The Masterpiece that represents love like no other

Weekly photo challenge: Masterpiece

You may click on any of the pictures below for a larger view.

Let us travel back in time to seventeenth century India.

MapIndia

The Mughal Emperors ruled India between mid sixteenth century and the early eighteenth century. For understanding the story of this masterpiece, the readers ought to know that the Mughals devoted themselves to Islam which allowed them to have more than one wife. Most of the marriages were for political reasons to allow two kingdoms to merge peacefully.

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Shahjahan or Prince Khurram ruled India from 1628 to 1658.

The Royal Meena Bazaar was a private market place attached to the palace harem. During the Mughal era Meena bazaars were exclusively held for the women of the Royal court. On this particular day, regardless of their status everyone was welcome  royalty and common folks. The ordinary wives and concubines became noisy shopkeepers and were found selling trinkets, bargaining and flirting with courtiers. The courtiers freed themselves for one day of the tedious court routine and even used Persian verses to ask the price of a trinket.

Mumtaz-mahal

Mumtaz-mahal or Arjumand Banu Begum

On this particular afternoon in 1607, Arjumand Banu Begum was hawking and admiring her silk and glass beads. She was fifteen years old and was the daughter of the Prime minister Asaf Khan. Most people were afraid to go to “this hawker” because they feared her father who was a powerful and formidable statesman.

Shahjahan or Prince Khurram was the son of Emperor Jehangir and grandson of Emperor Akbar. He was also visiting the festival at the Royal Meena Bazaar. Prince Khurram asked Arjumand Banu Begum the price of a glass bead in the shape of a diamond and she saucily replied to him, “The price is extremely high, ten thousand rupees and I don’t think even a prince of your reputation can pay the price for this indeed is a diamond.” The prince was speechless. Without any hesitation, he drew ten thousand rupees from his sleeve, took the piece of glass, turned and disappeared into the crowd taking with him the glass bead and Arjumand’s heart.

Thus began the real life fairy tale between the future Emperor and his Queen and the devotion he felt for her which is reflected in the world’s most beautiful building “The TajMahal”. The next day Prince Khurram made a bold request to his father that he would like to marry Arjumand Banu. The King gave his permission. Though betrothed to Shah Jahan in 1607, Arjumand Banu ultimately became his second wife, in 1612, and was his favorite. Mind you in those days members of the royal family were not allowed to pick their wedding day and were indeed fortunate if they picked their wives. After a long engagement of  five years on May 10 1612, Arjumand Banu Begum and Prince Khurram got married. Arjumand Banu Begum was married at the age of 19 and was given the title “Mumtaz Mahal” meaning the chosen one for the palace.

In 1627, Emperor Jehangir passed away. Prince Khurram fought battles with his stepbrothers, cousins and nephews and ascended the Moghul throne on February 4th 1628. Prince Khurram became Shahjahan or “King of the world”.

Mumtaz Mahal was beautiful and demure. The royal poets wrote that her beauty made the moon hide its face in shame. She was very intelligent and soon became a political adviser to her husband. Everyday Shahjahan consulted Mumtaz Mahal on matters of the empire. The Emperor placed so much faith in his wife’s judgment that he gave her the “Muhr-e -Uzak” or the emperor’s seal of authority, a mark that once made on a document even the emperor could not reverse. Shahjahan spoiled her with fragrant roses, diamonds and majestic suites in her palace. She was not an ordinary queen. She traveled to different places when Shahjahan was fighting battles. She lived in tented war camps that were portable yet magnificent models of their permanent court.

The couple was married for nineteen years and together they had fourteen children out of which only seven survived. In 1630, Shahjahan was fighting a battle and Mumtaz Mahal gave birth to their fourteenth child. The Emperor received the news of a healthy baby girl, but nothing about his wife’s condition. After midnight he received a word that she was tired, resting comfortably and wished to be alone. Shahjahan went to sleep but was soon awakened by an attendant with the news that the queen needed him. He quickly joined her at bedside only to realize that the baby’s delivery had been very difficult. By dawn, Mumtaz Mahal was dead.

