“FIND THE LAKES AND THE MEADOWS
WITH THE FALLING SHADOWS,
IN THE MIDST OF YELLOW AND GREEN
YOU WILL FIND ME SOAKED WITHIN.”
11TH June 1995
“Alex……Alex…..where are you I am getting late for work!!” Maria raised her voice to call Alex.
The photograph almost fell from Alex’s hand. What does these lines at the back of the picture mean? Alex kept the photo back into the box and ran to his mother.
“Where were you Alex? I’m getting late. Breakfast’s on the table. Are you staying at home today or you having some work outside?” Maria asked curiously.
“Do you need something mom?” Alex asked.
“Smart boy!! There’s a list of some groceries on the table kindly get them or you’ll have to eat pizza which I won’t let you so ……….groceries or stay hungry at night.” Maria said with a witty grin and drove off.
Alex was having his cereals sloppily. The flashes of that picture came hovering in front of his eyes. Whatever was written on the back of the picture is relevant or just like that?
He ran to the toolshed, brought down the box and took out the picture once again. He has ample of time now to go through the picture in detail. He ran his hand into the box but there was nothing valuable, all junks. Why the photo was kept with the junkies? Isn’t it valuable to anyone?
Alex took the picture with him in his room and opened his computer. The picture was of a little girl, probably five year old. She is standing in front of a country house with hay stacks all around and fences, horses and cattle. The girl looks pretty and glad. The year is 1995.
“She is a few years elder than me, probably she might be like me now, all grown up because its 2015 now. But who is she? Is she my cousin or …………I don’t know. I need to find out.” Alex thought and went through all the pictures from his childhood in his computer.
He became nostalgic and upset on seeing his father holding him and playing with him. The three of them look so complete in one of his favorite photograph where he is sitting on his father’s shoulder and mom is hugging his father tightly and all of them are laughing. Alex could still hear his father’s voice sometimes. He was too small to understand then, and before he could, his father was gone. An accident snatched him from them. Mom stood strong like a pillar to bring him up efficiently.
But none of the pictures resembled that place where the girl is seen in the picture.
Alex jumped up with the ring of the doorbell. He quickly slipped the picture into his drawer and shut down the computer.
“Alex……. Hey!! Dude!! You aren’t ready yet?” Bella screamed with dismay.
“Don’t tell me you forgot about our meeting in the library!!” Rodolfo said rolling his eyes.
“No not at all. 5 minutes and I am done. Wait for me outside.” Alex said and ran to his room in a jiffy.
Alex was about to get on Rodolfo’s jeep when he remembered something and ran inside his house. Few seconds later they drove off and the grocery list remained untouched and elapsed on the table.
Alex remained preoccupied with the mysteries of the picture the whole time. He searched some reference in the books which could provide him with some clues significant to the landscape in the photo.
“Alex!! Are you all right? You look off today. What’s the matter? And what is it that you are searching strenuously?” Bella asked with concern.
Alex stood dumbfounded staring at Bella for quite a couple of seconds. Then he took a deep sigh and said “come with me.”
The five friends sat all around a circular table. Alex kept the picture at the center. Everyone took turns to look at the picture and the writing at its back.
“Guys do anyone one of you know anything about this picture?” Alex asked his friends with puzzled eyes.
All of them nodded in a No together.
Joey said “is she your cousin or something?”
“No my friend I must tell you the picture was not in my family album. It was amidst junks, left out in some box in the toolshed. I needed some tools and accidently ran over a box beholding this picture, I don’t even know since when it was there. It was just a coincidence.” Alex exhaled a deep breath.
“Did you ask your mom?” Bella asked.
“Yes right. Your mom should know.” Ben added.
“If my mom knew then the picture would have been neatly placed in the album, not just thrown away along with junks.” Alex sounded distressed.
“That means it was hidden from a very long time for a reason. What if she’s you’re……….” Joey didn’t complete the sentence.
“My what?” asked Alex eagerly.
“No she means if……..you know sometimes these things happen with us. If in any worst case, that girl in the picture is your father’s love child?” Rodolfo suitably completed Joey’s sentence.
“I am sorry Alex I ………” Joey wanted to apologize.
Alex stopped her in between with the gesture of his hand.
“Perhaps you all are right. But I need to find it myself first.” Alex said.
Next day they gathered in Alex’s house after Maria left for work.
All of a sudden Bella screamed and said “hey! Here’s an address. Have a look carefully. Over there at the top.”
