Like Narcissus staring at his reflection in the pool, Cooper caught himself gazing at his own image in the puddle of water…azure blue wings with lacy black edges, wings that were larger than usual, scales pigmented with a slight scent to it. Shimmering as the sun shone to spotlight Cooper amidst its puny and plain moth cousins who kept themselves away as he passed by. Unlike Narcissus though, he wasn’t self-obsessed and put others before himself. A sight for sore eyes, Cooper was a welcome distraction for many, a child’s symbol for magic and for adults who still had it in them to pause and admire nature’s beauty, he was a perfect excuse.

All but one small boy who stood in the shadows always got teary-eyed each time Cooper chose to fly overhead. Intrigued, Cooper would always hover over him at a safe distance, hoping to understand why. Something about the boy filled Cooper with warmth…the tears wrung his insides out…he would go closer wanting to comfort the little boy but quickly fly away a tad apprehensive of being caught. Butterflies in the stomach, if that could apply to him is what Cooper felt every time he got nearer any human.

The boy held a jar in his hands. On closer look, Cooper saw a lively green bonsai tree inside the jar and a few wriggly creatures were sitting on the branches. They seemed to be glaring right back at him. One of them, in fact, seemed to wave and nod at him. Cooper almost thought that he noticed a semblance of a familiar smile, something tugged at his heart when he saw her. Who was she? How on earth did an abhorrent worm have such an impact on him?!

Inside the jar, two Caterpillars were chatting away.

“I can’t believe he is our Cooper! What has gotten into him? Ever since he came out of the cocoon, he seems to have forgotten us. Or maybe he has got so self-obsessed with this incredible transformation that he finds us so abhorring and does not want to be seen socializing with us?” remarked one of them.

“Oh, let’s just say he wears his ego on his wings” and so saying the other caterpillar rolled on his stomach and gave a gleeful laugh at his own wit.

Venessa another caterpillar who was witness to this conversation turned to him with a scornful look on her face. “Shut up you idiot, didn’t you see how he keeps coming towards us but shies away as he gets closer. Cooper lost his memory during the metamorphosis. I can sense his loneliness from here. He definitely feels something for us and our keeper Jimmy. I can sense Jimmy’s gloom all the time. Cooper was his best friend. You should know better William, he was your friend too”  

“Jimmy is nothing but a selfish boy who keeps to himself and uses us as a piece of entertainment. I would rather be out there in the open. And as far as you go, you are nothing but a lovesick worm who can’t let go of the past. He hasn’t forgotten anything, Cooper abandoned us in his newfound state of stardom. And the faster you come to terms with it, the better for you”, so saying William went to his spot behind the greenest leaf and started to chew on it.             

Unaware of what transpired in the jar, Cooper settled himself into the nook in the tree trunk and gave into his gloom. He could not fathom his own feelings. Why did he feel what he felt? What kept him going time and again to the boy with the jar of worms? Why did that worm in the jar nod at him? He didn’t need a lesson in communication skills to understand that it was a sign of recognition.

What was it about her that made Cooper feel so light in his head? And these questions were all he had to give him company. Cooper felt so lonely and lost. Where did he come from he mused? How come he was all alone and others had someone to lean on? Why was he so different from the rest? Why did he feel more lost than lonely at times? What was his life about? As much as he told himself he was an extraordinary creature, all the admiration that his beauty earned only made him feel lonelier and miserable. Something in him felt incomplete.  And his last thought before he let sleep take over was, how come he did not feel connected to his moth cousins who looked somewhat similar. Instead, why did he feel so drawn to an abhorring set of worms and a teary-eyed boy, who were nothing like him!

And again for the zillionth time, Cooper wished he would wake up in the morning with answers to these riddling questions and freedom from this melancholy.

At the same time, in the house below the tree that housed Cooper, Jimmy let his mom tuck him into his bed. She kissed his tears away and patted his cheeks.

“Mamma,” said Jimmy, “Cooper does not love me anymore. I think he is angry with me. I didn’t mean to spill the warm water on him. He is alive and well and is so beautiful. I seem to have lost him. I want to tell him sorry but each time, he flies away if I get any closer to him.”

“No Jimmy, am sure Cooper loves you but he just does not remember his past life. You should stop blaming yourself. It was an accident and you meant no harm. You should instead be happy and proud that he is alive and well and is living a fresh new life. He has just lost his way. I am sure someday Cooper will feel that love again and reach out to you in the same old way. True love and friendship are always meant to be. It’s what the heart feels. And the heart cannot forget what a mind can. You must never stop believing”, and so saying, she kissed him good night.

