Laira and Richa were classmates studying at Encorage School in Norta. They were close friends who shared many good times together. Richa lived about 15 km away from Laira’s place. Though not much of a distance Laira had never been to Richa’s house because Richa never invited Laira or any of her other friends to visit her at her home. Richa and others however frequently visited Laira and often enjoyed at her house for the Duvalls were good hosts and Laira’s parents Latish Duvall and Saira Duvall were very good natured people.
One day Laira got an early morning phone call from Richa. Laira picked up the phone and heard Richa sobbing. She said “Hi Richu, why are you crying?.”
Richa gathered herself and replied “Lirry, a most dreadful thing happened an hour back. My mom slipped from the ladder and fell down from about 10 feet and has a swollen arm. Dad has taken her to the hospital. I am alone and scared. I badly needed to talk to someone and so I called you.”
Laira said “Richu. I am so sorry to learn about this. I will be at your place in another hour. Please do not cry. Everything will be okay. Let us pray for speedy recovery of your ma.”
Richa said “Thanks Lirry. I will feel better if you are there with me. I will wait for you.”
Laira got ready, told her parents about Richa’s mom’s unfortunate accident, and requested her Dad to drop her at Richa’s house. She and Richa would go to school from there.
Laira’s dad said “I will Lirry. I will take you there right away.”
Laira’s mom said “Wait Lirry, I will pack breakfast for you and you can have it together at Richa’s place.”
Laira hugged her mom “so very thoughtful of you mom, as always. Thank you.”
Dad had already pulled the car out of the garage and gave a horn to signal that he was ready. Laira collected the breakfast. Both she and dad waved bye to her mother and they were off. They stopped at Richa’s house. As Laira got down from the car, Richa who was anxiously waiting for her ran to her. After having few words with Richa, Laira’s dad drove off. Laira and Richa walked into Richa’s house with Richa starting to cry again as she narrated what had happened to her mom.
Laira took a look at Richa Pandey’s house. “SWARG” (meaning “Heaven”) was the name of the house. SWARG was quite a big house, for the Pandeys were quite rich and well off. The occupants of SWARG were Richa’s parents, Richa’s little brother Raman (who had gone to stay with Richa’s aunt for 2 weeks) and Richa’s old grandmother of 80 years who Richa now introduced to Laira. “Dadee (grandma), this is my friend Laira.”
Dadee said “Laira?? is this “the Laira” who you always speak of? what a pretty child.” She smiled.
Laira smiled too and shook hands with her.
Now, as Laira looked around SWARG from the inside, she saw that the house though had good and expensive furniture, was very shabbily kept. Things were not in order. Clothes were lying around. Some things lay scattered here and there. The walls had gathered dust and had spiders crawling at the corners. The window and door curtains had not been washed for ages it seemed. As they walked on, Laira saw their own feet leaving dust marks on the floor as they walked around.
Laira said to Richa “Let us have breakfast Richa, and we can talk over breakfast.”
As they entered the kitchen, again Laira saw that it was a huge kitchen but was in a total mess. The dining table though big had little room on it with lots of utensils scattered and many food stuffs on it like sauce, jam, pepper, salt some spilled out. It was “pathetic.”
Richa said “Lirry, I am yet to take a shower. You may watch the TV while I finish it and join you.”
Richa stepped into the bathroom. SWARG indeed looked quite the opposite to its name .
Laira did not turn on the TV as suggested by Richa, but she immediately set to task. She slowly cleared the table of the utensils, and put them neatly on the utensils stand. She took the food stuffs and sent them to the shelf where they belonged. She found cleaning cloth nearby and having sprinked water on the table, wiped the table clean. The dining table looked as if it was “breathing comfortably” now if you know what I mean. Laira arranged the breakfast neatly on the table now for 3 people including Richa’s grandmother and went to invite her. Richa’s grandma stepped into the kitchen and was thrilled beyond words.
She just said “Wow!!!. It looks so clean and tidy.”
Richa just then entered the kitchen and felt surprised and happy too.
She said “Lirry, what a beautiful breakfast table you have set. We never bother about such things in our house. But oh my!!! it does look super.”
Just then the phone rang. It was Mr. Pandey. He spoke to mother (Richa’s grandma) over phone “the doctor said it is a very nasty injury and Chanda (Richa’s mother) is supposed to be hospitalized for a week. I do not know how we can manage the house. I will ask my sister to take Raman and Richa away for a week.”
