By Neel Anil Panicker
‘Happy Birthday Charles’ she whispered, the words__an echo that reverberated all over the misty hill-top.
She stood there like that__unmoving, her eyes closed, soft hands folded in prayer, the lips uttering a silent invocation to the Almighty.
And thereafter she sat on down, placing the vase by the side, unmindful of the dew that seeped in through the earth and wetted her socks, and also the edges of her short white skirt.
Her eyes fell on the dried apricots, the two that she had carried while starting from her home that stood at edge of the slope.
A voice, her father’s, had forced her to turn around just as she was about to step out of the front gate.
“Stella, where are you going. It’s still not light.”
He was about to say something more but then must have seen something in her face, so full of sorrow and grief, that he simply retreated after simply saying, “Be careful my dear, and come back soon”.
He understood; not only he, but also her mother.
Understood and remembered.
Today was Charles’ birthday.
Had he been here he would have joyously sprang at the apricots and eaten them ravenously.
But before that he would have sided upto to her and planted her with a kiss__his trademark left peck on her dimpled left cheek.
And then he would have…
Stella’s eyes began to well up.
And then the skies opened, and the floodgates of emotions burst forth.
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