She couldn’t believe it was the end of the year already. She had thought this year would never end.
Rekasha was sitting in a café in her home city on a solitary table outdoors, staring out blankly at the city, walking by in a rush. She was cold, but she would rather be here all by herself, than inside the café with the crowd of noisy people.
She wondered if disasters truly came only in threes. She hoped that they did. She had already experienced more than what she had thought she could ever handle. It was enough to make her quit her job, change her name, move to a different city, and forget completely about her life here.
As she sat there pondering over these thoughts in kind of a loop, she saw a little boy run across in front of her, on the sidewalk. He tripped and fell, apparently over nothing, as little boys do. And started bawling. His mother came out of nowhere like a superhero, as mothers do, and said, “You were running pretty fast. I don’t think I have seen you run this fast before.” The boy was confused for a second and pondered whether to continue crying or acknowledge this praise. He decided to go for the latter option. He started bragging about his strong legs and how he was all grown up now. The mother lifted him off the ground and they both walked off to somewhere special. Or somewhere ordinary. It didn’t matter.
Rekasha knew that she was in the same boat as that little boy. She had run too fast and tried ignoring her problems until she stumbled and fell and couldn’t go on any longer. But someone had come to her as they did for the little boy and had patted her on the face saying, “You did well. Now keep going and everything will be fine.”
She felt confused about the past, she still did, but she knew that the voice was right. She had to keep going. She knew that it would be so easy to throw a tantrum, to throw herself to the ground, and to refuse to move any further. But somehow the year ending and the new year beckoning to her made her feel hopeful.
It would be easy to stay stuck in the past. But as she got up of her seat, picked up her stuff, checking twice to make sure she hadn't forgotten anything, and started walking on the icy slippery sidewalk, she couldn't play the victim role any longer. Although she was sorely tempted to.
Church bells were ringing in the distance as if the entire world was affirming her decision. She slipped twice, the second time in front of a gaggle of teenage boys who giggled rudely at her. Normally, she would have died from embarrassment. But having gone through the challenges of the past year, she felt like falling flat on her face in front of a bunch of prepubescent boys would be a piece of cake. In fact, she welcomed such piddly threats from the universe, as if to say, ‘throw it at me, what else you got, I can take it.’
The universe obliged. One of the boys tried to trip her to look cool to his friends, she supposed. She was twice as big as him, what was he thinking? But she overlooked this mishap and kept on walking. She didn’t have time to waste on such things anymore.
She thought to herself, “Guess, what doesn't kill you does make you stronger.”
Indeed, those old folks didn't make up these adages for no apparent reason.
She stood at the stoplight, while cars zoomed past in front of her, whipping her coat around her legs. The air smelt fresh and crisp. She took in a deep breath of air. It was good to be alive, she thought.
Somehow a tiny bubble of hope was starting to emerge inside her. A little fizzle of joy. A tiny sprout of excitement. A niggle of something new and positive. She stood still for a moment as she realized this, wanting to hold on to these tiny buds before they disappeared into a wisp.
She knew that her job now was to cultivate these little seeds and ensure they didn't die an early death. It wouldn't be easy, but she knew that she would get there, putting one step in front of another. Bit by bit. Isn’t that what they say about building Rome as well? Those old folks really knew what they were talking about.
She passed by a man who was begging on the street with a red Santa hat and instead of feeling sorry for herself and her sorry affairs like she had for the past year, she felt some actual sympathy for this poor cold man. It would have been easy for her to think, ‘you think you have problems, well buddy, I have bigger problems than you.’ But she didn’t think that way. Thank God she didn’t.
Wasn't this a huge sign of progress? She was becoming empathic again. Human again. She could see further than her own tiny little universe of problems and issues. Hallelujah!
She smiled to herself as she dropped a $5 dollar bill into the elated man's outstretched bowl. "Thank you, miss. Have a happy new year," he said. She smiled back, looked him in the eyes, something she hadn't done in a while either, and said, "You as well." And walked on to her apartment.
She marveled and stood still for a bit at her door as she realized she couldn’t remember the last time she had skipped up the stairs like this. She had even hummed a little tune in her head (not out loud yet she wasn’t ready for that kind of embarrassment). What was it? Holy Night, or some other Christmas tune. Hmmm. She tapped her fingers on her lips and said in a whisper, “It’s a new year indeed.”
As she opened the door to her home, a home she had almost lost last year, and heard her cat moving inside, she felt like her world was finally being set right. And not a moment too soon.