His voice was very pensive and he cut off the phone. Grandma shared whatever Mr. Pandey said over phone. Richa said “Aunt’s house is far away. I am going to miss school then. If I do that it will be difficult for me to catch up with the lost days at school.”
Laira said “I have a plan Richa. Let us look at it as an OPPORTUNITY to prove WE are capable. I will stay with you till your mom gets back and help you. We will manage the house together and we will go to school together too.”
Grandma said “that is great Lirry, but Richa does not know anything about managing house and I am doubtful if…”
Laira cut her short with a smile “Grandma.. we are NOT silly little girls anymore, are we? It is time we showed our capabilities. Just let us handle it.”
Grandma said “Okay but let me talk to your mom Lirry.”
Laira called her mom and explained to her about her plan to stay with Richa and asked her mom to speak to Richa’s grandma.
Laira’s mom said “Lirry has told me everything. I think the girls will manage well and not miss school too. I trust Lirry. Just let us pray Mrs. Pandey gets well soon.”
Grandma was very happy. She said “Thank you Mrs. Duvall (Laira’s mom), I will tell Ramchand (Mr. Pandey) rightaway.”
Grandma rang up her son and though he was not quite sure about the idea he had heard about Laira and said “yes ma, go ahead with that idea. I think I will put my trust in Richa’s friend and I am sure she can teach Richa a few things as well.” So this matter was resolved.
After breakfast, Laira and Richa went to school as per routine and returned home by 6 p.m. As they entered the house Richa let out “Oh!! I am tired.”
She threw the bag on the sofa, and dropped on the sofa herself with a “wheeee!!!.”
Laira told her “Richa, just go wash up and relax.”
Richa did just that. She washed up, went to her room, and lay on bed. She turned the TV on and got engrossed in some serial to the point of even forgetting that her friend was staying with her.
On the contrary, Laira too washed up, went up to grandma and asked her for help to know “what is where?” in the kitchen.
Grandma said “Lirry call Richa also. She must be there to help you.”
Laira said “Grandma.. it is okay. Richa seems to be tired. It is just dinner to cook, so I can manage. Please leave it to me.”
And as grandma talked about the Pandey family, Laira got busy with the “cooking.” She managed it within 2 hours. In between the cooking, Laira once again cleaned up the table and the kitchen place, asked grandma for a new table cloth. She spread it on the table. She brought a small flower pot from another room, kept it on the table. Then she put the dining mats, jug of water with glasses, plates with spoons, and was “ready” to serve dinner.
The doorbell rang and Mr. Pandey entered. He looked very tired and hungry. He said “hello” to Laira and collapsed on the sofa seat with a worried look on his face. Laira offered him a glass of water. He said “thank you dear” drank it and let out a sigh.
She said “Uncle, please wash up and join us for dinner.” Mr. Pandey got up and went to freshen up.
Meanwhile, the program that Richa was watching on TV got over. She stretched, yawned, felt hungry, and suddenly remembered her friend.
She thought “Oh my God!!! what will Laira think of me? I have left her to herself. And we have to prepare dinner too since ma is not there.”
She jumped up from the bed now and ran downstairs calling “Lirry, Lirry.. where are you?.”
Laira heard her, smiled, and said “Richa, I was about to come to your room. Hope you had a nice nap and feel relaxed.”
Richa said “Yes. I did. I watched that program “Dance Masters,” wish I could dance like that.”
Richa continued “Oh. Lirry.. what about dinner? I totally…” and she stopped!!!… she saw “dinner” so elegantly sitting on the dinining table, the kitchen shining brightly and very “organized.”
Mr. Pandey entered now and the wrinkles on his forehead disappeared as he entered the “wonderful clean and tidy kitchen environ.”
He said “Richa and Laira.. I am proud of you.”
Richa opened her mouth to say something but Laira kept her finger on her mouth as a sign not to say anything and Richa kept quiet. The meal was “delicious” and grandma, Mr. Pandey, and Richa had full admiration for Laira’s cooking. They praised her.
She said “thank you. I love cooking. It is so much fun and it bring so much happiness when it comes out right and makes everyone happy.”
Mr. Pandey said “well done Laira and Richu. I was very hungry and this meal has restored my “moods” as well. I will go to sleep now. Thank you girls. Good night.”
He left. Grandma also offered to help but the girls said “we will manage to clean up. Good night grandma.”
