” Your tests results came back. Can you come see me?” the doctor asked Pari.
” My fiance works near your hospital. I will ask him to pick them up doctor. I am not in town right now. ” Pari spoke into the reciever.
” I need to see you in person. Its important. When will you be back?” the doctor continued.
” Hmm. Alright then. I will see you tomorrow. I will take tonight’s flight.” Pari replied. She didn’t like the doctor’s tone. She felt queasy all of a sudden.
The next day,the Doctor’s office.
“Is it terminal? ” Pari asked. The doctor nodded.
She fought back tears while she was driving back. She knew she had to stay strong. She had limited time on her hands. She had to do all that she can do for her family before its too late. She had to pay her brother’s tuition and set up an account for her parents and her brother. She had to get the house done. She had to break her engagement to Kartik.
She knew the last one was the hardest task on hand. Kartik was her boyfriend for seven years and fiance for six months now. He would’ve been her husband in a month.
How do I tell him. I can’t tell him about my illness. I have to do this very carefully. Make sure he moves on.
She sees his car parked outside that restaurant they usually come to every day. She loved this place. She couldn’t see him anywhere though.
Good. I get some time to clean up. She dabbed a wet tissue over her puffed up face.
She walked in and couldn’t find him anywhere. Then she saw it. A white lilies bouquet on “their” table. He’s here.
Then he appeared out of nowhere smiling like he’d won a lottery. He hugged her and kissed her on the forehead.
” You’re late” he said handing her the flowers.
” Yeah I know… I got caught up in traffic. ” Pari explained.
” No problem. I was talking to a really pretty girl till now. ” He laughed.
Pari smiled awkwardly. how am I going to tell him?
He was talking non stop now. Pari couldn’t concentrate. She felt sick. She knew it would destroy him. She has accepted her fate. But she knew he won’t. He would want to be a part of it. She had to lie. Break his heart but not let him ruin his life.
” Kartik” she said. ” We need to talk.” she continued.
He looked confused. Then he smiled knowingly, ” You are nervous about the wedding. Aren’t you?” He squeezed her hand.
” I know with the shopping, relatives, invites and everything you might be a little vexed. But, I promise you I will make our wedding fun and very special. Look Pari. They moment we told each other that we cared about each other was the day we were married. This is just a wedding. This doesn’t change anything. I love you. ” He said.
Pari wanted to throw up. She wanted to die at that instant. It would be much less painful for everyone.
Why him? He is a great human being. He deserves better than this. I love him.
She avoided eye contact with him. She then said abruptly, ” There is someone else. I know this is sudden. But I am sorry. We can’t get married. ”
She took off her engagement ring and put it in his hand. ” And lets not make this a big deal Kartik. I know we were in a long relationship. But, I got used to you. I don’t feel anything for you anymore. All we have is friendship left. There is no passion in our relationship. But with him, I feel different. ” She said blankly staring at the wall.
Kartik looked discombobulated. He asked, ” Pari, Are you joking? This isn’t really funny. You are kinda freaking me out. ”
Pari made an exasperated face. ” This is the problem with you Kartik. You don’t listen when I talk. And spare me the melodrama. I have made my decision. You needn’t do anything. I will call off the wedding. I will talk to our families. ”
Kartik couldn’t speak anything. He just looked at her in disbelief.
Pari got up to walk away. I have to go before I give in too much. Kartik knows me well. I can’t let him read my mind. I can’t see him. I will break down.
She took larger steps than usual to get out. Kartik called her name. No, this can’t happen. Has he seen the pain in my eyes. Act cool.
” Yeah Kartik. ” She said in an irritated tone.
After a minute, Kartik opened his mouth. He was still holding the table as if his whole world is about to crumble. ” I will break it off. Please, Pari. My mom will be devastated. I will call off the wedding. ” he pleaded. “And please keep the ring with you. I can’t see it” He said giving her the ring back while carefully making sure that he doesn’t touch her.
” Fine by me.” she shrugged like she didn’t care. She walked away never looking back once.
She got into her car and drove away. She stopped about 10 blocks away from her home and started crying. She couldn’t drive anymore. She just broke his heart. And she could feel hers breaking too. She was clutching the ring and waiting for the tears to stop.
He didn’t put up a fight. He didn’t even ask questions. I destroyed him. I destroyed the man I loved. I wanted to marry him and raise a family with him. Please take me now God. I can’t live with this.
Days passed. She knew she had very few months left. But, Pari wished it came sooner. There is too much damage I’ve done she thought. The two families never met anymore. This was a huge blow. Her mom and dad hated Kartik now. He took all the blame on him. Even his mother hated him. Their friends seemed to see Pari as a victim. This killed her more. She couldn’t tell everyone that she’s going to die. Kartik was paying the price for her illness. She wished desperately for her days to end.
She knew she couldn’t miss Naina’s wedding. She had to be there. But, she knew Kartik would be there too. But, would he? Naina hates him now. She wouldn’t have invited him.
But there he was in a grey suit helping his mom out of his black sedan. Pari wanted to leave. But she could feel Naina’s hands around her.
” I know this is hard for you. But, I love his mom. I have always been attached to her. She had to be here. I guess he tagged along too. What an ass” Naina said angrily.
No he isn’t. I am one though.
She went and sat where she wouldn’t run into her. She didn’t want to see his mother either. The last phone call they had was a long apology over her son’s behavior. She had said she still couldn’t believe he could do this to Pari.
Pari closed her eyes. She wanted to leave. She tried to concentrate on the wedding instead. Naina was looking beautiful. And happy.
She remembered Kartik’s words. ” I can’t wait to marry you. ”
She pushed the thought away. She had a call to make. She had to schedule a doctor’s appointment. She spotted a vacant chair not too far away. The place was deserted.
