Her mind was agitated as a stone hit pond. In her lonely hours she thinks of all painless methods to ease herself by putting an end to her life. It all started when her father died of an accident when she was twenty. He was the only man who listened to all her dilemma and guided her path. There was a time when she laughed till her belly cracked, when she ate till her stomach ached. She strolled on a rusted bicycle with him and her younger brother, mostly walking the bicycle than riding it. She shrieked like a juvenile child when she heard the noise of his loud scooter approaching. She danced in the rain like a carefree bird. She felt overjoyed when every time he took her side whenever she had a fight with her younger brother but then also felt bad for him afterward.
It has been four years and although his face had blurred from her memories, his voice was still sound, his thoughts were still alive. She found herself talking to him in many of her sleepless nights. She was afraid of her frequent mood swings. She was afraid of hurting everybody around her. When she needed a shoulder, she got one.
He appeared to be an angel at first, the one who would rescue her from the gravest pit. He cared for her, took liberty in making her happy when she least expected it. The things, little things, which he did for her made her feel special. But her happiness ended like an unseasoned rain. A single text message ripped her apart from the very depth of her soul. She was alone, again. She got support from where she expected the least, her family. After a long tenure of unbearable pain she told her elder sister everything. The love and pampering she received could have filled the wound but it kept stuck like a stubborn ink stain. Her world had already fallen apart. The damage was done which could never be undone.
Owing to her unfair past she was afraid this time. She stared at the text message which she received lately from her colleague. Three distinct words kept flashing on the bright background,
“I love you”, it said.
It was another of her sleepless nights when she was talking to her father,
“I don’t know pa, everyone seem like a good person initially. I cannot let myself get hurt again. I’ve had enough”, she wiped her wet cheeks and took a peek at the message again, “I don’t know how to respond and what to say. He is a good person and I like him, but I am broken now pa, I am lost from the path of happiness. I don’t know what happiness even means anymore”.
It was raining heavily and the loud thunder broke the stillness around her every few minutes. Once she used to get thrilled just by the sight of dark cloud gathering around the vast blue sky. She used to lay her palm forward in a hope to catch the very first droplet of rain. In the utter dark shadow of the night she could hear the pleasant music of the droplets as they struck the window pane. Recalling her old days she put her palm against the cold window pane and traced the droplets as they made their way downward. Her mind enlightened her of the time when she sat with her father on the terrace with an umbrella against the heavy rain. That was the time when they exchanged their hearts and told each other about their days, their sorrows, and their treasures. That was the time when they were closest among themselves.
The rain would never be the same, she thought. How wrong she was she didn’t realize then.
She made a decision, to confront him and to tell him that she was nothing like the fake costume she wore everyday she leaves her house. Deep beneath, she was already dead. She decided to lie, to tell him that she didn’t love him and all she saw in him was a good friend. She had to wear a new costume tomorrow, a costume of hatred full of lies where there was no space of love and sentiments. In the long span of her life if she has learned anything from life, it has to be the art of caging her emotions.
She texted him that she needed some time to think and it would be in their best interest if they meet each other in person and talk about it.
It was one fine day of summer which could easily be mistaken for monsoon owing to the cloudy skies and cold mesmerizing wind. It didn’t take her long to identify him among the others in the crowded restaurant because of his tall and well built physique. He appeared to be talking to himself. She figured out that he was staging the manner in which he would introduce himself to her. Her observation was exact. A well measured tuxedo with the dark shades of brown enveloped the creamy white shirt with linked cuffs. The masculine aroma of his perfume was addictive.
“Hi”, she proclaimed in the very way she rehearsed hours ago.
“Hey, hello there”, he said. Only after she faced him did she notice his almond eyes, the eyes to die for. A pulse ran through her veins, calling out to tell him what her heart wants. But she shut her emotions out.
“Sorry to keep you waiting so long”, her eyes met his, full of spark and life, while hers was dead, lifeless.
“Not a problem. I am accustomed to waiting, especially when it is you.” he wanted to jump to the topic right in. The butterflies in his stomach were getting violent than ever.
“Aarav, about that text which I received yesterday”, she cleared her throat and switched her focus from his eager eyes to the coffee table, “I am sorry Aarav, I cannot be in a relationship right now. I have a lot of responsibilities and stuffs to take care of and commitment to any person is the last thing that I would prefer to go into.”
Her words failed to break his aspiration “Okay, then, when will be a good time for you?”
She gave him a puzzled look and took a discreet sigh “You don’t understand, I can’t think about it right now, right now…”
“Yeah I get it, not now then when? I can wait.” He interrupted.
“Never?”, this time her rudeness irked him, “Okay, I understand that you’ve got some issues that you want to sort out and I don’t mind waiting till you do that because for you I can wait a lifetime if you promise to be mine in the next. But, why never? Don’t just cut me off, maybe I can help you out. I want to be a part of whatever you are…
“You can’t be a part of it Aarav!” she yelled.
