She lay on her bed, gawking at the ceiling fan that spun at the speed of infinity, without blinking her eye lashes for a moment. She heaved a sigh and wondered how miserable her life was getting with every passing day. A complete mess was something she would call her life to be. To say, the reel of her life was loaded with the long strand of problems which just didn’t seem to have any end. Her heart was slowly turning clumsy and so was her mind. Lifeless she was becoming with every coming jiffy, and that had put her job at stake, and so her career. An animator she was by profession. She gave life to imagination. The imagination that she had inherited from her granddad since her very childhood, was her most precious asset. A magical asset, as her colleagues would call it to be. But now, the magic was missing. They say, she just lost it instantly. The simple reason was – the life in her was disappearing, and that made her work sink into deepest alley.
Things were worsening slowly and the reasons were quite lame but obvious. She was aging. Her skin was losing its charm and her body was losing its glass hour shape. She had crossed the silver lining of twenty five a year back and now, her parents desperately wanted her to get married before she crosses the Indian standard of being a bride. Therefore, they forced. They blackmailed. Emotionally. Mentally. For them, it was just a tactic but for her, it was no less than a torture. Fights – were of course the daily result.
It was not that she didn’t want to get married, she wanted to – with her secret guy. But even after four years of relationship, there seemed to be an uncertainty between them. Love isn’t always enough, he used to say. She believed it too. Today, she was at the verge where no way found its way out to settle. They didn’t know if they were ready to make their relationship further result in marriage, and if they do, will they be compatible enough to get through it all their life, with the situations that were growing so bad between them now. Clueless! Hopeless! Miserable! She felt.
She shifted her side on the bed, now facing towards the circular book shelf hinged over the painted wall. Just as she looked at her collection of fantasy novels, a tear drop slipped down her eyes and further got soaked in the laid cushion. She wished how beautiful this world would seem if only it was as beautiful and magical as the fantasy she reads.
She took a deep breath and brushed the tear off her cheeks. She straightened herself on the bed, and walked up to the book shelf to pick her favorite sequel from Stephanie Mayer. Just when she picked the book, her eyes fell at the corner of the shelf. There lay a small, green colored, cloth cushioned packet, which had a thick coating of dust and spider webs over it. Its condition clearly said that the packet was unattended for quite a long time now.
‘Shit! How come I can forget it?’ She murmured to herself, hating her memory that was turning weak and irresponsible.
She picked the packet, and hastily swiped the dust and webs off it. She dropped herself on the bed, and slipped the zip open. She tilted the packet a bit, and a small metal box rolled out of it. She looked at the box with a nostalgic gleam in her eyes. That box had turned darker, nearly to the shade of darkest grey with time. It had minute carvings and ancient stones stuck in the middle of them, delicately giving the metal box a feel of a royal belonging since ages.
She clutched the box tight into her palms, and cried. Simply, cried. The frequent sobs of hers were escorting her back to her past, to a world where she was one tiny girl merely aging six.
It was a random evening. Kids from the neighborhood were playing games like hide and seek and chain reaction. They seemed happy and joyous like every other day. They even called her out to come and play. But that day, she was hiding in one corner of her room. Alone! Scared! Crying!
‘Hey! Hey! Why is my tiny little girl crying?’ Dadu had said, entering her room after frequent calls she didn’t answer.
‘Dadu! I am scared.’ She sobbed.
‘Why? Who scares you? The neighboring kids have hurt you?’ he asked, worried.
‘Maths.’ She sobbed, more. ‘Mathematics scares me.’
Dadu gave out an immediate laugh, but that had just added up to her despair.
‘Okay.’ He apologized. ‘I am sorry.’
‘No one understands my pain.’ She said, catching her breath. ‘I just don’t understand numbers. There are so many other beautiful things I can learn, then why I even have to learn this? Tomorrow is my exam, and I don’t know anything. Anything at all. I will fail. Mom Dad will scold. May be they will love my friend Aditi more, she scores a hundred always.’
‘Oh ho!’ Dadu said. ‘This is such a big problem. But as much as I know, you have been studying for this exam since long. Isn’t it?’
‘Yes. But I can’t remember anything. Numbers just make me nervous.’
‘Well, in that case, I have something for you.’ Dadu whispered, ‘But it’s a secret. Promise to keep it to yourself?’
‘Yes. I do!’ She said, instantly wiping her tears off.
‘Okay. Wait for me, I will just come.’
Minutes later, Dadu was back to her room with a tiny metal box in his palms. Just when he opened his fist, her eyes had an undefined twinkle that shone to its brightest. The sight of that beautiful box itself made her happy. Extremely happy!