Jimmy prayed for a miracle that night. He hoped that his friend, the invisible man that his Mom called God, would bring Cooper and him together. He wanted his lost friend back. He will not lose hope. He also felt so sad for his dear Cooper. He must be feeling so lonely without them. He prayed to God to take care of Cooper and soothe his aching heart.  

The morning dew glittered as the sun shone with all its energy, beckoning another wonderful day. Cooper was already up and was sitting on a flower by the window sill. From there he could see the jar. And he knew she would be looking at him as he was looking at her. And there she was. Suddenly, the honk of the bus shook him out of his stupor. He saw her break away from the daze as well. Cooper knew that teary-eyed boy boards this bus every day in the morning and comes back in the evening. He liked seeing the boy as much as he liked seeing her. Only one made him go all gooey inside and the other made him feel a strange sense of comfort and strength. Somewhere a small part of him felt complete just knowing they were around.  

A few days passed, each praying for a miracle in their own way.

One day, Cooper saw the little boy crying in his mother’s arms. He felt sad for the boy and wondered what could cause so much anguish. Inside Jimmy’s voice was cracking with emotion and he could barely utter his words as the tears continued to stream down his eyes.    

“Mamma, Vanessa has also gone into the cocoon. Am going to lose her too.”

“Oh Jimmy, I know it hurts darling. Hold on to hope sweetie.”

Outside Cooper flew by the window sill and noticed that she was nowhere to be seen. There was a strange silky bag hanging from below a leaf. He was filled with dread that something had happened to her. Is that why the boy was crying? He fluttered away as quickly as possible. He went back to his nook, losing all interest in his daily adventure routine. He would wake up every day and check on the silky bag in the jar. And head back to the nook feeling disappointed and broken. Children in the park next door missed seeing the spirited Cooper.

The night gave in to the day, yet another dawn and the rays of light crept into Cooper’s nook. Cooper pushed himself out for his morning rituals. He suddenly heard some hearty squeals and lots of laughter that followed.

“Mamma, mamma, look it’s Vanessa. Isn’t she pretty?” screamed the boy.

Cooper felt so happy to see the little boy running around the garden, a beautiful orange and green butterfly flying over him. They seemed to be playing together. He could not take his eyes off her. Something about her was familiar. Here was someone who looked a lot like him. But she was more ravishing than he was. Moreover seeing the boy and the golden beauty, Cooper felt happy. The two-some kept him spellbound indeed. A happy little boy and a gorgeous butterfly. He parked himself safely on a branch in a plant nearby. After a little while the boy ran inside and the ‘Goldie’ as he caught himself referring to her, slowly flew closer to him and sat by his side.

“Hi Cooper”, she said.

“Hi,” said Cooper going all pink on his face.

“Do you remember me?” she asked

“I feel I do, but …”

“My name is Vanessa, you know me as Ess.”

“Ess, how do I know you?”

“It’s a long story Cooper, we have all the time to talk about it. Let’s just say we were one happy family -you, me and Jimmy there until we lost you. We saw you change and the change distanced us. Fate has brought us back together. We can go back to what we were.”

Lost indeed. That’s how Cooper always felt. Well! Including now! But this loss was of a different kind!!

“Cooper”, said Vanessa. “Are you with me?”

“Oh yes, I don’t want to be anywhere else” muttered Cooper.

Ess blushed. “Do you trust me?” she asked.

“With all my life,” said Cooper.

“C’mon then, let’s have some fun together” and so saying Vanessa flew down as the little boy ran out of the house into the garden once again. Vanessa flew directly towards him and teased the little boy parking herself on his nose, then his hair and on his hand finally. Cooper hesitatingly followed suit, he didn’t know why but he felt he could trust her enough to fly to the end of the earth with her. He also sat on the boy’s hands. Something that he always wanted to do but could never muster enough courage to do so before. And Cooper was strangely filled with the same sense of trust for the boy as well.

The boy giggled merrily and called out loudly for his mom. His mom came running out to see Jimmy cradling two butterflies in his hands.

“See mamma see, Cooper is back. And so is Vanessa. They love me and they still want to be my friends.”

Jimmy’s mother could not hold back on the tears of joy. Her boy’s life was now complete. His family was complete.

And this, dear friend, is how Cooper lost and found love in his life. Or should we say ‘lives’? Suddenly, Cooper knew that the jigsaw that he was struggling to solve had all fallen in place. He felt whole again. He found his family. And they were nothing like him. Yet all of them were connected by this thread called ‘Love’. The only thing that brought them all back together again. The only thing that was real, the only thing that mattered, and the only thing that kept them all going. And for Cooper, it was ‘Ess’ to love, now and forever!


Thanks for reading.

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