Chapter 1 :
He was lying on the ground half conscious. All that he could hear was rattling of the leaves as he tried to get up. He mustered all his strength to get up. A beautiful hand was extended to help him. He held the hand and got up. It was an Angel. He saw a beautiful radiant face smiling at him. He held her hand tight. Suddenly he felt her hand turning ice cold and green. He looked up again. The angel has turned into a witch. She threw her wand to hit him. He bent down and escaped her hit. When he tried to raise his head, he suffered a severe blow. It had put him down. His head was spinning. He felt he was being dragged. He was being carried away somewhere. He heard a chirping of a bird. As he was dragged, the chirping became louder. He tried to open his eyes. All that he could see was a Mongolian colored sky and a brown huge bird, flapping its wings. He opened his eyes wide, to get a better view. The surroundings started to look familiar. The sky had turned to ceiling and the bird, was the fan above his head. The chirping of the bird was his alarm sound. Karthik, sat on his bed and shook his head as though to wither the dreadful dream he had just had. Nightmares had been more common to him only since she left him. He could still hear her last words. “You are an emotional idiot. You just know to live in fantasy. You are unfit to be here, you are unfit for my love. Dare to disturb me again. Good bye”. He shouted too loud “Don’t leave me”, but the words were stuck in his throat. He stood helpless amidst the waves of the sea and saw her striding away from him. His words struck in his throat and the tears struck in his eyes.
Karthik was brought back to present by the click of his door knob. “Karthik, thought you were sleeping, came in to turn your alarm off”, his mother spoke in her warm voice. It felt better to see her smile. “Now why don’t you leave the bed and get ready?’, she patted her loving son. Karthik smiled back weakly at her and got up to start his day. As he took his mobile to turn off the alarm, he saw that there was a missed call and two texts. Hari had texted him and Ashwin had called him. As he was about to leave his home, Karthik’s sister Aarthi was waiting for him, to drop her at her college. “Hey , no , I am running out of time, I can drop you nearby instead”, Karthik answered. Aarthi frowned. Later Karthik had dropped her at a nearest point and reached office.
As he approached the cafeteria, he saw a beautiful girl dressed in an elegant yellow salwar, tapping the table with her fingers. Karthik, found his legs automatically walking towards her direction. “Hey”, she exclaimed. “Sorry, Hari, got late”, Karthik apologized. “Had to drop Aarthi at her college”, Karthik lied to Harini(Sorry Hari, the way he loves to call her). “Don’t lie , my dear. Aarthi texted me now. Seems you had dropped her at the nearby bus stop” . Harini flashed her beautiful smile. Karthik, smiled weakly. “Shall I get you a coffee?”, Harini asked as she saw his dull face. “No Hari. I just came to cafeteria to see you. My day is not a day, if I don’t see you the first thing in office “, Karthik spoke in true emotion.”Sure, Always there for you, my dear”, Harini spoke and went out to get him a coffee.
“So, how was the production move yesterday?”, Ashwin asked casually. ”Oh , Yeah! Went on well man. Had few hiccups, but still it was good”, Karthik replied. Ashwin and Karthik were team mates. They had been working in the same project for the past 5 years. Within their projects they are leading individual teams.
“Hey Ashwin! Good morning”, a new ping was highlighted in his system. It was from Harini.
“Yes madam, coffee session over huh?
“Cool, cool, just asked”
“Hey Ashwin, Karthik’s face was completely dull this morning, asked him what it was. He did not give me a proper reply. Seems he is still suffering a lot out of it”
“Yes Harini, I noticed it too. Her departure is taking toll on him”. It’s been six months. Still he is too much affected”
“He loved her so much”
“Girls never understand. They walk away so easily. You women can stay fit, just by walking away from your boyfriends. You people walk away so much”
“Nice sarcasm. Don’t you dare to generalize”
“Anyways Ashwin, just take care of him”
“Ok Mommy. Sure”
“Good that you are not in front of me, stupid”
“Thank you :P “
The chat ended.
Ashwin was giggling that he had irritated Harini.
“All smiles?, what’s up dude”, Karthik asked as he peeped into Ashwin’s screen. Ashwin switched the monitor to show his code. ”Nothing , the code looks funny”, Ashwin grinned.
“Really?”,Karthik raised an eyebrow in sarcasm.
It was yet another lazy Monday morning. Ashwin reluctantly kept pressing the keys in his keyboard, just to keep his monitor active.
“Sleepy boy”, Karthik patted on his back.
“Typical Monday syndrome”, Ashwin sighed.
“You are aware of the release?”
“She was allocated under the world’s coolest and smartest guy’s team. You know who?, That’s me. But seems she is having some timing issues. She is actually from my area only da, where I had lived until my college. She spoke to Ram and she is getting allocated to a different team”
“And that’s my team”, Karthik exclaimed.
