“Tina your ride is here” said her best friend Katie. It was the day Tina had been waiting for ever since she had first learnt the meaning of love. Her wedding day was finally here. She looked stunning and why not? She had herself painstakingly planned the whole thing down to the very last detail. Everything in her life seemed better now. She had found love in Matthew and her personal life had become steady for the first time ever. Professionally she was a resident doctor at Seattle’s biggest hospital. Things were looking up for her after years of struggle. She was content and happy. The dark foster care days were over and done with.
As she stood gazing at her reflection in the mirror, her entire life passed by in a flash. Each and every moment of it waltzed by her. From being orphaned at 4 to a lanky teenager and now this woman who stared back at her from the looking glass; life had taken her through it all, a puzzle, a topsy-turvy curve. But she had held on firmly and emerged on top. So many families and friends had been left behind in the process. But she had always known that life would look up one day. And that day had indeed come to pass, and this wedding was an icing on top of the cake.
“Tina..Stop admiring yourself, will you? Let’s go. Mat will be waiting” chided Katie. Tina turned to her and smiled as they made their way down to the limo.
As they were getting comfortable and adjusting Tina’s veil inside, the driver spoke up “Ready ma’am? Let’s take you to your man.”
Tina looked up for a fraction of a second and then turning her gaze to her dress said “Yes.” But something had caught her eye.
The driver looked oddly familiar she thought. For the entire ride she just couldn’t shake off that feeling. Who was he? Finally when they reached the church and it was time for her to alight, she stopped and asked him “Excuse Me. Don't mind me asking but what’s your name?” Curiosity had gotten to her. Why did he look like someone she had known several years before?
“Jimmy, Ma’am. Hope you had a nice ride and congratulations on your big day!”
“Jimmy!” she asked “Jimmy?”
*** 13 years back***
“Give me the ball” yelled Tina as she stood with her hands on her hips; a flustered expression on her tiny face. Just 14 years of age, she was quite the basketball buff.
“Take it if you can” came the reply from Jimmy as he ran past her bouncing the ball; aiming to shoot it through the hoop. He had just transferred to Lawrence from another town. But instead of being the coy new kid on the block, he had adjusted as though he had been there since birth.
Tina and Jimmy were in the same section and from the first day were at each other’s throats; both in the sports field and in class. But underneath that a steady friendship has begun to develop. They were both orphans and had moved from one foster family to another in this short life of theirs. Hence they understood each other in ways others couldn’t. They were the quintessential drifters growing up in different families, moving schools and making new friends every few years. Perhaps in this transience their bond was a strange sole permanence. But they knew that one of them would move away soon to a new family, a new city.
“Fine. Don’t forget I just beat you yesterday Jim.” said Tina and blocked Jimmy. “Today is a new day girl” said Jimmy as he turned to defend.
They played for hours until it was time to go home. It had become a routine for them. They were different than the rest of the kids and found consolation in each other’s company. Whether it was the silent musings on their families or just the reminiscences of their life so far, it was crystal clear to the other.
But no sooner had they begun to be each other’s support, destiny came into play. Tina had to move as her foster parents were relocating to a new town. And their small word came crashing down.
“Do you really have to go” asked Jimmy while bouncing the ball repeatedly.
“Yeah…and stop that!” said Tina as she sat on the bench near the court.
But Jimmy didn’t listen “Can’t they keep you here?”
“You know how it works Jim” she said as she grabbed the ball from Jimmy.
“So this is it. This is the last time we meet.”
“Why are you being such a drama queen Jim? Why won’t we meet?” she stood up and looked at him. Jimmy was sad and why wouldn’t he be? The foster family he was in wasn’t a good one and Tina was the only one he was comfortable talking to.
“How many of your friends from previous schools have you been in touch with Tina? And we’ll just keep moving all our lives. Don’t be stupid we aren’t meeting again.” He said as he snatched the ball back and began bouncing it again as though it was their destiny he was striking.
“Until we are big enough to be on our own, then we can do anything we want.”
“But till then we would have forgotten about each other and lost any touch we ever had, assuming if we even have any past the first few months.”
“Ofcourse we will. Now stop being such a wuss.”
“I’m not hopeful Tina” He looked up towards her as he said that. There was desolation in his eyes.
“Well I am for it’s a small world Jim. Le monde est petit! Now walk me home will you? I need to pack.”
“Duh! Keep it” Jimmy said handing Tina’s ball to her.
“No you keep it. I’ll take it from you the next time we meet.”
“Oh come on!”
Tina grabbed Jimmy by the hand and they both walked out of the court into a future that would probably never see them together under the same roof again.
“Yes Ma’am. It’s Jimmy. I hope you ain’t going to give a complaint against me?” he smiled.
“No! No! God no! Jim it’s me. Remember. Tina?” She looked hopefully at him.
“Sorry can’t put a finger on it. Where did you say we met again?”
“Lawrence. Remember we played basketball after school every day. And we were best friends. I gave you my ball. Time to give it back!" Tina kept talking in excitement but there was no visible reaction from Jimmy. He looked slightly taken aback. "Remember I had moved away Jim. But I told you we’ll meet again in life, didn't I? I told you that it’s a small world. See we’ve met again! Oh I missed you Jimmy.” she said almost shaky and her voice choky. It was an emotional day for her and the fact that she had no family; somewhere had made her edgy. So this prospect of having found Jimmy from her past, a best friend, made her happy and weepy at the same time.
But Jimmy appeared lost “Sorry did you say Lawrence?” he asked as she nodded. But he seemed confused. “Ma’am I’ve never been to Lawrence all my life and I never played basketball. Baseball yes but not basketball; I think you have got me confused with someone else.”
Tina looked crestfallen. For a moment there she thought she had found her friend. But it wasn’t to be.
“Tina. Let’s go” said Katie holding her hand.
“Unhuh yes! Umm sorry Jimmy, I guess I confused you for someone else” saying she alighted from the limo. “Silly me! It’s a small world, really? What was I thinking?” she chided herself as she walked towards the church.
“Are you okay?” asked Katie for she thought she had seen tears in Tina’s eyes.
“Yeah! Ofcourse. I just thought he was a person I knew. It’s my wedding, I’m fine” saying she shrugged off Katie’s concern. But inside she felt sad; disappointed even, that it wasn’t Jimmy.
He sat in his car looking at the lights which were red. It was a busy day for him. Driving brides to weddings; but he had to. Money was short and Tiara’s school fees needed to be paid. It was hard making ends meet. Every moment of his life he lamented his decision of dropping out of school. And now he had a family to support without any decent job.
“Jimmy! You screwed your life!” he thought. But that was not all that he was thinking about. There was a strange regret on his face. It was pale as if he had seen a ghost. He looked lost!
“You’ve messed up your life so bad that you couldn’t even admit to your friend out there that you were indeed her long lost friend. It was Tina’s wedding and still you couldn’t. But what would I say to her that you turned up so fine and I ended up a failure? No. I couldn’t. But yes Tina you were right it’s a small world indeed! Le monde est petit, I remember you had taught me thet! I’m sorry.”
The lights turned green and he drove off to pick up his next client leaving behind his friend forever.
My fellow Bloggers Richa Singh
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