This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 17; the seventeenth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.
Michael Hopkins sat clumsily on a bench in Greenway Park. It was a warm summer month, at 6:30 in the evening. The little ones, some of them were fondling with the sand, some were enthralled at the play field , old men and women dotted on the benches, the distinguished players were having a tournament of soccer. The eccentric young couples were seen strolling through the long promenade, involved in crucial discussions, arousing curiosity of the passerby. The aroma of the maple leaves and blueberry bushes were being carried by the partially algid breeze. A few vehicles were seen to be moving languorously in the dark street.
It was a pleasing scene for anyone who wished to spend some time after the rushing lifestyle of urban dwelling. Hopkins was observing each expression with intent, reflections of the sudden disappearance of his wife was flashing across his mind. The ten years of solitude and anxiety about the incident, left him with a realization that a great deal of mystery is involved in the revelation of character in life, even if it is his own character to himself.
Dusk was spreading its gloom over the entire expanse, the western sky was emitting shades of orange, violet and blue. Visibility was getting poorer. Margaret, his pretty and charming wife, by a blunder of fate, was born in a lower middle-class family. Having received normal education from high school, with a mediocre circle of friends, she had no chances of getting known, or being married to a distinguished guy. Her only sacred possession was her beauty, which placed her high in the rank of women who were keenly sought after. She was a dreamer. She dreamt of exotic outings, branded shopping, expensive parlours, candlelight dinners, aristocratic gatherings, delightful operas and ardent appreciation by dignified men of honour.
She was unhappy, very unhappy with the reality that life imposed upon her. She wanted to flee, get rid of her commonplace existence and pursue the dreams that she cherished. She wanted to live the life of a queen with fame and fortune kissing her feet. She wanted an opportunity, she was seeking for the same.
Hopkins had always been a very humble and hard-working clerk, an accountant in a small government firm. He was always content with achieved perspectives. He neither had flying ambition, nor platonic expectations. His looks were ordinary too, unlike his wife. Set against their contradictory ideologies, his love for her was illimitable. But due to the pressure of fulfilling her immaterial appeals, he could barely spend time with her. He worked hard, tried to earn overtime, worked during the long weekends. Even while at home, he tried to labour on his files. He wanted to keep her happy and satiated. What he never realized in their two years of married life was her ignorance and detestation of him. He believed that she was happy with his modest expression of adoration.
Darkness was looming large, veiling the street and walkways. People were receding to their cosy chambers to conclude a day of intense activity. Hopkins rose from his seat to proceed towards his apartment. The mysterious disappearance of his wife since ten years, left him absolutely in solicitude. Since ten years he had been trying to locate her, travelling from pillar to post to get some kind of information based on her whereabouts. Neither any of her relatives, nor friends could give any news. One distant relative told him that she was heard to be in Waterloo, a small town, a few miles from Toronto. But he wasn’t aware of the address. Ever since then, he came to live in Waterloo, took up a petty job and continued with the never-ending quest, with the simple hope that some day, he would find her.
As he was sombrely progressing towards his apartment, the brief message which she left for him just the day she vanished, flashed in his memory. He could still not figure out the sense of the words, or the actual cause of her departure. It read:
I have perceived a castle and in pursuit of it, I wave good bye.
The unfathomable theory of devious character analysis was far beyond Hopkins’ incomprehensive intellect. On his return from work, absolutely exhausted, he found the note placed on top of the rusted gas stove. He saw that the room was messy, unlike the other days, the clothes were lying scattered on the bed and chair. The old, wooden dressing table was disorganized. That wasn’t Margaret’s accustomed arrangement. In the refrigerator, he found the cold meat, cooked the previous night, the wasted vegetables and a half bottle of wine. The quietness of the four walls, the sinister ticking of the clock, the dismantled furniture, all brought to his mind the fear of the unknown. He read through the message over and over again, but couldn’t decipher its true sense.
Perhaps she deserved more attention! Perhaps he had been ignorant of his limited camaraderie! How could she walk out without any confabulations? He could find no answer to the never-ending queries that the note kindled. He felt that his puny cell had lost its breath. The loneliness was gripping his soul. He couldn’t imagine a life without her. She was the oxygen of his sustenance. She was the inspiration of his perseverance. He came to a realization that success in a marriage does not come just by finding for yourself the right mate, but by being the right mate. As he stood at the door gazing at the scattered items, he couldn’t hold back the incessant tears of excruciating deprivation. He would, for certain, change for better once she returns. What could be the mystery behind the sudden desertion?
Since then, he’d been desperately foraging for the food of his existence. He was, perhaps, coming to terms with the fact that she might no longer be alive. Before he could proceed towards the elevator, he went to the laundry room to collect his clothes, which he had put to wash before he left for the park. As he was about to pick the items up, a frail and sickly lady, a cleaner maid, was trying to push through the way with a trolley carrying various cleaning liquids and wash cloths.
He moved aside to clear the passage. As she drew nearer, he was awestruck by the familiar posture of an apparently visible apparition, which benumbed his senses and congealed his spirit. What an unimaginable transformation he was witnessing! Was it the undistinguishable countenance that he had been yearning to possess over the years? Was it the same person, the quest for whom became the life force of his sustenance?
The lady, equally struck with bewilderment and embarrassment, drastically tried to push herself out of the entrance in haste. The unexpected meeting with the person whom she had ditched ten years back, placed her beneath the sharp edge of a guillotine. She wanted to escape without being recognized or interrogated, until the warm caress of those familiar arms barred her exit.
