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The Mysterious Box of Chocolates

I discovered my passion for writing after I quit my day job. So I began to write fiction stories, self-help books, and articles, blogs, etc.

So many Valentine's days have passed in my life eventless. No guy. No roses. I accepted this pattern of life although, in my younger years, I did wish someone would pick me up for his Valentine. No use crying over spilled milk, I guess.

I was in my forties when I came to this town, got a job I love and a cute apartment to live in. I had a brand-new Mercedes. Everything seemed okay.

My hair started to gray, and I had to go to the parlor to blacken them again. My teeth were decaying and had cavities, and I visited the dentist who filled my teeth and performed root canals and had caps over them so that they looked real again.

Other than these, I was in perfect health. And health is wealth.

There was a grocery store on a side lane from where my apartment was hidden by tall green trees. When I didn't feel like walking to the Supermarket, I just went to the grocery store on the side lane and bought groceries as much as I could. Among them would be my favorite stick of dark chocolate. I hardly noticed the guy at the cash counter nor did I much look at his assistants. But I always made demands, and I had what I wanted.

It was winter in February. A cold wind was blowing all over. I reminisced all the events a year back.

My Uncle lived a block away. It was he who encouraged me to come here and spoke of the vacant job that I have now. Since I didn't get married, he suggested I should get ahead in life, maybe not with family but with a career.

Yes, career-wise, I was excelling. I had learnt many new things from the job after a year, and I thank my Uncle now. I could make challenging deadlines very well now, and I was learning all the time. It was good. I was making most of my time.

Uncle had a severe heart attack twelve months ago. He lived with his wife a block away. But he didn’t reach the hospital quick enough because he was unwilling. Finally, my Aunt called me. It was the weekend. I was glad she had asked my help to convince Uncle to get to the hospital.

Soon the trio of us reached the hospital, and Uncle was taken to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). It was an emergent condition. Eventually, he had a bypass in his heart. He was living well again until he had his second heart attack, and we admitted him to the hospital again. He didn't cringe this time and obeyed us.

He grew weaker day by day, and no matter how much we all tried, he gave in and passed away. My Aunt was very remorseful. I attempted to cheer her up every day. But she didn't recover from the shock. Her grownup children didn't bother about her, and yet, I let them (my cousins) know that she needed a little help. It would be good if they could come and take her to the home village where friendly relatives would take care of her. They finally agreed.

I still kept in touch with my Aunt and talked to her for long hours on my cell phone. Yes, she was happier now, I could tell.

I, however, really felt for my Uncle. He always called me his favorite niece and looked after me like his daughter. I enjoyed the affection he showed and was grateful to him for all the amenities I possessed today because of him.

I was still thinking about him when there was the loud sound of a doorbell. I wondered who it would be. I looked through the bull's eye of the door and found out that it was the parcel man. I opened the door and accepted it although there was no track of who had sent it to me. The parcel man couldn't say anything either and asked me to sign on his signing machine.

I signed reluctantly. I wondered and wondered who it could be. Not any of my colleagues, playing a prank because they were all happily married. Who could it be?

I opened the red decorative paper and a box of chocolates revealed. The slogan on the side of the box read, “Everyone is somebody’s favorite.”

Pic: The Box of Chocolates

Pic: The Box of Chocolates

I was even more puzzled. All my life, only Uncle had only called me his favorite. Now I didn’t know if I was anybody else’s favorite. It started looking spooky. Did Uncle’s spirit give this surprise? I felt scared all alone in the apartment.

I hurried to my room, switched on the lights and checked my calendar. "Oh!" I thought. "It is Valentine's Day! But who would try to act like a Valentine calling me his favorite?"

I emphatically reflected that only Uncle called me his favorite, and nobody else did as far as I could remember.

I called one of my female colleagues and shared the prank story. She laughed and said, “It must be someone close to your area who knows you well and sees you regularly.”

It still didn’t make sense. Then I went to the refrigerator to keep the chocolate box inside, and I noticed I was short of groceries.

I put on a fresh set of clothes for going outside. I didn't opt for the Supermarket but proceeded to the grocery store on the side lane.

I was done with my groceries and was walking back home carrying grocery bags. Then all of a sudden, one of the assistants from the grocery shop yelled, "Mam, are you enjoying the box of chocolates? Shahal would like to be your Valentine!”

I was surprised. I asked, “Is Shahal the guy at the cash counter?”

“Yes”, the assistant said.

I walked back to the grocery shop, and Shahal was all red with embarrassment.

"What kind of prank game is this? Do you want to be my Valentine?" I asked.

He kept silent.

"I could have a son about your age now. I accept the chocolates as a token of a gift from you. But do you understand that I am at least twenty years older than you? Do you see that I am too old to be your Valentine? Don't play such prank games on me anymore. But thank you for the gift."

He said, "Thank you for accepting the gift. I didn't understand you were old enough to be my Aunt. Because you look very young!"

“Yes, Shahal”, I said. “God kept me young so that guys like you would keep giving me gifts.”

"Can we be friends then?" asked Shahal.

“Sure, we can be friends. But we only meet here in this shop.”

“You are very strict”, said Shahal. “But I accept your friendship.’

“Okay”, I said. “Be a good guy and excel at whatever you do. God always rewards you then.”

“Thanks for the advice”, said Shahal. “I would like to hear more advice from you.”

“Sure. I will pour them every time I come here”, I said.

Shahal laughed, and I joined him, and so did the assistants.

It was a Merry Valentine’s Day after all. And it all started with a mysterious box of chocolates!

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© 2020 Rosina S Khan

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