By Nusrat Ahmed
Image: Valeria Boltneva
On that night, electricity was out, and so 3 candles had been lit in Ella’s room. She has been strictly told to memorize the 9 times table by her maths teacher. As a result, the pressure was high for her at home. Ella hated maths! She would think to herself, how does this have anything to do with her future?
So, she started sketching a baby elephant. Her paintbrush was just about to hit the trunk of the little elephant when,
“Ella! What on earth are you doing?
“Nothing mum, I was just trying to draw my kidnapped baby elephant which has been taken by your sister’s son.”
“Behave yourself! Is this how you address your elders these days? Sarah is your aunt and Toto is your cousin brother. Start showing them some respect.”
She picked her pencil and eraser up from the floor with a puffy, tear-stained face. Ella old enough to know better, but she still gets really upset and cries like a newborn when she gets yelled at by her mother. She begins to write the pointless 9 times table with her tiny fingers.
“I do not have the whole day for you Ella, just finish writing them, and give me some peace. I need to deal with the cupcakes and mini apple pies, those are waiting for me in the oven, which need to be decorated. Stop obsessing over a toy for goodness sake it’s not helping anyone. I have to deliver these cakes to the customers, as Halloween is just around the corner!” Ella’s mum yelled frantically.
On a side note, Ella’s dear uncle John has gone to Australia to finish his PhD and he mentioned in his letter that he would not come back, so instead he sent Ella a baby elephant who would move its trunk when you press a button in his legs.
I hope you can feel the strong sentiments regarding the elephant, and for what reason Ella was so attached to it.
Ella started writing with a heavy sadness in her heart. A drizzle of rain was falling onto the soil, her white curtains were blowing; the scene reminded her of the movie “Casper.”
The candle lights shone onto her paper slightly conflicting with the numbers she wrote, she was still looking at her half-painted baby elephant with her runny nose at this point. As she was about to reach for a tissue, she heard her mother.
“Ella! Could you please go upstairs and bring me some rosemary leaves, and green lemons from the roof garden?”
Now you might be thinking it is Ella’s choice whether she does this or not, but as you can see from the urgency, it was not a request, more so a demand.
By that time the rain had stopped, a light gentle air was blowing outside. With her little feet she climbed up to the rooftop and saw something that she wasn’t prepared to see…
“A baby ghost!”
It was sitting silently within the lemon tree, smelling the fruit, and munching on them. Such a sight was impossible for Ella to comprehend.
She immediately closed her eyes, tightly gripped her white dress, and started praying…
“Oh, dear God, what I have seen is just my imagination, it is not real, it is not real…”
She tiptoed, approaching her mother’s green lime tree, after regaining her bravery.
The baby ghost was still there…
“Hello, little Ella…”
“What are you doing in my mother’s lemon tree, and who are you?”
“Please accept my apologies; I was simply attracted by the fragrance. Ahhh! So fresh and tangy. Oh! I am Casper the friendly ghost, a movie has been made about me in 1995 directed by Mr. Brad Siberling. Haven’t you seen that movie yet? I am pretty famous, probably the last friendly ghost on earth. Come on everyone on earth knows about me!”
Ella was quiet for a moment.
“Casper…is it really Casper?” She whispered to herself.
She pinched herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. She had watched Casper, well 9×2=18 yes, 18 times. But she acted as if she didn’t even know Casper so that she can be hauntingly ignorant about him. Ella didn’t want him to be prouder of his role as a friendly ghost, he had already gained enough attention!
“Stop your movie promotion please! Listen, you Casper or Asper, green lemons should not be eaten in that way! You might be good at acting, but you certainly do not know how to behave with lemons! First, you cut them into pieces and squeeze them into water in a glass, add 2 cubes of sugar, and then you’re done and surprise! Lemonade is ready! Plus, lemons are widely used with cakes, lemon tarts, lemon drizzle cake, roast chicken, and fish. They contain vitamin C which is very essential for a healthy body growth. Hmm, very concerning I can see, since 1995 you were still as little as you are now.”
“Yes, yes but why are you screaming? I can hear you. My mum says, you always, scream to those who enter your roof garden, and eat lemons without any consent.” Casper stared blankly.
“So, Mr. Asper, screaming at you was clearly the right decision then!” Ella pointed out. “And would you kindly climb down from my mother’s tree? I need to get some limes and rosemary, or she’ll swallow me whole with the toasted cinnamon bread she’s preparing for us! Move!”
“Okay, okay you don’t need to be so rude!” Casper complained.
“Hey famous Asper, it is Casper, not Asper okay? Let her collect her lemons and rosemary.” Stated a gasping voice.
When she looked back, she noticed her missing baby elephant waving its trunk and struggling for breath.
“Hi Ella! I was finally able to escape from Toto’s house. He is a very naughty child as he wouldn’t leave me alone! As soon as he fell asleep, I somehow managed to escape from his house!”
“How are you even talking, you couldn’t talk as far as I was concerned?” Ella said in shock.
“I can, but I only speak with people I like. I’m an introverted elephant who attracts like-minded individuals; I can’t be open and chatty with everyone I meet. You are welcome to come down from the lemon tree and sit with us, Mr. excessively friendly ghost, hahaha, and stop biting on them. I just showed you how to eat them, a few minutes ago.
“Please accept my apologies once more.” Casper claimed solemnly.
Ella’s eyes gleamed, all the stars above began colliding in her eyes. She started linking the stars together, one by one with her detailed touch in the charcoal black sky. Elephant’s trunk was moving, inviting all the radiant stars with him. Her fingertips traced the outline of a baby elephant.
“Ella!” A booming voice came. “It has been two hours since you came up here! What are you doing?”
Yes, that’s the problem with her mum, whenever she tries to do something attentively, mum has to break her concentration.
“Ugh! Coming, mum! Casper, you have to leave now, and baby elephant you please follow me to my room.”
Ella was found smirking at the dining table while munching on the toasted cinnamon bread and kept thinking about how she had met the famous Casper. As well as scolded him, probably the first person to do so.
She had scolded a Hollywood famous ghost actor! But it’s okay to be a mom sometimes, at least she could feel how her mum feels when she scolds Ella.
That night Ella had a peaceful sleep, affectionately hugging her baby elephant. The heavy, grey clouds drifted away slowly, as the adventurous night passed by…