Consumed with grief, Shahjahan locked himself for eight days. On the ninth day the doors opened. Shahjahan had exchanged his royal cape for white robes. His subjects followed his example and before long the entire country was dressed in white. Shahjahan ordered the entire empire in mourning for 2 years, prohibiting all music, feasting and celebrations.

In 1631, Shahjahan undertook the task of erecting the most beautiful building in the memory of his beloved Mumtaz Mahal. It took 22 years and 22,000 laborers to construct the monument. When Shahjahan died in 1666 his body was placed in a tomb next to his beloved Mumtaz Mahal. This is the story of a monument that has represented love like no other – the incredible Taj Mahal. In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Great gate (Darwaza-i rauza)—gateway to the Taj Mahal

The Great gate (Darwaza-i rauza)—gateway to the Taj Mahal

Tajmahal: A tribute to love

Tajmahal: A tribute to love

Author’s note: I would like to acknowledge and thank Wikipedia TajMahal for supplying valuable information that I have used to research this post.  I am also thankful and would like to acknowledge all the sites that come up when I typed the word Taj Mahal to do a  ‘google’ search. I heard this story for the first time from my tour guide when I visited the Taj Mahal in 2003. These pictures are prints from my trip in 2003 using my non-digital camera. I had to scan and upload them for this post.

Historians disagree with this story claiming that it is a romantic fiction. They claim that the key player in this marriage was Mehrunissa or Noor Jahan, the twentieth wife of Emperor Jahangir. Noor Jahan used her powers and got Emperor Jahangir to cast special favors on her family, including arranging marriage between her niece Arjumand (later known as Mumtaz Mahal) and Jahangir’s oldest son Khurram, (later known as Shah Jahan).

I believe the story my guide told us. Which story would you like to believe?  Boy sees girl and love at first sight or an arranged marriage after which the Emperor falls in love with his second wife? I would like to quote Pi Patel in the Life of Pi by Yann Martel : Well, that’s up to you. The story’s yours now.

Don’t hesitate to write in the comments which story you believe. I would love to hear from you.

Either way there is no dispute that the monument was build in the name of love: A true Masterpiece.

Tajmahal photos 10

An attempt to get a typical postcard image.

Tajmahal photos 11

Notice the Intircate ‘Jali’ or latticed screen. Much of the calligraphy is composed of florid thuluth( persian, Arabic) script, made of jasper or black marble inlaid in white marble panels. Floral Inlay technique or ‘Parchin kari’ work in the Taj Mahal, incorporating precious and semi-precious stones.

The Mighty Mouse: Part Two

One evening late last fall my husband very casually said to me “I think, I just saw a mouse run from our living room into the kitchen. It could have gone behind the refrigerator.”

A very casual statement from him, only said “High Alert” in  my mind. This was a very credible source and a very “specific” warning. The level of credibility about the warning was so high, that I believed it immediately and the threat was very visible and imminent.

highalertimagesMy home was now  put on close to the very highest state of alert- “Threat Condition Charlie”.

This alert condition is imposed in our home in two circumstances:

  1. that “an incident” has occurred and a pest/problem has been identified
  2. that intelligence indicates that a pest action/problem is imminent.

All personnel responsible for implementing anti-mouse/ anti-pest plans are on duty. Access points are limited to the absolute minimum. All packages coming in and out of the house are searched at entry. Patrolling is increased.

The “concern” about the imminent attack was so high that I had to immediately evacuate all food items from the kitchen counter tops and this included creating a list of foods mice eat. The list was so long that I just stuck with the other list about what foods mice do not eat. Still, the imminent danger of finding mouse droppings in any food items that were stored on the counter top made me miserable.

