Madeline

It was a quiet almost lethargic afternoon. A crow with an iridescent blue or purple sheen on its wings perched itself onto a nearby branch contrasting against the backdrop sheets of thin cirrus clouds above. Sipping my rosemary tea, I couldn’t resist gulping a generous amount of the cool spring air dosed delectably with a scent of fresh rain. The sun appeared again, casting slanted beams of light across the rows of cottages in this sparse town. The sky a plasma blue.

“Ahh!”, a feeble outcry belonging unmistakably to a young child jolted my maternal instincts.

I peered out the window and to my surprise, found a toddler around the age of five, on all four, her cherries fallen, strewed all over the damp grass near my lawn. She got up slowly, first on her hands, then on her knees as she lifted her bottom, and with an arduous effort hoisted herself up. Scrapping her left knee, blood steadily dripped, creating a small pool of crimson on her yellow sundress. I fumbled through my drawers for the first aid kit and sped through the doors. As I approached the wee thing, a man of great stature appeared hysterical at the sight of the child now licking that crimson stain.

“Oh, Madeline! My dear, I have been searching all over for you. Do you know, how worried I have been!”, exasperated the man, as he picked up the abandoned woven basket that once held the child’s beloved cherries. Handing it to her, he picked her up, kissing her rosy apple cheeks in delight.

“Excuse me, Sir, here’s some bandages and anti-septic that you could use for Madeline. She injured her knee, you see there, on the left?”, I quietly offered, as I take in the tender sight of father and child.

It has now dawned upon me that the man is in dire need of a tailor or at least a stylish. Who wears such a loose tunic draped across the torso like that in the twentieth century? God forbid, that of bleached lime! Oh, and that velvet cloak must go!  Sensing my scrutiny, he grinned sheepishly with gentle eyes.

“There is no need dear, for those bandages. Oh, yes indeed! God absolutely forbid this hue! He never fails to tell me so every. single. time during council meetings”, chuckled the man as he stretched out his massive hand for a handshake. As he envelops his fingers around mine, wings approximately three meters wide, sprung out from behind him within seconds!

“The name is Raphael”, he laughed, “and yes, I am an Angel, not a figment of your vivid imagination dear one!”, winked the angel as he read my mind.

“RAA….PHAEL?”, I blurted out aloud, flabbergasted as I jogged my memory to recollect where I have heard that name. Messenger Gabriel, I know. Archangel Michael, I also do know but Raphael? He covered with his hand over the injured knee and the fleshed was renewed, not a single scar remained. Ah, yes, the healer Raphael!

“and Guardian Angel to little Maddy here”, exclaimed Raphael proudly as Madeline buries her button nose into his chest.

“Come walk with us”, offered the angel. Still astounded, I accompanied at his right as Madeline took the other side. “She is such a curious little thing, always running off to places when I take my eyes off her just for a second”, he giggled, “ she tires me out , more than my heavenly duties but I wouldn’t trade her for the world nor the heavens!,” declared Raphael as Madeline attempts to grab an elderflower from the earth.

“Isn’t she too your heavenly duty, Mr Raphael?” I enquired. Wasn’t his guardianship part of his ordained ministry?

“No, dear one, Maddy isn’t. I chose to be her guardian angel; fought for that role with all my might”, Raphael whispered with severity. He released Madeline’s hand to allow her to play in the garden once more.

She was a beautiful child. Her hair was the hue of almonds and was tied in plaits fastened with ribbons that matched her sundress. Upon her neck, a petite heart-shaped pendant of heir-loom quality laid. She decided that she have had enough of the butterfly buzzing near one flower and began a slow dance near a birdhouse. Raphael then BLEW her a kiss, cheering her as she dances.

Suddenly, with each step, bellflowers swiftly sprung up, where her little foot once were. A gentle breeze softly whispered

The following steps were accompanied by pink carnations, which gathered all around her. A second breeze softly whispered

Then, rainflowers as she finished the last swirls of her silent dance. A final breeze softly whispered

Bewildered, I look up at Raphael, his eyes glistening with tears. I placed a soft hand on his back as he bent down into a gentle embrace, his breaths deep and staggered.

“The blessed sisters at the orphanage where she sought refuge, cried out to me to save her, but she absolutely refused! She knew her time was soon for she has glimpsed Heaven’s gates. There were no more linens left from the chapel to the kitchens to soak up the crimson flow. She accepted time with serenity, and in the final moments, instead of fighting for her life, she implored me to save her child instead”, reminisced Raphael, his face contorted with sorrow.

“And as she breathed her last, little Maddy over here, breathed her first”, his voice a shaky whisper. “She gave up her ghost, the moment she heard and saw Maddy’s jubilant first cry”, he finished quietly, his eyes deeply shut.

Madeline, sensing that she was the topic of discussion skipped cheerfully to us. She looks at me shyly as she gifted me a primrose.

“Madeline! There you are! My dear, I have been searching all over for you. Do you know, how worried I have been!”, exasperated a woman running towards us, her hand on the back of her veil to prevent it from falling. I turned to enquire who this lady was, but Raphael was nowhere in sight!

A blessed sister from the orphanage, she seems. Her life was dedicated to service, and her dress reflected that practicality. She smiled at me and picked Madeline up, planting a loving kiss upon her chubby cheeks.

I smiled.

“If I were asked to define Motherhood. I would have defined it as Love in its purest form. Unconditional Love.

Revathi Sankaran

Footnote- symbolism:

Rosemary Tea: Remembrance

Bellflowers: Unwavering Love

Pink Carnations: A mother’s eternal love

Rainforest Flowers: I love you back and I will never forget you

Madeline’s Gift of Flower: Primrose signifies eternal love

Raphael’s Tunic was a green shade because that is how he is commonly portrayed in paintings at least from my experience.

Source:

Plant symbolism. (2020). Retrieved 5 May 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_symbolism

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