“Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you!”
Sometimes, you are faced with decisions so important, so powerful that your whole life is at stake. It’s not always clear; it could just be the matter of taking the left path or the path. The decision is yours, the rest is fate.
The words pounded in my head again and again- sending me into a dizzied frenzy. Was this it? Was this my fate?
“Happy birthday Silai, happy birthday to you!”
Faces grinned at me, eyes twinkling, and I returned the smile subconsciously. My mind was in transition between different outcomes and different possibilities. Scenes played themselves in my imagination like short movies and I was in the front row; some were good, others bad.
“Make a wish Silai!” it was Emal. Loose brown curls framed his chubby face; he had Aiyla’s soft cheeks. Looking at Emal, I smiled; thank God I still had him.
“Okay baby bro.” I whispered softly, carefully taking in the eager faces of the people surrounding me; everyone I loved. Not everyone, I reminded myself, just short of a few people. And then I looked around the hall, it was breath-taking; poor Flora must of paid a fortune for this. Rose coloured flower petals were lying around the shining wooden floor, accompanied by colourful confetti; elegant champagne-gold and red balloons floated around like clouds, each one offering rose petals when popped; a chandelier watched upon us, glistening and glittering like a thousand brilliant diamonds; windows offered stunning views of the lake – the lake reflecting the tall green trees and the lapis lazuli sky; the glistening water would ripple every few seconds, the circular patterns intricate and hypnotizing. The 3-tier cake was engraved with small, detailed roses and a border of fresh cream with strawberries sitting on top. The name Silai was written in elegant, swirly writing in the middle. It was perched on a delicate golden lace table-cloth, which in turn was on a small table in the middle of the room, surrounded by anticipating faces and stacks of overflowing presents.
“Hurry up Sil!” moaned Ira, a look of frustration evident on her face and I silently cursed myself; I was taking up everyone’s time.
Closing my eyes, I made the wish. And I prayed that God would accept it.
The party went on and so did the day. Presents were opened and pushed to the side. People came and left. There was laughter and tears. But amidst all the furious excitement and activity, my heart was somewhere else. It was at home.
5 years. I was sitting in my room, staring at the wall. It was a beautiful shade of red that Emal and I had chosen. Flora had disagreed at first but she warmed to it later. My gaze shifted to Emal, a peaceful expression on his face, his mouth was slightly open, his chest rising up and down softly as he slept. It had been 5 years since we had last been at home. 5 years since we’d seen Aiyla. 5 years since our life came tumbling down.
Things these days were perfect, too perfect. Life is an object thrown up high into the sky, it travels further and further up until it can’t go any higher; and at that momentous point in space and time, at that exact second, at that exact moment, life is at its best, it’s at the highest height it can reach; that is when life is perfect.
only for a second, until it comes tumbling back down- faster than before – and makes a devastating impact with the ground. That is when life is shattered. I was lying if I said I wasn’t cautious. Of course I was. My life had been shattered and it was now even more fragile. You don’t see what I see and then blindly trust everyone. Trust had to be earned.
With Flora and Emal peacefully asleep, I seized the precious opportunity and carefully tiptoed my way downstairs into the living room. My eyes scanned the cosy living space until they landed on the letter. Lying on the coffee table was a pale yellow un-opened envelope. I resisted the urge to run and grab it in full speed and, instead, walked slowly and cautiously, lifting the envelope as if it was a delicate piece of china. My eyes hungrily read the return address,
151, boulevard Hausmann
And then, unable to contain the excitement, I opened the letter.
Zama khaista Silai, Happy Birthday. I hope it was great and that Flora didn’t go through too much trouble for you. Alhamdulillah Your 18 now! Woooh! I wish I could see how much you and Emal have grown. How is he? I know zamoonga mor or baba will be proud. Do you like the necklace? I bought it for your birthday…
I felt a bump in the envelope and took out the item. A silver glint immediately caught my eye and holding it up to the light, I gasped. Words were unable capture its beauty. The necklace was lovely; a stunning, sky-blue crystal was held in a hand-engraved silver border which was attached to a sparkling silver chain and the letter S. Tears formed in my eyes as I admired it, contemplating the money my sister had paid to buy me this. With those thoughts, I went back to reading,
I hope you do. I miss you and Emal so much. I don’t think I’ll be staying in France much longer Sil. Things came up and I’m planning to move in a few weeks. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. I just need to tell you in case you write back and I don’t reply. If I knew where, then I would’ve told you but sorry sis, I don’t. Keep me in your duas Sil, give Emal hugs and kisses from me and say thanks to Flora on my behalf.
Love you sis,
Panting deeply, my hands tightly gripped the letter as I reread it again and again. Questions conjured in my mind at a terrifying speed, and the possible answers? Even more terrifying. And then, my road became blocked off. There was no longer a left path or a right path, just a straight road that I had no option but to take. Do you know when you’re so stuck between two choices, both as sensible, as appealing as the other, that you are unable to make the decision? Sometimes, something comes along and alters your options; something comes and eliminates your two choices, until all you can do is pray that you’re going the right way. Because when you take the road, there is no going back, and what lies ahead for you is fate