He could see her acutely then. A lean figure, stooped due to premature aging, perceivable wrinkles at the forehead, untidy grey curls falling loose on her bent shoulders, the pathetic look of those large brown eyes, sheltered by dark, wrinkled contours. She was shabbily dressed, torn at every fold. A stark contrast to the unmatchable beauty of her youth. Unmistakably it was Margaret ! His Maggie! His prayers have been answered! He was overjoyed. His long quest, finally, brought a rainbow of colours in his bleak spirit. He thanked the Almighty for keeping her alive.
“My love, finally, finally I found you Maggie. How I missed you, how I longed to see you. But why? Why in this state?”
He kissed her again and again. Margaret, still under stupor, ashamed of her demeanor, of her attire, of her betrayal, bursting with regret and remorse, wanted to flee from his adorable arms, but he held her tight for sure, to support her, to annihilate her agony, her misery, demanding no explanation.
Struck with utter penitence and ignominy, she started to bawl severely, letting loose her extreme affliction.
“Michael, I deserve to be castigated. For the name of God, let me go. I committed a hellish act. I don’t deserve to be loved so intensely.”
“Maggie, stop. I don’t want to know why you quit your home or walked out of my life. After years of meditation I got you back. We can start afresh. There is time. Let’s go home, let’s forget what went by and welcome a new beginning.”
Margaret was taken aback at Michael’s proposal . She couldn’t escape the thought that the workings of the human heart gives rise to the profoundest mystery of the universe. For a moment, we get despair of our kind, and the very next moment, we see in them a reflection of a divine image. She wanted to talk, to tell him the story of her temptation and betrayal, and the cause of her misery.
“No, Michael, before you take me in, I must tell you the mystery which might have haunted you till this day of the eclipse. Please don’t stop me, my sins will never be redeemed if I don’t reveal the truth.”
“As for forgiveness, I never thought that you ever committed any sin. My only concern was your well being. What grieves me most is to see my beautiful bride in a paroxysm of languish. If you think that the revelation would assuage your soul, go ahead, I lend my ears.”
“I always had high ambitions. I was never content with the salary that you brought home and the life that I was leading. My soaring desire for recognition and wealth, placed me in the loving arms of Edgar, the son of the wealthy businessman, who lived in our locality. He wooed me, flattered me, promised me a grand life, the life that I longed to experience. That particular day, we eloped. He brought me here, saying that they were opening up a new factory of which he was the proprietor. He started to work and we were leading a normal and happy life. Within two years time, we were blessed with a son.
I never knew, till then, there was waiting for me a reversal of fortune. Shortly, after our son’s birth, I realized that Edgar was keeping himself aloof from me. I had asked him several times, but he never revealed. I took it to be a casual factory affair. But gradually, his temperament showed a complete change in is attitude towards us. When one day, his close friend, briefed me of the fact that Edgar’s wife wanted him back and his dad cautioned him against loss of his share of property and deprivation of ownership of the present firm, if he wasn’t ready to take her back. She was the daughter of another renowned industrialist and their marriage was a business deal. Edgar always disliked her because of her haughty insolence. Edgar’s father-in-law threatened to seize their family business for he was trusted with the power of attorney by his dad. We were not married, he couldn’t though. It was a live- together understanding. He straightaway asked me to move out of his life. He neither had any concern for me, nor for our little son. He abused me and confirmed that I brought misery to his life, responsible for his downfall. I had to move out, for he threatened to kill me and my son, if I went against his will.
Penniless, homeless, with a baby at my breast, I had been leading a harsh life, working in factories and cleaning apartments to nurture my son, who is now eight years of age. I realized the fact that the face of a lover is unknown, precisely because it is manifested with so much of oneself, a mystery having the possibilities of torment. I have to pay for my sins, I am bound to suffer. I cant be a burden on your pious soul. How I wish I could have comprehended your feelings, your selfless love for me, your sacrifice... no, I am a sinner. Please go away.”
“My Maggie, every human being is bound to make mistakes, take multifarious decisions which may prove to be erroneous. Life is so full of complexities and imperfections. At times its difficult to resist temptations. But you have worked really hard all these years for the sake of your innocent child. Your sins are paid off. Where is my son? Lets go and see him, Maggie. You don’t need to work now. You’ll illumine my life with mirth. Let’s live happily and bring up our kid with good education and supportive parenting.”
There wasn’t anything left for Margaret to proclaim. She had forsaken a Saint, in pursuit of a Demon. She remembered the lines that she came across in one of the books that she read earlier:
“Love rules the court, the camp, the grove, And men below, and saints above: For love is heaven, and heaven is love.”
Life itself is a mysterious journey, an incredible odyssey, neither visible, nor reasoned by mortal senses. In this enthusiastic journey towards the ultimate destination, marriage, a phenomenal occurrence, cannot be held by a chain. It is woven by hundreds of tiny threads which sew a couple together through the years. Even if you fall out of love for one another, wait till the bond keeps you together to fall in again. Its a unison of two mysterious characters which takes a little effort to understand, compromise at times and also, if needs be, a little sacrifice...the mystery will spontaneously be resolved and life will lead to an endless stream of glory.
The addition of the right spices in correct proportions works a delicious and appetizing meal. What is your opinion?
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