As they were talking, Ram their project manager accompanied by a beautiful girl was approaching their desk.
“Hey Karthik, as discussed, she is Aparna. She would be joining your team. Please have a session to introduce her.”
“Sure Ram, we have a client call at 6, would brief her about our team before that call”.
“Thanks Karthik”, Ram left.
“Great escape?”, Ashwin giggled.
“No Sir, Actually I am sorry”
“That’s ok, your new team lead is a cool guy. You will have a wonderful time. Also No ‘Sir’. You can call us by our first name.”, Ashwin smiled, locked his system and went out.
“So Aparnaa, your place is 10F231. Please be seated there. I will forward you the project documents. Please have a look at them”, Karthik spoke professionally and short.
“Actually Karthik, I stay 35 kilometers from here. So it was difficult for me to return home after 8. Ashwin’s team had a lot of work only by that time. I could not cope up. Hence I was released from there”
“Oh I see, thats fine. Hope you do not have any such problems here”, Karthik smiled too formally.
Aparnaa sensed that Karthik was not interested in building conversation with her.
“Ok Sir, I am going to my place”, Aparnaa spoke in a disappointed tone.
“No Sir. As Ashwin pointed out, you can call me Karthik”, he turned to his screen.
Aparnaa thought what the issue with Karthik was. She had so much fan following during her training period. Guys from other batch often visited her classroom, just to see her. Her dressing sense, hair style and her facial features were a huge hit among her peers. She could not accept that she was being avoided by a guy.
“So how is the new girl, dude? “ , Ashwin nudged Karthik during lunch.
“That’s it. This is the topic for today’s lunch? “, Harini grinned, her cute fingers playing with her roti.
“Spare me, you idiot”, Karthik rolled his eyes.
“Hey who’s that? Am curious”, Harini continued.
“Hari, come on. She is a new member to my team. Aparnaa, her name is. Seems she had some time issues in Ashwin’s team. Hence she had come here. It was only for few days she had been in this guy’s team. It’s hardly a couple of months she had joined here. Within this short span, these newbies are complaining about timings. Can’t really forget those days, during which we almost stayed 14-15 hours a day. Few times a month, overnight too. “ Karthik sighed.
“And I remember, the way Karthik used to reply to Priya’s messages. One hand on the keyboard and the other in mobile. Once he actually replied to Priya with the project status, the one he was about to send to Onsite, funny guy”, Ashwin laughed loudly. A sudden silence prevailed among the Trio. Ashwin stared at Harini who was looking at Karthik with a blank expression. Karthik’s hand trembled as he dropped his spoon onto his plate. He got up quick and strode away.
Karthik and Ashwin never spoke a word until tea break.
“Sorry about what happened during lunch, da”, Ashwin apologized during tea break, breaking the silence between them.
“That’s ok da. Even am Sorry for walking away from you guys”
“That’s ok, dear”, Harini brushed away few strands of Hair that was falling on Karthik’s forehead.
She wore a blue salwar and matching bangles. It tingled as she brushed away his hair. He felt her fingers were soft and warm.
Karthick’s mobile vibrated in his pocket, shaking him off his feeling. It was a call from Ram. Karthik attended it.
“Yes. Sure. I am on the way, Ram”
“Hey guys, seems there is a sudden abnormal time elapse in the redemption function in SIT Environment. Support team has contacted Ram. I am leaving now. Hey Ashwin, better come soon dude. Hari bye , sweets”, Karthik stood up and walked in long steps.
Harini waved at him, with an anxiety in her eyes.
“This Guy has lost his charm”, Harini spoke in true emotion.
“Yes. And if there is one person who can bring back colors to his life, It could only be you, Harini. Why don’t you tell him at least now”
“No Ashwin. That will make me look like a spectacular opportunist. Which I am not. So not now. May be never. I just want Karthik in my life. Which role, is his choice. I am open to anything. All that I need is, I just want him throughout. Anyways, bye Ashwin”, Harini spoke in haste as Ashwin had once again begun a sensitive topic. She got up and was ready to leave.
Harini smiled and waved away, thinking about the untold love of hers. The pain it gave was immense. She was not aware, there was yet another heart suffering the same pain as her’s.
“Hi Karthik”, Aparnaa extended him an invitation.
“Aparnaa weds Srinivas”, were the words that caught Karthik’s attention.
“Oh! That’s a great news. Congratulations!” Karthick exclaimed.
“Thank you and please make it to the wedding along with the team. I have invited everybody in person”, Aparnaa told fondly.
“Oh Sure”, Karthik replied and Ashwin nodded as she extended an invitation to him and repeated the same words.
