“Top three paintings will receive a prize. Competition is currently open for entries.” She takes the flyer and runs to her grandpa.
“Grandpa, grandpa, look what I’ve found. There’s a painting competition and I really want to apply. I love painting. Will they love my painting too?” She tells him with so much excitement and a sweet laugh. “Yes, my dear, I’m absolutely sure they will love your painting. Why don’t you start right away? Get your sketch and colors and let’s paint.”
She sprints across the living room, gets her colouring kit from her room and runs back to where her grandpa is sitting. She lays everything down on the floor and lies down on her stomach “What should I paint?” she asks him. “There are no specific topic mentioned on the flyer, so you can choose anything you like” he answered her while going through the flyer one more time.
She keeps thinking for a while then she smiles “I know now what I will draw. I will draw a garden. A big one. With so many flowers and trees and girls on swings.”
She sits there for few hours drawing and coloring. She has always loved painting; it was her favorite thing to do. She would always pick up coloring kits when her parents took her out to toys stores and she always looked forward to her drawing classes at school. She thought she could grow up to be a famous painter and she always imagined herself standing in her own gallery with so many people around admiring her work.
She finishes her painting and shows it to her grandpa “Grandpa, I’m done. See.” He takes the sketch and holds it up “Wow. This is so beautiful. How could you be so good? I’m sure they will easily pick yours as the top painting.” He gives her a kiss on her forehead “I will take this first thing in the morning to the contest place and submit it for you”. She runs to him and hugs him so tight “You are the best grandpa ever”.
Every day she would wake up and ask her grandpa about the competition. “Are the results in yet?” She would ask hundred times a day. Then one day she felt somebody waking her up early in the morning “honey, get up” She opens her eyes and sees her grandpa sitting next to her on the bed. She yawns and looks at him. “Guess what I’ve received today?” He tells her and she jumps out of bed
“Have I won?” She asks very nervously.
“Yes my dear you have. I’ve got a phone call an hour back and they asked me to go and collect your prize.”
And before she could ask, he takes out a box from behind his back and holds it out for her. She jumps and screams and quickly takes the box. She puts it on the bed and kneels down on the floor. She looks up at her grandpa with the sweetest smile he has ever seen and she starts unwrapping the prize. It was a black cylindrical box with a plastic lid on top. She takes off the lid and there is a grey round sponge wrapping inside. She pulls out the wrapping and carefully unfolds it. It is the most beautiful thing she has ever got. It’s so sparkly and charming. It was a crystal candle holder. It had a small golden socket, golden nodes and arms. The main body was made of a big crystal ball and out of the arms small crystal balls dangled down. She ran her fingers over the candle holder, looked at her grandpa and got up to hug him and give him a kiss. He hugged her back with tears in his eyes and a smile on his face. She was his life.
Later that night, her grandpa went to put her to bed. She had the candle holder on the night stand next to her. “Thank you grandpa. This is the best day in my life.” She told him with a sleepy voice “but I didn’t think they will give me a candle holder. I thought it would be something else”.
“What did you want them to give you?” he asked.
“No. Nothing specific. I don’t know”.
“I hope this candle be the first of all the light and hope you have in your life. May you be a forever shining beacon. May you be a guiding light for all lost souls. And may your candle light shine your way through life, pulling dreams and faith closer and burning away all evil and despair” He whispered the words in her ears putting her to sleep. She didn’t understand much of what he said or even why he was saying it, she was simply happy with her achievement and eager for more to come.
Years went by and it was one of the most heart-breaking things she has ever had to endure when her grandfather passed away. He was her first best friend, her comfort and her support. Because of him, she had the strength to go through all the hardships and from him she learned never to give up and always pursue her dreams.
Growing up; her interests kept changing. One day she would like this the next she wouldn’t care. But somehow she always had this love for art in her, always went back to painting when she experienced feelings she couldn’t explain.
It was time for her to apply for college and she has been thinking about it for so long. She made up her mind to join the faculty of fine arts. She submitted her application and just had to wait for their reply with the entrance exam date. Few weeks later, she receives her college response that she needs to go for the practical exam. She nervously gets ready, asks her parents to wish her luck and heads to the exam venue. She finishes her painting and goes back home more nervous than she was in the morning. Her parents try to calm her down and tell her that she did her best and all she had to do now is wait.