It is always good to check for resources and so I typed a simple phrase; “Mouse in the house” and there were close to seventy-two million links that popped up immediately to help me solve this problem at hand. I perused for twenty minutes and then chose five things that I could do.

The first step would have been a bull’s-eye, but was out right away, because of my severe allergies to cat dander  that in the past that have landed me in the hospital.

The next four steps to catch a mouse meant only four letters: WORK.

We looked for any small holes in our house walls since they would have to be sealed to close any possible entry. Fortunately there were none.

While my husband went to Walmart to pick up some mouse traps, I busied myself in the kitchen.

That evening I spend the first couple of hours removing all food items and putting them away in tins or in airtight glass containers. I discovered all types of flours in paper sacks that I had in the kitchen and these ranged from whole wheat flour, rice flour, self rising flour, unbleached flour, enriched with soy flour, all-purpose flour, better for baking bread flour and  a few of them that had expired could just go in the trash.  There were other packages  that I had handy and the mouse could easily nibble on them, such as hominy grits, oatmeal, cereal boxes and corn meal. Also potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas and apples had to be stored in a secured area.  Next I spend a lot of time cleaning the floors and making them “crumb free”. I was tired of cleaning, moving stuff and making the house “mouse proof”.

After deliberating for half an hour about which mouse trap would be more humane in killing the mouse, my husband settled for the d-Con trap which is designed such that one never sees or has to touch a dead mouse.

http://www.d-conproducts.com/no-view-no-touch.php

d-Con mouse trap_I was sleepless that night and many more. I had read, the mouse comes for food and not for human company, but still, what if the mouse climbed into my bed?

The thought about having a mouse colony in my house drove me nuts. During this time the mouse, who had resolve of steel, did not fall prey to the temptation of peanut butter, crackers or gourmet cheese. This ordeal went on for about two weeks and the mouse would not eat the bait, while I continued to find its droppings in the kitchen area.

Just like soldiers patrolling the highest battlefields in the world, who are left chronically fatigued after long periods of service on a heightened alert at the line of control, I too was dejected, tired, irritable and stressed.

I had almost given up and thought all this was  a figment of my husband’s imagination and was casually sitting in the kitchen writing some bills. I lifted my head to stretch and saw someone looking at me. It was a tiny little mouse that stared at me from under our stove and I stared back at him for a good five seconds. I can never forget its face. Then it quickly ran under our stove.

mouseI just stood guard. No names such as “Charlie” came to my mind when I saw the enemy. The mouse was so tiny, barely the size of the palm of my hand and yet it had turned my world upside down.

My husband and I moved the stove.  There was a hole in the floor about the size of  a quarter behind the stove for the gas pipe. There was a good possibility that the mouse came from the crawl space into our home and who knows what it was trying to do. It never fell prey to the bait but I wondered if it was looking for a nesting space for the winter?

We plugged that hole with steel wool. We moved our refrigerator and made sure there were no mouse nests behind the refrigerator and other potential places around the house. My husband had the added responsibility of checking for holes in the crawl space and installing more mouse traps in the garage and crawl space. We did not see the mouse ever again.

In a way I was thankful to the mouse. The kitchen was cleaned up and so was the rest of the house. themousestorypart2

https://charuatmyniche.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/the-mighty-mouse-part-one/

The Mighty Mouse: Part One

You’ve probably read or heard of this story before  and there are several versions of this story. This is the one I grew up with. It is originally from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitopadesha  or

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panchatantra

Once upon a time in ancient India there lived a sage on the banks of a river. He and his wife did not have any children. One day when the sage was bathing and  praying in the middle of the river, an eagle happened to pass by and dropped a female mouse in the hands of the sage.