“Hey , I have a wedding this weekend “, Harini told to Karthik and Ashwin during lunch break.
“Really?, looks like this weekend is an important wedding date . We have a wedding, to attend, too.”, Ashwin shrugged his shoulders.
“Wow, that’s a co incidence”, Harini exclaimed, taking out a flashing red and golden card that read the same words which Karthik and Ashwin read few hours ago.
“What, Apranaa’s wedding. Hari, come on, don’t tell me you are the girl’s friend”, Karthik sighed
“So mean, why does she bother you?, she is my neighbor. But wait, So was this Aparnaa who got added to your team few months,ago?, My god, world is so small.”, Harini spoke, shaking her head and every time she shook her head , her golden yellow danglers hit her cheeks. He could not take his eyes off her.
“Hey, why did not Harini join us?”, it was fourth time Ashwin had asked Karthik.
“Hey, man what’s with you? Since she is her neighbor, she had come here around 4, to help her in makeup and other stuffs, along with her mom”, Karthik’s irritated voice annoyed Ashwin.
“Fine, fine, cool, dude”, Ashwin patted to lighten the mood.
Karthik, spotted Harini walking towards them. She wore a green and pink saree and every stone in her accessories exactly matched the green shade and glittered. She had left a fringe of hair to fall free on her face from her forehead, which danced in synch with her walk.
“Looking handsome, man”Harini smiled at Ashwin, “And Karthik, what is the matter with the beard. I asked you to take it off, didn’t I?”, Harini frowned.”On top of everything, this shirt looks so much out of size for you. You look as though you have gone down ten pounds since yesterday”, Harini complained.
“Ah!, it’s raining compliments here”, Karthik spoke in sarcasm.
“Hey, sorry, I did not mean to. I was just not ok with you looking so mi..”, Harini stopped in between.
“Come on, complete it. Miserable, right?”, Karthik stared.
“No did not mean to, I actua….”, Harini was interrupted by Ashwin’s voice who was carrying two welcome drinks in his hand. “it’s for us “, he grinned. “I don’t need it”, Harini replied. “Just kidding, I had it there, this is for you two.”, Nothing lightens the mood like food Ashwin thought. Harini saw him and smiled at him as though she read his mind voice. It was the same breathe taking smile.
Three of them sat gazing around at all the lights sound and glitter. It was almost eight when they gave the gift to Aparnaa and stood up to leave for dinner. Ashwin sat in the corner of the row and as he stood up, by mistake hit a hand, hard.
The girl’s bangles hit Ashwin , it pained. Yet he looked what happened around. The girl just bent down, wiping off the juice that had poured down her saree. As she raised her head to see who the person was , the trio froze. Harini and Ashwin froze in embarrassment as what would happen next and Karthik in utter shock.
“What the…..”, she stopped as she got a full view of who had hit her.
“Is everything ok, Priya?”, the tall guy next to her asked as he wiped few drops of juice that had landed on his kurtha too.
Priya’s face showed guilt, embarrassment and shock. She grabbed the guy next to her by his arm and walked away swiftly.
“How come you here?”, Harini asked and before the words fully came from Harini’s mouth, Priya was gone.
Karthik, felt a harsh pain. It was as though a big wave had shook him. His legs trembled.
Ashwin and Harini did not speak a word. They knew they were not going to have dinner here.
Karthik started to walk towards the entrance. Harini stopped him. “Wait. I will ask Priya, what is going on”, Harini confronted. “No use. Let it be anything. She is not mine anymore. Isn’t that painful enough?”, Karthik spoke. Tears rolled down his cheek.
“Come on, we will leave.”, Ashwin urged. Karthik kick started his bike , still staring at the handle bar, thoughts struck somewhere else.
“No, you can’t drive”, Ashwin confronted. “Harini, you leave home safe with your mom. I will drop this guy at home.”, Ashwin spoke and acted fast.
Karthik turned his head to wave Harini a bye. The bike kick started and Harini saw the bike speeding away until it was out of her sight.
Karthik sat cross legged on his bed. Priya’s thought had troubled him since she had left, But her mere sight had worsened it. His head throbbed. Tears rolled down his cheek. He cursed himself for being too emotional. He was never this guy. He was smartest looking and most charming guy.
After scoring a state level rank in his twelfth, he got into his dream department – Computer science in a renowned college. It was the fresher’s party in his college. His charm and smile made him a compere of the “Mr and Miss fresher” event. His English, style and physique amazed not just his batch mates but his seniors too. It was in this event he first met Priya, A gorgeous girl in a red saree , finely draped and hands on her hips carefully holding it place , walked so elegantly to the dais. The crowd roared for the girl. Karthik held the mike and walked towards the girl, for his questionnaire. He was stunned by her answers (Anything she did that day, stunned Karthik) as well as the juries and undoubtedly she was the winner for Miss Fresher. Karthik carefully slipped the paper which had the participant details into his pocket.
