The power is in the story.
She has her mother’s smile.
She didn’t know that. Nobody told Giya what made her memorable.
All that changed in an instant.
She darted out of her boss’s office. She was an emotional wreck. She asked for the open role. His answer — you smile too much. She did not mount a counter attack in self defense. Not in her persona. She quietly listened. The shocker was censoring what she heard.
The humdrum of the rest of the day was a blur. She lumbered to her car. She started the ignition. The hum of the engine triggered her memories.
The last time she felt this way was when she was young. Giya, her name means love, lost her loving mother young. Her memories of her mom were a collection of persistence. She had a nightly ritual — “Dad, tell me more about mama, how was she like?”
One day, he gave her a little white diary to read. A beautiful pressed flower was glazed with tape in the first page.
Giya gently touched it. Dad is sentimental. It was a flower he shared with mom.
As the pages swayed, Giya recalled her dad’s words on the next page — verbatim.
“She had me at hello with her smile.
I ventured near her seat in my freshman year, she welcomed me with a broad smile — undiminished for anybody. I sat at the back. Watched as she greeted folks. When she saw someone she knew — her smile became thousand watt beams.
I wanted to be on the other side of that beam — always.”
Giya knew she had something in common with her dad. Both of them like to skim their memories and end up with vivid visual details.
He had shared his story with her about his childhood.
“I had an odd habit, when everyone was watching a movie — I watched the nuances on my family faces — the unconscious smile, the smile that is the expression of their mind without the awareness, the chuckle, the glint in their eyes, the ever so small dilation of the eyes.
There are some writers who are fascinated by faces. Where the serenity brings the calmness to the observer’s composure; the whiff of breeze and the fickle of the eyelids is what lingers in my mind. When stillness soothes people, the smallest perturbations between the moments of stillness churn before me. The curse of visual memory or a boon? I do not know. The photo memory shapes my inner core.”
True to his childhood, he carried it forward to his biggest decision of his life.
When Giya brought up over a dinner conversation, “When did you decide mommy was the one to get married?”
“The moment I shook hands with your mom’s mom and your uncle. They had the same positive energy — the same innocent smile , unbridled with joy. I saw your grandpa at the dinner table — a quiet man with a quiet smile. His family lit up the room. I could see myself in his shoes with your mom by my side.”
Giya’s stopped the car. She had mechanically driven to her dad’s home. It has been 10 years since she lived there. She surprised herself. She knocked on his door. He was pleasantly surprised to see her on a weekday. He quickly whipped up his lip-smackingly good dinner that was her comfort food — angel hair pasta with a little extra pepper, parsley leaves sprinkled in with extra lime juice drizzle.
As they quietly ate, he asked her, “is everything ok?”
She shared about the key negotiation job that opened up at the office. She said it matter-of-factly, “My boss wants a poker face. He didn’t feel my countenance was the right fit. Otherwise, I had the chops.”
Her dad listened. He walked by her chair, hugged her head close to him. “Lot of us have told you that you look like your mom. What I would tell you today is that you have the aura of her 1000 watt smile, her joy de vivre — and more. There is something magical about your smile — the way it unfolds. You have a pause, you study the face, you absorb who is on the other side and then your eyes dilate. And then comes your beam. I can even hear that smile on the phone, every time I speak with you. You care with your smile — anybody miles away can sense it.
My darling daughter, my memory may slip me on the content of our conversations, I look forward to the smile in your voice — every time the phone rings.
You have a gift — a treasure bigger than your moms.
Bosses can sometimes be wrong. In this case, he is.”
With that, he swooshed his hand. The white dairy magically appeared. Giya smiled. Her best memories came flooding back — let the magical world bloom in the smile of a child.
After mom died, her dad practiced magic just for her.
Until that day, the smile was like Mona Lisa’s enigma. The smile was her social safety net. When she had nothing better to say — she smiled. When she wanted to sprinkle positive energy — she smiled.
In her father’s hug, Giya found her clarity- her identity was intertwined with her smile. Now, she smiled at her imperfectness. She was 28. It did not matter. Her parents were on her side.
She exactly knew what she needed to do at work. She was ready for the new dawn.
She touched the preserved flower on page 1. She felt connected.
She could sense her mother smiling at the other end — a full effervescent smile — nothing was half baked about both of them.