The sage found the mouse in his hands and he decided to save the mouse and converted it into a young baby girl. The sage and his wife began to take care of the girl child and brought her up as their daughter. The child grew day by day into a beautiful maiden. At the age of sixteen, the sage decided to find a match for the girl. He and his wife decided that the Sun God would be an ideal match for their girl.sungod

So the sage prayed for the Sun God to appear. The sun-god appeared and the sage asked him to marry his daughter. But his daughter said, “Sorry! I cannot marry the sun-god because he is very hot and I will be reduced to ashes in his heat and light. The sage was displeased and asked the sun-god to suggest a possible groom. The sun-god suggested the name of the Lord of the clouds. For, the cloud can easily stop the rays of the sun.

cloud god

The sage then prayed for the lord of the clouds and once he appeared, he took him to his daughter. The daughter decided not to accept him as his groom. She said, “I don’t want to marry a person as dark as him. Moreover, I am afraid of the thunder he produces”. The sage was dejected once again and asked the lord of clouds for a suitable groom. The lord of clouds suggested, “Why don’t you try the lord of wind, for he can easily blow me away”.

dustwhirlwind

The sage then prayed for the lord of the wind. On the appearance of the wind-god, he took him to his daughter. His daughter rejected the groom saying that she cannot marry the wind god who is always on the move. Dejected once again the sage asked the wind-god for a suggestion. The wind-god suggested the lord of the mountain who was rock solid and stopped the wind easily.

RockyMountainTown-300x186

So the sage then went to the mountain lord and requested him to marry his daughter. Unfortunately, the daughter rejected the mountain lord saying that he was too cold-hearted for her to marry and requested the sage to find somebody softer but stronger than him. The mountain lord then suggested a mouse to the sage, because the mouse is soft and yet can easily make holes in the mountain.

mouse

This time the daughter was happy and agreed to marry the mouse. So the sage said, “Look at what the destiny had to offer you. You started as a mouse, and were destined to marry a mouse in the end. So be it”.

The sage then converted his daughter back to a she-mouse and got her married.

two_mice_photo

Moral of the story:

Destiny cannot be changed.

themousestorypartone

To find out how I learned this lesson, please follow my next blog where I will share my personal encounter with ‘The mighty mouse: Part Two’.

Random acts of kindness

Yesterday on our way back from Chicago, what constituted mostly a work trip for my hubby and a spring break for me and our daughter, we stopped at a Taco Bell to pick up dinner. We had the munchies and chose the drive-through to avoid getting back home late at night.

We were two cars away from the pick-up window. After ordering our food, we inched closer to the car in front of us. I saw the driver roll down the window, turn her head and look at us. She was a young African American lady and I could not get more than a flash glimpse of this person. By then she had rolled up her window because it was less than 25 degrees freezing cold out there with the windchill and all. I was in the passenger seat and pointed it to my husband who laughed it away saying he did not see the person and it meant nothing.

It meant nothing until our car pulled up to the pickup window and we were told that our food was paid for. We tried to reason and then all I could remember was what I had read somewhere about “random acts of kindness”. My family was a recipient of one of them.https://i0.wp.com/pub.revival.com/publications/paid_in_full_banner.jpg

I closed my eyes and said “Thank you” to the kind lady who had driven away a long time ago. This happened in Matteson, Illinois and if you read my blog, kind stranger, I personally want to say “Thank you” once again.

randomactsofkindness

A precious pearl

It was a Monday morning, Cathy checked in at the dentist’s office for her routine semi annual cleaning appointment. She picked up a magazine and sat in the comfortable sofa in the waiting area. In her mind’s eye she saw how her family had different visits to this same dentist’s office over the last two decades. At first it was Anna and then Dennis. Both her kids were now in college.