Grandma also left saying “good night angel” to Laira and had a word for Richa. “Richa if you could do all this it would make your mom proud. You do love her don’t you.?” and she went away. Richa had tears in her eyes. She looked at Laira.
“Lirry, what a mean girl I have been. I left you alone to do all the work by yourself. Forgive me please.”
Laira hugged Richa and said “it is okay Richa. We MUST understand our responsibilities of our age and ACT accordingly. We are no longer “little kids” to be cuddled and pampered, are we?”
Richa at that very moment felt the birth of a “new wisdom within her.” She now helped Laira and very soon the kitchen was cleaned up and looked great. The girls too went to their room and slept off.
Next day onwards, Richa joined Laira right since the morning alarm at 6 a.m. and both girls managed the breakfast, lunch and dinner on best standards. In between when they had time, they cleaned up every room (there were 4 rooms other than the Hall and Kitchen). All things went into proper places neatly and unwanted things into the bin. Five days passed. Mr. Pandey and grandma liked their own house a lot better now. Richa told her father NOT to tell mom about the “sparkle house program” since she wanted to surprise her and Mr. Pandey kept his word and told his wife at the hospital “Richa and Laira and managing the house. I am happy Richa is not missing school too.”
Mrs. Pandey though she felt relieved was not convinced that all was well. Next day, i.e. the 6th day, she would be discharged and would be going home. She felt quite normal now.
The day before, i.e. the 5th day, Raman came home with his aunt. He was an 8-year old boy. As he and his aunt entered the house, he was TOO thrilled. Richu came and hugged her brother. She loved him and he loved her too.
Raman said “Sis.. what a fine change to our house. Everything looks simply “heavenly.”
Richa went red in the face with pleasure. Raman continued ” The walls are clean, no spiders, the floor is neat, the curtains are shining brightly, there is fragrance in the air, the carpet is so neatly put, the Hall looks fantastic”.
His aunt was smiling. She said “Raman, I totally agree with you. I had never seen your house “sparkling” like this. Richa how come this sudden change in you?”
Richa said “Raman, Aunty!!! let me introduce you to the GOLDEN FAIRY who helped me change. Lirry, do come out.”
Laira came out smiling. Raman asked “Who is she?”
Richa answered “Laira is my best friend Raman and see what a friend she has been, isnt’ she?.”
Raman hugged Laira. He said “Thank you sister. I can call you too as sis can I..hope you don’t mind?.”
Laira was touched. She had no brother of her own and wiping a tear in her eye she said “I don’t mind at all Raman. I would love to hear you call me “sis.” What a well-mannered boy you are.”
Now it was Raman’s turn to blush. Aunty said “I learn my sister is coming home tomorrow. I had a talk with her just now before coming here and she will be expected around lunch time.”
Richa was so so happy. She said “Aunty please do not tell mom about our “new-look house” activities. We want her to get a surprise.”
Aunty said “Of course dear, I have one more idea which we could do. We could prepare a “WELCOME HOME DEAR MOMMY” banner signed by you and Raman” put at the front door and we can have some fresh flowers in the vases and a “bouquet” to give to her. What do you girls say?.”
Laira and Richa both said “what a MARVELLOUS idea aunty. Thank you so much.”
So it was arranged and explained to Mr. Pandey about what is going to happen. Mr. Pandey was pleased. The “dirty” house probably had made his wife sick. Richa and Raman would not help her with household activities and he himself had no time from his office work. The result was that the workload was too heavy for Mrs. Pandey and the house had to suffer a bad image. He was proud of his daughter now and was full of praise for the “love little fairy named Laira” who had come as a friend and angel to help his daughter learn.
Next day, they were all very busy giving “extra” touches to the house. Raman also willingly joined the chores and was a great help which proved the saying “many hands make light work.” Aunty had a beautiful handwriting and she prepared the “banner’ which they put out of the house on the front door tying a few balloons and color ribbons.. and now they waited.
At 1 o’clock, there was a “loud horn” at the bend and Richa and Raman yelled. “Hooray!!! mom is back.” Now the car stopped and Mr. Pandey helped his wife to get down. She did so quite swiftly indicating that she had healed completely and she was smiling. She now lifted her head and saw 5 people at the door. Richa, Raman, Laira, her mom-in-law, and her sister. What caught her special attention was the usually unkempt Richa and Raman were looking so well groomed and so lovely. She saw Laira and felt happy that this girl stood by her friend in time of need. She smiled at her mom-in-law and her sister whose faces showed a very warm welcome. Now as she came near, heard their smiling welcomes, and she saw something on the front door.
