Ms. Sarah Parker. Yes, that is me. It’s been a day since I have moved into our lovely cottage in Yorkshire and right now, am sitting by the window watching the light drizzle outside. Dad is fabulous. When I tell you that I find my residence so amazingly beautiful, I owe it to him. The smell of fresh paint still hangs in the air. Mr. Parker knows his daughter’s tastes too well and I must admit he has made sure that I have had all of it around me. Dad has made sure he would give it all, when he has the chance, may be his last one.
Martha is busy pulling out a fresh bed sheet and spreading it over my bed. She is busy dashing in and out of the room. This time, she is carrying one of my paintings, struggling rather. Meet Ms. Martha Harper, the tall English girl with beautiful curls and dark, piercing eyes and yes, my childhood friend, and my maid’s daughter.
“Martha, need some help?” I ask her, while she tries to hang on the wall, a landscape painting that I had done about four years back.
“Nope dear, I can manage. Give yourself all your time to watch that,” she smiles and points at the glass shutter of the window by my side.
Drip, drip, drag, drop.
Drip, drip, drag, drop.
Drop, drop..Drop where?
What are these drops teaching me? That nothing could stay on forever? That someday you have to descend and drop down into chasms unknown? That someday you dissolve into oblivion?
Dated 23rd September 1968
My dear diary,
I realize my last entry has been about three months back where I have complained of a bad, bad headache. It seems like ages between that day and today, and there is a lot that happened in these days. Lots. That these ninety days seemed longer than the twenty four years that I have lived on this planet.
Within a week following that headache, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor in its advanced stage. My hands refuse to move, dear Diary. Tears are already welling up in my eyes and I feel a lump in my throat. A chill runs down my spine. Why am I falling into this mode of self pity?
I am proud to tell you that I have come to terms with it after the initial shock. It was almost like the entire world has closed in on me, when Dad told me this three months back. Dad has handled it equally well too. We just know we have to go ahead. But, tell me, am I not human too? Sometimes I can’t escape the gravity of self pity. It sucks me in, especially when you know your best times are yet to come and you may not be around to see and live it. Diary, it is even worse when you realize that you are in love..
It’s around seven in the morning. I decide to take a stroll in the garden for I am not able to sleep anymore. Dad left for London last night, to collect my latest test reports. There is a great possibility that Edward might drop in along with Dad, when Dad returns this weekend.
“Good morning,” Martha’s brisk voice greets me. “Isn’t the place so beautiful now?” she questions. For a moment, she is lost in her own thoughts, though she quickly realizes that and turns to me, “I will be right back with a glass of milk for you.”
I smile and turn around. Yes, like Martha mentions, the place is utopian. Lush green everywhere and the rain’s freshness sits atop that I earnestly wish I could soak myself in it.
After lunch, I insist that Martha read some poetry out to me. Frost and Longfellow today, I tell her. It is such a strain to read for ten minutes together these days. I am glad Dad agreed to my request to get Martha to be with me. It’s through her that I am living my life now, doing what I would have loved to do all by myself.
Dated 25th September 1968
I hadn’t intended to come back this early to you. I get so easily exhausted writing these days, that I take breaks and write. I can’t get Martha to write this for me. These are deepest feelings that I can convey through no one else but myself.
Just now I got to listen to some poetry. It’s so relaxing and brings me back memories of graduation days at London. Literature is awesome. No one would know that better than you, for that’s when I had gotten into this habit of writing to you.
Sorry, I had to stop that in the afternoon. I am excited, for tomorrow, Edward is here. Dad sent word that Edward is joining in. Now, aren’t you wondering who this is? Well, to give you the briefest introduction, he is Dr. Edward Johnson, the one who has been treating me, about 18 years elder to me and the man I am in love with..
Shall write more tomorrow.
Edward is already at the table by the time I am dressed and out. Dad throws a warm smile and waves his hand. I wave back and look at Edward, who is deeply engrossed in the newspaper.
“Oh,” his head pops out of the newspaper. “Sarah..”
I pour out tea for both of them.
“Martha, could you fetch that pack of cookies? I shall get the milk ready for the two of us. ”
“In a minute sweetheart.” And Martha disappears behind the curtains.
Edward is dressed in a light blue casual shirt and a pair of deep blue jeans. I take a moment to look into his eyes. What do I see? Love or am I imagining it?
I tell Edward we could take a walk round the garden.
