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Holiday

               A moment to cherish

                        Samina Jones

A thirty year old single mother; she was devastated when her husband of three years served her a divorce notice. Sami, as her friends called her, learnt to pick up the broken strings of her life and soon found a job as a sub editor in Philadelphia. Thanks to her half a decade experience in a similar profile; a two year sabbatical subsequent to child birth posed no deterrent in fetching her a new job. Her life was juggling between work and nurturing her little son, Abban. 

                    Jack Fernandez

A thirty four year old aeronautical engineer, working in Seattle, was a vivacious, happy go lucky guy till a serious bike accident changed the very facet of his life. A pelvic fracture left him impotent. It was a difficult phase that the chirpy young man was going through, trying his best to painstakingly conceal his agony behind a cheery mask. He impulsively took an absolute decision to spend the rest of his life in bachelorhood, not wishing to put the life of a girl at stake.

                 Samantha Harrison

At 54, she looked as young as a teenager. However behind her lively countenance was a melancholic tale, camouflaged by her enchanting smile. She had been subjected to mental and physical torture by a sadistic life partner. Severing ties with one's soul mate was considered deplorable in her family that hailed from a lower middle class conservative status. With no other options, she carried on with this farce of a wedding. Finally when she was 46, God himself played Samaritan by lifting the scalawag. Having no children of her own, she considered her students at the primary school; where she taught in Tennessee, as her offspring.

                   Ambrose Smith

Ambrose was nearing 60. Life was slowly turning to be obscure because he was diagnosed with Parkinson. Having lost his wife to pneumonia sometime back, he lived all by himself in Chicago. He could never get along well with his two sons and preferred his own company rather than getting in to an unwarranted tiff with either of them. His sons and their family too fostered similar antipathy towards him, Ambrose's petulance being the chief reason. They did visit him occasionally, but it seemed more like a formality than out of affection. Ambrose was not sure when these visits would seize, not that he cared much about it.

                    Carroll Lawrence

A 40 year old who worked as a professor with a university in Atlanta. Her life had a heartrending tale attached to it. She went through the thrills of pregnancy twice, refusing to be put on epidurals, willingly experiencing every bitter sweet moment of the labor pain. Unfortunately, she could hold her sons for hardly a few hours after the childbirth. Both her sons were born only to perish soon after. Doctors put in their expertise to avoid a further catastrophe of the same magnitude, but her third child died before seeing the light of the day. Taking a prejudiced decision thoughtlessly, her husband left her. She never bothered to trace him.


                       Jason Kelly

A 42 year old Gynecologist, he adored his profession till such time his wife died during her first childbirth. An expert in his field, practicing in Mountain view California; Dr. Jason Kelly had performed many operations and had seen through complicated parturition successfully, but when it came to his wife all his knowledge put together could not save her. His two year old daughter, Sarah was his world now. Though he still continued with his medical practice, the zest and verve had faded.


There seemed no remote possibility of these six people, meeting anytime, anywhere in life. However no one can defy destiny. They were destined to meet over dinner one night.

The common thread that linked all of them inadvertently was their flare for writing. Sami, being a sub editor took to writing like a fish would take to water. She had had many a work published while she was in college and while she was working under an editor during her internship. It was only since the last couple of years, entangled in combating the sea-saw ride of life;  she had totally forgotten to compose anything worthwhile. Quite recently she had joined a forum called ‘Writer’s Pen,’ in a social media; at the behest of a close friend.

The forum gave vast opportunities to budding writers by holding versatile writing contests every month. The participants were expected to share their views on each other’s work and a team of judges would allot certain membership card as per the performance chart of the individual. Other than individual events, the forum also had team events.

It was a virtual world, where people made friends with each other.

Jack, who had almost become an introvert after the gruesome accident, began drowning himself in reading books. His penchant for writing was revealed; when he started penning down small anecdotes and went on to write stories. The anguish in him seemed to be diluting with this newly found hobby. He accepted his friend’s suggestion to join the ‘Writer’s Pen.’

Samantha’s fondness for writing began as early as her high school days; though she never got an opportunity to pursue her passion in a house that had umpteen problems to attend to. Life after marriage was in no way conducive to let her fervor bloom. The hidden talent however blossomed, once she started living for herself. She wrote during her free time in the evenings, just to keep her occupied. She would pen down any story or episode that always carried a maxim. Upon getting to know about ‘Writer’s Pen,’ she too was keen on joining it.

Ambrose was a born writer. Prose was in his blood. He penned beautiful stories in different genre. So far Parkinson hadn’t encroached upon that part of his brain which was responsible for his creativity. The human mind is a very weird place. It could sometime provide sudden sparks to enlighten certain aspects. Ambrose mind was probably sending signals to him for penning down consequential prose. Ambrose had been in the forum since long. In fact he was one of the veteran members of ‘Writer’s Pen.’

