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The Auburn Hair (Short Story)

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Sofia had always loved auburn hair. As a child, the auburn hair had become an obsession with her. One day, as she skirted inside her huge palatial mansion, she found a few strands of them on the bed. They were very beautiful locks… neither her American mother’s blonde, whom she had taken after, nor her Italian father’s shining light brown. Nevertheless, gathering these, she stashed them away safely inside a golden box, so that when grew up, she could make sure to obtain the same hair colour. She preserved them as if they were her most prized possession.

Years passed. Her mom had flown back to the States following a divorce with her father and a bitter court battle. Dad had spared no influence in making sure that mom never received even a dime nor the right to meet her, let alone a custody. Sofia still remembered those moments when she, all of six, had been summoned in the court, made to stand inside a witness box and say things, only to be tearfully torn away from her mom, couple of hours later. She had never understood why. Neither had she ever seen her mom again, since that day. The separation had been heart-wrenching and it had taken many years for her to come to terms with it, besides the great turmoil and difficulties she had to undergo. Eventually, when her father realised that he could handle it no more, a step-mom had come into picture. She had not been any particularly bad person, but Sofia could hardly connect to her, besides the fact that no step-siblings arrived.

Today, she was eighteen. She was looking forward to beginning her medical studies, in a month, with the San Francisco State university. All the formalities had been completed. Due to her consistent merit, she had been awarded with a prestigious scholarship. Her achievements had become the pride of her family in Italy. Sofia was secretly pleased that everything had worked out as she had planned. It had been a long and arduous journey, but the patience and wait had surely paid off, for finally, SHE WOULD BE SEEING HER MOM after twelve years of separation. Unknown to her dad and step-mom, they had furtively connected through social media and with sensible persistence, had worked out everything until here. Dad must never know of this, she thought, for if he did, all the best laid plans would come to naught.

She cautiously took out the auburn hair, still preserved in the golden box and began looking at it. She did that often. At that age, she had been too small to comprehend and too vulnerable to do anything but now she knew it all…understood every bit of it…her filthy rich dad’s patriarchal and egocentric attitude…his reckless behaviour…the physical and mental abuse mom had constantly suffered under him…his indifference towards her as his wife… and last but not the least, his chronic infidelity into their marriage for long after, she had got to know that he had the reputation of being a stallion and that’s where the auburn hair came from.

She was still determined to guard the precious auburn hair, for it had proffered her several things in life…the experience of pain and separation…the lack of an idol whom she could have followed during those essential growing up years…the wisdom to discern the right from the wrong, forced to learn by herself…the need to excel in all that she did and pave her own path to get away from the man who was the cause of all her intense misery…the urge to know kindness, loyalty and goodness, all of which were not yet fully familiar to her…the auburn hair bore a testimony to all that she had gone through and much more…it drove the broken pieces inside of her into creating a finite set of understanding levels enough to enable sustenance, though, if time happened to test her again, on her own, she would never be able to hold all the pieces together or make herself whole once again. For that, her mother had to be nearby since she would be the best person whom Sofia could idolise and follow. And lastly, the auburn hair would always serve as a reminder to never slip into fallacious matrimonial circumstances with the wrong guy, even if that meant staying completely away from matrimony.

Sofia had sorely missed her mom all these years. Mom still looked beautiful, had her own successful business and came out as an extremely balanced and positive person, despite whatever she had gone through at the hands of her father. Sofia longed to know more about her, inherit her qualities, even if it took away a lifetime to attain that or meant having to give up on her father’s wealth. That internal void had to be filled else it would never make her the person she would have been under ideal circumstances. She needed to find herself. She owed at least that much to herself.

Today, as she attained adulthood, she took this decision. She would never think of having that auburn hair for herself. It was simply not meant for her for very good reasons. The hair represented invaluable lessons, for which she had no more of strength left and it also represented the person that she never wished to end up being…one of her father’s conquests, for that was all she had remained reduced to until today. This might probably be the last she would see of him, she thought to herself, for once she left the country, she never intended to come back.

She put the locks back inside the golden box, kissed it and kept it away, safely once again…like a high-priced nugget to be safe-guarded for life.


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