“Sure,” he smiles and reassures Dad who fears that I am straining myself.
“How do you feel?” he asks me.
“Never better,” I smile. I can see it in Edward’s eyes – that he has read the sorrow behind the smile.
I tell him I really wished I could get back to picking up Spanish and reading some more on Latin American cultures.
Edward promises to send along books. “Or why don’t you pick them up from me, when you come for your treatment in ten days?” he suggests. “I shall collect them from the library for you.”
”Thank you Edward, you really are a big help.”
“My pleasure,” he says so sweetly.
Dated 26th September 1968
My dear Diary,
As you might have guessed, I feel elated and relaxed today. I got to spend considerable time with Edward. We spoke of nearly everything – poetry, music and he filled me in with the latest theater fest in the capital. I wish I could be around to watch it.
And guess what Edward shyly confessed today? His wife Rachel is carrying their second child. I really wish they have a pretty, pretty daughter this time, after a son. Little Dave is so cute. Edward had gotten him to the hospital when I was undergoing my first level treatment in London.
I am sure it is obvious to you now that I am in love with a married man, leading a blissfully peaceful life with a beautiful wife and an adorable family. And I am in love with him, without him even having the slightest hint about it.
Have you ever thought how it feels to be this way? I pause because of the paucity of words. It’s like holding all your dreams in a bunch, trying really hard to hold them from drifting away, but in vain; For, they do, they do drift away like weightless wisps into thin air.
Edward leaves early morning tomorrow.
See you soon,
P.S: There is something that I want to share with you. I attach the piece of paper to this page.
11th August 1968
I met Dr. Edward Johnson under the worst of circumstances, definitely not in the way I would have liked to. Yeah, it was at the Cancer Research Hospital when he disclosed what I know and have slowly got myself to digest, today.
I don’t wish to get into the details but I would like to recall one incident in particular which brought about this ironical turn of events. It was when Edward told me that I suffered from an incurable brain tumor and gently pressed my hand when I sat motionless. When I looked up, I was already in tears and that passing instant, when I looked into his eyes, I fell for the calm in his eyes.
I fell into his arms, that of a complete stranger and sobbed, as my Dad watched. I loved the security of his embrace as he stroked my hair and patted me. I cried I don’t know for how long and I didn’t care for his time and nor did Edward resist. He let things flow freely and didn’t give false promises. He never said that everything would be alright. Had he said that, I would have called him a blatant liar!
I owe it to Edward for transforming the experience of my treatment from being dull and lifeless to a courageous battle that ought to be fought. Every time that I had gone there, Edward made it a refreshing experience for me. He revealed great interest for music (the piano especially), for Keats and performing arts.
I grew to like him for the synchrony he brought to our conversations. I never felt like I was talking to someone different from me and yet he was different. A vibrant personality, I found him to be an extrovert, unlike me. I saw in him all that I had wanted to be myself.
And suddenly one day, I really wished I could swim in the oceanic blues of his eyes and lose myself completely, leaving the present behind. That day I knew I was in love and I felt blood rush up my veins in what seemed to be an otherwise lifeless existence.
So much for Edward Johnson. Should I regret that he walked into my life only now or feel happy that he came in at least now?
While Edward leaves, he promises me my books again. I can read fear in Dad’s eyes and even in Martha’s. I am sure Edward has told them what he told me during our walk.
It’s a dizzy feeling to think of a moment when everything comes to a grinding halt. It’s true that mortality is the inevitable truth but even rock hard determination can’t stop some questions from popping up – what would Dad do after I am gone? Even Mom isn’t around. Isn’t it a worse punishment for him to suppress his feelings just because he wants his daughter to be happy?
I feel like running up to God and asking him another chance. Trust me, Life is so beautiful and many of us don’t realize it till an end to it, is at sight. Once that is near, the fear returns through the dark, when the world sleeps. It’s tough. It really is.
“Sarah..” Edward shakes me up. He pats my cheek and says that he hopes to see me soon. I smile and I feel I could take a plunge into the sea. I take Dad’s hand into mine and lean on his shoulder.
”Dad, I love you..”
Dated 27th September, 1968
I feel like a child today, a child chasing fresh bubbles, each bubble a simple wish – to wake up and watch the gentle morning sun, to chase butterflies, to hug dad, to joke with Martha, to read, to write, to explore, to love Edward forever.
I hope the bubbles don’t burst….. Or.. will they?