Manika Kapoor is a ten year old girl. She has Thalassemia Major. But she is so much more than her disease. She is a cheerful little beauty who can smile in any situation. She is hardworking and intelligent, and her only fear is not coming first in her class. She loves to dance. She also enjoys writing poems, some of which she never shows to anyone. She loves to play games, but on a smartphone. She also loves reading, but only comics. She makes the best tea in the world, but only in an electric kettle. She loves ice creams and knows the magic of doubling them by adding chocolates, cookies, jams, and anything else sweet that she can find. She is excellent at playing Monopoly. And if she cheats at it sometimes, you can never prove it.
Does she sound familiar? Well, she is much like any other kid. There’s only one difference. She’s fictional. She lives in the pages of my third novel YOU CAME LIKE HOPE.
Mani is the sweetest character of this novel. She has lost her parents and she lives with her guardian. He is Mani’s world. And she is his greatest strength, and his only hope. She is the one whose smiles add rainbows to his dreary life, and whose laughter and merry words are the songs in his otherwise tuneless existence. It does not matter that she has Thalassemia. She is still a blessing. She’s still worth loving, worth fighting for, worth living for.
Although Mani is burdened by her disease, she is the happiest person in the entire book. Because, she knows that besides the pain, there’s much that’s happy in life. She’s a child. Children have the wisdom to be happy in a happy moment, without dragging other darker moments into them. That’s the thing we elders do. As P.B. Shelly wrote, ‘We look before and after, And pine for what is not.’ So, ‘Our sincerest laughter With some pain is fraught.’
Life is hard, maybe more for some and less for others. But it is hard for everyone. It throws challenges at everyone. What’s important is to not let these troubles blight away the light of hope. Because no matter how hard things get, tomorrow might still be a better day.
That is what I believe in. That is what I hold on to. Hope! It’s not just a four letter word. It is the power that can light your way through the darkest times. Some may say that Hope gives false promises that may never come true. But they forget that even then, Hope can be the life spring of strength, courage, and the determination to go on. And together, these can achieve a lot, even if not all.
Emily Dickinson wrote:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –“
Don’t kill this little bird. Don’t silence its sweet, beckoning song. Hope on! Because when everything else fails, this voice of God can still give you the strength and will to go on.
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