That night, he took out the paper and came to know that she was from ECE department. It was as though a treasure hunter has found a key in his own pocket.
“Hey Hari.. Up, honey?”, he sent the message to Harini.
His best friend since school. A little oversized nerd girl, lovely looking, sweetest and a perfect ‘mother-material’ as Karthik would call her. Her love and care for Karthik knew no bounds. Their friendship was beyond boy-girl restrictions. They spoke anything and everything under the sky. They grew up since the age of three as their families were shifted to Chennai the same time. They studied in same school, ate , played and grew together. Both the families got along well. Honey, Love, sweetheart were words that were never to be mistaken for love, between Him and Harini.
“Yesssssss!! Just thought about you”, Came the reply.
Harini’s best friend was Karthik until her tenth standard. She was too conservative to other boys in school. In fact she never spoke. She grew up as the most studious and sincere student. Harini was not sure from which point she started loving Karthik. As her feminity took shape, her heart inclined from friendship to love. She knew Karthik did not have the same feeling. He used lovely words so easily. It all stirred a different feeling in her. His touches, his gentle pats on her shoulders never changed since his small age. Harini never felt the same. Harini blushed everytime secretly. She was not sure if it was right or wrong. But She was sure of one thing. One day or the other, Karthik will definitely feel the same, cause there was no other girl who best understood Karthik other than her.
“Need to know a girl’s number from your department. Priya is her name, today’s title winner”
“Thank you dear J”
“Hey, now sleep. It’s late “, Came the mother-material’s reply.
“Sure Mommy”, replied Karthik. Harini was the one and only friend of him, whom he can call Mommy and Kiddo the same time. She was both, a juvenile and a mature woman.
“Hi, Priya. This is Karthik, Congratulations on today’s victory. You put up a great show” .
Karthik thought twice before sending the message. Though he had been educated in a co-ed school, he never hesitated or thought twice before talking to girls. According to him there were only two types of girls – one, Harini and two, rest of them. He never bothered talking about anything to Harini because , he knew she will never mistake him and for the ‘rest-of-harini’ girls, he did not bother whether they mistook him. But somewhere in between these two categories, fell Priya. That night passed void of Priya’s reply.
“Hey, move”, she pushed her friends away as she was carrying hot samosas and pani puri plates in her hands. Her tight salwar accentuated her slim body. It looked like she was treating her friends for her victory. Karthik was seated in college canteen as he kept looking at Priya.
As the girls finished all the snacks, Priya went to the canteen counter to pay her bill. Karthik thought it was the right time.
“Hey, Hi. Err. Sorry, you look familiar, But I am not able to recollect your name”, Priya spoke casually.
“It is natural for the winners to forget the compere”
“Hey, sorry. That charming guy!, I actually remembered your name, but… ”
“You are making up well, Anyways, I am Karthik and I sent you a text too”
“Oh, Karthik . Yeah, I saw a text. My mobile was flooded with wishes last night. Sorry could not reply anyone in person.”
Stardom does not strike that easily. And if it does, it elevates people to a level to treat fellow mates like sub-ordinates, Karthik thought.
“Hello”, Priya’s voice broke Karthik’s thought.
“Ok, Miss Fresher, see you. Got a class now”, Karthik bade a bye and walked fast.
Pretty girls behave best when ignored. Of course, they should know we ignore them , otherwise they would not even know we exist, thought Karthik.
In the next few days Karthik and Priya met in several places. Office room, corridors, lunch breaks , short breaks. Everytime Karthik met her eyes he avoided her. He was happy that she had been seeing him too.
It was exactly after a month, CSE and ECE B (Harini was in ECE A ) Guys had computer lab on the same hour. Karthik was cheered inside when he came to know ECE was coming. Yet he kept his excitement to himself.
He did not miss to see Priya. She wore a maroon salwar , her slender fingers playing with her hair. She was so slim that he wondered whether she ate.
“ECE –B , Roll No 1 Priya”, cried the loud voice. It was their lab in charge, correcting the observations.
Priya got up swiftly from her system and went to the table.
“What is this?”
“Palindrome, Mam”, came her response.
“Is it? Ok then. I will come to your system. Type the same code that is in your observation and show me the output”, snarled the Lab in charge . Priya typed the same code and the output was erroneous. Priya trembled in fear.
“See, That’s the status. It is a simple 20 line code and still you copied it wrong and while typing you did not find the mistake. Being beauty conscious and winning titles do not matter. Have some sense too”, spoke the Mam mercilessly.
Priya tried to conceal her tears. She sat gloomy for the whole lab class and when students slowly departed, Karthik approached her.
