”Hikari? ” Evelyn called out to her daughter who was returning with Leyon. Shed come to Claires house to fetch Hikari for lunch, not knowing that the two kids had gone to play outside. She stood waiting for them in the front yard of the cottage while engaging in conversation with Claire.

Seeing her mother in the distance, Hikari ran up to her and hugged her. Hikari pulled back and grinned at Evelyn, showing her big white set of teeth.

”I assume you had a wonderful time with Leyon? ” said Evelyn, smiling back.

”Hikari, you should come here to play with Leyon every day. Im sure he wouldn mind, ” Claire lovingly declared, to which Hikari furiously nodded her head in response. Leyon just stood there, looking uninterested.

”We should go now. Come Hikari. ” Evelyn led her daughter by the hand.

”Wait just a moment. ” Claire stopped them. ”Kids. You can hang around here for a bit. Granny needs to have a little talk with Evelyn, ” she said and dragged Evelyn away.

”What is it, Mama Claire? ” Evelyn asked curiously.

”Ive been meaning to give you this, ” said Claire, pulling out a small white envelope from her frocks pocket. ”Here. Its not much but take it. ”

”Is this money? ” Evelyn looked at Claire, shocked. ”I can accept this. Why are you giving me this much money? Mama Claire, I can accept this. ”

”Its okay, my child. Its for Hikari. This will be of some help in her treatment. I know your familys condition and how your husband is. I know how much you
e struggling. I just want to be of some help. ”

”But I can . This- ”

”Im doing this for Hikari. Take her to the hospital and get her treated. You must make her speak again. She can stay like this forever. ”

”But if I take this much money, how will you- ”

”You don need to worry about this old lady, Evelyn. I have plenty of money if thats what you
e worried about, enough to raise my grandson. I sold off some lands, you see, after my son and his wifes death. So, my grandson and I can manage well by ourselves now. Besides, Hikari is like my granddaughter. I want to help her. ”

Evelyn sighed, knowing there was nothing she could do to convince Claire. She, very reluctantly, accepted it. ”Thank you, ” Evelyn muttered with a strained smile.

”What were you talking about with Hikaris mother, Granny? ” Leyon asked Claire later that night as he helped her wash the dishes.

”Why do you want to know about that, honey? ” Claire replied calmly. She knew her grandson wasn the type of kid to poke his nose in other peoples business, but when he suddenly asked the question so out of the blue, it made her quite curious.

After a long silence, Leyon spoke again. ”Is it something concerning Hikari? I saw you giving something to her mother. Were you giving money? ”

”So thats what you were curious about. Now I understand why you
e asking me all these questions. Its because of Hikari, isn it? ” Claire laughed.

”Is something wrong with Hikari? ” asked Leyon, bringing the plates into the sink one by one.

”Its a long story, honey. But Ill tell you… You see, Hikari wasn born mute. She hurt her neck when she was four years old. Thats why she can speak. ”

At those words, something clicked in the back of Leyons mind. The reason why Hikari suddenly cried earlier that day was that she missed her voice too much. She wanted to speak normally like everybody else, but she couldn , even if she tried to. ”So how, howd she get hurt? ” Leyon continued to ask.

”Its because of her father… Her father, well, he… used to be a good man. He is a fisherman now, but a few years ago, he was also a businessman. When he suffered a major loss in the business, his career went downhill. As a result, became depressed and addicted to gambling. He changed. He started drinking, became violent, and abused his wife and daughter every day. I don think he sees Hikari as his daughter anymore. ” Claire inhaled sharply. ”Hikari is mute because he had once almost beaten her to death. When she was taken to the hospital, the doctor said her vocal cords had been damaged and if treatments weren done soon, she might never be able to speak again. ”

”I didn know she suffered like that. ” Leyon furrowed his eyebrows, hands balling into fists.

”Thats why I gave some money to Evelyn. It was for Hikaris treatment, ” Claire concluded, scrubbing the dishes clean in the process.

”Hikari… she doesn deserve to be treated like that by her father. ”

”I know, honey. ” Claire sympathised. ”Its all due to gambling. You know what they say. Gambling is like a disease. One person gets addicted, but the whole family suffers. ”

”How can she live with a father like that? ” Leyon said in a low voice.

”Hikari loves her father very much, ” Claire replied. ”She usually accompanies him on his fishing trips because she wants to spend more time with him. She misses the father who once dotted on her and treated her like a… daughter. ”

”Stupid. Its not even worth it, ” Leyon spat in disgust.

”I can get what you
e saying honey, but you should know that we cannot understand what a person is going through unless we put ourselves in their shoes. We should try to understand their feelings even though its hard sometimes. Everyone has their reasons for behaving the way they do, ” Claire reasoned with her grandson.

Those words made Leyon ponder the whole situation one more time. Perhaps his grandmother was right. Perhaps he should try to understand others before judging them based on their stories.

”Why are you so quiet now? ” Claire asked her grandson after not getting any response from him.

”Nothing. I was just thinking. ”

”Are you feeling bad for Hikari now? ”

”No. I just feel that shes… ”

”That shes what? ” Claire urged him to go on.

”Shes… pitiful. ”

Claire could not say anything back, besides giving him an apologetic look.

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