Disclaimer : I'm a huge KPop fan and you will come across names and photographs of KPop idols in most of my stories. They are my muse and inspiration in so many ways. The incidents and characters are fictional and have no resemblance to any K pop idol in any manner.
Franz Kafka's masterpiece 'The Metamorphosis' occupied a prominent place in her bookshelf. As did a lot of her favourite books! In fact, Abby realised that she probably has more books than clothes or shoes or bags! Unlike her friends, who hardly read or owned books, but had closets full of clothes, shoes, bags!
Abby spent most of her hard earned money on books and music! For a girl in her early twenties, juggling part time jobs with classes, Abby was different. She had short hair, wore only jeans and tees, no make up, sensible shoes- quite the tomboy! The only luxury she allowed herself was books! All the money that her parents sent her, she had kept in her bank account and she never touched it!
Sometimes, Abby felt like a misfit among her peers! Her life revolved around her classes and jobs! Her 'me' time meant curling up with her favourite book or listening to music.
There's a reason why Metamorphosis is her favourite book. The first time she came across the meaning of the word, she read about how a Catterpillar sheds its identity entirely and takes on a completely new form and identity. From a boring, disgusting creepy crawly it becomes a colourful, attractive butterfly! A whole new being! A whole new life! What an amazing and magical creation of nature! Yes, there are many such miracles of nature, but this one, where the Catterpillar becomes a butterfly, is Abby's favourite! But her idea of 'metamorphosis' wasn't exactly like Kafka's!!
As a person who lived a regulated life confined to college and workplace, Abby wondered if in her life she would ever see such a moment of miracle!! She wasn't an artist, but she had a notebook where she always drew herself as a butterfly, with different colours every time! She was comfortable with routine but she also longed for 'something' to upset her tidy apple cart! Her life was like a placid lake, a calm sea and she was waiting for a ripple, a wave that would rock her steady boat....
Her part time jobs kept her occupied all through the weekend! After college, she worked at the grocery across the road from her apartment building, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, she worked as a maid for a rich family close to her college. Sunday was her only day of rest and relaxation which she spent on cleaning her tiny flat, doing laundry and reading! No friends, no parties! There was simply no time!
Today, Abby was distracted throughout the day and couldn't concentrate on her class. During lunch at the college cafeteria, she piled her plate with her favourite noodles and chicken. As she approached her usual chair, she saw someone sitting there. She waited, wondering whether to ask that person to shift or just sit on the chair opposite him or to find another table. He barely noticed as she sat opposite him, busy eating his lunch while his eyes were glued to the mobile phone, wearing huge earphones on his head. Abby started eating her food and slowly looked up at him. Dressed in tailored trousers and a shirt, he stood out among the jeans-and-tshirt crowd. He wore formal black shoes and his hair was neatly combed and styled. An expensive looking watch on his wrist, the latest brand of cell phone and headphones, a smart tailored jacket carefully draped on his chair and a branded leather briefcase on the chair next to him.
Abby flinched as he suddenly looked up, feeling her lingering gaze on him. Their eyes locked and Abby looked away, embarrassed, her heart beating fast as her fork stopped midway. The black eyes seemed to pin her to her chair as she looked down at her plate and continued to eat. Her cheeks were flushed as she saw him looking at her, from head to toe. Abby ate as fast as she could and when she was about to get up, a deep voice said, "Sit down. Please."
This wasn't a wave or a ripple, it was a tsunami that toppled her apple cart and destroyed her peace of mind! Who was this man? He seemed to have her under his spell! She looked back at his hypnotic gaze and sat down.
The man looked at her and said, "Take a deep breath! Why are you holding your breath!" Abby had even forgotten how to breathe. His voice brought her back to Mother Earth .
Abby- Do I know you?
Man- No, you don't. But I know you, Abby.
Abby was confused and a bit.... scared. The man had taken off the headphones. He pushed his empty plate aside and kept the briefcase on the table. He took out a file and handed it to Abby, closing the briefcase.
Abby- What is this?
Man- A file. I'm Richard Brown. Mr Brown's son.
Abby gave him a puzzled look and said," Mr Brown, I don't know you or your father. I'm getting late for my part time job! I need to go!
RB- If you don't know my father, why would he mention you in his will, Miss Abby?
Abby's eyes were huge as she said- "What????"
RB- Exactly! Now let me drop you to your workplace as I fill you in.
Abby followed him in a daze and sat quietly on the passenger seat, trying to think clearly, but her mind was all fuzzy.
RB- Abby.... Abby! Are you ok? My old man stunned you quite bad, I think. My father, Charles Brown owns the Browns chain of supermarkets and grocery stores.
Abby- Oh! That's where I work too! The one right there, see!
Abby pointed as Richard stopped the car on the side and said, "Oh! So you work in this branch. Did you ever meet my father here sometime?"
Abby- Maybe just once when he came disguised as a customer, for a surprise check! I only got to know its him after 2 days since I work here on alternate days!
Abby thanked Richard for the lift and made her way towards the grocery store.
Richard had not been able to tell her everything and he wanted her to know it all.
Richard parked the car and crossed the road. As he walked in, everyone stood up and wished. Abby had gone inside to change into her uniform. When she came out, she was surprised to see Richard sitting in the Store Manager's office. He asked her to sit.
RB- Abby, I really need you to know the entire thing. Hear me out. Don't interrupt me when I'm talking and don't zone out!
My father passed away last night. I stopped by your college on my way back from the funeral. I was studying abroad and returned last week as father's condition was too bad and he wanted me to take over the company. After the funeral, our family lawyer came to me with father's will, which says I take over the company after him with immediate effect, but one condition.... I have to marry you.
Abby- WHAT??? Are you insane? Why would I marry you? I don't even know you!!!