ImageWhile they were little, Anna had easier time at the dentist’s office – she always wanted the dental hygienist to raise and lower the chair as if she was riding an elevator. Dennis, on the other hand, would run away from from the treatment chair and at times took longer in the bathroom to show his resentment towards the visit.  He had once even bitten the hygienist when she asked him to open and close his mouth. This was embarrassing till Cathy learned to bribe Dennis with a visit to McDonald’s for good behavior. She didn’t have much trouble with his visits to the dentist after that.
She thought about the dentist,  the remarkably patient Dr. Staten, how he would encourage the children to open their mouth telling them that he was learning how to count their teeth or ask them to close their mouth to make sure they did not have a crooked smile. There was always more work for her on days they visited the dentist. There was the regular meal to prepare and then the soft foods for the patient. There were extra hours nursing the kid who had a procedure done for a cavity or just a routine cleaning. Her family always celebrated the day when one of the children lost their teeth – the day the tooth fairy came. They all ate ice cream for dessert on those nights. The kid got a dollar for their lost tooth. The tooth always disappeared from under the pillow the next morning. In the early years, to make it all real, Cathy would also leave a trail of fairy glitter coming out of the children’s room.

ImageThis morning in the waiting area, across from her sat another client who looked like a “mom”, just like her. After exchanging cordial smiles Cathy started reading. She glanced up after a while and noticed the other mom, who looked rather tired, catching a snooze while she was holding a magazine and trying to read. A few minutes later she could hear her snoring. Her eyes were closed, her mouth was open, the magazine had slipped off her hand and now she was snoring without any inhibitions as if in the privacy of her home. It could have happened to me, Cathy thought, ‘I am a mom and I know what it is to nod off’.
After about ten minutes the silence in the dentist’s office was broken by a loud scream similar to the mooing of a cow. The other mom got up instinctively and ran to the treatment area. The screaming got louder for a couple of minutes and then settled down. Silence prevailed  again. The other mom came out and sat across from Cathy as before.
“This is new to my daughter you know” said the other mom. She said “My daughter is very “special”. Her name is Sue. You see, Sue has Down’s syndrome and she is twelve. She has swallowed all of her baby teeth so far. The other day, while brushing her teeth, I noticed her second molar was loose. Dr. Staten said he could extract it for me. This is one of her last baby teeth to go. The dentist had to numb her with a shot before the extraction and so she was agitated earlier. I hope to give my daughter the joy of tooth fairy come by tonight”. She paused and added further, “I wonder if all that we do for our children or others, is it in the end meant to give joy to ourselves? Whether Sue will appreciate the tooth fairy coming or not, I don’t  know, but I know I sure will feel good tucking a five dollar bill under her pillow”.

ImageJust then the dental hygienist rolled Sue’s wheelchair back out to the waiting area followed by Dr. Staten. The dentist handed a small pink box over to ‘the other mom’. She held it in the palm of her hands and looked at it, as if someone had given her a precious pearl.
As they were leaving the other mom waved goodbye to Cathy and their eyes met. Cathy’s eyes were wet.

A Silver Anniversary story for Valentine’s Day

The wheel is come full circle, I am here. Shakespeare, King Lear

Feb 6 1987

Valentine’s day was roughly a week away. Liz would turn twenty-six on February 15th. In her solitary existence in her apartment Liz discovered sounds. She could distinctly hear the airplane flying overhead, the clock ticking, the whirring sound of the washer, the sounds of apartment doors as they opened and shut throughout the day and the traffic on the street. Tom lay curled up in his basket. The rhythmic rising and falling of his chest confirmed that he was not one of her soft toys. On most days all these sounds would be comforting to her, but not today. It worried her that her mother’s admonishments – that she would remain a spinster for life – could come true.

Liz knew she had to step out of the house and be around people. All campus towns have a drug store and she decided to stop by the Rite Aid. At some point it occurred to her that she may run into someone and her thoughts led her to think she may actually hook up with friends and do something spur of the moment, which she quickly dismissed as a remote possibility and knew that it would defy the veracity of her true nature. She strolled down the candy aisle and found a tin of Whitman’s sampler. Liz had the cashier gift pack it for her. The pretty wrapping paper would not conceal the usual gift that she got for Ray. Ray knew to open the wrapper carefully and always save the tin and the wrapping paper for her. For the last seven years her head and heart both felt sterile about what to buy for Ray and yet a part of her knew she would not go wrong with his gluttony appetite for chocolate.

