The doorbell rang again. 20-year old Tony tried to ignore it yet the ringing persisted. His parents and his sister were not at home and he wasn’t expecting anyone this time of the day. It was around 2 o’clock in the afternoon. He had difficulty catching a nap and had preferred to listen to some music on his pocket radio, a gift from his loving sister that he treasured so much. And now someone had come to destroy his little fiesta. Angrily, he turned his wheel chair around and maneuvered his way around to the door. He felt for the latches and slowly opened it one by one except for the safety chain that he kept on. He then opened the door, his blind eyes seeing nothing except darkness.
“Yes?” he called out with a sneer.
“Hi”, a girl’s voice called out from outside. Puzzled, Tony lifted his face in the direction of the sound.
“Can I come in for a second?” the girl continued in a child-like voice.
For a moment, Tony was compelled to tell the girl to get lost. He hated it when someone intruded on his privacy but for now, he was curious to know why the girl wanted to barge in on his fiefdom. She was a stranger. To him, she sounded naive and vulnerable, not that he was a good judge of character.
He hesitated a bit and then asked her. “What do you want?”
“Oh sorry, I didn’t introduce myself. My name is Tara. I recently moved in the house opposite the street and I often see you handle a violin and I wondered if you would teach me or at least play a few notes for me?” ‘You see…’ she continued, ‘I am very keen to learn to play it.’
Teach her? Tony was perplexed. It had been years since he had last played a violin. He had given it up long ago when he was just 12 years old. His failing eyesight had brought him lot of humiliation at the hands of his friends and finally when he had turned completely blind, he had broken down and finally lost the mobility in his legs, unable to walk. For him, playing the violin was like bringing back all those bitter memories of his childhood. That’s just why he always nursed his baby as he called it with his loving hands.
“Sorry. I don’t play the violin.” He blurted harshly. “Please go!” Saying this, Tony banged the door shut.
The doorbell rang again. He waited for the ringing to stop. It didn’t. Angrily he pulled open the door.
“I said go away!”
“Are you always this bitter with strangers?”
“Yes. Now leave me alone”
“Sure. Don’t worry, I’ll be back when your mood’s fine. Take care, see you again.” Saying this, the girl turned around and walked away. Tony stood still listening to the sound of her heels clicking on the wooden stairs till it finally disappeared. He closed the door shut and wearily pushed his wheelchair towards his room. He felt his way around to the cabinet and slowly raised his hand to feel the violin on top of the cabinet. He pulled it down and delicately felt its body.
Across the street, Tara paused and stared back at Tony through the window, a smile on her face.
She was back at his place the next day and at the same time and as much as he wanted to ask her to leave, he found himself opening the door wide enough to let her through. He shut the door behind her.
“Oh what a pretty house you have here.”
Tony couldn’t help but smile to himself as she browsed through the house. It had been years since someone had taken some interest in him and he seemed to be enjoying it immensely. They shared stories of each other’s life. Someone called out her name. She hesitantly got up.
“I have to leave. Tony just for once, will you play the violin for me now… please.” She pleaded earnestly.
Her words seemed to push Tony back in his cocoon. She quickly realised it and changed the topic.
“I guess I got to go. Maybe some other time.” She walked to the door. “I can meet you again, can I?”
Tony turned in her direction and smiled, a genuine smile that had lain buried in his soul for years.
He kept his promise and they met again and again. They had become an inseparable force now and even Tony’s parents were happy for his sake. Tony had a strange glow on his face. A man who seemed to be content with his life. For his parents and sister Sharon, Tara was like an angel, Godsend who seemed to bring about a change in Tony’s life for the better. But Tara had a lot more in her mind that evening as she chatted with him in his room. All her begging and pleading didn’t make him play his violin. But today, she had something else lined up as she slowly extending the special greeting card she had brought for him. She had painstakingly prepared it with her own hands. For Tony it was a gift of a lifetime as he slowly moved his hand across the card. He could feel the cartoon character on the card which had been done with an engrave feel. He then slowly read out the words inside and as he said aloud each word, joy crept in his heart and tears swelled up in his eyes. She slowly walked towards him and wiped his tears away, talking to him in a motherly fashion. She told him about another gift she had placed on top of a tall cabinet. He would just have to stand up and collect it. But he wasn’t going to do that. It had been 8 years since he had stood on his two feet. Tara wasn’t going to listen to any reason. She wanted to see him walk that day. But yet he stood his ground.
Tara couldn’t take it anymore and she yelled at him.
“You are nothing but a cry baby. All your life you have been wanting things given to you on a platter and for the rest of your life you are going to be the same. I don’t want a friend like you who’ll be a burden to me too. You are too lazy and mean. I am leaving!”
Angrily, she walked out of the room and half way to the door, she heard the loud thud. She turned around and ran back in the room to find Tony sprawled on the floor. Hearing the sound, his parents and Sharon also rushed in the room. Tara lay rooted, tears looming large in her eyes which finally flowed as his mother reprimanded her severely for causing Tony to fall. Crying bitterly, she ran out of the house and over to her place while Tony stared at her retreating back with a deep pain.
A week passed and yet Tara lay confined to the bed. She was dying. She had been sick since the last few years. But now the doctor had diagnosed that death would come wanting any time. All her parents could do was make the transition to the spiritual world smooth. They tried to fulfill all her desires. Yet they were unaware of the desires she had in her heart. Desire to see Tony take that extra step out in the open world…desire to listen to his music….desire to… ”
The door bell rang and with a weary heart, her father walked over to open the door and there stood Tony on his feet with his parents to guide him. Her father led them inside to her bedroom. Her untold desire was coming true as Tony walked haltingly to her bedside. There was a huge grin on her face as she stared at him walking with a drunken stupor. She then looked at the violin in his hand. She realised that all her untold desires were coming true at last as she saw him stand in front of her and play the violin. And as the strains of the sweet melody filled the air, 11-year old Tara smiled away into eternity while Tony slowly crumbled to the ground crying bitterly for a friend wise beyond her years!