“Come on, forget it”
“I hate it. I knew where the mistake was. She asked me to type as it is and hence I did so.”
“Hmmm.. Don’t worry.”
“She had asked me to revisit all the programs completed so far and she wants all the results by today. I am not going to get home today”, Priya’s voice broke.
Her nose turned red. She had a red pimple against her fair skin. It was tiny. There was a beautiful mole on the top of her lips.
“I said I am stuck “, Priya cleared her throat.
Karthik stopped admiring her and spoke in haste, “If you don’t mind , I can stay and help. I will sit in other corner and type the codes and will put it in common path. You take it from there, execute show the result and Issue solved”, Karthik smiled.
“But what about the college bus. I will miss it”
Sometime fortunes too, never some single thought Karthik.
“I have two wheeler, I can drop you.”
Priya thought for a moment.
Typical Attitude , Karthik thought. “Sounds like a plan”, came in Priya’s reply. Karthik smiled.
It was after college hours. Karthik and Priya were seated farthest from each other. Lab attendant was yet to come. Karthik’s mobile rang. It was Harini.
“Hey my sweety pumpkin”, Karthik answered his call.
“Shall I wait outside the lab or near the bus?”, Harini’s voice startled Karthik.
“You know that I am in Comp Sci lab?”
“Of course, Idiot. Don’t you think I can recognize your shoes? I saw them outside and hence stopped and thought of checking with you”
Karthik realized that no one other than Harini knows him from head to toe. Who else can watch and guard me so gracefully my beautiful angel, Karthik thought.
“Hey, am helping out Priya in her coding. You start dear. I will see you in the late evening”, Karthik replied.
“Oh Sure. “, Harini replied, trying to hide her disappointment. She sensed a change. Some instinct told her it was not healthy.
It was around 8 PM, Karthik and Harini were seated on Karthik’s bike. He was holding her hands, playing with her fingers.
Their relationship were too complicated. Not by itself.
Any relationship is simple for thy selves involved. The complexity is actually how complex it was for others to understand.
“Priya looked too good today you know. Especially, when she cried. In fact I started admiring instead of consoling. I had great wish to talk to her since the Fresher’s party. But you know, I purposely avoided her, to get her attention”, Karthik chuckled.
“ Comp Sci lab in charge did a great favour. If not for her merciless punishment, how would have I got Priya in my bike. Bike ride was the best you know. She sat as far as she could. I did not ask her anything. I kept looking at her through the rear view mirror. Every time the wind tangled her hair, she took up her slender fingers to brush off the hair. It was such a wonderful evening with Priya.” Karthik finally stopped talking to get some air.
Every time Karthick spoke about Priya, something struck Harini harsh. She had been living in a thought that she was the only woman in Karthik’s heart. She was so sure she had already won it. She thought she had owned him completely. It was obvious that Karthik shall never treat her differently. But the way , Karthik had been expressing about Priya now, she was sure Priya would be having a special place in his heart. She was also sure that she had not owned Karthik completely. It was only a part of Karthik that was now for Harini.
“Hey Hari”, Karthik shook her shoulders and brought her back to the real world.
“Hmmm”, she nodded.
“What happened? Were you listening to me”
“Yes I did. That’s nice to hear. Now you will have a beautiful friend”, Harini tried to smile.
“I am not trying to befriend her. She is much more to me, darling”
The words had hurt Harini.
“Hey, you look dull”, Karthik nudged Harini.
“I am not keeping well. Headache. This cool climate is making me feel sick” Harini lied.
“Oops. Sorry dear. Are you having temperature”, Karthik felt Harini’s forehead with the back of his palm. His touch sent sudden shock waves within her.
How can he touch me, without any hesitation, When his smallest looks and slightest touch can trigger all the hormones at once and stand as an challenge for my cheeks and eyes. Is he suppressing or he does not feel any? Or am I the only one building up my emotions, Harini thought.
Karthik and Priya were now ardent fan of texting. Whenever Priya had problems with computers, coding, Karthik helped her, for which they had evening snacks together,after college hours. Their relationship getting stronger by every day and Harini ‘s suffering too. She could neither accept nor express; Accept their relationship nor express to Karthik about what she felt.
On one such evening, Karthik took his bold move.
“Hey, why don’t you come home?”, Karthik asked Priya casually.
“Oh sure. I will give you a surprise one day”
“No, why not today? I will introduce to my parents as well. My mom might be home by this time.” Karthik told her, as he checked his phone. It had run out of battery. He got two calls from Harini while he drove Priya to their snacks shop. He took his phone to call back, but as he unlocked his phone, it went off due to low charge.
