The Return

A prodigal daughter returns home to an estranged family, a betrayed fiancee and disapproving neighbours. She must learn to rebuild her life coming to terms with the ghosts of her past and her own personal doubts and uncertainties. What follows is a story of personal exploration.

She woke up that morning to the sound of the waves. The constant unceasing music powerful  yet unobstrusive. It was this melody that was the most vivid recollection of her childhood and adolescence; the rhythm that accompanied the joys, sorrows and uncertainties of discovering life. It was the sound that followed her to the railway station the night she ran away with Seith. As the train sped away leaving the noise of the waves behind she had thought she had escaped her old-self and her old life, it was much later that she would realize that one could not escape oneself, one can only learn to live with it.

She stretched herself lazily on the bed and looked around the room. It was the room that used to be occupied by her grandmother before her death. As a child it had seemed much larger and grander, but now it paled in comparison with the finery and grandeur she had seen and experienced in Europe. But yet this exposure to art and artistry allowed her to appreciate the true value and beauty of the furnishings around her now; the paintings, ornaments and carpets. As a child she had gazed at them with a sense of rapture, now she could put a price-tag on them, the true cynicism of growing up, she thought.

It was strange that a child brought up in such luxury would develop an ache to leave it behind to escape it, but she had. She had always longed to explore the world and by the time she turned eighteen the longing had become a need and she felt smothered by the peaceful security of the familar surroundings. It was during the grand dinner celebrating her eighteenth birthday that she had sneaked away with Seith, the man she had then thought to be the love of her life. In doing so, she had disgraced her family forever, not only before the dignitaries invited to the party, but also in the eyes of their dearest friends and neighbours to whose son she was  betrothed. She and Seith had traveled to a far away town and lived there  while they made arrangements to leave for Europe. It was only once she arrived in Europe (one month later) that she wrote to her parents saying she was fine and asking them to not worry. That had initiated a stream of correspondence and telephone calls; entreaties to return home, promises that all would be forgiven. But by that time it was too late, she had burned her bridges (or so she had thought).

Her relationship with Seith soured fairly quickly, requiring her not only to take responsibility for her own life but also the life of her 6 month old daughter Leiya that Seith left her to fend for. The fight for survival had taken her and Leiya through countless European cities. She had known cold and hunger, sometimes bordering on starvation, until she was compelled to appeal to her parents for support. This had resulted in an arrangement under which she undertook to follow a course of study in accountancy in exchange for a steady stream of financial support. Despite her initial reluctance she had developed an interest in her work and discovered her natural aptitude for it. With the continued support of her family she embarked on a program of study which culminated with her graduating with a degree in financial management from a top London University. From that point on there was no turning back. She had steadily risen in her career until she launched her own financial services firm in a European capital. However the economic crisis had shattered her company and left her bankrupt. Once the debts were settled and her employees paid off, there was literally nothing left to her name. It is then that the message came from her brother, inviting her and Leiya to come back home, to channel her knowledge and talents into the family business in which she was a shareholder.

It was proof of the anxiety she was undergoing at the time and her total disarrayed state of mind that she actually considered this request and assented to it; but it had been done, and truly what else was there to do. She had no family, a string of meaningless romantic relationships had left her weary and disheartened. Many of the friends who had thronged around her during the 'good-times' quickly found excuses to avoid her.

She had kept sparse contact with her family after she left home. Their communication had been limited to occassional calls during times of festivals and anniversaries. She had never visited home, not even for the funeral of her father or grandmother. Coming back now she felt a stranger in her own home. She and Leiya had arrived late last night. Her brother and his wife (whom she had never met) had picked them from the airport. Although they had been greeted kindly enough, the conversation had been awkward and limited to discussing the flight, the weather and the economic situation in Europe. Leiya had slept through most of the journey from the airport to her 'home'. When they finally arrived she had been shown to their bed-room by her sister-in-law who informed her that all other members of the household were asleep but had assured her (with needless force) that they were looking forward to greeting her and welcoming her in the morning. Staring at the ocean through the half-open window, little eight year old Leiya breathing steadily beside her, she wondered what the future held.

The End

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