“The food was really delicious,” said Wack, arriving back to the workshop from his lunch just after my conversation with the voice. “Rice and stew full of fish.” Wack was a friend and a fellow carpenter.
“I can tell you it was.”
Wack was six feet five, muscular, had a mustache and was only a year older. His Mom was from North Carolina. And his Dad was from Kentucky. Wack and I became friends right from our days in a school of carpentry we both attended. Our friendship blossomed so well that we both thought it was a good idea to have a partnership in which we both owned and ran a practice in Belmont. And that was what we did.
“Why are you not considering getting married?” I asked Wack.
“Because I don’t envy you,” said Wack. “I think roaming free without a wife is the best way to stay stress-free. Besides, I already have three children who will one day get to know who their father really is.”
“There you go talking strange things, Wack,” I said, believing Wack must have been out of his mind. “You and I know you have no children, Wack. Unless you’re telling me you have a woman hidden somewhere who has had children for you.”
“She is not hidden,” Wack said.
“Stop getting delusional,” I said to Wack. “I can swear you’re out of your mind now.”
“She is not hidden. She is even close to you and you see her every day. The only thing you don’t know is that she is the mother of my children.”
“Your imaginary woman and children,” I said to Wack.
“You can call that my silly joke,” Wack said and laughed. “But on a serious note,” he stopped laughing and further said. “Are you happy in your marriage right now?” He went ahead to ask me.
Wack got to work at once and spoke no further after he had left his question for me to answer. That was a question I could find no answer to. It was as clear as daytime filled with sunshine that answering yes would mean I was telling a big lie. As I pondered Wack’s question, words the voice liked to say to me, chimed in my head like a hundred cathedral bells. Getting married and having many children is one thing you love. It is one thing that will give you peace. And only I can get you there. And I remembered my first home as a bachelor, the gardening I loved, the view of the green mountain sides, my ideal location for a home close to nature, and quite apt for raising kids, in my own opinion. I decided to plant some shrubs around my house. This meant I bought a spade. And while digging, I saw a big box. It was not so big, and it was not fancy either. Just plain wood which rusty nails held in place. I broke it with the spade. Two things were inside the wooden box. One was a big old book. The book had a thick cover on which there was an inscription that said: Where is Cassandra? The other thing in the box was an oil cloth bag. Inside the bag was a ring made of steel, a wedding ring. Tarnished a bit by wear and tear that came with passage of time, the oil cloth bag had prevented it from being a ring with a substantial loss of its shine. It lacked the finesse of a professional blacksmith worth his onions in any way, but rather looked very much crudely made. But why someone had wrapped it up this way to preserve it from damaging rampage of weather elements and soil conditions, I thought. I suspended the digging and planting I had planned and took the ring and the book into my house. I started to clean up the ring which fascinated me more. Though it was all slow work, I took the time to severally clean it with a rag. And that was when another inscription that grabbed my attention became visible. Engraved in a curly archaic writing, meant it took me quite a while to figure out. And it said: Where is Cassandra? If the ring could talk, I thought to myself, what kind of story would it tell? Perhaps the kind of story this ring would tell might be in the book, I further thought. That was how curiosity led me to begin reading the book. And little did I know as I read from page to page, like it was in the book, that my life would embark on a journey that would lead to what I am now.