Monday, February 17, 2014

Daisy Crowns


Written By: Afreen Ahmad

Life often leaves too many questions unanswered, he was one of them. Lydia woke up to a soft knock on her bedroom door. Everything seemed normal, just the way it was yesterday. Until Lydia looked into her mom's eyes, they were red, swollen, and wet with tears. That could mean only one thing; her mom was here to tell her. The moment they all had been dreading for the past three weeks had finally come.
Every single muscle in her body froze. Her eyes turned wide, her sleep and morning drowsiness flew away, her mom was trying to hold back her tears, and stay strong for her. Finally, she spoke, "Lydia, Grandpa..." Jemima had to say no more, she went on speaking but not a word went through her daughter's head, because Lydia knew. Her mind was a flurry of thoughts, a war taking place right in her head, her feet and hands numb, her eyes pricked with tears as she changed into the old sweater her grandfather owned. It was his, and she loved it, so she took it. That's how it always went. It smelt of him, wine and cigarettes. She ran downstairs, past her grandma, who was in a heap on the kitchen floor whilst Lydia's dad tried to comfort her. Lydia ran past everyone and everything. Pa had been in the hospital for the past three weeks, the cigarettes he smoked, they'd finally taken their toll on his lungs. She raced out the front door, not knowing what to do, or where to go. There was a second where she figured that she could always just head to the town pub, drink away her sorrows, smoke away her pain and loneliness... But then again, that wasn't where Pa would have wanted her to go. And she, she knew perfectly where he would have wanted her to go.

The landscape of where she was headed to flashed before her eyes in an outburst of colors as she started walking on the pavement, faster and faster, as beads of sweat made their way to her forehead, she broke out into a full-fledged sprint. She ran faster than she had ever before, the wind in her hair, her knees tiring with every second, but her legs didn't let her stop, or slow down. She ran, and ran, with the deficiency of air and feverish breaths as tears made their way down her face.

At last, she was there. She ran to the open meadow of daisies and dropped down on her knees, in the very center. She closed her eyes as she prayed and attempted to catch her breath all together. "But, Pa! Tell me where you're taking me." A hearty seven year old's voice rang through the worn and torn seats of her grandpa's Caprice. Without taking his eyes off the road, he simply stated, "You'll see."

That was where it had all begun, eleven years ago. He had shared the beauty of the daisies in full bloom, with her. That very meadow held secrets, and memories that were, as of now, only faint flashbacks in Lydia's head. They'd go there every Wednesday, it was a tradition. A small tradition but nevertheless, a very special one indeed. "Pa! Do you know what I learnt today?" Lydia rolled over as she lay flat on her back, turning ever so slightly to the right, just to look at her grandpa. "Tell me, Lydee," he smiled at her, "What did you learn today?" "I learnt a new word..." she paused for a moment as she tried to remember what her new favorite word was, "Logophilia." "And what does that mean?" He asked. "The love of words." "Perfect." He had taught her how to weave daisy she thought of them, she mindlessly started knitting daisies together, just like Pa had taught her.

As she braided the daisies together to form her very own tiara, she remembered how she and her grandfather would lie down and try to make sense of the clouds as the sun sunk, and only their silhouettes were left visible. Pa had gifted her her very first daisy crown the day she turned eight years old. That crown, with the dried and lifeless petals still hung on a sole nail in the midst of her room. "You're my princess," he had said, "Princess Lydee." She went along with the train of endless memories as she finally got done with her crown. She placed it on top of her head and whispered to herself, "Lydee. Pa's princess." The last time she had come here with her grandfather, he had told her something. She remembers the day as a bad and long one till Pa had taken her out to the meadow. Here's what he said- "Lydia," when he referred to her as 'Lydia', he was serious, "If I could, I would keep you from all the pain, and bad, and evil that this world beholds. But, I can't. So, I'll let you soak in the sun whilst standing in the rain." Her grandfather’s words rung through her head again, and again, as she needed them most now. She looked up at the sky, the sun was still up and shining, she closed her eyes and inhaled the warmth of the rays, the fragrance of the daisies, the sound of sparrows chirping not so far away, and most importantly, the traces of her Grandpa.

She knew she couldn't be unhappy because he left, no, he didn't leave. He'd always be right there. And she was convinced that no matter how hard it would be, she'd do what he wanted her to, soak in the sun whilst standing in the rain. She'd do anything and everything for him, because to Lydia, Pa wasn't just another daisy. He was her entire meadow.

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