“Take care of my life, dear!” These were the words ringing in Christiana`s ears while she was sitting in her balcony with a cup of coffee. It was evening and Christiana was lost in her memories gazing at the golden clouds floating in the watery sky. She could see an army carriage carrying a dead body of a soldier but that could not attract much of her attention. She was missing her love, Joseph.
Joseph and Christiana were high school sweethearts. They loved each other very much. Not a single day would pass without meeting each other. Christiana stayed quite a distance away from Joseph’s house yet they would manage to meet each other somewhere during the weekends and holidays. They both were very happy being in love together. But today Christiana was very upset. She was left alone with the memories of Joseph. She remembered how Joseph used to annoy her by his stupid jokes and when she would get angry, he would act like a fool and make her laugh. He loved her very much and wanted to see her happy always. Tears trickled down her cheeks when she remembered her last meeting with Joseph. It was the day when Joseph was leaving Brisbane for joining the Army.
Since childhood, Joseph had been eager to join the army and serve his country. Christiana too had been inspiring him to join the army so long but that day she was sad for the very same reason. He was going away from her. They decided to meet that day at their usual meeting place i.e. in a café. She recollected Joseph had brought red roses for her. She loved red roses. She remembered those funny allegations made by Joseph to prove how much he loved her. She gifted him a gun which Joseph had wished to buy during their visit to a trade fare but couldn`t buy it as he didn`t have enough money then. Joseph was very fond of guns and archery, his shelves at home had pictures of gun neatly stacked as he collected them. Joseph used to refer to her as his “life“and she remembered his last words, “you are my life. Take care of my life, dear!”
She burst out in tears remembering her past days. It had been three years since she had seen him. They were in touch over the telephone. During his last session of talk with Christiana, two months back, Joseph had mentioned that he would be returning soon from the war front. Just after the two-year training, a war broke out in the country and Joseph had to go to the war front instead of coming back home. Christiana was happy about this that she would meet him; she was waiting for his return. Just then Christiana heard someone calling out her name.
“Christiana! Where are you?” it was her mom, Mrs. Clarke, calling her to accompany her to the tailor`s shop. Christiana was upset; she denied going with her mom. Her mom got angry and shouted at her. She shouted,
“No need to come with me! Who am I of yours? Go with that fool!”
Mrs. Clarke never wanted her daughter to marry an army man. Mr. Clarke, Christiana`s father, was a businessman. He died in an accident when Christiana was a child. Mrs. Clarke had known the pain of losing a life partner and she was quite unhappy with her daughter`s decision to marry Joseph as his life would always be at a risk during social crisis. Getting a good shout from her mother, Christiana started weeping and locked herself up in her room. She was very sad and there was no one to understand her feelings and console her. She remembered that Joseph always used to make her laugh by his wacky jokes whenever she became sad. An hour later, Mrs. Clarke came and told her daughter to come out of her room, it was urgent. She tried hard to open the door but she failed. The next morning Christiana came out of her room, she was still sad. She went near her mom and told, “I am sorry, mom! Please forgive me!”
She found her mom sobbing.
‘What’s wrong, mom?” she asked surprisingly.
“I am sorry my child. You please forgive me. I shouldn`t……” her mom said grabbing her into her arms.
“But what’s the matter ma?” she asked.
“I should not have behaved with you in that manner. Your Joseph…..He is no more.” her mom told holding her hard. Christiana was speechless. It was his biggest shock she had ever borne. She rushed to Joseph`s house in her scooter, her mom pillion riding. But it was late, very late. Joseph`s body was buried and the funeral ceremony was going on in a church nearby. She fell on her knees weeping. Joseph`s dad, Mr. Bruce, made her seat on a bench aside and gave her the gun which she had gifted him during their last meeting and a letter which Joseph had written for her but couldn`t post it.
The letter read:
“To, My life,
Hey sweetie! Don’t be upset. Be strong dear. I will be returning soon to annoy you. Don`t worry, I know your mom isn`t happy with our relation but she will definitely agree someday. I will talk to her and if she doesn`t agree, I will shoot her. Just kidding!!
Reading the letter Christiana started crying even more.
Mrs. Bruce suggested her daughter to shift to a new town and give her a chance to get new start to life. Christiana disagreed to this initially, but her mom`s repeated request made her agree to shift to Melbourne. It took even more than a year for Christiana to bury her past memories and start a new way of living life. She was no more that fun loving, charming girl. The pretty smile of her face was lost somewhere. After completing her graduation, Christiana took up a job to keep herself busy. Several years past and Christiana had grown quite old. She was still single, she didn`t marry anyone. Meanwhile her mom had a heart attack and she died. Christiana had opened a small gift shop to earn her living after leaving her job.
One day a boy came to her shop with a girl. The boy was annoying her while they were choosing a gift for their friend. Seeing them she remembered her past days with Joseph. He used to annoy her in the same way.
“Look Rosy, I think this will be perfect for Mary`s ears.”, the boy told the girl pointing towards a pair of earrings.
“Yes, Michael you are correct.” The girl replied.
While they were paying for the gift, the girl`s eyes fell on necklace kept aside in an showcase.
“Oh! That’s awesome!” the girl exclaimed pointing towards it.
The boy asked Christiana, “How much for that necklace, mam?”
“Sorry young man that’s not for sale”, she replied.
“Please mam! Give me that necklace”, he requested.
Christiana refused to sell that necklace at any cost as it was gifted to her by Joseph.
Few days later the boy came to Christiana`s shop again. She recollected that it was same boy who was insisting her to sell the necklace. She said, “Hello Mr. Michael, here you are again. What do you want?”
The boy replied, “Well mam, today I am leaving Melbourne for my naval training and I want to gift something to my girlfriend. I wish you would give me that necklace. But it’s okay let me find out some other thing for Rosy.” He started looking for something to gift Rosy. Meanwhile Christiana took out that necklace. She called Michael and told,
“This is from me to you for your love. “, handing him over the neck less.
The boy was happy.
He said, “Thank you very much mam. How much for this?”
She replied,”Nothing. Just keep her very happy. Never leave her alone. ”
The boy said, “Sure mam. She is my life. Thank you once again.”
He handed over the bunch of red roses, which he had brought for Rosy, to Christiana. She took it and bore a sweet smile on her face, a SMILE which she seemed to have lost forever along with Joseph.