Liz walked up to Ray’s apartment. She knew that Ray had classes this evening and would not be home. Ray and Liz were a year and half apart. She questioned herself and agreed that this would not be very cool if Ray were home. She knew Ray’s roommate, Lloyd, was home since she could hear the basketball game while she waited outside the door. Lloyd opened the door for her and after a brief Hi settled back to watch the game. Liz made herself comfortable on the couch. The game interrupted for a commercial break  and Lloyd casually asked Liz if she had any plans for Valentines day. Liz did not know how to reply and started with, “Hmmm….”

The basketball game had resumed. “His Airness” Michael Jordan was playing against New Jersey. Lloyd resumed watching the game without listening to Liz’s answer. Liz felt the intense pain of her solitary existence with his question, she felt like the whole world had come crashing down on her and she collapsed on the sofa sobbing in her distress. She did not know why she was crying and yet the sobs and whimpers turned louder. Part of her wanted Lloyd’s attention. Lloyd tried to ignore her and kept watching the game.
Finally Lloyd gave in, “Fudge, what did I say? What did I do? I am sorry Liz. Stop crying now. Will you?”
Liz cried even louder.
“ Heck, Can this wait for another three minutes. We are going in for half time then?”pleaded Lloyd with a smile.
Liz ‘s body was shivering and her sobbing was worse. Lloyd had to turn off the TV. Liz looked up at him. He saw that her big brown eyes which were always so full of life looked red. The tears had ruined her eye make up and there was black soot around her eyes.  Liz, an epitome of everything a female grad student should be, was crying helplessly. The only thing Lloyd knew was he could not bear to see Liz cry.

He dashed to his room and came back with his guitar and started playing random tunes. He kept looking at her and kept playing. He knew that he was the best at playing the guitar and singing in his rich baritone voice. When Liz’s sobbing subsided, Lloyd felt he was getting an audience. He started singing from Wham’s album except it was a parody:
Last Christmas I gave you my brains, but the very next day you gave it away. This year to save me from tears I will give it to someone special.
Liz actually smiled and Lloyd kept on playing
Once bitten and twice shy
I keep my distance
But you still catch my eye.
Tell me, baby,
Do you recognize me?
Well,
It’s been a year,
It doesn’t surprise me
(Merry Christmas)

I wrapped it up and sent it
With a note saying, “I love you,”
I meant it
Now I know what a fool I’ve been.
But if you kissed me now
I know you’d fool me again.
Lloyd continued playing the song and this time he sang Last Easter I gave you my liver and the very next day you chewed it away and this year to save me from tears I will give it to someone special.
Liz was all smiles now.
At this point Lloyd slowly kept the guitar aside.


“I am sorry” said Liz.
“Its cool. Really”, said Lloyd as he settled down on the couch next to her. Lloyd felt that in his opinion, if a person is in love then they should give away their brain or liver since there are more important organs than the human heart.
The door opened and Ray walked in. Liz’s face looked like she had faced a storm and Lloyd sat extra close to her than what would be defined as comfortable space between the two. Looking at both of them Ray could only think of one thing and he pounced on Lloyd and boxed  him in the face. Lloyd’s face had reddened where he was hit and was taken aback. Liz blurted, “Why did you hit him, you moron?”.
“You are crying and look at you. You look like a mess and he looks so guilty about it. Even if I am your kid brother I care about you. What did he do to you?” asked Ray.

