Wherever Flo looked, she saw beautiful girls clad in short but sophisticated, expensive but gorgeous dresses. What were supposed to be their eyebrows appeared to resemble the golden arcs above the gates of heaven. Yes with halos and all. There were ‘foreign accents’ fluttering out of red painted lips and Flo caught an ‘r’ and various ‘ths’ in words that did not need their pronunciation. With the crowd mingling, laughing and frolicking, Flo felt strongly that she was out of place.
Eno had invited Flo to her twenty first birthday party. It was supposed to be a casual affair but it seemed that most of the people did not know what casual meant. Flo sat alone wearing her best pair of jeans and a flowery blue blouse that she hated but Eno thought it was great. (this was probably because of the low neck line. Flo wore a camisole beneath the blouse though.) There were a lot of selfies. Bridget, Eno’s cousin and rival just came back from Wales where she had spent a year and Flo caught a british accent. Flo smiled. She knew she really did not belong here. This was a crowd of people who were trying to prove a point. Their prestige was a pedestal and they were trying to find out who was tallest. Flo felt like she was in a forest of pride, and every towering individual stuck their noses in the air like enormous forest Firs.
Flo knew that she was not one to boast of beauty or wealth. She realised early that the race for physical perfection was futile. No matter how beautiful she could look, there was definitely one much more beautiful. She wondered what ultimate good beauty would bring anyway. Eventually, all things ended in ash and dust. The idea was quite morbid but that wind of obsession with beauty didn’t seem to carry her away. Maybe she was too ‘thick’ or maybe everybody else were too shallow or rather flimsy.
What she lacked in beauty, she made up for in intellect. That was what she thought anyway. Her mind had the ability to run deep and wide to every possibility, idea, situation that had happened, can happen and will happen. This drove her passion to be a writer and thus, gave her an expectation of greatness. Flo felt that even though she was not beautiful, her impact had to have a greater weight on the world. Having an influence on people’s ideas was the greatest achievement she felt she could boast about. It was the only thing worth sticking up your nose for. Flo believed that she was someone who must make a mark on the world in which she lived. She believed that it was her purpose.
All the work that she had done so far regarding her purpose though had proved futile. Regarding her aspiration to be a writer, she had started to write. She had gotten many ideas, concept and stories written down. But it was one thing to write and it was another different thing for your writing to be read and appreciated. She expected that after she was through with her school, she would get a job writing for some company as a freelance writer where while she gathered funds and experience, she would slowly explode as the ‘intriguing author Flower Jiya’. But that first step had proved so difficult. She had been searching for a starting point but rejection stung awfully. She thought that life would be as easy as dreaming it up, having the passion, putting it to reality through hard work and dedication. And then after everything, reaping the fruits in the form of awards and probably a nobel peace prize (not likely).
But she had received more disappointments than she expected. There were closed doors at every of her effort. She submitted an article on child abuse on the local newspaper but it was never published. She applied for a job at a magazine company but she never heard word from them again. She had been trying everywhere she could but all her efforts to start something substantial was thwarted. She knew that there was bound to be disappointments in life but there wasn’t even a stream of hope she could see that would comfort her. And deep down, she felt that even in the little thing that she thought she was good at, she had failed. In the end, she feared she would end up as just regular Flo. If it was too hard to even start, she wondered how the rest of the journey would be.
Flo sighed. She felt terribly sad. Every individual had the desire to rise up above the norms and be extraordinary. If she failed in the little thing which was there in her, what else would be left. All of a sudden, she didn’t feel so ‘thick’ anymore. She felt like a dried out tree that was only good for firewood, swaying at the roots, preparing to drop. She suddenly felt like leaving the party, going home and indulging in intense self pity.
As she scanned the crowded hall to locate and tell Eno that she was leaving for home, her eyes met with a young man’s. He looked as as charming as the rest of the company and had an endearing smile. He walked right up to Flo and sat down just opposite her.
“Hi.” He said.
Flo replied wondering who he was and what he wanted. No one had dared to even look at her since she arrived talk more of exchanging a kind remark.
“You are the girl who’s name is Flower.”
“What?” Flo said.
“‘Flower’ is quite generic don’t you think?” He said smiling.
“Do I know you?” Flo said angrily. This character was turning her mood from melancholic to furious.
“I’m sorry. I’m Max.” he said appolgetically “You are Eno’s bestie right? I see your pictures online. Eno and I used to be neighbours and I went to school with her brother. Plus we are cousins. Don’t mind my rudeness. I thought I was a comedian. Eno once told me of her writer friend named Flower and I was always curious to meet with you. I was only trying to give some kind of impression.”
Flo’s fire cooled. “Just Flo is fine rather than Flower.” She said not bothering to look at him.
They were silent for a while and then he spoke. “You are not in a good mood. You are not having fun at all. Are you? I hope my little feign at being eccentric didn’t put you off.”
“No no… the terrible mood has been the case all evening. I was just thinking about some things that got me down.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Life huh? You know, life has a way of driving us crazy and it’s like chasing the wind. Yeah.” He looked at her face solemnly. “The gloom creeps up on us and we ask why? Why did it happen or why did it not? That is the bane of humanity, the disappointment, the sorrow. But in the paradox, one thing we all must realise is that our strength in life is the ability to smile genuinely despite the fact that life doesn’t meet our expectation. It’s not to smile falsely and swallow the pain, but it’s to simile sincerely, being aware that this might not work, I might not have gotten what I want or been where I desire to be, but it’s okay. I have peace because I have life and it’s a gift that God loved us enough to give. Yeah, sadness creeps in most of the time, it’s a sad world we live in. But when we are disillusioned, behind the veil of the torn curtains of dreams, beyond the death of our expectations, we can resurrect by believing that things can and will get better.”
Flo looked at his face quizzically. She wondered if he was psychic. How did he know what she thought? She looked closely at his face and saw that he must have experienced a similar sadness too. Then, she saw truth in his words. It could be bad and it might get worse but it could equally get better. She smiled, said no word in reply but in her mind, she said ‘Thank You.’