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PART four: obr

Chapter 25: The Survivor

“Feels good, doesn’t it?” the SPRITE asked, as he walked up to OBR.

“More than words can ever describe,” OBR replied, as they watched the festivities. He felt a deep sense of satisfaction, and an immense amount of pride. He had spent the last year working with the SPRITE in his spare time, helping families in need; families which had been affected by an even deadlier version of the crisis his had been plagued with all those years ago. It felt good to help children who had been abandoned the way he had been. It felt good to play a part in ensuring that their childhoods didn’t follow the path his had. The best feeling of all was when a parent was successfully treated, and turned away from the drugs and the pain medication all together. Seeing a family reunited was the greatest reward of all. A small piece of the hole in OBR’s soul returned every time he witnessed such an event.

All their hard work had led to this event, a large picnic for the ANJALIKA’s entire congregation, and the various families they had, and continued to, help so far. The picnic was catered by many vendors, including their favorite sandwich shop. There were various games for both children and adults, and team activities that OSZA could group up and participate in. OBR had personally planned a few of them. All the work he had put in had been taxing, but it had been worth it. The overall experience had not just been rewarding, but a lot of fun as well.

“Your friends are a hoot,” the SPRITE said, as they watched PINKIE being chased by a group of excited children.

“Yeah… I’m glad I listened to you and asked them to help. We wouldn’t be here without them,” OBR replied.

“Very true,” the SPRITE said. “So…” he said, a few minutes later, “do you have the answer yet?”

“The answer?” OBR asked.

“Come now, son. You know what I’m talking about.”

“Ah… yes…” OBR said.

“Well?” the SPRITE asked.

“I do,” OBR responded.

“Oh, now you’re just being cheeky, child. Tell me already! Don’t be a diva!”

OBR laughed. “Well…” he began, “I’m still figuring some parts of it all out. But I think I understand most of it. And I think I always knew it deep down. A large part of it was my sister. Her dedication to giving me a better life; the amount of time, effort and money she invested in me after I started living with her. I didn’t want to disappoint her. I couldn’t even bear to think of doing such a thing. That was my initial drive. And as I worked at it, I began noticing things over time. I was always alone. I didn’t really make any friends. Some of the kids at my school tried approaching me, but I didn’t reciprocate their interest. I involved myself in my school work, and that was all I did. Doing so passed away the time. But I was lonely. The only time I wasn’t was whenever my sister stopped by to visit. I guess the loneliness got to me over time. I was afraid of others, but seeing all the kids around me having fun, running around with their friends and what not, made me want it too.”

OBR paused for a minute, as an OSZA walking by handed him and the SPRITE a drink.

“Cheers,” the SPRITE said, as they clinked their bottles together.

“There was no great realization. I didn’t have some kind of profound experience that made me change my mind. I just saw things for the way they were. I could continue being afraid, and by extension, alone, or I could take a leap, and try making friends, and not feel so lonely and miserable whenever my sister was not around. And so, I took one small step. And that small step led to another. And so on and so forth. I didn’t make friends right away. It wasn’t easy. I had to push myself, a lot. It took me a long time to find others to spend time with. But I did it, because I wanted to, and because I felt like I owed it to myself to do so.”

“There’s a simple truth at the bottom of it all, isn’t there?” the SPRITE asked. “The entire world can be willing to help you, but even they cannot make a difference if you are unwilling to help yourself. But if you’re willing, then you don’t really need anybody else to help you. You will find your own way.”

“It’s why I decided to try and reconnect with my mother as well,” OBR said, a few minutes later. “I wanted to move on. Me. I was ready to move on. And I was ready to do so because I realized that the world around me wasn’t so bad. There were a lot of things in it that I needed to experience, a lot of ways through which I could find joy in life. And I wanted to experience those things. At the end of the day, I only began to move on because I was ready, because I was willing to help myself, because I did not want to be miserable anymore.”

OBR took a sip from his bottle, and continued.

“I’m not over it yet, you know. But I’m willing to push forward. I will never forget what that monster did to me. I don’t think I can ever fully heal from it. But I am moving on. It doesn’t haunt me as much anymore. I refuse to be controlled by it. And I refuse to let it control my life.”

“That’s good,” the SPRITE said.

“I do have one regret though…” OBR said.

“That your sister killed him?” the SPRITE asked.

“Yes. How did you know?”

“I understand you, son. I’ve gotten to know you very well over the last year. I know what kind of an OSZA you are, and how beautiful and kind your soul is. I know that you would have preferred that he be caught and punished for his crimes. His death changed your sister, and I know you regret that. It isn’t your fault though. I hope you understand that. I know that you have made considerable progress in moving on from it all. But I hope that you will allow yourself to understand that none of it was your fault. You are not responsible for any of it. Your sister’s decision was her own. You had no control over it.”

“But I can’t help not feel guilty about that. That death… it put her on a path that she never got back from. Sometimes I wonder how things would have been had she not killed him. Perhaps I should have spoken up when she asked me to. Told the authorities. Maybe things would be very different then,” OBR said.

“Don’t go there, son. You were both children. The adults around you failed you. The blame lies on them, and them alone. It’s easy to judge yourself, and tell yourself that things would have been different had you been more brave. But, strange as it may seem, that is the cowardly way out. You need to take the harder path, OBR. You have to forgive yourself. You have to stop blaming yourself for what happened. Expecting yourself, at that young age, to behave the way an adult would, is folly, especially when most adults are not able to do what you expect your younger self to have done. You have to let yourself admit that.”

OBR stayed silent for a while, thinking. “Thank you,” he said finally. “I will think about it.”

“Glad to hear it,” the SPRITE replied, as they clinked their bottles together again.

“Talking to you helps, you know. It helps a lot,” OBR said, a few minutes later.

“I’ll always be here. You can come to me whenever you need it, son,” the SPRITE responded.

“You’re it!” PINKIE screamed, as she poked OBR with her finger and ran past him.

“No!” OBR screamed, as the mob of children that was chasing her changed directions and headed for him.

OBR gulped down the contents of his bottle, handed it to the SPRITE, let out a loud burp in the direction of the mob, and started to run. The SPRITE burst out laughing.

“I hope you all always keep smiling this way, my children,” the SPRITE muttered, lifting his bottle at OBR and the mob of children that followed him, watching them as they continued to laugh and play.

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