Liz told Ray how Lloyd took care of her. That evening Michael Jordan scored 58 points vs New Jersey Nets. Lloyd had missed the rest of the game. The action replays did not come close to the sacrifice which was very worth it for him since he had found love. Liz, Lloyd and Ray feasted on the Whitman’s sampler box while Liz made origami hearts out of the red wrapping paper. She left those hearts for Lloyd to find in his shoes  and coat pockets the next morning.
On February 14, 1987 Liz was Lloyd’s valentine..
In the summer of 87 Liz, Lloyd and Ray graduated. On February 14 1988 Liz and Lloyd were officially Mr. and Mrs. Bennett.
A year later Liz gave birth to their son Mark and Emily followed three years later. Liz never had to worry about sharing parenting chores with Lloyd since he was always there to hum lullaby’s in his rich baritone voice, feed the babies, burp them, change diapers and her pillar of support when she most needed him. One year merged into another and the nature of their chores changed to more housework and yard work, potlucks and barbecues, basketball and volleyball practice for the kids and more and more laundry. Liz and Lloyd had learned to methodically set unwritten rules about cooking, cleaning, Do’s and Don’t for themselves and the kids and most importantly emphasizing love and caring in everything they did for each other. Every Valentine’s Day Lloyd gave Liz different parts of the human body except the heart as his token of love.  Liz’s cat Tom now moved slowly, purred less and slept more and more.

The spring of 2006 was grave for Liz and Lloyd. The economic crisis  had led to Lloyd losing his job. Lloyd’s new role was being a stay at home Dad, cooking cleaning, finding projects to do and working on paying bills accounting for every penny to make ends meet. He seriously had considered working on bagging groceries at the local grocery store but Liz’s vanity discouraged him. Recently he had been unable to figure out where the family missed out on a hundred dollars every month. He verbalized his fears to Liz if the one of the kids was nicking the money. He also noticed that every Thursday evening Liz came home late at least by an hour. When he questioned her about her coming late or the missing hundred dollars she  kept rationalizing different ideas which made him fearful of losing his place as the man of the family.

Thursday Feb 8 2007

Liz stopped by at the drugstore after a hard day of work and meetings at the University to pick up some Tylenol. She felt relieved to see that some places stayed the same in Campus town. You can always find a Rite Aid store. Heart shaped balloons and teddy bears in red with signs ending in ninety nine cents were vividly placed at strategic points to attract the shoppers eye. She picked her Tylenol and as she walked to the cashiers and noticed a Whitman’s sampler. They were on a budget and this would cost her another ten dollars. She picked up the box and decided she would use the petty cash she had saved for gifts.
Next she reached for her cell phone to ask Lloyd if he needed anything and realized her phone was dead. She had forgotten to charge it.
She was close to home and as her car turned the corner she could see that there were emergency vehicles lined in front of her house. Neighbors had gathered on the street and were straining themselves to look up at Bennetts roof. From the silhouette she realized it was Lloyd sitting with his knees close to his chest and his arms curled around his legs, his face pressed into his thighs,occasionally rocking back and forth upon the roof.  One of her neighbors told her that he had threatened to jump from the roof. She went up to the authorities and pressed her way in. Her brave teenagers were shivering and crying and that’s when she retrieved her guitar from the car trunk. She started playing different tunes and the crowd quieted. Then she started playing Wham and Lloyd looked at her. He could hear her sing something that resonated in his soul and he grabbed himself around his knees and listened. By then a fireman had reached on the rooftop.

Rescue was followed by Rehab for Lloyd. One week later Lloyd came home. In the last couple of years Liz had secretly taken to learning how to play guitar since she wanted to surprise Lloyd on their 25th anniversary. It was getting harder for her to show the deficit of hundred dollars every month in their bills especially with Lloyd counting every penny.
On Feb 14 2007, the family ate chocolates from the Whitman’s sampler and the next morning  when Liz stepped in her work shoes and coat she found forty six origami hearts scribbled with “Happy Birthday” all over them.

Dedication

I dedicate this short realistic fiction story to the real life Lloyd’s who lost their jobs, some their homes and some “everything” they had in in the economic crisis of 2006.  Thank you for reading this story.