Carroll had spent sleepless nights brooding on her husband’s callousness. If he had taken the wedding oath, shouldn’t he have stood by her when she went though the trauma of bearing children and had undergone the torment of holding their numb body within hours of their coming to this world? What an act of cowardice had he shown by deserting her!!! To fill the ennui of her life she dug into her annals of books and read them several times. Reading fortified her desire to write something on her own and that is how the budding writer in her was born. A colleague introduced her to ‘Writer’s Pen.’ From then on there was no looking back for Carroll. She participated regularly in every contest held by the forum.

Medicine and literature, they sound pretty paradoxical; but in case of Dr. Jason, both were his virtues. He was not only an excellent doctor but an ingenious writer too. He reserved an hour or two in a day to pen down something or the other. This helped him alienate his loneliness. The words followed one another rhythmically whenever he thought of his wife whom he loved dearly. The lacuna, caused by her death was getting filled with his affinity towards writing. One of his patients came across his work that he had left on the consulting table and urged him to write for ‘Writer’s Pen.’

Destiny brought all six of them under this banner, but they continued to be strangers. They wrote for monthly events and received mixed reviews for their work from others in the forum. They thoroughly enjoyed reviewing each other’s work. At every step they inculcated new ideas in their writing and improved by leaps and bounds, contemplating on their mistakes.

The month of November had a team event.

Ambrose and two other veterans like him received invitation from the organizers of the events in the forum to initiate their group for this game. The three, who were designated as ‘supervisors,’ would send invitations to five members each, from the forum. They would select these members, taking in to consideration their flair for writing that could be judged from their previous contributions.

All the five members, under the auspices of the supervisor, had to write a story in 2500 words, adhering to a prompt that would be given to each team. Thus every team submitted six entries. The cumulative score of all the six members given by judges would decide the winning team. They would be gifted books by the other two runners up.

Ambrose’s group had Samantha, Samina, Carroll, Dr. Jason and Jack and that is how all of them came under one roof.

The real excitement kicked off on the 5th of November, when the teams created their own chat room. Suggestions were invited to christen the team with a distinctive name. The most innovative name would attract a prize that would be announced alongwith the results the following month. After several inputs and much of debating, Ambrose's team mates finally arrived on a consensus and named their team as ‘The Par Excellent Writers,’ abbreviating it as PE Writers.

November 9th was the most awaited day of the game as the three teams were to be allotted their respective prompts by the organizers.  Everyone waited with bated breath and at 12 noon Ambrose announced their prompt. They had to write a story wherein the protagonist has been facing some drastic issue in life and finally they had to arrive at a solution either way to sort the problem.

It was as if the prompt had been specifically woven for this team, with every member in the group tackling some prominent issue in life.

No sooner they received the prompt, than each of them began shaping their story mentally putting themselves in the place of the protagonist.

 However this was only confined to their own self. Beyond a preliminary introduction, the group members weren’t much abreast with the life of one another.

“Let us prepare our drafts by 20th November and post it in this chat room. Each one of us can review others’ stories and come up with suggestions. The final draft of all our team members should be ready by 27th. The last day for submission is 30th November.” Ambrose suggested and everyone gave their acquiescence.

Surreptitiously each of them planned to pen down their own life story. They were expected to come up with a gripping ending. Whether it would be melancholic or cheerful was up to them. However Ambrose had hinted that, the end should be transfixing, something that no one would have predicted.

Since Sami worked as a sub editor, she offered to edit everyone’s story. The intimacy between the members of the group started getting more and more with constant interaction on a daily basis. The day started off with inspiring ‘Good Morning’ messages and then enquiring about how many words each had written.

Samina was the first to put her story in the chat group. The story of a struggling single mother was beautifully portrayed. The end sounded sad; tired of carrying on with this tussle in life, the protagonist decides to call it a day and ends her life but only after she entrusts the kid in an orphanage.

Jack’s story was heartrending. He wrote about a young boy having lost his ability to father a kid, in an accident and towards the end he declares that the protagonist becomes a reticent and spends rest of his life serving the church.

Dr. Jason’s story touched everyone’s heart. A lone husband; missing his wife and struggling to nurture a daughter, who on growing up, eventually gets into bad company. Reproachful words from close kith and kin; makes him lament in self remorse.

As for Carroll’s story, it literally brought tears in everyone’s eyes. The agony of a mother losing her kids soon after childbirth was so excellently depicted by her that one felt the deep pain of the protagonist and sympathized with her for being dumped ruthlessly by her husband. She ended her story by saying that the protagonist resigns her life to service to an orphanage.

