Tolerating a slight pain constantly had become a way of life. Would it ever go completely? Kainaaz wondered. The painkillers had lulled her somewhat and she felt sleepy most of the time.
It was evening when she got up and saw her mother at the bedside, looking graceful as she sat reading a book in the dim light of a lamp at the other end. She felt lucky to have her mother around, as always. She had been a pillar of strength throughout her life.
Seeing her engrossed in reading, Kainaaz’s thoughts took her more than three decades back in time and her memory traced back to one Sunday morning when she was just five and had gone out for a picnic with her mom.
As a child she was a beautiful with clear skin and lovely golden curls. On that day, she was wearing a pink colored frock with three layers of frills, which made her look like a little princess. The image of her mother reading a book under a tree at the Sim’s Park while she made a castle in the sand pit nearby became fresh in her mind once again.
Her mom was young in those days, full of life and unlike many other parents, believed in spending quality time with her only child.
It was a nice park, which Kainaaz liked especially on such occasions, when her mother used to get so many homemade goodies. Her only regret was that she was not permitted an occasional sip of aerated drinks. She was waiting for her mother to dose off while reading so that she could open a can of Pepsi.
As she gave the final touches to the roof of the sand castle she had made, Kainaaz got distracted by some movement in the bushes onto her right side. She looked up and saw a little white rabbit looking in her direction. Suddenly, he surprised her by motioning to her with one of his front paws to come towards him. Kainaaz had never thought would be possible that an animal would communicate with her like that. She looked up and saw her mother was dosing away with the book resting on her chest. The rabbit was looking very cute as he motioned to her once again and started moving towards a pathway to the right.
Giving a quick glance to her mother once again, Kainaaz got up silently and without making much noise decided to follow the rabbit. Halfway on the pathway, the rabbit looked back to see if she was coming and gave her what she thought was a smile, as he started moving once again. Soon she caught up with him and followed just a few steps behind.
The pathway led to one large clump of bushes. He stopped there and started moving some bushes from what looked like a small opening in the hill. When the opening cleared, she could see the words written on top “Welcome to the Wizards World”.
The rabbit quickly moved inside and as she followed, he pulled back the bushes right where they were earlier so that the opening could not be seen by anyone else passing by. There were no lights inside yet it was not dark. There was some sort of strange dim light coming out of the rocks, which was sufficient for them to see and move ahead.
The rabbit walked quickly and following him, she reached a big room sized opening. Greeting her was the strangest sight she could have ever imagined. All around the room were brightly colored balloons and streamers giving it a very festive look. In the centre of was a big round table with a white colored tablecloth on which was laid the biggest cake she had ever seen. It and was shaped like a heart and written on it with bright yellow and red icing were the words, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KAINAAZ”.
This was truly a big surprise but what was even more surprising was that around the table there were benches on which, wearing brightly colored clothes sat two Teddy Beers, one monkey, three rabbits, one hedgehog , two cats , and a beautiful golden retriever pup along with an assortment of other friendly looking animals. It was like some of the fairy tales her mother had been reading to her.
The rabbit gave her a knife in her hand and motioned her to cut the cake. As she blew the five candles and cut the cake, everyone burst out singing the happy birthday song in unison. One of the Teddy bears actually played the trumpet while the song was being sung. She wondered how they knew her age.
Kainaaz was too surprised for words but was very happy at this very strange gathering. She was sure she was dreaming and wondered how her mother and her friends would react when she told them all this.
By now, she had overcome her initial hesitation and asked the friendly rabbit what this place was and what his name was. In reply, the rabbit pointed to the small tag on his neck on which was written “Buno”, which apparently was his name.
Then he gave her a small booklet on which it was written, “Welcome to the Wizards World”. Inside the booklet was a small note – Wish you a very Happy Birthday. If you want to meet me, you can follow this rabbit; else, you can tell him to take you back. It was signed “The Wizard”.
By nature, Kainaaz was an inquisitive child and very much wanted to see the wizard who had arranged for such a surprising party. She looked towards the rabbit who was already on his way to another tunnel nearby. Quickly finishing her piece of cake, she followed him in that tunnel.
The ceiling was very low and the rabbit had no problem going but she had to bend down to avoid banging her head against the jutting out rocks. After some time the opening became bigger and she could see that it led to somewhere outside. It was much different from the place she was at earlier. The trees seemed to be greener and brighter and a brook flowed immediately outside the opening; which she crossed using the stepping-stones. She wondered if this was some portion of the same park or some other world.
Quite suddenly the rabbit stopped and pointed towards a strange big tree. It had branches growing like an umbrella in all directions and a small platform of bricks near its trunk, on which sat an old man with a white flowing beard. Surprisingly, she was not at all scared. In fact, she felt a strange force drawing her towards the frail old man who was friendly looking and had a strange glow around him.
He smiled at her as she came near.
“Welcome, Kainaaz”, he said. “Wish you are very happy birthday and many more to come”.
“Thank you”, was all she could say more out of spontaneous habit than out of a deliberate thought.
“I hope you like the little party I arranged for you”, he said, “It is something I do only for those pure hearted children who I like”.
She was at loss for words but kept looking at the mystery man who had a strange mystique around him.
“You must hurry back now, your mom must be worried”, he said abruptly. “But before you go here is a little gift from the Wizard”. He asked her to come nearer.
As if being pulled by a magnet she moved towards him spontaneously as he picked her in his frail arms and put in her neck a golden chain with a small pendant giving out a strange blue light.
“This is my special gift for you”, he said. “Whenever you have any problem in life, place your left-hand on this little blue stone and think of me and I will help you overcome that problem”.
“It will be with you, till the time you need it”, he continued. “However, if ever you need help even thereafter, just open the palm of your right hand and think of me and I will be there for you”. So saying, he placed his right palm over hers and she could feel strange surge of energy and power flowing through her.
He then put her down and lovingly placing his hand over her head nudged her to follow the rabbit who was already on his way out.
“…But I like it here!” she started to say when the everything around her started shaking.
It was her mother shaking her up. “Wake up, Kainaaz. I think you have been dreaming after the heavy snacks that you took”.
Kainaaz looked around. Had she slept off, and dreamt of all that? She wondered.
“You must have been dreaming”, said her mom.
Kainaaz was still lost in thoughts of what had happened. It had seemed so real. She then told her mother about the dream who simply laughed and hugged her, “nice dream. I think it is because it’s your birthday and you have been thinking about the evening party”.
Suddenly, Kainaaz remembered something. Her hand went up to her chest and rested on the blue colored pendant hanging on the golden chain. Both Kainaaz and her mother were surprised.
Since that day, the blue pendant had been with her almost all her life and come to her aid at many occasions then she felt inadequate to deal with situations. As the wizard had said, it would help give her confidence and overcome any problem that confronted her.
Then one fine day, when she turned 21, as mysteriously as it had come, the pendent along with the gold chain vanished. She had searched for it in vain along with her mother for a few days; then gave up, thinking that maybe in the wizard’s design of things and it had served its purpose.
Suddenly, the pain was back again and from her past her thoughts were transported back to the present. As she looked at her mother she wished that the pendant was with her once more in to see her through this difficult patch in her life.
Then, as if guided by some unseen force, her right arm was out from under the blanket and she opened her palm and thought of the wizard.