That day, she went back to her room, sat down on her bed and held up her candle holder in her hands. She looked deeply into it and smiled wishing her grandfather were here to support her and to wake her up with the news of her getting accepted in college the same way he did so many years ago. A tear runs down her face, she prays for her grandfather, kisses the candle and puts it back on her night stand. She sinks into deep sleep.
Few weeks later, she receives a letter from her college. It read: Accepted. And her world was never the same after that. So much of work and running around. Long days and sleepless nights. She passes her college years with flying colours and by then she had already had some of her work displayed in some of the well-known galleries. She couldn’t be happier but she was not yet satisfied. Her dreams were limitless and her passion grew stronger with every milestone she conquered. She grew more attached to her work and much more detached from her family. She didn’t move out after college, but for them she somehow did. She wasn’t the sweet loving girl she used to be.
Day by day, she became more successful and everybody was talking about her talent and the magic emitting out of her paintings. Day by day, her heart became colder and her soul became a prisoner of her busy arrogant mind. She flew and soared higher and higher with every new applause and all her parents’ attempts to pull her back to earth were in vain. Her candle holder was long forgotten and its crystals were invisible underneath all the past years’ dust and negligence.
Her parents couldn’t take it any longer, not that they didn’t want her anymore, but they really wished she would come back to her old self. They were extremely worried and sad for the place she keeps herself in. She was better than that. Better than caring for nothing and no one but herself. Not being able to grab her attention by continuously stepping in and talking to her, they decide to step out for a change. They would ask her to move physically to where she lives now.
“You need to leave” Her father utters in a decisive yet shaky voice. She has been listening to so many complaints and advice for so long and got used to her parents not being OK with what she is doing, but this time it was different. She was taken aback by their new decision and how strongly they were sticking to it.
“What are you talking about? This is my home” She responds to her father.
Her mother, trying to keep calm and composed says “This is absolutely a home, but not one which you respect. It’s like you no longer live here or rather we no longer exist in your life”.
She stares at them trying to process what’s happening. Her heart senses a hint of regret and love, but her ego refuses to give in. All she could picture right now is herself standing in the middle of the biggest gallery art world has ever known and everybody around her appreciating her and her work. Her parents’ voices seem to fade in the sound of the fans and critics applause. She is awakened by her mother’s loud voice losing all control of her nerves “You don’t even care about what we are trying to tell you right now. You are not even listening. Talking to a wall would make more sense now because I would know for sure it’s there, but I really don’t know if you are. Just leave”.
She gets in extreme anger, looks at her parents and says “I’m leaving. I can do it on my own. I can survive. I have built everything I have now from scratch and I will not let it go to waste just because you don’t want to support me. I don’t need you”.
“You are in such a delusion” her father says shaking his head in disappointment.
“If you think you have done all this on your own then you are stupider than we thought you were. You think we didn’t and don’t support you? You think this is all you?” Her mother weeps.
“Yes. It’s all me. What have you done other than complaining and criticizing me and my way of living? You don’t believe in me and my abilities. I wish grandpa were here. Only he could’ve understood what I’m going through.” She said getting furious.
“Oh now you remember your grandpa!”
“I’ve never forgotten him. But I’ve always been talented and like no other artist. I showed you all that I had it in me since I was a kid winning that competition with all kinds of people participating, even ones who were older than me.” She yelled.
“You are an idiot. You never won that competition!” her mother yelled back.
She was stunned by what her mother just said. She couldn’t understand whether it was true or she was just saying that to annoy her. She stood there for few seconds which felt like years. All the past years and achievements played in front of her eyes and more tears rolled down her face with every memory of her grandfather, every opportunity she wasted to be with her parents, every heartache she caused them and every minute she let her ego take over and make her move farther from her family.
Her mother approached her and took her in her arms. “You never won the competition. But your grandpa believed in you so much that he knew that this meant nothing. Whether you win or lose you can become something one day, but you were too young to understand life lessons and he wanted to give you that push towards your self-belief. He went and bought you that candleholder and he was so happy giving it to you. He said this will always be a reminder for you that you can do it.”
She takes a step back, looks at her parents with her mother’s last words echoing over and over again in her ears and she moves slowly towards her room. She sits down on her bed and takes the candle holder in her hands. She gently wipes off the dust and remembers the day her grandpa gave it to her. It was supposed to be her guiding light, but she lost her way. She got lost more with every day she ignored it and with every day she forgot her grandpa’s words. His words and prayers come back to her and only now she can understand what he was talking about.