“How will you take care of us if you died too?”, asked the perky eight year old.
“Oh, this? It won’t kill me for years.”, she replied as she put off the cigarette.
Until this moment, Helen was a young carefree adult who had only herself to care for. She did not mind burning her lungs off if it could get her some more time off of sleep, some more money or just some more fun. She had nobody to be answerable to for her habits and lifestyle. She was in the city’s elite of the modeling industry and hung out in the most expensive uptown areas every day. Besides she is smart, independent and great at her job. But now, she had three other little humans to look after. She had three other pairs of lungs to think for whenever she smoked a cigarette. She had three other meals every time of the day to pay for. And foremost she had to be a mother without actually becoming one.
Being a mother was considered practically the end of the career in her industry. And she had been forced into exactly that. So now not only did she have more people to care for, she even lost her lucrative job. That job was not ready to keep up with her heart and only demanded her head. It wanted her sincerity and dedication and could not share her attention with anything else, much less a bunch of kids. The sudden change of events in her life came unannounced when her big sister passed away in a car accident, along with her husband. And under mysterious circumstances, left in her will for Helen to be the guardian if anything should ever happen to her. It is a surprising choice but Helen is determined to stand by the faith her big sister showed in her despite her carefree lifestyle.
There are three kids her sister leaves behind for her to take care of. The youngest baby girl is four and takes the pain of her mysteriously disappeared parents as them taking a vacation to the heaven. The older boy of eight withdraws from all happy times of his life in a resolve to never be happy again without his parents. He instead prefers to be gloomy and sketch skulls and bones. The eldest of the three is a the fourteen year old girl who copes with the tragedy by distracting her attention to the new found perks of not having parental control. She longs for a love like her parents’. But ends up getting trapped in the delusion of complete freedom after losing her parents. She believes she can do anything now that she is an adult.
Amidst all this, Helen herself feels like a child. She is just not prepared for an adult responsibility of being a guardian much less a mother to these scared and heartbroken kids. But she is not one of those who give up on challenges in life. She is one of those who try and bring fun in every moment they live. Over the next few months she faces the weirdest of challenges – raising kids. She finds help in an unexpected stranger. He is the principal of the school she puts them in. He is a pastor at the church in the school and also a young and handsome principal. He is attracted to her but she is not the pastor type of girl. Or so she thinks. She has been with other men in her past life of a hip city girl. But then she keeps needing his help and guidance and also support every now and then. Despite all this, she refuses to kiss him when he makes the first move and somehow always is pissed off at him for pointing out the flaws in her upbringing of the kids. She knows he is right but it is just too much for her to take. And yet she cannot help but continue to return to his comfortable and supportive charm each time.
“Don’t you think it would be a bit weird if I kissed a pastor?”, she asks after refusing to kiss him just yet.
“Is it because I am not one of your party guys? You don’t think I am sexy. Well, I am sexy, a sexy man o’ God. And I know it.” he replies with a shrug and turns to leave.
“Hold it! Now that was kinda sexy.” she replies before making him return and kiss her.
Having lived a rather distracted life as a city dweller, alone and free, Helen ran the risk of becoming yet another city machine. Her witty charm and lovable self would have soon dissolved in the big city life. It would have burnt away in the smoke of her cigarettes and lost faith in all the half-hearted relationships. The untimely crisis came to her as sort of a redemption. She realised that the job she was into lacked passion and deep hearted connections with the people of the industry. She realised the importance of a family and how the solitude of being single was at the verge of becoming loneliness. But having a family and committed relationships was never a cakewalk. She has to learn some of the toughest yet most rewarding aspects of growing up. But as her big sister says about her that she may mess up things big time sometimes. Yet she never falls back from making great comebacks.
Tragedies and traumas come into our lives to bring about a certain change in us. We on the other hand tend to naively ask for them to change. We want the difficulties to disappear and pains to soothe with a pain killer. What we do not realise is the immense potential of change and change for good, in such situations. At first, it may seem as ridiculous as becoming a parent even before marriage to not one two but three kids. But eventually, you realise you have only been creating a capacity to take on these big challenges during these periods of ridiculous pain and loss. They will not ask you to forget yourself but rather remember your real self that is strong and bold. So that you can further build its capacity to take on greater challenges and earn greater pleasures out of them. Helen here found the capacity to love another man and her kids. She connected back to her sister from childhood and strengthened the bond. On the way, she also realised which of her friends were true and which only fed off her brains and beauty.