A Man with Scars and an Empty Garage
The cobwebs have formed dusty clouds inside the garage. The garage is now a sanctuary for insects. The wheels of my car used to draw patterns on the grass path. Now the path is full of weeds. The dust carried by the breeze soiled my face and clothes. One of my hands rubbed my face. The skin of the scars on face felt rough to the fingers. My fingers searched for the unharmed soft skin in between the scars that were caused by the car accident.
It must have been a cursed day… the day I bought my car. It was a jinxed vehicle! When I was planning to buy it, some friends warned me. Most of its former owners have had faced a chain reaction of troubles.
Since that unfortunate day my life was not the same again. ‘Beauty is only skin deep’ I have come across that proverb many times. I used to assume it preaches people not to judge others by their appearance. Now with experience I certainly know what it means. It is a reminder to maintain your ‘looks’. Because no matter how good you are, the people still judge you by your face.
I had the means to pay and arrange for a cosmetic surgery. But then I sensed a riot in my mind. The voice in my head told me, if it was meant to be then I should learn to live with it.
After the injuries caused to my face got cured, I was allowed to see myself in the mirror. A hideous expression has been fixed on my face. I was not shaken. My state was better than the Erik of The Phantom of the Opera.
“I don’t know how to help.” Those were my father’s words.
“When you were injured, I was hurt too”. My mother was in tears.
I sighed “When will we get back to normal life?”.
The days were dark. Not even a firefly beaconed along my way. The huge scars had formed a constant dreadfulness.
The emptiness of the garage seeping through my eyes forced me to walk away. I stepped towards the gate. My neighbour and his little daughter passed by and he waved. The little girl looked at me with fearful eyes and turned her head away. She was scared of my appearance…
I had not imagined this twist ever before in my life. It is true my face was maimed… Still I did not feel less about myself. But people gradually made me do so. Most people pitied me which I disliked.
The reaction of strangers when they saw my injured face emerging through a door… I better not talk about it.
Surprisingly most strangers guessed that I was not born with the scars. Each one of them popped up the same question “How did you get those scars?”. In their eyes I saw sympathy. Those were the moments I felt worse than the first time I saw my face with scars in the mirror.
The scars made me look gruesome. I knew some strangers assumed that I am a trifling criminal. I did not waste my time to clear their doubts. I knew the happy days would not return. But my soul was waiting for a green light.
I applied for a transfer in my work place and it was approved. Perhaps the management understood my plight. It was hard living with endless comments and condolence messages.
“I could start afresh”, I said, “If I am transferred to the plant in upcountry”.
“It’s true. But why do not you go for a cosmetic treatment. I believe a surgery can fix the scars on your face.” My boss said.
“Well, there must be a reason for this to happen. May be it will find me a true lover, someone who loves my soul”. I winked and smiled.
My boss looked into my eyes with a sarcastic smile. “How old are you boy? Thirty five? Do you believe that true love exists? Life is not the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ fairy tale, I must tell you. But I wish you luck.”
I got transferred to a plant located in the upcountry. The upcountry always has its own refreshing fragrance in the air. The humidity of the atmosphere was a healing balm to the skin.
I got boarded near the plant. The window of my room overlooked a yard full of sunflowers. As immature flower buds moved to face the sun they turned their back to my window. My roommate had been lamed due to an accident. He was living isolated because it hurts to see his family and friends sighing over his misfortune.
“We cannot blame them. I too would have treated you that way if I haven’t gone through the same.” he said.
I was able to expose my worries to him. He was unstinting. In spite of his despair he listened to a stranger’s fear and uttered consoling words.
The employees of the new plant had eyes reading my life through my scars, except one. The girl sitting in the corner of the office was not interested in my scars. She often wore yellow and appeared as lively as a sunflower. The office colleagues called her “Batti” because she was small made. She was not willing to blend with the rest of the staff. She rarely spoke to me. Our conversations were limited to weather forecasts.
The remarks dropped by other guys during the lunch hour together with the banters of the gossiping women helped me visualise the past of Batti. She was a divorcee. Batti looked a lot younger than her age. She reminded me of a few alluring female undergraduates that completed the internship in our plant. Little by little I was daydreaming at the office, lost in sunflower dreams.
“After knowing all the juicy stories about her do you still like her?” My roommate did not favour my hopes.
I kept silence. If I had someone else to turn for advice……
It was the urge to step forward in life. And yes, my gut feeling assured me she does not sympathise me.
“I’ll tell you why you choose her. She has been less fortunate just like you”. I closed my eyes tightly and buried my head on the pillow.
The next day morning I plucked a few sunflowers from the yard and went to the office holding them with a trembling hand. The pollen grains floating with the flowery breeze got stuck in my woolen jacket. I heard the sound of my footsteps. The pace of my footsteps has changed…..
Once I reached the office I put the flowers on Batti’s desk.
“I bet your favorite colour is yellow.”
“Oh yes. Thank you for the flowers.” She smiled warmly. I felt a rapid pulse in my veins. I stepped closer to her. She looked upon my face with a questioning gaze through timid eyes.
“By the way, I wanted to ask you, how did you get those scars on your face?”
I felt a blow on my head. The skin of my face quavered. I was standing next to her looking worse than I usually do. I briefly told her about the car accident. Then there was the common gleam of sympathy in her eyes. Her glance fell on my face.
Her eyes were searching for a story on my scars..