She covered her face behind her sweating palm to submerge her annoyance. When she replaced her palm and opened her eyes she found him looking at her, wide eyed. A tiny droplet of tear emerged from the corner of her eyes, “You don’t know me Aarav, all you know about me is my name and the fake persona of mine that I put up every day to hide my vulnerability. I’ve had a dark past and an utter unfair life. I am just alive because I am too cowardly to end my life by myself but I swear by my heart that not a day passes by when I had not wished for my life to end the next moment.”
“I know Sonali. I know that you are the most beautiful girl I’ve ever come across and I know that I love you. Ever since I saw you I wanted to be with you, to meet you, to know you and to know the reason behind the face which had such a gleeful smile but equally sad eyes”. He followed her gaze while she switched it from the table to his eyes again, “You can lie all you want but your eyes says it all. And you have eyes that tell a different tale than what you do every day. I know you had a rough past but I want to be a part of your present and future. I want to fill your eyes with joy and let you see the brightness which life has to offer”
“That is what I am afraid of. These things which you keep telling. I am afraid of all the right things which you keep telling, inducing me to fall in love with you. And I am terrified that you are doing it well. The hint of assurance that indicates that you are going to take care of me and my feelings. The promise of a shoulder when I need it the most. I’ve heard it all before, and I had let my guard down. But guess where it got me? Into the hands of some self centered jerk who used me, cheated me and dumped me like a discarded toy. Is that what love is supposed to bring you?”
“But how does that imply that every person would do the same to you. Just because some fool failed to understand your worth doesnt mean that everyone would do the same. Even god gives second chances Sonali, why can’t you”
“Because god wasn’t the one who suffered what I did Aarav, he was the one who inflicted it upon me. He was the one who allowed him to come to my life and let him do what he did to me. He was the one who took away my father and he is the one who thinks that I am the most unsuitable person to get any kind of happiness in my life.”
“Oh then you’ve waged a war against god as well?” he chuckled.
“I am sorry Aarav, I have to leave now”, she slipped her bag over her shoulder and carefully wiped her tears to avoid spoiling her mascara.
“Hey, wait. Just tell me…”
“Please Aarav; I don’t want to be here anymore. Let us meet some other time and talk about something else and never bring this topic again”, he kept seated as he watched her leave.
She walked along the aisle and reached the door. An invisible force pulled her behind. She stopped at once and looked behind over her shoulder. Aarav was already walking towards her with a pink smile on his face. He motioned her to sit in the nearby table and she did.
“Sonali, I am sorry for what happened to you, I really am. I realize how hard it must be for you. You have no reason to believe in anything that I say. I don’t know how to appease you and what to do to make you believe and realize how much I am in love with you. I have never been in love before, never felt this for anyone. But once I did, I realized its essence and its gift. You only feel alive when you are in love; you feel every breath of air you inhale. Each day passes by like a new chapter, much different from the old common days. You feel alive and you feel life like you never did. These things aren’t something which happens to everyone Sonali. It has to be love. It is love and it is only for you.”
As usual she lay on her bed but her mind was elsewhere for a change, drowned in his voice, in his words, cleansed with burdens and anxiety. Her lips had stretched a curve without her consent thinking about his appearance and his gentle nature. She clenched the sheets tighter. His words were dissolved in her memory and resonated like an unending echo.
It has to be love. It is love and it is only for you.
The more she though the more she smiled. For the moment she forgot the very reason for which she put on the wall. But then she remembered, and it washed away the smile off her face like pebbles at the sea shore. Suddenly, all the forgotten memories rose from dead. She was reminded of the times when she was happy like she is now, when she thought about someone like she is now and when she fell in love like she did now. Her conscious gave her a glimpse of the bitter past which she thought was long sunk. A hundred questions piled up in her mind.
Her life was sunshine when Raghav found his way into her heart. Not only he had a face to die for or a merciless physique, but an unsullied nature, which took away her heart and made her vulnerable. He cared for her. He made every small effort to make her feel special, to make her see what she means to him. He never missed an opportunity to express his love and his devotion towards her left her breathless. She saw herself through his vision and she found herself beautiful, special and loved. No matter what she did for him, her efforts were often overshadowed by his. But then arrived the dusk. Gradually, she started feeling ignored. The calls were less frequent and text messages were almost dead. She thought that he would have been busy in his work lately. She didn’t want to impose just because she was his girlfriend. And then arrived the night, a single text message erased all her misunderstandings.
It’s over. I am sorry.
Then she saw her through his real vision- ugly, unwanted and a plaything. She tried to contact him but to no avail. He changed his number, blocked her from social media and was nowhere to be found in his address. Her daydreaming was interrupted by a splash of cold water. Her world fell apart and was demolished to the last brick. And he was sorry for that.
