Laura was doing her laundry.
It was a Sunday afternoon and she was finishing up all her pending work from the week before. She worked as an assistant in the office of a wedding planner. Her work barely gave her time to tidy up her house or to finish up her cooking. For the last four months, she had been surviving on noodles, cereals, and sandwiches. Her high cheekbones became more promiscuous.
Today was the day she decided to cook a full meal for herself. The vegetables were all chopped and washed. The tofu was diced and marinated. The kitchen looked alive after months. The utensils were splayed across the countertop, waiting to be heated and sauteed. Their wait was getting to be over. It was just a matter of a few minutes.
As Laura collected her clothes from the floor, her honey-colored hair partially hid her curious eyes around the edges of her face. She noticed a square purple stone falling from her shirt's pocket. The stone was tiny, square-shaped, and shining. Laura picked up the stone and looked at it intently, trying to remember how it arrived in her pocket.
She had joined the company in Texas to work as a trainee. She had plans to start her enterprise after a year or two of hands-on experience.
The doorbell rang.
She left her laundry and scurried to the main door. She peeped through the door eye. She couldn't see anyone.
"Maybe someone has rung the bell by mistake," she thought and went back to her work.
She started the washing machine and went to her kitchen. The bell rang again. She waited for a moment and went towards the door. She again peeped through the eye but couldn't find anyone.
Just when she turned her back to return to her work, she heard a voice.
"It's me, Leo."
The voice was faint yet distinct. It was familiar too. Laura quickly opened the door and looked down.
Six years old little Leo was staring at her with blue eyes. He looked worried.
"What happened dear?"
"My magic stone is with you."
"Ah, yes. I found a stone today in my shirt's pocket."
"But I am surprised. How did it come into my pocket?"
"I had put it when I came to your house yesterday with Mom."
"So that Mia doesn't take it."
Laura laughed and didn't say anything. Mia was Leo's younger sister. They lived in her neighborhood. She gave him the stone. He took it with a huge relieving smile and went away.
She too went to the kitchen, surveyed the mess, smiled, and resumed working.
A sumptuous meal was served on the small white table which also served as her workstation.
And thus she treated herself to her first real meal after four months...
(Slow music played in the background)
"Little things, little joys
little smiles and playful toys;
A child brings memories
of our lost days
By Nandini Sengupta
*(It's a story of childhood innocence pitted against adult realism.)