He loved spending time near the lake. It always brought him a sense of tranquility. The lake’s enormous expanse appears to be merging into the sky. Dusk has got the reddish orange hue. Water in the lake looks like molten lava, reddish orange, stirring up now n then with tiny waves caused by the cool breeze. The chill in the breeze reminds him the onset of winter. He tugged his jacket a little tighter and let the breeze brush on his face making him smile with content. This is his favorite time of the day, sunset; watching the day culminate with such grandeur, slowly and beautifully paving the way for a starry night, works as a soothing balm for his soul.
She comes to meet him right after the sun goes down, yet another reason for him to love the sunset. She visits the nearby Devi temple daily, something she has learnt as kid born in a Brahmin family. She has been going there since forever and now the visits are more spiritual than ever. She seeks contentment in his presence. His reverence for her has driven her closer to him.
They always spent an hour together, talking sometimes or staring at the lake becoming one with the starry sky. They have dreamt together of the paradise. Where there would be no boundaries, no restrictions, no rules to be followed or feared. A paradise where they could be together for eternity. He always said their paradise is right behind the horizon and one day they will venture towards it together.
He would sit there imagining her with him on the days she couldn’t visit the temple, having conversation about what would it be like beyond the horizon.
Living in a traditional setup had its own pluses and minuses. Everyone seems to know others and more likely to notice a two youngsters from different walks of life sitting on the edge of the lake in the evening. Soon her mother started to accompany her to the temple. They haven’t met in over a month now. She used to leave him small notes near the shoe locker outside the temple. He would replace it with his the next day. He was there everyday by the lake, looking forward to the day when he’ll see her again. The conversations through the notes may not be fulfilling but it brought about something new in their relations. Now both of them longed to be together.
He was sitting in his usual spot when he heard the tinkle of her anklet, for a moment he did not react as he always imagined her walking up to him and sitting right beside him. He almost jumped when she sat beside him on the rock. Their eyes met, and for the first time he took her in his warm embrace. For the first time, he breathed in her scent, her own aroma mixed with smell of talc and some jasmine hair oil. She felt so delicate, so vulnerable, he loosened his grip on her out of the fear of hurting her. She bolted right up leaving a note in his hands made her way towards the exit. He was confused thinking that she was offended by his embrace or rather it scared her. He was mad at himself for being so unthoughtful. Then he opened the now crumpled piece of paper she left in his hands.
‘They have fixed my marriage with a guy I have never met. I beg you to take me away with you. we’ll go some place far away. Even if its the end of the world I am ready to go with you. Its up to you now. If not with you, I’ll take my life before marrying that man.’
He was shocked. He wasn’t prepared for this. She seemed slipping away from him with time. He can’t imagine a life without her in it. He had to think of something. His parent will never accept a Brahmin girl. His father has a reputation as a maulana to maintain, which is more important than his son’s tender love.
The whole night he kept tossing and turning on the bed trying to figure a way out. Nothing seemed plausible at this point of time. Every move he thought of would be scandalous and would end in great misery. He closed his eyes and thought of her. He could feel her in his arms, her tender body trembling, her aroma filling his entire soul. There he decided what needs to be done.
He left her a note at the shoe locker. The note detailed what he thought was the only way out and asked her to meet him at the railway station the next day at dawn. He requested that if she should come, she must wear her red dress as he loves to see her in that.
That was the only day he didn’t sit by the lake he went home after leaving the note.
The next day he was waiting outside the station for her pacing restlessly when she emerged from the early office going crowd. She looked nothing less than a goddess in her red attire. The time slowed down for him as she walked slowly towards him.
They held hands and walked towards the last platform. Being early morning only a few working class passengers were present. They sat on the bench looking at each other. He asked her if she was ready to go with him. She nodded in agreement and rested her head on his shoulders taking in the smell of his attar mixed with his sweat. He gently caresses her hairs and said the first train coming on this platform is ours.
The train was signaled. As the train approached he embraced her and whispered in her ears ‘we’ll find our own paradise’. She smiled and walked up to the approaching train holding his hands. All the passenger were getting ready to board the train. The train rustled into the station in full galore. In the rustle bustle of catching the right compartment the crowd was stunned with a loud thud and the train came to screeching halt. Everyone gathered around trying to make out what was left of two bodies under the wheels.
They have boarded their train to paradise.