This short story is participating in Write Story from Picture India 2012 – Short Story Writing Competition.
The newly wed couple, Sonia and Rakesh, was off to Goa for honeymoon. Sonia had never been to Goa, so she was super excited but Rakesh had been there quite a few times. This was special, of course, a trip with his partner for the rest of his life.
Sonia enjoyed everything about the place, the beaches, the seafood, the cruise, street shopping, music, dance, everything. The third day of their trip was exciting as well as tiring, thanks to all the adventurous water sports. They retired to bed early that night.
Sonia was at a beach which had crystal clear water. Oh wait! It wasn’t a beach, it was a riverside. A riverside in Goa? What was she doing there? Where was Rakesh? She was all alone over there. She could see that the water was crystal clear, so clear that she could see the riverbed and the lovely colorful tiny creatures that were gliding in the crystal clear water. She had a weird feeling, though she was present there but it was as though she was watching all this through someone else’s eyes. It was all so confusing. Suddenly she was able to spot two little girls playing in the crystal clear water with their backs facing her. She started to walk and got closer to the girls, close enough to see their sparklingly smiling faces and the joy filled in their eyes. Their laughter was innocently musical. The girls seemed so happy in each others’ company that they’d not care about the world. All that they did was to laugh, play, smile, giggle, but they never spoke. It looked as though their souls were so strongly connected that they did not need words to communicate. They were lost in their own world. Sonia was touched to see such a beautiful sight, so pure, and almost divine. She wanted to be a part of their play and she was desperate. She started to walk hurriedly and was almost there. The moment she touched one of the girls, she could feel a hand on her shoulder which now began to shake her frantically. She could feel a jerk in her body and now she saw Rakesh.
‘What’s wrong with you? You’ve been gasping for breath, for the last couple of minutes, are you okay?’ Rakesh’s voice was full of concern.
‘Where are the girls? Where did they go?’ Sonia cried loudly, her voice almost choking.
She narrated the entire incident to Rakesh. He listened patiently and then he spoke,
‘Relax honey, it was just a dream. Get ready for shopping! All we are going to do today is walk on the streets and shop till we drop.’
Sonia showed little excitement. They kept walking from one shop to another but Sonia was lost. Rakesh could not take it anymore.
‘Why don’t you get over it? It was just a dream.’ he said impatiently.
‘It was not just a dream. I could feel what the girls were feeling; it was a very familiar feeling. I have experienced the happiness and the feeling of being carefree, but I don’t know when.’
As scheduled, they flew back home the next day. Days passed by, but Sonia could not forget that dream. She wanted to know what it signified.
One fine day, she came to know that she was soon going to be a mother. Her joy knew no bounds. She was on her way back from one of her routine check ups, when she started thinking,
‘Maybe, those two girls were my daughters. Maybe I’ll be blessed with twin daughters. Yes, this could be it.’
She eagerly began to wait for her due date. The dream was so strongly etched in her memory; she could not get it out of her head.
In the labor room the doctor whispered in Sonia’s ear,
‘Congratulations! It’s a baby boy!’
Sonia didn’t know how to react. Months passed by and the boy was ten months old now. Sonia’s dream was still a mystery. Sometimes it made her restless. One fine day she visited her mother to ask if Sonia ever had a twin sister who went missing or died at a young age. Her mother was shocked at her weird question.
‘My dear you are my only child! You never had any sister. I think you miss your friends terribly, and that’s why you are asking me such a weird question. It’s your fault. You should not have cut off all contacts after you got married.’
By the time her mother turned to look at her, Sonia was out of the room. On her way back home, the only person Sonia could think of was Tanya. She was her friend from high school. They bonded really well. Whenever Sonia was in Tanya’s company, the feeling was exactly how the girls in her dream felt. It was as though their souls were strongly connected and they were the happiest when they were together. After high school, they even graduated from the same university. After graduation, their frequency of communication decreased but the intensity of their relationship remained the same. Suddenly Tanya stopped answering Sonia’s calls. She would never call back either. Later Sonia came to know that Tanya had moved to a different city. Sonia could never make out as to what went wrong. She made every effort possible, but to no avail. Sonia was depressed on losing such a wonderful friend, her soul sister and as a result she did not stay in touch with any of her friends. A couple of years later Sonia got married. As she was reliving these moments with a heavy heart, her eyes were watery. But there was a sense of relief as well. She finally realized what the dream signified. She knew why she could feel connected to the girls. The feeling of being in the company of a true friend was relived by her in that dream. The mystery of the girls still remained. She could not figure out who those two girls were. Sonia did not bother about it very much.
Years passed, the dream was almost out of her memory now. Sonia’s son got old enough to get married. After a couple of years of his marriage, he was blessed with a baby girl and she was named Pinky. Sonia and Rakesh were grand parents now. After eight years, one day Sonia got a phone call. It was from Tanya, her best friend, her soul sister. Sonia could not believe her aging ears. She was fighting a losing battle with her tears. She wanted to talk so much that words would fall short to express her feeling. She just listened to Tanya’s voice. Tanya sounded frail. She asked Sonia to meet her and gave her an address of a hospital. Sonia took it down with a trembling hand. She sensed what was coming.
Sonia walked out of the hospital with a heavy heart. She knew this was her last visit to her dearest friend. Sonia did not walkout alone. Tanya gave her a farewell gift, her granddaughter Alisha. Alisha’s parents were no more. Sonia took her responsibility and adopted her.
It was one of their usual family picnics at their farmhouse. Pinky always looked forward to it. Sonia and Rakesh were there too with their entire family and close friends. Everybody seemed to have a nice time. The place was full of activities like playing, fishing, eating, chatting, dancing, swimming etc. Sonia and Rakesh sat on a bench on the riverside and were enjoying the weather. Suddenly Sonia was alert and her eyes froze. Rakesh followed her eyes and he knew exactly what Sonia was thinking. There were the two girls by the riverside, lost in their world, playing, laughing, and splashing water on each other. Those were the same sparkling smiles. There was a flood of emotions in Sonia’s heart. She had almost forgotten about it. Those were the girls she saw in her dream; Alisha and Pinky.