She talked to her doctor and scheduled an appointment for the next day. She got up and turned around. She found herself looking right at Kartik. They were close. She could smell his familiar cologne.
” Hey” he said.
” Hey. Didn’t see you there. ” She said trying to brush away the surge of feelings.
” How are you? ” he asked quietly.
” I am good Kartik. How are you doing? ” She said trying to be formal.
” Ok I guess. How is everything? Where is your .. um.. guy? Did he come? ” He asked uncomfortably.
He is right in front of me. He probably hates me.
” No. He is busy. ” She replied.
After a long pause Kartik probed further, ” Is it serious? Not that its any of my business. But… do your parents know? ”
” Yeah. I am happy Kartik. Very happy with him. So are they. ” She said. ” What about you? Are you dating someone? ” Pari asked.
Please say you are. Or rather don’t say. I can’t believe it has come to him.
Kartik just smiled.
He then looked at her directly. ” Is there someone else? Look Pari, I know I shouldn’t ask you this. But, I could feel your love always. That’s why I find it very hard to believe that you did find someone else.”
Of course you could. I did love you. I still love you. I always will.
” What do you want Kartik? How does it matter ? I don’t want you. Don’t you get it? ” Pari said in a final tone.
I am sorry. I have to do this Kartik.
” Pari. Give me another chance. I love you. You are my soul mate. I can’t live without you. ” Kartik seemed to struggle for words. ” I will change. I will make this work. You needn’t marry me. We will take this slow. Please be with me. ” He continued.
Kill me now.
” Kartik. Don’t you get it? I don’t want this. ” Pari said. ” Yeah, I didn’t fall in love with someone else. I just don’t love you. I couldn’t say that to your face. So I lied.” Pari said defiantly.
” Why? ” Kartik was now holding her shoulders.
” Leave me Kartik. You are hurting me.” She said to his face.
” Sorry.” He let her go.
” Sorry Pari” with that he walked away.
I love you Kartik.
Pari felt tears on her cheeks. She left the place.
The next day, Pari’s office.
Six months she thought remembering what her doctor said this morning.
It really didn’t matter now. Kartik hates me. I might as well die.
The phone rings. Reception? May be dad stopped by.
” Hello. Yes. Uh huh. Are you sure? Can you tell him I am busy? Oh did he? Okay send him in. ” Pari hung up with that.
Kartik is here. After what happened yesterday? Doesn’t make sense. Did he finally give up on me? Is that why he’s here? One final goodbye?
Pari was looking at the door. Kartik could walk in any minute now.
” Hey.” He said as he walked in finally.
” Hi. I am kind of busy you know. ” Pari replied curtly.
Yeah. Very busy. Was staring at the door for the past 5 minutes.
” You look great. Blue suits you ” He said casually.
Pari could feel her cheeks flush as soon as he said that. She made an annoyed face instead.
” I don’t have all day Kartik. Some of us have got work to do. We can’t all worry about our exes all day like you. ” Pari said rather loudly.
He then walked up to her. Pulled her into his arms and hugged her like nothing ever happened.
Why is he doing this?
” Are you insane? ” Pari protested.
” No you are. ” Kartik replied still hugging her. He was in no mood to let her go.
” Pari.. why were you at Dr. Barua’s office today?” he asked casually.
Pari didn’t say a word. She dreaded this day. She thought she’d be long gone before anyone knew about her condition.
” You were diagnosed the day you broke things with me. You have around six months now. ” he continued.
NO. This can’t be happening.
Pari looked up at his face. She saw enough.
” Please leave, Kartik. ” She shoved him away.
He just moved back a few steps away. ” Pari, I love you. I want those six months.” he pleaded.
” No. This is my decision. Move on Kartik. You will love again. You have to move on. ” she said with tears.
” Marry me. Give me those six months with you. ” Kartik said taking her face into his palms.
” No. I am dying Kartik. I don’t know what part of it you don’t get. ” Pari said pushing him away.
” I will die too. Sooner or later.I want to marry you while I am alive. I want a life with you Pari. No matter how many days. ” Karthik replied now pulling her back into his arms.
” Why are you doing this? Why? ” Pari pleaded.
” Because I love you and I know you love me more.” he said smiling patiently.
” I am not going to marry you. No matter what. Its my decision. I will be gone after six months. And you will never remarry or have kids. I know you Kartik.” Pari was yelling at him now.
” I am not going to marry anyone else or have kids either. Whether you leave or you stay, I will love you. You might as well marry me.” he said.
” I have made up my mind. ” She said shoving him away.
” Yeah. You make up your mind always. Don’t care to tell me anything. You decide I am better off without you. You decide that I would move on. You decide that I should hate you. You decide that you should sacrifice our love.Its always you. I don’t have anything to say? ” Kartik was shouting too.
Pari repeated, “Please leave Kartik. ”
Kartik then said . ” Now you listen to me Pari. The last few months you have tortured me. I need you in my life. I am going to be with you whether you like it or not. Whether we are married or not.”
Pari was crying now.
He held her trembling body and stroked her hair. ” I know. What you are going through. And I know no one knows about your condition. I am not going to tell anyone. Just please please let me be here. You are the most important thing in my life right now. Give me these 6 months my love. Please. ”
” You are insane Kartik” she said between sobs.
” I will take that as a yes” he said and kissed her.
Pari was kissing him back. She then knew things are out of her hands.
Kartik smiled when they finally broke their kiss. ” I am here. ” he said.
Pari kissed his forehead. ” I love you Karthik.”
“When is your next appointment? ” he inquired.
“In two weeks.” She replied.
” We are going together.” he said in a final tone. He sealed her lips with a long lingering kiss when she tried to protest.