Richard got up and held Abby's shoulders, saying, "You think I want to? I don't know you either! But it's my dying father's last wish! Please tell me if you see a way out! We have to get married as soon as possible or else the management will become chaotic! So many people like you, employed with us will lose their jobs! No one except, you, me and the lawyer knows about this.... I'm sorry, if I could help it, I wouldn't have troubled you at all! I really don't know what was dad thinking!!"
Abby( stunned)- Can I take some time to think about it?
RB- You have 24 hours. I will meet you tomorrow evening.
Abby- I have work tomorrow evening. I can't skip it, they will cut my wages!
RB- I will reimburse you for that!
Abby nodded, unsure of what to say or do. She walked out of the office as Richard said, "Thank you." Curious eyes followed Abby as she made her way towards her 'spot'.
Restless and worried, Abby couldn't sleep at all! She thought about talking to her parents and called them. As she told her parents about Mr Brown's will, she heard stunned silence!
Abby's parents, Jerry and Annie Baker lived in a small town which was only accessible by a daily overnight train. She was tempted to sit on it rightaway and hide in her mother's lap. Abby's parents owned and ran their famous Bakers' Bakery which was as old as their quaint little town, famous for its baked goodies. It had really been a long time since she had visited home.... Almost 6 months! Although, her parents did make it a point to visit her every fortnight, with big parcels of their baked delights! Oh, she was suddenly homesick!
Abby realised her parents were as shocked as she was and said, "Daddy, please tell me what do I do? Mom, help me!" She started crying over the phone and heard her mother's soothing voice, "Abby darling, we are on our way. We'll be there tomorrow before Mr Richard shows up! Ok? Now stop crying sweetie and go to sleep! Leave all the worries to us!"
Abby calmed down when she heard her mom's words and finally fell asleep.
The next day, after classes, Abby found Richard sitting and eating at the cafeteria. She loaded her tray and sat opposite him. They ate silently and then quietly walked towards the car. The silence was awkward till Richard spoke up," Abby, have you made your decision?"
Abby (looking at the time)- I still have an hour more....You said 24 hours, didn't you?"
They burst out laughing, despite the tense situation!
RB- I'm glad you can laugh about it, knowing how difficult this is for you!
Abby- If you don't mind can we stop by at my flat? You can come in too, if you want!
RB- It's ok. I'll wait here!
Abby quickly went up the stairs to her flat. As expected, her parents had already reached and she could smell her mother's delicious cooking! Her parents came and hugged her. She told them about Richard waiting in the car. Her father accompanied her downstairs to invite Richard for some tea.
Richard was welcomed by the warm and hospitable Bakers. Jerry, Abby's father, started talking to Richard about his family.
JB- Richard, can you tell me something about your parents? And yourself too?
RB- Mr Baker, I'm Richard Brown, 27, just finished my MBA abroad and came back because dad was unwell. My father Charles Brown owns the Browns chain of Supermarkets and Groceries all over the country. He passed away two days back. My mother Heather had passed away when I was just 10! So, I'm all alone now as I have no siblings.
Annie had gone pale and they all noticed.
Abby- Are you alright? What happened?
Annie- Heather was my best friend.... Jerry, do you remember, she visited us just before the baby was due? She and I had promised that if she had a son and I had a daughter, we would get them married!
As Annie started crying, Richard had tears in his eyes too.
RB- Mrs Baker, you knew my mother?
Annie- Yes..... We were best friends all through school and kept in touch for years... She wrote to me about her husband's growing business and her growing illness.... She was worried about you...
RB- She was worried about everyone but herself.... Even though she was dying....
Annie couldn't stop herself as she got up and hugged Richard, saying, "Son, it was her wish that your father mentions in the will.... But I can't force any of you.... You and Abby should decide for yourselves...."
JB- Annie, my love, come let's make some coffee for the kids while they talk....
As Jerry and Annie walked away, Richard noticed Abby's tearful eyes....
RB- Abby, this changes everything.... This was my mother's wish and my dad's last wish.... I can understand if you refuse... I finally understand, after meeting your parents, why dad and mom wanted us to get married... So that I had a loving family even after them.... Abby, my parents aren't around anymore.... But, I promise you I will look after, love and respect your parents like my own.... Whatever you decide, I will accept without complaints!
Abby was totally confused.... But after hearing what Richard said, she thought about it and said, "If my parents have no objection....."
Annie and Jerry- We have no objection, darling!
Abby smiled shyly as her parents walked in with a tray with tea and cakes.
Jerry went up to Richard and hugged him saying, "You aren't alone, son! We are all with you! If you don't have any specific plans, we would like a small church wedding with minimum fuss...."
RB- I'm fine with that Mr Baker.... In fact that's exactly what I had in mind.... Unless Abby has other plans!
Abby- Dad, Mom, just let me know the date, OK? I want a nice dress!
Annie- Whoa! Where did my innocent and shy daughter vanish in a second? Come here you both and give me a hug!
As Annie hugged and kissed Abby and Richard, Jerry quickly joined them. Richard thought his parents must be happy looking at all of them right now.
Richard had done his homework as far as Abby was concerned. He learnt a lot about her from her classmates at college and colleagues at workplace. He liked that Abby was different! A tomboy and a bookworm, level headed and hardworking, sincere and diligent, patient and tenacious (Mr Charles Brown's assessment of Abby!). She obviously valued family and relationships.... He was touched by the trust Abby showed in him, entrusting her life, her future in his hands when she hardly knew him!
As Richard drove back home, he had a big smile on his face. It wasn't only because he had (almost) inherited his dad's company, but because he had inherited a family as well... His father's will have made him the happiest person in the world !
As for Abby, the 'metamorphosis' had begun.....