‘This,’ Dadu whispered. ‘Is a Magic Box!’
‘Magic Box?’ She shrieked. ‘But Dad said that Magic does not exist.’
‘You believe your Dad or Dadu?’
‘Dadu!’ She smiled.
‘Better.’ He smiled back, ‘Okay, Listen. In life as you grow up, there would be numerous problems and hardships that would eye you and try to break you. At times, there would even be situations when you would be utterly clueless and won’t be able to find any way out. That, difficult a situation will be.’
‘Sounds scarier than Mathematics too!’
‘I am scared more now!’
‘Don’t be.’ He caressed her hair. ‘I got this Magic Box for you.’ He handed the box to her. She excitedly tilted and twisted it to have its entire look.
‘Where did you get it?’
‘Umm, remember I told you I used to work as a helper for one of the officer from the East India Company when I was a kid like you?’
‘That officer gave me this as a memento before going back to Britain.’
‘Haww! He gave you a Magic Box?’
‘Yes. He had few others with him too. One less, didn’t matter him much.’
‘Wow! How this works? Will it give me loads of Chocolates and Pastries if I ask for?’
Dadu laughed again. ‘No! This works quite differently.’
‘Then teach me!’
‘This Box will always show you the right path in your life when it is dark. All you need to do is to whisper your worries into this box and ask it to guide you. But remember, do this only at nights! Once you are done whispering your wish for guidance, you need to keep this Box beneath your pillow throughout the night, and by the next morning, you will have your answers ready in your mind.’
‘Really? Things will be fine then?’ She asked in daze.
‘Yes. They will be. The Magic will only guide you, but to make it work only you are to be responsible. Do you get me?’
‘I do.’ She said, confidently.
‘But there is one condition and one promise to keep.’
‘Faith and Trust! You have to trust the power of this Box completely, only then will the Magic work and guide you. Else, it would not.’
‘And what’s the promise?’
‘You have to promise me to never open this Box unless it’s extremely needed.’
‘I promise to have complete Faith and Trust on its Magic, always. I also promise to never open this Box. Thank You Dadu.’
That night, she had whispered to the Box to give her enough strength and confidence to face the lunatic numbers that will be dangling across her question paper next morning.
The next day, she had cracked the exam pretty well. She scored sixty five. The highest she could imagine. This incident deepened her faith on Magic. As and when she met even smallest problems, she would know the only solution to it – A whisper into the Magic Box.
Life passed by this way for a couple of years more. Gradually as she hit her teens, a strange curiosity began developing inside her – What Magic does this box contain? How do I get the answers to my questions and strength to fight my problems just with one whisper at night? What can be the secret inside?
One day, finally she decided to make the box open. She recalled Dadu’s promise, he had said – never open this Box unless it’s extremely needed.
‘I extremely need to open this Box now, before I die out of curiosity!’ she murmured.
She looked at the Box on her palm, and her heart beats rose with a mild scare. She took a deep breath, and plunged the Box open. To her surprise, the box was empty. She had thought of some magic crystal ball to be present in it and not just that vacuum. She was confused, shocked, and felt like a fool. She inspected the box closely and soon found a small note stuck at one end of the box. The note was folded into smallest folds possible. She pulled the note out and hastily unfolded it to read.
“Finally, you opened this Box. I knew, you would open it some or the other day. Today is that day when it’s time to face the reality. The real Magic. Yes, this Box is just as random and normal as any other box in this world. The only thing that made it magical was you. Only you!
This Box never gave you any answer, it was your heart and mind giving you the strength with only one condition that you fulfilled – Trust and faith. You kept an unadulterated faith that things would turn fine, and eventually, they did. The day you would quit keeping faith, that would be the day you would lose yourself in this mess of life. Always trust yourself. That is how life is meant to live. The magic is not around, it is in you. It always was and it always will be. You believe and it’s done. The next time you lose all your hopes, you need to whisper to yourself that you will get through this storm – strong, confident, and unbroken. Then, just wait to see the Magic my little girl… it will work, like it did for all these years.”
The note had turned pale yellow out of age. Its edges were torn. She re read the note a couple of times. Suddenly, the Magical hope ignited her soul and she felt light hearted. She could do it. She could conquer her life. She was the Magic, and her faith was the magic wand. All she needed was, to sweep the hardships off her life with that wand.
She stood up and walked up to her balcony. Looking at the star studded sky, she smiled. Tears too escaped that magical moment.
‘I can do it. I will do it.’ She said looking up at the sky.
The star next to the pole star twinkled at its bright just that moment.
She smiled back at her Dadu!