Two hearts were bubbling over with great expectations.
The headlights cut through the blackness of the night. A couple of more hours for the dawn. But Joanna had no fear.She was excited about the new start. She was in the heights of expectancy.
'Chris is coming home! ' Her heart throbbed.
'If only the corridors would burst with activity! If only the attendant delivered the clothes for change!' He twiddled his thumps impatiently.
' I want to be ready with my discharge.' Chris became restless.
Both Chris and Joanna were eager to make a new start. A new beginning!
Chris shuffled around in frustration. Why can't the Sun rise more quickly?
Chris was now grateful for the ugly scene at home. If Alena had not created that scene, if she had not refused to go to school anymore, this wouldn't have happened.
Chris smiled with self-complaisance.
A tragedy sometimes brings a surprise package!
Alena was heart broken.She sobbed into her hands, her chest heaving. Their lovely daughter was badly shaken with grief and shame. The younger kids, the boys were too young to grasp anything. They stood staring and whimpering.
' Mummy, I will not go to school again. My entire class is talking about Daddy and Mummy.'
'Mummy, why did you go to the Police Station alone at midnight?'
' Alena, please try to understand the situation.' Joanna pleaded.
She was calm and gentle.
Chris was arrested for reckless driving and she had to rush to the Police Station to get his release.
She had to take care of many formalities. In the hospital, in front of the Magistrate and at the Police Station. Joanna had no intention to share the details with Alena.
Joanna did not lose her composure.
But Chris was deeply disturbed. He was ashamed of himself. Utterly shattered, he walked away from the ugly scene.
It was a wake up call, a reality call for Chris.
He wished Joanna would do something to pull him out of the morass into which he was sinking. She had always been a tower of strength in every crisis.
Joanna never let the thread of their marriage vow to snap. She kept her cool in the storms of life.Chris remembered all his failures.
He started throwing away his money to buy vintage cars. Ran into heavy loss. Each time Joanna came to his rescue, Chirs was thankful to her. But never willing to mend his ways.
All that she told him gently was: ' Chris, your vintage cars will not give our children a secure future. '
If only she could firmly refuse to support!
From one folly to another he moved, getting into deeper trouble. Walked into the trap of a racket. He foolishly believed that it was part of the game to strike a deal in the Bar. Too late to realize that he had become a link in illicit trafficking and had become an addict in the bargain!
Walking restlessly in the hospital room, Chris recalled the day she sold her gold to get him out of a spot. His eyes welled up when her words resounded in his ears.
' Chris, our children are growing up and with them our responsibility is also growing. It is not enough to give them all they need in life. We owe them a good name, a heritage for them to cherish for ever.'
Chris walked up and down the room and was disturbed by the memory of landing up in the ICU with multiple fracture and a deep slash across his face. A head in collusion of his car with a truck.
' Thank God the deaddiction process helped him to forgive himself and also understand the real worth of Joanna.
Chris waited at the reception. His heart raced like that of a horse in harness, ready for his trophy.
How sweet of Joanna to find a rehab centre to restore him to health!
'Break this chain, Chris. Be free!' She urged him.
She was leaving him behind at the rehab. A very strict place. No visitors allowed. Members of the family would receive counselling online. No communication with the patient.
Joanna accepted the rule with grace.
But not Chris. He was going to feel home-sick; miss Alena, Jeff and Mike. Tears trickled down his face as Joanna was ready to take her leave. Joanna held him in a tight hug and whispered:
' Chris, come back free. Make Alena free from shame. I trust you, Chris. You will make it!'
Joanna left abruptly.
Suddenly Chris felt forlorn and helpless.
Chris sprang to his feet!
There she was! He took long strides to meet her.
Free from all the shackles that had clamped him for years!
Chris watched Joanna approach with confidence.
Fifteen years ago, there was the same radiance on her face as she walked down the aisle as his bride.
Radiant with hope!
Ready to take the vow: 'Until death do us part.'
Like the morning sky, awash with the gentle rays of the Sun, Joanna's face was now awash with hope!
Her warm smile was the echo of the warmth of hope and love in her heart. They were starting a new era of life. Out of the hospital to turn a new leaf!
Time stood still as Chris and Joanna were locked in the triumph of love.