Aurora was paralysed. Her once beautiful , healthy body had become useless. It was only a year before she had been a bubbly, healthy girl preparing for her swimming championship.
Her swimming instructor was all praise for her.
"Aurora is dedicated and disciplined." She told Aurora's mother.
Aurora practiced for long hours. Backward stroke, forward stroke, butterfly stroke, underwater breathing, underwater seeing, floating, she practiced again and again.
Aurora loved the water. She loved to swim. She loved the feel of caressing water between her fingers when she practiced. She loved to surrender her body completely to the waves of water. She loved the cool touch of water, and the gurgling sounds made by the water current as it flowed. Aurora was a good swimmer.
Then that fateful day came. They were a group of boys who used to follow her to her swimming club everyday when she went for her practice. They used to make all sorts of filthy comments. Aurora ignored them to the best of her ability.
One day emboldened by her submissiveness and timidity, they started circling her and accostng her. They bend their vehicles from side to side, as if they wanted to hit her with it because she had looked at them with hatred.
She got frightened and in her attempt to save herself, she did not see the fast approaching car. She didn't realise that instead of running towards the footpath she had run towards the middle of the road.
When she woke up she was in the hospital bed. Her mother was standing by her side.
Aurora- " what happened mother? My head hurts".
Then she felt horror. She couldn't feel her body at all. She looked at herself. Her hands and feet were bandaged.
Aurora's mother- " It was a bad accident, honey. It injured your spine".
Aurora- "what do you mean mother? I can't walk? I can't move my hands and legs ever?
Mother- "The doctor says that with massage and therapy your condition will improve".
Aurora-" how long will it take?"
Mother-" I don't know baby. But it will be soon.
There were tears in mother's eyes.
" what have I done to deserve this" Aurora thought.
Tears fell from her eyes as she gazed at the hospital walls, the ceilings and her useless body.
Slowly her body healed. The bruishes and pain disappeared. She got her regular massage. It was important, otherwise her body would get sores. She went for regular physiotherapy.
The hospital discharged her after one month. Her father carried her in his arms like a baby and sat her on a wheelchair.
Her room was upstairs where the stairs just finished. It had been her room since childhood. Aurora loved her room. It was big and had an attached bathroom, an adjoining dressing room and a terrace.
Aurora's Father-" We have prepared the lower room for you. It will be easier for you to move in your wheelchair".
Aurora looked at him stonily and said," I don't want to live in the downstairs room. I want my own room. You don't have to remind me all the time that I am a paraplegic, bound to my wheelchair."
Her father looked away with a guilty expression on his face.
Aurora's father- " sorry, my child. You can have your own room if that will make you feel better.
He carried Aurora to her old room, upstairs.
In that room Aurora spent her time lying in her bed.
The massages continued. The therapy continued.The doctors and her parents assured her that very soon things would improve and she would be able to stand up and walk again.
Aurora believed them at first. But as days changed into months her hopes started dwindling. She started feeling that she would be able to never walk again. She would always remain a paraplegic, bound to a wheelchair for life.
She would nevet swim again.Her life and her dreams were finished. Finished because of some overindulged boys whom nobody ever punished.
Boys about whom the whole society said, "oh, boys will be boys. They do mischief".
They were not boys. They were monsters" Aurora thought.
Her heart was filled with bitterness and hate for the whole world.
One day her swimming instructor came to visit her.
"Madam Dolly!, Aurora greeted her coach with pleasure.
"Hallo Aurora, how are you", said Madam Dolly. "I would have come earlier but I didn't know", she said.
" It's all right mam. It doesn't really matter. You see, I have all the time in the world", said Aurora.
Madam Dolly-" Don't ever loose hope Aurora. I have brought a gift for you from Narmada valley river".
She brought out a square box and took out a crystal statue of Lord Shiva in a meditative pose.
Aurora- " it's beautiful, Madam Dolly. Thank you".
Madam Dolly touched Aurora's lifeless hands with the statue of Lord Shiva and Aurora felt a kind of cool warmth on her hand.
Aurora- "Madam Dolly, I felt a sensation in my hand.
Madam Dolly- "oh, that's wonderful. Will you be able to hold the statue in your hand"?
Aurora looked at her hands. They stayed limply by her side. She could not move them.
Aurora-"Madam Dolly I can't. Will you keep the statue where I can see it all the time?"
Madam Dolly-"Yes off course, my child. She put the statue in a small alcove in the wall.
Madam Dolly left.
Aurora'parents were both working. She was mostly left on her own for the most part of the day. But now Aurora didn't feel sad and lonely. She talked to the statue of Lord Shiva.She felt better.
A maid came to feed, bath and cloth Aurora everyday. She could always call her father's servants from downstairs if she needed something. The servants came running. But she heard them muttering under their breath. Aurora understood that they they did not like being at her beck and call of an invalid but because the pay was good they didn't object.
Aurora shouted at them. She hated them.
She developed a strange relationship with that Lord Shiva's's statue. She spoke to it as if it was real and alive.
Aurora- " Do you know Lord Shiva, it's because you are always meditating with half closed eyes, that those monsters could do this to me."
And she felt she saw a small tear drop from Lord Shiva's eyes.
Aurora-"You are crying Lord Shiva?"
Aurora would tell everything to Lord Shiva, her friend, all that the doctors said to her.
Aurora-" You know Shiva, the doctors don't know anything about my condition. They are always telling lies." She said with bitterness in her voice.
She looked intently at the crystal face of Lord Shiva.
She hoped to see some expression. That never happened offcourse
Spring came. Everywhere she saw life. That night she went to sleep as usual. Before going to bed, she said goodnight to Lord Shiva. She said that every night. And she saw a dream. In her dream she was sitting in a garden looking at the nature around her. She was wearing a white gown with flower ornaments.She was in her wheelchair.
Suddenly she saw a white man approaching her. As he came
Close she exclaimed with surprise. It was the same statue of Lord Shiva come alive.
Aurora-" Shiva you are real?"
Lord Shiva- " Yes , my child. I am real.
Aurora-" You heard everything I told you?"
Lord Shiva-" Yes, my child. I heard all that you said.
Aurora-" Looking down at her useless body. Can't you make it right Shiva , just like before.
Lord Shiva-" You are alright. It's just that you don't know you are all right.
Aurora-"I am not alright Shiva. I am paralysed. I can't move my hands and feet. I can't even sit up on my own.
Lord Shiva-" You can and you will. You have only forgotten. Get up and go and bring me those flowers."
Something happened to Aurora.She suddenly felt dazed. She stood up from her wheelchair and walked towards the flower. Butterflies flew around her. Bees hummed. Aurora bend to pluck the flower.
Lord Shiva-"Stop. Don't pluck the flower. Take the whole plant with you. You can walk now.
Aurora looked at herself. She was standing. She had walked to the flower from her wheelchair all by herself. She turned around joyously to thank Lord Shiva but there was no one in that garden.
Aurora woke up. She opened her eyes. In her sleep she had walked till her windows. She found herself holding the flower plant in her hand. She remembered what Lord Shiva had told her. She walked to her terrace and planted the little plant in a pot. She smiled. She could walk again. She went up to the alcove and looked at the silent crystal statue of Lord Shiva.