“Hey but wait, I have not told anything about coming home late to my parents”
“Tell them now.” Priya thought for several minutes. She accepted finally. She convinced her mom that they had special classes and have to stay for two hours longer.
Karthik took Priya to his home. He was excited that he would introduce her to everybody. As he approached his flat, his neighbor came out to hand over house keys and said “Your parents have gone to your sisters’ school function. They asked me to hand over the key to you.”
Karthik was disappointed. “Thanks Aunty”, he replied.
It was almost six o clock. “Welcome Priya, Karthik stretched his hand. It is a dream come true. My angel, in my house.” Karthik extended his hand in air.
“Keep it simple stupid”, Priya blushed.
“Hey, please be seated here. I will make some coffee for you”
“Hey no formalities”, Priya stopped Karthik.
“No. Just wait here and please leave the door open. I really want to see my parents expression when they meet you first”, Karthik grinned.
Karthik checked the fridge. His surprise to Priya was intact and fresh.
As Karthik went into the kitchen and searched for coffee mugs, power went off. Priya rose from sofa and shouted “Karthik, its dark here.”
“Candles should be in the draw right next to sofa. Please light one”
Priya lit a candle and had it in her hand. She was not ok to sit in the dark. She walked towards the kitchen. Karthik carefully walked in the dark to join Priya. As he stepped out of the kitchen, he saw Priya approaching. He felt the situation too romantic. His girlfriend, in his house, her face glistening in just the candle light. He thought of adding more beauty to the moment. He walked back to fridge and grabbed it and hid it. As priya Approached, she saw Karthik and smiled. Karthik felt all his cells rushing to his brain and sing. He knelt down and brought the bunch of flowers he had been hiding. He extended and said
“I love you Priya”
Priya blushed. Even in the darkness Karthik could sense it.
Karthik was still looking at her with his eyes wide and full of questions.
Priya slowly placed the candle in the table beside. She extended her hand , not to accept the flowers, but placed her hands over Karthik’s and made him stand up. Candle was exactly in between them. Priya slowly raised her head, now her blush obvious to Karthik. She bought the flowers close to her chest, looked up at Karthik and slowly whispered, “Love you too”. It was exactly at that moment power was up.
As Karthik smiled, he placed his hand on Priya’s face as if to take away some pink color from her cheeks.
Though she could not hear, what they were talking , their position , flowers and candle in between had made her guess that it was a love proposal and their happy faces showed that it was a beautiful evening for them. She ran away from the doorstep, her heart whimpering.
From Harini’s voice
I struggled hard to hold my tears until I could reach my home. My eyes were red already. My mom was at the kitchen. I ran directly to my room. I fought my tears. I covered my face with my hands. I locked my room and cried loud. I was not able to digest that he is another woman’s man now. He was my man. I was his only woman.
Where had all this suddenly come from, My feelings for him or his feeling for Priya. I was confused. I wanted a shoulder to cry, my emotional part of the brain nudged. No, Not my mom, my practical mind thought. I will have to tell her about my feeling for Karthik. There was a war inside my head between my practical part of mind and emotional one. Karthik is the cause of the grief, my practical mind told me. No, the feeling you had for him is the cause, emotional mind corrected. I want Karthik right now, I want his shoulders, atleast his hands, his warm touch , my emotional mind demanded. His mere presence will aggravate the grief rather than mitigating it, my practical mind warned me. He is only one who can be my cause and relief of the grief, I said aloud.
There was a loud bang in the door. “Harini”, my Mom was shouting now. I was not sure how many times she had called me or banged the door. My mind had been too aloud for the past few minutes. I wiped my face and tried to conceal the fact that I was crying which I knew was literally impossible.
“Coming, mom”, I called out and opened the door. To my surprise, shock, anger and relief, I saw Karthik with sweat beads all over his face.
“I was literally behind you from my house.”
“Why?, you have found new love, why only you have to bother about me”, I cut him short.
“Now don’t talk like a stupid. Come out”, he demanded.
My practical mind stopped me, my emotional mind tried to follow him. Few minutes later I was in his bike, needless to say my emotional mind winning the battle.
It was breezy cold night. Not sure if it was to escape the gush of cold wind , or the fact that I wanted his shoulders, I leaned against his shoulders. He balanced the vehicle in one hand and patted my cheek with the other. We finally reached our favorite gossiping point.
He stopped the bike and we sat on it as usual. He took my hands in his, when I signaled to stop him.
“ It’s strange”
“Yes, for me too”, I replied.
His next move startled me. He cupped my face with both of his hands and looked directly into my tear stained eyes.
“I cannot live without you”, he whispered.
I was shocked. “Then what did you just do this evening”, I asked as my voice broke. I was crying again.
“I proposed Priya and she accepted”
“And now you come and tell me you can’t live without me?”
