Keep the spirit cheerful.
|When the Gods agree...
The world appeared carefree and peaceful to Paula Grayson.
As she stood on her front porch of her new home, “Epiphany” sipping tea, and absorbing the warmth of the morning sunshine, Paula felt a sense of contentment spreading through her body and soul. The welcome sight of the gently swaying lilacs and roses added to the same. When her eyes fell on the bike painted in white and red, standing against the fence, her delight doubled, as she recalled the incidents of a few months ago.
When she was to retire from an active public sector job, Paula had no cause to worry about her future. Having remained single by choice, and cheerful by disposition, Paula devoted her spare hours to gardening, painting and helping the neighborhood kids in studies....well, the list went on.
She knew she’d get on like a house on fire through her remaining years, with her retirement benefits.
She bought the house with a sprawling compound a little prior to her retirement, by mere fluke. When she saw the advertisement for its sale in the Daily Chronicle, she felt as if Gods had foreseen what she’d like. The financial emergency that hit the country seemed to have worked in her favor, for she got the property facing the sea at a lot cheaper a cost than expected.
After she moved in, a few close friends gathered at the newly whitewashed house to wish Paula health, wealth and happiness on retirement. They admired the surrounds and the old world charm the place evoked. It had plenty of open space for gardening, playing and painting. With a few changes to the front yard, the house would be a warm, lived-in home, thought Paula.
“Hey Paula! You seem to be heading for more work after your retirement!” said Jen, a young office assistant who loved the senior lady’s cool composure.
“I certainly hope so Jen. It suits me to be active, I guess,” Paula beamed.
A few days later, rising a bit earlier than usual, Paula went around the house for a breath of fresh air. Then she heard the two teenagers beyond the kitchen garden on the backyard.
“Hey Jim! Let’s park it over here. Not a sound!”
“You too Ricky, hurry up and get to work before she is up.”
They chained their bike to Paula’s fence from outside, and jumped over into the grounds. Jim stayed back, and Ricky heading straight to the back of the house went to the vegetable patch and started filling the sack with cauliflowers.
They loaded the bike carrier with the lot, and were about to take off.
“What do you think you both are doing?”
Jim and Ricky froze, dumbstruck.
Confronting them was a short lady.
Jim stammered, “Ma’m, we just...”sudden sweat broke on his brow.
“We thought we could help our mom a bit...” Ricky answered, looking a bit more composed than his brother.
“By stealing?” asked Paula frowning.
“No Ma’m. We grew them ourselves. We thought we could use the space for a kitchen garden, when the previous owners went away a few months back”, said Ricky coming to Jim’s rescue. Paula never saw this plot of vegetables or anyone coming into the yard. Perhaps they timed it so. The tall pines might have screened it well.
“If there’s anything we can do for you....” Jim said haltingly, clearly afraid he might aggravate the lady’s temper further.
“I’d like the bike,” said Paula quickly. She loved the sturdy vehicle, looking cute in the attractive black and yellow paint, the instant she saw it.
Jim’s face fell.
“Oh no! We need it almost everyday.”
Ricky suggested brightly, “ You can have it on weekends if you like. One of us will leave it at your gate and collect it on Sunday evening.”
“One of you should also teach me to ride the bike. You see, I just love to bike.”
The kids looked at her in open-mouthed wonder. It felt exciting to teach an adult to ride the bike. They nodded and disappeared round the corner.
That was the beginning of one of the most hilarious months in Paula’s life. Jim and Ricky proved effective teachers. The single pedal, the gradual progress to go astride on the seat, turning the handle to keep up the balance, going on the road for the first time ever, a visit to Jim and Ricky’s school ground, and then into the village- the events happened in a dramatic way. Being petite and lean, Paula had no problem with biking. She loved the feel of the wind on her face while cycling; she loved the freedom it allowed. People on the country road looked admiringly at the young-looking-aged lady peddling away gracefully.
She met the kids’ mother Gracie, who worked hard as a seamstress to make both ends meet. Paula understood the kids’ concern for their mother.
She also started planting extensively since the sea climate posed no problems in growing a variety of vegetables. When there was an abundant supply, she sent just-picked cauliflowers, beets and turnips with Jim or Ricky or anyone who’d like to take some. Paula felt her social service instinct somewhat assuaged. Often, Jim, Ricky and their friends came in to help her as well as to enjoy a game of badminton. Paula, too, played with them. Sometimes, they’d go swimming, get some fish or crabs, grill them in the open and enjoy the delicacy together.
As a result of the above routine, she never felt lonely or weepy. There was always something to do around the house. Recently, she started teaching computer to Jim and Ricky, and their classmates, and whoever was interested besides.
On their birthdays, she presented brand new bicycles to Jim and Ricky, as a fond token of gratitude for her exhilarating experience with biking.
“ Hey Paula! It is amazing to see you riding your bike. How did you do it?” asked Jen when she visited.
“You know that I have always had this biking interest. Somehow I couldn’t do it earlier, maybe because there wasn’t anyone around to teach me, like an elder brother or sister.It is only after retirement that Gods seem to agree to fulfill my wish. I’m so grateful for the favor.”
Sometimes, simple pleasures could bring freedom to the spirit, thought Jen as she took leave from the mistress of “Epiphany”.
No wonder, to Paula Grayson, carefree and colorful, appeared the world.