I was her favourite child. Even though I wasn’t her own.
I first met her as a seven-year-old. She was sitting in the living room beside my father upon my return from school. The smile on her face was reflected in her eyes as she approached me. I fled the room.
For the next year, she was the one helping me with homework and asking about my day. She encouraged me to express myself in the diary I always carried with me without ever prying on its contents. Nevertheless, I was determined not to let her take the place of my deceased mother.
Till the day the three of us went out for a movie. I heard her whisper to Dad that she would not marry him without my consent, and felt my father stiffen in the dark.
During intermission, I didn’t go out with the adults. Instead, I tore a paper from my diary and scribbled whatever came to mind. I then placed the folded piece below her seat before returning to my chair to see her staring across the corridor.
Upon reaching her chair, she immediately explored the space beneath. After reading the paper, her face glowed brighter than an LED bulb.
The room went dark, but I had allowed light into my life.
She became my father’s wife. The birth of her twin sons two years later only seemed to increase her love for me; when it came to me vs them, my mother was always on my side.
I took a deep breath. My handbag felt heavy with all my life’s savings. My eyes welled up, but I was determined. At nineteen, I felt entitled to marry the man I loved. My parents must live without their daughter if they couldn’t accept her choice.
I found her at the threshold, looking intently at me. How did she know?
I braced for the admonishments. “Can I accompany you to the metro station?” She asked instead.
We walked side-by-side, together yet distant.
She boarded the metro with me. “I will get out at the next station,” she said as we took two adjacent seats in the metro.
As the next station came, she bent down and put something below my seat. She then stood up and swiftly moved out of the closing metro doors, looking wistful as the train chugged away from the platform.
I picked up the piece of paper that she had left below my seat. The yellow and frayed parchment looked familiar as I unfolded it with trembling hands.
‘DON’T LEAVE.’ The two words spoke volumes. Was this how she had felt while reading this very paper many years ago in that cinema hall?
Depositing the paper into my handbag, I alighted at the next station and went to the other side of the platform.
I decided to wait for my parents’ consent for marriage while waiting for a metro to take me back in the direction I came from.
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