“Of course I can’t live without you”
I turned my head away so that my face slipped off his grip. Few of the tear drops that ran down my cheeks had landed on his hands.
He held my hand tight this time and continued to speak.
“I know what is going on in your mind. A new girl , who has entered as the love of my life is bothering you. You thought you owned me, didn’t you? Now that you feel I have gone away, you have started feeling possessive”
Everything is right, except the fact that along with possessiveness I have been loving you too, I thought.
Karthik continued. “kiddo, remember. In my life, people will get added, but never replaced. I am not here to play a fool game cheating you girls, telling that both of you hold the same position in my life. No.”
“I Love you, but I am not in love with you. I can see you as any form, mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, but never as wife. A guy can be in love only with one woman and that has to be his wife. A guy can love any number of women as sisters, mothers, friends. Those are also pure love. But definitely a different form of love. ” The words hit me harsh.
“I want you throughout my life. I will be there throughout your life too.We are going to live together. But not as better halves of each other. Even more than that. Just because I proposed a girl today and I am going to marry her tomorrow, the love I have for you shall never diminish. “
“Priya is my soul mate. But you are my soul”
“Priya is the love of my life. You are my life”
“Priya is the reason behind my smile, but you are the reason behind my life”
Karthik gasped for air. He had tears, too.
“Why are you crying?”, I went to wipe away his tears.
“You tears shatter me”, he said
“Do I mean to you so much?”,I asked
“Do you want me to start all over again”, he asked and we both laughed.
“One question”, I raised my finger in the air.
He smiled and nodded , asking me to proceed.
“You shall have anyone as your lover, wife, etc etc. But, will you cry if I leave you. How will you feel when I say you that I have found a guy and I am going to marry”
Karthik took three long seconds to reply
“What will you do if your mom leaves you”, he asked.
“Stupid question. Why would my mom leave me”, I replied
“So you have the answer there, you shall never leave me, so first question is ruled out”
“And for my second?”, I demanded like a child.
I did not know how I looked exactly now. My hair was tangled due to bike ride, My eyes should be red and bulged,I cried a lot. Looks did not matter. It was my Karthik in front of me.
“ What will your dad do on your wedding? Hug you , kiss your forehead and assure you that everything is going to be fine and he is there for you, right?”, he smiled.
He came to me, hugged me tight , kissed my forehead and told me “Everything is going to be fine, I will always be there for you”. His mobile phone rang breaking the silence. It was my mom. My mom never called me when I was late. She always called Karthik. My parents trusted him to the extent of allowing their daughter to stay out with him even at 9 in the night.
“Why did not you kiss Priya today. You hesitated to touch her cheeks, while you hug and kiss me so beautifully”, I asked.
“The essence of my relationship with you is how pure and true the touches are, though our relationship never calls for physical touches . The essence of my relationship with Priya, is how purely I maintain genuine distance, though there are million ways to touch.”, he smiled.
“Involuntary physical touches makes pure friendship. Voluntary physical distance makes pure love”, he added.
Mammoth thought, much simplified, I thought. Pure. Yes he is the epitome of purity.
As we rode back, I wondered about the last one hour conversation. My mind was clear now. Karthik is going to be with me throughout which was my only need. Though there are going to be hundreds of people getting added, no one can neither replace me nor he will allow to. That night changed my life.
Back to Author’s perspective.
Eight years passed by. They completed their college. Karthick and Harini got placed in software companies(two different companies). Priya got placed in Nokia, her favorite telecommunications stream.
Karthik and Priya were in a restaurant celebrating their eighth anniversary.
“So, have you really thought about it? “, Priya asked the question again. For the past one year, there had been an urge in Priya’s family to get her married. Both the houses knew about their relationship. Karthik’s family had to buy some time from Priya’s, as they decided to get Aarthi, Karthik’s sister, married first. Karthik and Priya had frequents arguments and fight whenever this topic rose between them.
“About getting married soon?”, Karthik cleared.
“Priya, please try to understand. My parents are old. I need to take care of Aarthi’s wedding . They don’t expect me, monetarily. But of course they need my physical assistance. They cannot strain themselves, finding a good match for her. She is just in her college, final year. Just wait for a year more. I need to balance both, your ambition and my sister’s wedding”, Karthik spoke.
Priya had an ambition of doing a research with Intel . Her parents did not want to delay her wedding further. They allowed her to pursue her aim, only after marriage.
“Karthik, I completely understand”, Priya replied. “But same is the situation here. Even my parents are getting old. They started the wedding topic three years before. I struggled and bought three years, just for you. Now I really can’t buy more time.”, Priya spoke worriedly.
