Aria unwrapped the box lying before her. She ripped off the plastic, threw it on the floor and opened up the box. Her eyes were big with curiosity, eyebrows held up. The box had a pendant and a small letter. The letter read, "There's a famous Japanese myth that says that the face you have now is the face of the person whom you loved the most in your last life". What was that supposed to mean? The pendant was an unrecognizable icon. She kept it aside and headed to the kitchen to make herself some lemon tea. Her mind was racing- she couldn't stop thinking who must've sent these.
Aria had moved to the countryside recently, tired of the hustle-bustle of the city of Tokyo. Not only was the chaos of the city troubling her but her loneliness ate her up too. She never got the affection of her parents as she grew up in an orphanage. Love from unknown people is what she demanded. She didn't want to meet people she knew anymore. Her anxiety when she met her friends surged up. She needed a peaceful break- and she got it in the countryside.
Holding the cup of tea, she went over to the garden and played some white music on her phone. She looked at the gift with intrigued eyes.
Suddenly, she heard three rhythmic knocks on the door. She knew who it was, Aunty Jenny! She rushed towards the main gate, momentarily waiting before opening the door, in front of the mirror. Her hair was propped up in a messy bun and her under-eye bags looked horrible. She frowned at the image she saw in the mirror, but didn't pay much attention and turned the doorknob.
"Hello, dear. Good Morning!
"Good morning, aunty! So, did it happen again?" She chuckled.
"Oh yes, it indeed did! Come on, let's go." She said as she watched Aria changing into better footwear. Jenny was a widowed 58-year-old who lived next door. Living alone, she occasionally came to Aria for help. Most of the times it was the broken shed door, that was the case this time too. Jenny was a very sensible lady, who somehow understood Aria without her saying a word. The two ladies made their way to the shed where Aria did the usual fixing work while Jenny watched with admiration.
On reaching home, Aria jumped over her bed. She kept on thinking about the gift. Days passed and the gift box was now shoved under some cupboard. One afternoon, the bell rung. Aria was somewhat startled. Nobody in the countryside ever rung the bell. None of her friends or relatives had her address. Who was this? Nevertheless, she opened the door slightly. It was an unknown man. He was tall, bald and was in black attire. He took off his sunglasses, "Hi Aria!" He said with excitement. "Hi, I...I am sorry I don't think I recognize you." She stuttered. "Do you remember the gift box?" he asked.
Aria gasped, a rush of emotions overwhelmed her."Yes, yes! Yes, I do. Come on in." She made way for him as he entered the house, she walked behind him leaving the door ajar. She summoned the gift box.
"I think there's a lot to explain," he said. Aria listened intently as he continued. " Let me begin by introducing myself. I am Lars, well, your older brother." He watched as Aria's eyes widened but he didn't wait for a reaction. "I know that is a very astonishing piece of information for you. You will soon understand it all." Aria nodded.
"Our parents left us when I was eight and you, a mere three. It was some fight between them which resulted in a painful divorce. Sadly, none of them wanted to keep us. They both wanted to start afresh and so we were sent to an orphanage. In the orphanage, I could never adapt to that environment. One day a sweet lady walked in. That is when I got adopted. you were so young that you probably have no memory of that. I was immature. I wanted to get out of the orphanage even if that meant leaving you. The lady who adopted me was, Mrs Jennifer Ito." At this point, Aria was too shocked to say anything. Mrs Jennifer Ito is Aunty Jenny!
" When I visited mom last month, I saw your nameplate. That is when I told her about you. She told me all about you, your personality. I immediately knew that your childhood sorrows have given you immense pain. That day when you visited mom, I was there. I saw you." Tears rolled down Aria's cheeks. "That pendant belongs to you. Mom or your Aunty Jenny wanted me to give it to you, but not as an aunty. As a mother." He said with red eyes filled with tears. " As for the letter, I wanted you to know that you deserve self-love. Neither did mom nor dad ever care about us. We were too distant to even talk to each other. I do not have a lot of time with me. So, I wanted to leave you with that message and the truth." Aria frowned, "What? Why? why don't you have time? So you won't stay here with me?" "No, I have Cystic Fibrosis, it is getting worse. The doctors have said that I do not have more than two months to live," he said blandly. Aria couldn't stop her tears. What happened next was that they sat quietly looking up at the clear sky, not saying a word.
A year passed. Lar had succumbed nine months ago. Aria sat on a chair in her room, looking at the mirror. She saw the pendant hanging from her neck. She silently admired the face she saw in the mirror. That is indeed a pretty face of a brave lady who has conquered life, she thought.