She read the “WELCOME BACK HOME DEAREST MOMMY WE MISSED YOU SO MUCH” and below it Richa and Raman. She was overwhelmed. Tears welled up in her eyes. She hugged Richa and Raman.
She said “Richu, Raman.. I am very very happy you did this for ME. I am proud of you.”
Raman said “Mom, Richu has more surprises for you.. come in.”
As Mrs. Pandey stepped in she had to exclaim!!! “Oh my God!!!.. SWARG (the name of their house) indeed looks like SWARG (heaven) now.”
She took a look all around. Not a bit of dust, not a bit of shabbiness anywhere, no spiders and lizards on the wall, nothing popping out from the drawers and cupboards. She now saw fresh flowers in the vases spreading the sweet fragrance in the air. She again hugged Richa and said with tears in her eyes. “I never knew I had an ANGEL born to me. You are a wonderful girl Richu.”
Richa said “Ma, Raman also has helped us since yesterday.. but honestly mom, the person who brought out the “angel” in me was my dear friend Lirry. Mom this is Laira my best friend”.
Mrs. Pandey looked at lovely Laira, tried to say something but words would not come out at all. She just hugged Laira tightly and for a long time it seemed with tears rolling nonstop from her eyes. Then she spoke “Laira!!! what a lovely little angel you are.”
Richa’s aunty too now wiped her moist eyes. She too hugged Laira and said “Blessed are the parents to whom such angels are born.”
Laira was going red with pleasure, feeling uncomfortable and she too was crying with joy. Now she said “Richa, I think your mom must relax now. Let us go and set the table for lunch in the meanwhile.”
Richa nodded and they left mom with Raman and others. Mrs. Pandey was muttering to herself “I was cursing God for having made me suffer this horrible pain… but I now KNOW and understand dear God’s ways. My suffering was NOTHING AT ALL compared to God’s blessings in return. Thank you God for everything. Oh.. how proud I feel about my children today.”
Aunty said “Sister, we all have good in us don’t we?? but it is sad that many of us WAIT for the goodness to come out with the help of others but then when it does, see how it makes the place a “heaven.” Mrs. Pandey agreed.
They had a great lunch, again Laira was praised for her “menu” and after meals, the girls cleaned up the place and now they all sat in the bit Hall looking beautiful and elegant now. At around 4 p.m. there was a knock at the door. Mr. Pandey opened it and with a big smile said “Mr. and Mrs. Duvall, do come in.”
Laira had called her parents and had explained to them everything. She had asked her dad to come and pick her up by 4 p.m. and that is why the Duvalls were here now. After showering heaps of praises on Laira, making her parents proud, the Duvalls and Pandeys also became good friends. But time, however, as we all know, does not stop. So finally the time to say “bye” had come for Laira and Richa. Laira had to leave now for her own house.
As she picked up her bag and they came to the door, not a single eye was dry. All were overwhelmed and crying tears of joy, their hearts feeling as if they did not want “Laira” to leave at all. Such was the immense love and affection that Laira had gained in just 6 days of stay. Richa and Raman hugged Laira and promised to her that “they would now follow the example she set and their house would ALWAYS remain sparkling and clean.”
As the Duvalls reached home and entered their own house, they hugged Laira too, and said “Well done Angel.” Laira thanked God before hitting the bed and was soon fast asleep dreaming some wonderful fairy dreams maybe.. for even in her deep sleep her face had a smile that made her face radiant like that of an angel.
Moral: If only “WE” WANT our house to be clean and tidy, and each one of us chip in with some willing effort, then our house too could turn into “Heaven.” We do not realize this until we “experience” the PEACE AND JOY in mind that comes with this little effort. Teenagers must understand that they are no longer little kids meant to be cuddled and pampered and that they CAN be happy only by “spreading happiness with their performance” within their own house. Laira is actually NOT the only angel on earth. Every little girl IS an angel but like Richa they NEED to transform themselves into one. It IS possible and a great experience too. The” teenage” is THE AGE, which is the ACTUAL starting point on life’s long journey since the mind has the power to think and the body has the strength to do tasks.
Hope all readers liked this Laira story too. A comment from you will be appreciated and will also inspire me to write more interesting Laira stories. So, please do comment, if you like my Laira Story series. Thank you. :)