“Hey Amo, why can’t we spare this evening alone, devoid of this topic. We are here for a beautiful evening, aren’t we?”, Karthik smiled. He started calling Priya as Amo, as a short form ‘amoureux’, a Word meaning Sweetheart.
“ This is how it happens. You speak Something emotionally and rule this out. But we will have to face the practicality some day at least. “ Priya replied.
“Not everything is solved that way Amo”, Karthik held her hand as they were about to start the bike.
“I love you Karthik. I love you so much. Please don’t hate me for this. But I am helpless too. I am pressurized”, Priya spoke her face gloom.
“Don’t worry, I can’t hate you. I just can’t do that. No matter what you do, what you say, you will always be my love for this world and for all the next worlds”, Karthik spoke poetically.
Few months passed by. It was a Sunday afternoon. Priya’s paternal uncle (Srini) had come home. Karthik was sleeping, when his mom woke him up, telling that Uncle had come.
“Hi, uncle”, Karthik joined his father in their living room.
“Sir, I am hitting the issue straight. Its high time We want to get Priya married”, Priya’s uncle began.
“We understand, Sir. But we have a daughter too.” Karthik’s dad added politely.
“We have overlooked caste and accepted to our Priya’s wish. We had to manage so many relatives and their questions. We had adjusted so much. Why can’t you accept?”
“Sir, there had been equal adjustments from our side too” , Karthik replied.
“Son, let me talk”, Karthik’s father stopped him
“I have not seen a girl’s parents so adamant “, Srini spat the words
“We are not adamant”, Karthik confronted
“Karthik, I asked you not to talk”, Karthik’s dad stopped him.
“Appa, I cannot stand someone bad mouthing you”, Karthik replied.
“Oh! Someone? That’s good to hear , young chap. So that is the status of these day’s kids. They do not know how to respect. How can we marry our girl to such a family which lacks culture. The parents lack responsibility and the son lacks an important virtue like respect” Srini spoke in utter haste and anger.
“We have raised our son properly only, Sir”, Karthik’s dad defended.
“So you mean to say we are improper”, Srini questioned.
“We never told that, Sir”, Karthik’s dad replied politely.
“Nice Sarcasm, Mr. Krishnan. Good that we knew about this family soon. I am leaving. We shall let you know”, Srini got up to leave.
“Sir, please wait, I have been preparing food for you. Please eat. Let us have a smooth conversation during dinning”, Karthik’s mom spoke for the first time.
Srini joined his hands as if to pray and told , “I have had enough” and strode, slamming the door behind him.
Couple of days later.
The beach was busy bustling in the evening light.
“What happened Karthik ”, Priya was almost in tears.
“Hey the conversation took terrible turn it was totally out of control”
“You did not bring it in your control”
“I tried to”
“But in vain, Right? So whom do you think are affected now?”
“Of course my parents, you and me”.
“Even my uncle was offended.”
“He was the one who spoke harsh.”
“As if you did not speak anything harsh.”
“I did not.”
“Don’t lie. My uncle told me. You parents spoke about the way I was brought up.”
“Why should I lie Priya. Why should I lie to you, You are in my soul. Can’t you understand that I am telling the truth.”
“No room for emotions now. I am confused, I am hurt. I am not in a mental state of emotional connections now.”
Priya’s words hit Karthik harsh. His heart throbbed not because she did not believe him, but because the emotional connectivity she had was something that depended on her mood. He stared at the sea waves, lost his mind.
“Emotions have to be permanent, how could your mental state connect to emotions”, Karthik blurted out. His voice broke.
“Come on Karthik. Stop this emotions for some time. Can we be practical?” Priya shouted
“Karthik, have you gone crazy. You are you blabbering and why are you just staring at the sea”, Priya’s loud voice startled Karthik.
“Priya, I love you. I need you”, Karthik spoke as his eye reddened.
“Now stop this. Can we get back to where we were?”
“No Priya, reality hurts. I am pretending as though we never had this conversation at all. Be mine Priya, please”. Karthik caught her hand.
She shook her hand to wither his grip.
“Enough of pretending. I want a real time solution now”
“Priya, I need you”, Karthik continued to repeat.
“Karthik, this is just one incident in life and you have taken it too emotional and sensitive. How are we really going to face the rest of the problems in life. I really wonder. As my uncle said, I guess I have made the wrong choice wasting 8 years of my life. You are an emotional idiot. You just know to live in fantasy. You are unfit to be here, you are unfit for my love. Dare to disturb me again. Good bye”. Priya stood up to leave and few grains of sand fell on Karthik, shaking him to reality.
He shouted too loud “Don’t leave me”, but the words were stuck in his throat. He stood helpless amidst the waves of the sea and saw her striding away from him. His words struck in his throat and the tears struck in his eyes. He fixed his gaze in the blue sky, not knowing how long he would spend there.
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