They ran the address through Google. It was a place in the country side barely 150 kms away from their city.
The five friends hit the road the very next day. When they reached they couldn’t recognize the place much as it went through some real makeover in 20 years. They had to struggle a lot to find that particular house. Alex knocked the door with trembling hands. He had no idea what exactly is waiting for him behind the door.
An old man with white long beards opened the door. His eyes and face said he is just as surprised and shocked to see us as we are to see him.
Alex took out the picture from his pocket and held it in front of him. The man gazed at the picture for quite a long time then said “she used to live here. But that was a long time back almost 20 years. They left for Mexico and sold this house to me.”
“Who is this ‘they’ you are talking about?” Alex looked puzzled.
“They are her grandparents. I don’t know anything else apart of that.” the old man said with a dull expression and closed the door.
Alex covered his face with his hands and sat on the stairs with distraught. After that they knocked almost every door but none of them proved helpful. Most of them were new folks.
They turned their jeep towards Mexico for another search expedition. On the way they stopped by a burger joint. Alex kept the picture on the table and all of them began munching the burgers voraciously. Out of the blue a man came and stopped by the picture and gazed at it with narrow eyes. He was about to pick it up when Alex stopped him.
The man asked “who are you? How do you know this girl?”
“That’s none of your business buddy just stay away.” Alex said with annoyance.
“Wait……do you know her?” asked Rodolfo.
“Poor child!! Her mother never came back for her. She left the child with her grandparents just after giving birth to her and never returned.” the man said and took a deep sigh.
“Who are you and how do you know so much about this girl and her family?” Bella asked this time.
“I used to be their neighbor once. This picture was taken on her 5th birthday. I remember because I was invited too. After they moved out to Mexico I too left for The States for work. But I visit my village once a month to meet my friends.” the man said with a confronting tone.
“What else do you know?” Alex asked with aggravation.
Whatever the man said next was hard to believe for them. They drove back to their home that very night. Alex’s friends left soon after as he needed some time alone.
When Maria came back from work she was surprised to see Alex at home as she was expecting the trip to be a 2-3 days affair.
“Alex you came back so soon honey!! What happened?” Maria asked.
Alex didn’t say anything. Maria walked to Alex near the dining table and kissed his cheek with affection.
“What’s the matter son? You look depressed. Is everything all right? Tell me honey I am worried.” Maria said nervously.
Alex took out the picture and kept it on the table right in front of her Mom’s nose.
Maria stepped back a few steps in shock. She was trembling like a dry leaf. She grabbed a chair and sat down abruptly. Alex fetched a glass of water for his mom and said “mom who is she? Although I might know everything about this girl and the picture but I don’t believe any of it. Tell me the truth. I’m not a kid anymore. Its time you can share anything odd or even with me. Trust me mom I believe you and love you a lot.” Alex broke down crying profoundly.
Maria hugged her son and cried a lot.
Maria wiped her tears and said “this girl is the outcome of a misdeed happened to me in a dreadful night a long time ago. My boyfriend raped me. Though he was caught and held imprisoned later on but my life was ruined by then. Doctors spilled the beans about my pregnancy but it was too late for abortion. I had to give birth to her. I had no strings attached with that jinx. The day she arrived on the face of earth I removed my eyes from her because she had the same face and the same eyes like the man who ambushed my life. I left her with my mom and dad and came here in Spain. I never bothered to know her name. I completed my education, found a respectable job and eventually found the man who loved me and worshipped me like no one else on Earth; your dad. And I never looked back after that.
Few years later, after her fifth birthday my parents decided to move to Mexico to my brother’s place. I don’t know what exactly happened to her after that. Few more years later I came to know she was adopted by one of my brother’s friend in Canada. This is all about her and there’s nothing much to tell.”
Maria sighed deeply.
“How did you get this picture and why did you keep it for so long? Why didn’t you dispose it off mom?” asked Alex with anticipation.
“My mother sent this picture to me by post and those lines were written by that girl. Why didn’t I throw it away and why did I keep it for so many years I don’t know Alex. Probably you cannot burry your past completely. It will improvise one day sooner or later. God makes you confront at a point. It was kept for you to find the reckless truth of my past perhaps. I like it or not it is a bitter truth that she’s your half-sister.” Maria said exhaling a deep breath.
Alex and Maria sat in remorse for a long time. Alex took the picture in his hand, moved his fingers affectionately over the picture turned it back. Read those lines once again.
He said in his thoughts “I found you my sister amidst our love and hatred.”