy awake.
But you’ll have to finish your story before that, mama.
Do you want me to?
All right! Obedient was devastated, Ardie. He had a chance to talk to her one last time, but it slipped through his fingers and thereafter, he never could hear his mother’s voice, or see her cook, or taste her food, or feel her touch. She passed away before she could see her precious son. The mother looked forward to meet him, Ardie. But death arrived at the scene all too soon.
Ardita’s eyes glisten with tears.
Obedient was grief-stricken for many years. He had friends. He married a beautiful clever woman and had a lovely daughter whom he loved very much. He’d tell her stories about his childhood, his mischiefs, his mother and father. Every time Obedient talked about his mother, the memories that resurfaced in his head would make him cry. His daughter would cry along with him too because she longed to meet her wonderful grandmother.
He soon realized though that it was time for him to move on. His mother would have never wished for him to feel such pain and sorrow.
Obedient remembered his little daughter on a swing. He remembered how she always pleaded with him to push her high up into the air. Once more, daddy! Once more! She’d say. But one day, he saw her pushing herself to and fro and go up up UP into the air and laugh with delight. Obedient soon realized that he had to push himself too to move on from his sadness.
Did he, mama?
Many a time he was thrown backward, but he always gathered the strength to push himself forward. Sometimes, his wife would, and sometimes his daughter. But in the end he’d strive and he was always happy despite all the hard times. And whenever he was unhappy, he’d watch a lot of train videos and remember all the good times he had in trains. Obedient and his family lived happily ever after.
I miss Grandpa.
Me too, honey.
Obedient’s grandpa, isn’t he?
What makes you say that? She asks astonished.
Because grandpa told me lots of train stories.
Oh! Is that so?
Yup! He told me that those stories were a secret and that’s why I never told you. Don’t tell him mummy, this is our secret. Okay?
The mother laughs. All right, all right. You can count on me Pilot Ardie! Now let’s go to bed. It’s too late already.
WHAT ABOUT INSIDE OUT?!
Ardie, I’m sleepy!
MOM YOU PROMISED!
“What’s going on in there?”, I say as I open the door wholly.
DADDY! Ardita exclaims and rushes toward me, taking me in for a tight hug.
“Ow! Ardie! You’re too strong for me and my bones are cracking!” She chuckles. “Besides, I’m not sleepy at all. I bid Mr.Sleepy Sleepy good bye and wished him good night so that we can watch a movie together. Inside out, did you say?” May raises one of her eyebrows and looks at me suspiciously.Oh yeah! I wasn’t supposed to know that! I bite my tongue at my idiocy. Way to go Parker! You just blew your own cover.
May finally gets up from the bed and says Well, I can’t say no to that now. This is going to be a long night.
Ardita runs toward the living room and I stand there staring at my wife. I smile. “It’s going to be a memorable night May. I promise.” She gives a weary smile and says Wanna hug it out, chump?
“Chump, eh?” And I go for it, leaving all that had happened last night behind.
(Source: click on me!)