Headlines splashed across papers
And she spent a week at home
She had no idea who they were
But felt more at ease with the dark curtains around her
Notes were sent to her
Comfort and encouragement
She had no idea who they were
But still felt better with the dark curtains around her
She was discharged months later
And he asked if she would go out with him
She had no idea where they were going
But she had never felt better, staying in a room with dark curtains around her
She needed a wheelchair to get around
And him to push her around
She had no idea where he was taking her
But she wished he’d let her stay, in the room with the dark curtains around her
They arrived at a place
Quiet and tranquil
He asked her to close her eyes
And imagine those dark curtains around her
He moved off, neither talking nor stopping
He asked her to listen, never speaking
She opened her ears, never moving
And there she heard, within those dark curtains, the laughter and bliss
What are you thinking about, he asked
Happy children, green pastures and butterflies, she said
Open your eyes, he suggested cheerfully
And there she saw, sunlight and children, drawing the dark curtains open for her
The world isn’t bad at all, he said patiently
Just how those people made it out to be
You’ve seen, and it’s not far from what you imagined it could be
Your dark curtains blind you from light, and of course, me
Fresh air, laughter
It was the first time in weeks
She had spent time outside her dark curtains
I understand now, she told him
And he planted a kiss on her cheek
His face broke into a smile
A smile the dark curtains hid from her for weeks
But now she could recognize him
The one whom loved her so dearly
She had closed the dark curtains around her
And now she had emerged from it, perfect and whole
She knew now
The dark curtains did not protect her from evil
It hid the world she once knew
Drawn by those who took everything away from her
He was the one who painted the dark curtains with colors
The one who lit up the world around her
With him the world falls into place
And he would be there whenever she needed somebody
Be it good or bad
Righteous or evil
In the world of reality
Given, was love to her
Him, was the one she loved
To let her believe in her happily ever after
This poem is written from an extract of the story I wrote over the holidays. It’s my favorite extract from the long story. It’s titled “When I First Saw You” and it’s still undergoing editing. Below, however, is the edited version of the extract. 🙂
Excerpt from ‘When I First Saw You’
Kene spent a week at home with Zack, whose parents dropped by to visit her during one of the days. They had been really understanding by letting Zack stay by her. She could not tell them how much it meant to her.
“Silly girl,” said his mother. “We all wish that you get well soon. The whole world is praying for you.”
True enough, people had left notes at the lobby, wishing her a speedy recovery and encouraging her on. She had no idea how they knew where she lived, but she was encouraged all the same. Sometimes, she saw headlines splashed across papers that were sent to her doorstep. “RAPISTS TO GET BACK AT SCHOOL MATE”, “UNSCRUPULOUS REVENGE”…
But MJ had not pleaded guilty. The only trip Kene made out of the house was to the police headquarters, Sunday after she was discharged. They had asked her to identify who the rapists had been, which she managed too, from their built and their eyes. She was glad that Zack was with her throughout; it made the trip down the cold corridors of the police headquarters a lot happier. The gloomy corridor did not help lift her spirits one bit.
“I’m glad you came with me, sweetie,” Kene told him. She turned round to look into his eyes. He gave her a small smile.
“Of course I’d come with you, how…” But his voice trailed off as he stared straight ahead.
Whirling back around, she saw MJ together with a man whom she did not know. He stared right into her eyes and goosebumps erupted on her skin. Perhaps Zack felt creeped out too, for he wheeled her away before anyone could say a word.
“It wasn’t me, believe me!” Kene could hear MJ calling after them. She turned round to look at her.
“Don’t look,” Zack told her stiffly, and Kene saw MJ’s face fall as she turned back to face the front. She thought she would never forget the hurt look MJ had on her face.
A month after hiding within the four walls of her home, Zack asked if she wanted to head out for some fresh air. Kene only agreed reluctantly, feeling more at ease with the dark curtains around her and only Zack by her side. Her leg was still in the cast and she needed the wheelchair to get around. Zack’s father said they could be removed in three days’ time, although she was not to exert too much pressure on her legs for the time being.
“Where are we going?” Kene asked when Zack pushed her into her room.
“You’ll see. Get dressed,” he said, smiling lightly as he swung the door shut.
When she was ready, he wheeled her downstairs where a cab was already waiting. The driver did not need the location but drove off almost immediately. They arrived at a place which seemed quiet and tranquil, the sun was shining brightly and a slight wind rustling the leaves. Kene could smell the fresh air once she got out of the cab. The black words on the grey stone pillar read “Marina Barrage”.
“Close your eyes,” he whispered as he gripped the handles on her wheelchair.
She did and Zack moved off. For ten minutes, he did not talk nor stop. She could hear water in the distance, children’s laughter growing louder and louder, people shouting, people running around… Everything seemed happy. Kene could imagine a field filled with happy children, playing catching, catching butterflies and running around, happy and carefree. She smiled at the thought.
“What are you thinking about?” Zack asked as he pulled to a stop.
“Happy children, green pastures and butterflies,” Kene said, smiling again.
“Open your eyes,” Zack told her.
When she did, she saw that there were green pastures, nothing too far off from the field she had in mind, just that they seemed to be on a spiraling platform. There were children running around, though they were not catching butterflies. The sky was blue, dotted with kites. Parents were teaching their children how to fly kites, while some of them simply sat on the grass, having picnic. Kene closed her eyes once more and took a deep breath, inhaling more fresh air, listening to more laughter and smiling to herself.
Zack knelt down next to her. “Kene, the world isn’t bad at all. You’ve seen this. It’s not far from what you imagined on your way up here. There’s still plenty of good out there. They aren’t bothered with you or your past. They’re contented, not giving a damn about the tabloids out there. In fact, I’m sure they gave their sympathies and well-wishes too, like those notes left in the lobby.”
Kene thought Zack had a point. For the first time in what seemed like decades, Kene was out in the fresh air, breathing and relaxing, not at all anxious, afraid or nervous. Smiling at him, this time sincerely happy and peaceful, she nodded.
“I get your point Zack. I understand,” she told him softly, her hands touching his face.
He kissed her fingers one by one when she traced his lips.
“Thanks so much Zack. I love you.”
She meant every word of it as she stared into his eyes, and he could feel it too, for his face broke into the first true smile she had seen in days, the smile which she recognized and caught her eye, the smile which she took away from him when she cooped herself up at home, not daring to go out. Now she had returned it back to him, perfect and whole. What was more, she knew what was waiting out there was no longer something fearful. The whole world simply fell into place, with Zack as the finishing touches of the painting, the one that lit up the world she thought she had lost.