Her reminisce was broken by a sudden vibration of her phone underneath somewhere. It was Aarav’s message.
“Sonali, you must be asleep by now. I hope you get this in your worst mood so that if I succeed in making you smile then I’ll understand that I deserve you. There are few things in life which make us hate everything in its proximity. I could only but imagine the pain which you would have gone through. But hey, life is all about walking forward isn’t it? I don’t suppose I could promise you that life from now on would be very pleasant for you because that would be a lie. But what I do promise is that wherever you go, whatever you face, there will be at least one person walking beside you.
I just don’t want to share your bed or hugs and kisses, but also your sorrows, your failures and your tears. I love you Sonali and I have always loved you, since the day I saw you walk into my office with a pile of unattended files. I witnessed a flavor of sweetens in your anger while you complained about the unpunctuality of your subordinates. Your face turned crimson and your soft lips kept spilling all the nasty words for them.
The second day when I saw you, you barely looked at me. I didn’t mind as I saw you were busy in your work but what I found funny was that you were looking for your pen which you kept stuck behind your head clutching your hairs. The third day you spilled your coffee on my shirt. I lied when I told you that I had just arrived to have a coffee for myself. I was standing there for almost fifteen minutes and I came there just for you. I hate coffee.
I lied when one night I called you at two ‘o’ clock at night and asked you about the missing file, I was actually thinking about you and wanted to hear your voice. I slept like a baby, smiling, after I hung up the phone. There are so many things that I want to tell you, but not like this on a text message. I want to lie beside you with your head on my chest and your heart near mine. I want you to be mine Sonali, will you marry me?”
She was unsure and yet she was sure. She was unsure of her destiny as to where it would lead to if she decided to hold his hand, and yet she was sure that wherever it would, it would be a place much beautiful and peaceful than she could imagine. Suddenly she felt the same sensation in her body that she did some time ago. She felt weightless and relieved. She trusted him. Every word that she read in the message, she felt it to be true, emerged right from the heart. She had met him and somehow she sensed an impression of honesty in him. His words were unbound, and she knew that it was meant for her. His gaze was focused on her, as if to know the person hidden within her. His gentle touched assured her that he would hold his hand in every walk of her life. She was no more in any dilemma. She had already made up her mind. She decided to take a risk she knew she wouldn’t regret. And she definitely didn’t.
It was raining heavily when they were returning from a late night show. That was when he made her realize that the rain would ever be the same for her- special, memorable and imaginative. She looked puzzled when he suddenly stopped short, drenched in rain. Then at once she felt a sensation over her finger. She looked in awe when he slid a ring into it. He couldn’t recognize her tears from the raindrops. An obvious understanding dawned upon her, she was his, forever.
It was an auspicious day according to the elders when they decided to tie their knots. The preparation was almost complete and the family was taking care of the remaining proceedings. Aarav looked at his watch. There was still time. There was one last thing which needed to be done.
“Where are you going, now?” she asked in her amusement.
“I will be back in no time, I promise”, he said, “I have to visit someone”
“An old friend”, he didn’t wait for her response.
His boot ran through the dirt and dying weeds when it finally found concrete path. He took a sharp right and walked forward passing plentiful of people who maintained their numbness. He never found a quieter place inhabited by so many people. He then took another right and reached his destination a few steps ahead. His old friend, right there where he left him.
“Hey, brother. Guess what? Today I’ll be a married man. Yeah. And just so you know I am going to be the luckiest husband alive. Ever since I met her, I have felt a change in me. I am not that person anymore who gets annoyed at every trivial matter. I am a changed man now and that’s just because every second I am reminded of how fortunate I am to have found her. And that’s all because of you. I wish I could find a way to repay you for what you have bestowed upon me. You were right about her, she is an angel. Her mere presence makes me forget all my problems. You told me to fall in love with her but all I did was just to look at her, and I fell in love. I…I don’t know what else to say. I promised you to keep her happy, to give her the love and affection which she deserves, to make her laugh and to wipe her tears. I will, till I catch my last breath. I will do everything that a man can do, for his love. I will love her, with all my heart.”
He wiped his sleeve against his cheek and ran his finger across the name engraved in the plaque,
“I think, in one of these days I’ll have to break a promise. I’ll have to tell her about you. Tell her that you never left her, you loved her. I am sorry, but I can’t fathom to see the hatred in her eyes for the very person who sacrificed his happiness for hers. She had stopped talking about you in front of me like she used to. But, I had caught her weeping silently and even a fool can tell those tears are for no one else but you. She has to know that you loved her and the only reason you stayed away was so that she didn’t have to see you die. It won’t be easy that’s right. But, I have to do it and I will do It.”, he took a quick glance at his watch, “I guess I have to go now. I don’t want to keep her waiting for me. Sleep in peace, buddy, and… one more thing. Thank you.”