The Night Clara Actually Died


It was a pleasant autumn Sunday. The Church courtyard was teeming with low whispers. But it wasn’t just any other post-Mass gathering. It was the funeral of Clara Marie Amherst. Dressed in rich white satin, embellished with pink Daffodils, the gentle serenity of her face defied her sorrowful plight. The Embalmer had done a remarkable job. It was only the presence of the two policemen, which reminded the grievers of the bizarre circumstances under which the incident had occurred.
Clara, looked the prettiest she ever had ever looked in her life (huh.. irony), off on an enchanting journey like ‘Sleeping Beauty’ in the 3rd book on the 2nd row of her bookshelf. No trace of trauma, hemorrhage or even a bruise, which could have led to the untimely and unexpected demise. Who would have believed that on Friday night she walked out of her window on the 4th floor… Today she looked like the perfect manifestation of the 12 wonderful years of her life.
Saturday was busy with the officers interrogating the Amhersts, school friends, teachers, doctor or anyone they could set eye on to confirm that there was no possibility of any domestic clamor, depression, issues coping with school or even a mild case of parasomnia. The cops were still not convinced that it could have been the rebellion of a perfectly normal 12 year old. But they had to reluctantly step aside.
Family, friends and foes all clad in the devil’s colour gathered solemnly around the intricately carved coffin to pay their last homage, take a last look or just to make a social appearance on Sunday morning. The mourners crossed their chests and bowed their heads to join in prayer for her soul to rest in peace. As Father Walters requested each one to remember Clara fondly as she parted ways, each one of the lamenters conjured up intermingled spectra of memories.
Robin and Jane Amherst tried to reminisce their daughter’s pristine semblance and the good times they had spent together. As far as the shackles of their memory could reach, all they could recall was a baby Clara. Suddenly a heart wrenching realization dawned upon them.. they were missing a couple of years. The last years had been rough on their marriage. Since that day 4 yrs ago, when they had moved here, they had been engrossed in their petty vendettas. While they were bickering and brawling over who takes the trash out, who forgot milk and who had an affair, they forgot to kiss their daughter goodnight, read her a bed time story or take her out to the park. Their heart was gripped by an overwhelming sense of guilt and remorse. If only they had… maybe Clara would have lived to see High School Graduation, have a beer, drive a car or kiss a guy. Maybe if they had done things differently, today would have been different.
In a far corner stooping over an old Willow tree was Stevie, the neighbourhood bully and a senior from school. With invocations flooding the air, that insolent bastard couldn’t refrain from recalling his last and only memory of Clara. A chilly autumn afternoon.. the school football ground.. a whining, wailing and bleeding Clara.. a smug Stevie and his swanky patrons.. implacable laughter and ruthless mirth. Next morning the amusing tale of Clara’s mortification was propagated throughout school. It was barely a month ago. He pondered silently, if that embarrassment had killed her. Maybe if he had done things differently, today would have been different.
Athwart the casket, a tearful Dan clutched a pink Daffodil trying to reminisce his late girl friend. On prom night, he fancied Esther, the new girl in school, over Clara. Clara had not bellowed or cried, not even a sniffle, but her somber eyes had haunted him for a while. Now he could not help but contemplate if his blow had hit her too hard. Maybe if they had done things differently, today would have been different.
Emily had known Clara since their mothers strolled them in the park together. She had been Clara’s best friend ever since.. from sculpting sand castles at the beach to erecting tree houses in the garden, from appraising their mother’s jewellery to giggling about their latest crush. Today Emily stood by her best friend’s corpse, bowed head and shameful eyes, recalling the last time she had spoken to her. Shadowing Clara had also ushered Emily into social invisibility. So a contingency to jump into the ‘Queen B’ bandwagon had seemed more than just alluring. She had expected it would turn into a windfall for Clara too. But it wasn’t until it was too late that she realized the agenda was purely vindictive. Holding back tears was getting more and more formidable. Maybe if she had done things differently, today would have been different.
Whilst family, friends and foes laid Clara to rest with teeming eyes, ‘Death’ wondered to itself, if Clara had actually died on Friday night, or did she gently succumb to the atrocities of life, dying an infinitesimal death everyday, just inconspicuous to the oblivious world around her.
In life.. she got Ignorance, but not Acceptance. In death.. she got Regrets, but not Apologies. While family, friends and foes wallowed in regret, Father Walters lodged the gravestone in place, tastefully yet sneeringly inscribed with :

‘Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, 
the fruit of the womb a reward.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior 
are the children of one's youth.

Blessed is the man
 who fills his quiver with them!

He shall not be put to shame 
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.’
(Psalm 127:3)


10 Opinions:

maithili said...

this post touched my heart.. beautiful and striking writing..Maybe if they had done things differently, today would have been different. Sometimes some things are realised when it is too late to rectify.. Awesome work writer!

Tulika Verma said...

You are a fabulous writer! This story is sheer brilliance! I am glad I read and follow you!

The West Wind said...

@ Maithili: Thank u ..

@ Tulika: Thank u yet again.. I have tried my best.

buckingfastard said...

awsome....rustic and raw...it just feels so good after reading sumthing this good...

beautiful plot and u wrote it soo patiently, never hurrying to the end...that u kept the plot forzen...the realization stuck in a moment...i m just awed :)

The West Wind said...

Thanks.. and yeah good observations.. U kinda caught what I was wanting to do with the plot.. freezing it :D I did see that you wrote something new.. will get back to it as soon as I get a little time.

DementerX said...

A Fantastic Read. :D Good Job. \m/

Komal Ali said...

Brilliant.
I love your blog in my first visit only. :-)
Keep writing.

The West Wind said...

@ DementerX: TY :P

@ Komal: Glad that u liked it.. will try my best..

Jumping Jacqueline said...

Wow! How do you do it? Its not easy to weave the right strings into place. I loved this post.

The West Wind said...

@Jumping Jacqueline: Well its not something I think about before hand. So it just kind of comes along :)

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