Samantha did not realize that in an effort to garner a favorable response, she had penned a master piece. Only after the others read her story and kept writing positive comments in the chat room, did she realize how good her story had shaped into.

“Your story about how the protagonist bears all the humiliations at the hands of her sadist husband is poignant indeed,” Ambrose wrote.

She had ended the story saying that cruel circumstances had transformed a peace loving person into a ruthless being and the protagonist finally decides to poison her husband and lands in prison.

Ambrose's story tactfully revolved around the life of a Parkinson patient, whose family did not stand by him during trying times. However Ambrose had not given any specific end to the story.

“Your story hasn’t ended,” Samina messaged after she was done with editing.

“It is left to the readers. I meant to imply that the life of a Parkinson patient has an abrupt ending.” Ambrose messaged his response.

Fervent discussions went on in the group over this.

“I think you have to re work on the ending,” Suggested Samantha.

“I will concede but on one condition,” Ambrose inserted one sober emoticon followed by a smiley.

“Let us all meet up for dinner on Thanksgiving weekend. I wish to modify the ending of all your stories. Well it could be done in the chat room, but let us grab this opportunity to meet. Please do not decline this proposal. I vouch our team’s stories will be sensational and draw the maximum points to be declared winners and you never know this could change our lives too.” Many excited smiley was inserted in between the chat.

Though it sounded amusing, the group had become like a family now and all of them seemed to be eager to meet up, but given the vast longitudinal and latitudinal difference in their locations, it sounded a bit arduous. However after much of contemplation, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria in Chicago was the venue agreed upon for the dinner, to make it easy for Ambrose as he was the oldest in the group.

They boarded their respective flights to Chicago, their minds bubbling with excitement at the prospect of meeting for the first time in person five people; whom they had got acquainted with hardly few weeks ago, but had become so very intimate in such a short period.

At 7pm on 26th November, all of them met at Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria. After the golden handshakes, the initial apprehensions thawed and they got together like a house on fire. Over some welcome drinks, they first discussed about the ending of their stories.

Ambrose perused Samina’s and Jack’s stories first. “Jack, why cannot we give a different finale to your story? The protagonist can end up giving love and affection to a kid and his mother, who has been deserted by her husband. And as for your story Samina, why cannot your protagonist remarry a man who has lost the ability to father a kid?”

There was silence for a while. It was eerie, but Ambrose himself broke the eeriness. “I know all these stories carry your own self as the protagonist. My hair hasn’t turned grey overnight,” he smiled. “I have aged gracefully, seeing the world in close proximity.”

Jack looked at Samina, longingly for a minute and took Abban from her lap. Did he hear him say ‘Daddaaa’? Samina smiled coyly but moved closer to Jack.

Looking at Dr. Jason, Ambrose said, “Your story can as well end happily, if your protagonist chooses to hand over the child to a lady who has lost kids in a row on childbirth. She can be a sincere soul mate to your protagonist.” Ambrose turned to Carroll and asked, “Am I right Ms.Carroll?”

Carroll’s jaws almost dropped in awe. She shifted a bit uneasily in her chair, realizing that Ambrose had deciphered that her story and Dr. Jason’s story too were not fictitious. He was asking her to change the end of her story too.

“If it is fine with Dr. Jason, I do not mind altering the end of my story” she smiled. The next moment, having got a positive nod from Dr. Jason, she kissed Sarah and they made a lovely mother daughter pair.

“As for your story Ms. Samantha, I am not very happy with the idea of making the protagonist languish in prison. I would suggest…..,”

Samantha interrupted him, “I have decided to change the end. The husband dies a natural death and she decides to spend the rest of her life helping a Parkinson patient, shunned by his family.”

“It is not half as easy as it sounds,” Ambrose retorted. “That was not the ending I was suggesting.”

“You can’t always have the last say. You have to accept my end.” Samantha looked straight into his eyes with determination.

Dr. Jason suggested, “You too finish your story Ambrose. Your protagonist finds a loving partner in a school teacher.”

They all had a hearty laugh and in a jiffy they changed the ending of their stories and hit the ‘submit’ button simultaneously.

 Samina and Jack addressed Ambrose and Samantha as uncle and aunty, while Dr. Jason and Carroll felt they had got a pair of elder and younger siblings in the form of Samantha, Ambrose, Sami and Jack, respectively. Samantha held the two kids close to her and the vacuum of not having her own children got filled. Ambrose felt that he had been united with his family.

It was a chosen family dinner where no one shared any blood relation. It was a moment to cherish.


November 28, 2019 06:36

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