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The sky was covered with an orange bedspread, scattered by the beams of the departing sun. I was sitting at the shore of the sea. The huge, perfectly circled sun was setting in the ocean water. Cold winds blowing over the surface of the sea were forming uneven waves. I could hear the sound made by the waves crashing into the rocks.
Fighting against the strong waves, I went into the sea until my whole body was immersed in the water except for my head. I took out a paper boat from the box which I was carrying and carefully placed it on water so that it could float.
I came back to the shore and sat alone with my folded hands resting on my folded knees. The salty ocean was trying to touch my feet but it never dared to touch them, instead she took away the sand beneath my feet with her every time, leaving behind the white foam around my feet.
I looked around and could not find any living creature on the shore. I lay down, stretching my legs so that the water could touch my feet. I could feel the cold water through my ankles. I closed my eyes to relax myself, watching a tiny boat disappearing into the drowning sun.
5 years ago,
DEC 18, 2008
Lights were sparkling, fireworks were causing cacophony. Few women were wandering here and there, flaunting their wealth by means of their hefty jewelry and the rest of the women were doing the job which they were best at–gossiping. Men as usual, were seeking an opportunity to stick near the bar stall.
Kids were creating chaos near the stage and few were jumping on & off from the chairs. Well, the only generation now left out was teenagers, who seemed to be the only people bothered about the wedding couple. This is what we get to see in an Indian wedding ceremony and that’s what I could see then.
The sight was as expected and I could not find anything new or exciting. I started to scan the whole area, expecting to recognize someone but a flash of lights caught my eyes. The source was the main stage where the wedding couple stood; the couple was being blessed and the groom was warned for an upcoming life in a prison called the marriage.
My mind started questioning my vision, “Is it real?” A fabulous looking lady was on the stage. I could not get off my eyes from her. I was feeling like as if I was frozen. It was none other than my Shreya. The only person I knew there, the only girl I have ever loved since childhood, the only girl who could bring a smile on my face, and she was the very same girl who was getting married. Yes, she was the bride! Yet I was standing there mesmerized by her beauty.
Shreya was dressed as a typical Indian bride, wearing a red Saaree with lots of embroidery designs on it. As she was completely immersed in gold jewelry, her face was glowing like golden kindle. Her hairs were straightened, partially flying around her shoulders and the rest dangled around her back. Her dove shaped eyes were given the touch by eyeliner with a slightly shiny shade and perfectly trimmed eye brows. Her lips were smiling with a glimpse of vivid pink lipstick. She looked stunning as usual. A small dot of vermillion on her forehead had enhanced her beauty manifold. Every now and then she was trying to set her saaree pleats properly which made her appearance very innocent.
For a while I was lost in my own thoughts! All the childhood memories popped into my mind. Her smile, her walk, her impeccability, her mischief, her anger, her love, her ease, her cheer! The count was endless. I felt like falling in love with her, all over again! I controlled my conscience and came back to reality. After all, my first love, my childhood love, my 10 years old love, my only true LOVE was getting married today.
It is often said that “Marriage is a significant day for women, as this day she appears to be most gorgeous person on earth”. Here, it was proved true by Shreya.
I was filled with mixed emotions of happiness and sorrow. I was delighted to see my love after 10 long years but was mourning for these eyes which were witnessing my love getting married to a guy other than me.
For men, it’s easy to jump from a building, dive into water from 100 feet height, swim in the sea against tide etc… But when it is about expressing their feelings to a girl, it becomes impossible for us. So was the case with me. Though Shreya and I were close but I could never dare to utter a word about my feelings towards her.
With a feeling of regret in my heart and completely devastating thoughts in my mind, I decided it’s better to leave this place as soon as possible. After all nobody in this universe can tolerate his love getting married to someone other than him.
I stepped on the stage, so that I could finish the fake, formal wishing ceremony and get out of the place which was becoming a hell for me.
Me: Hi, Shreya!
Shreya: OMG! Kunal!
My presence brought a surprised, joyful expression on her face!
For past two months, I had made up my mind practicing what am I going to say to her. After all I was meeting her after 7 long years. And now, when I was so close to that moment, the sparkling beauty of Shreya left no words for me to speak.
Shreya: You haven’t changed at all!
Me: Hmm (with a polite smile on face), but you have changed a lot.
Shreya: Yeah I know! I have become more beautiful, isn’t it?
Shreya had a bubbly girl nature. Having a smiley face 24*7, she was a chubby girl among the 20 girls of my class. As, she wasn’t much into academics, I was the reason she used to pass her exams. She liked to bunk classes and watch some romantic Bollywood-masala movies. She used to be alive and happening character all the time, whereas I was the other way around.
With a silent laugh I turned my head towards the gift I was holding in my hands for a long time.
Me: Well, congrats and have a happy married life!
Shreya: Ahhh haa! Liar! You said you cannot make it as you have a meeting scheduled today in California!
Me: I had some emergency so had to come to India, got some free time so I thought to surprise you.
I had lied! Guess no one-sided lover can be a spectator of losing his love to someone else. But more than that I wanted to meet her once in for all.
Shreya: Well, you did the great thing. I am very happy that you could make it.
Her words were stabbing me all over my body. Those were reminding me of high school days. I wanted to tell her how much I was happy to see her. I wish I could.
Me: Hmm, this is for you, a small gift!
Shreya: Ohh, your presence itself is gift.
A harsh voice interrupted our conversation,
“Hey Shrey, I guess you have forgot, your groom is standing right beside you. And it’s our wedding day; at least today you cannot flirt with other guys,” A lame joke was cracked by my only enemy in world, the so called groom.
With playful smile Shreya punched him on his shoulder and then covered her right hand around his left biceps with love.
The sight killed me for a moment.
“Gautam this is Kunal. My best friend from high school days,” said Shreya.
Gautam extended his hand for the formality. He was groom after all.
Gautam: Oh nice! Best friend haan! But why only for high school, what happened!?
Shreya: Ask him, he disappeared after 12th grade.
Again, I didn’t have any words to speak.
Me: I had to… family emergency.
My statement zipped their mouth. Well, the excuse I gave could make anybody speechless.
Shreya: Chuck that, tell me did you ever proposed to your secret love?
Saying this, Shreya turned towards Gautam, who had no idea what Shreya meant! Gautam stood idle, toggling his eyes between me and Shreya.
Shreya: Arre, Kunal loved a girl in high school. He never told anybody about her. Though I was his best friend, I had no clue about his dream girl. He was so stubborn and introvert person. Huh!
“It’s you Shreya, you are my secret Love. You are the one, whom I secretly admire. You are the one for whom, I am ready to die. You are the one, who brings a smile on my face. You are the one for whom, my heart still beats. I love you Shreya!” I said to myself. I wish I could reveal the secret, but like past ten years, even today I could not confess my Love.
Me: Nope, she got married.
I lied again. I had no choice, after all if I had the guts to speak the truth I would have been standing beside her!
I had no intension to extend my conversation, so with smile I said, “Enjoy your day, we will catch up some other time”
Saying so, I turned my face towards the stage exit.
I was about to leave, but like an impulse, Shreya leaned towards and hugged me. It was unexpected! It was first time she ever hugged me. The moment started to create selfish thoughts in to my devil mind, before I could think straight; Shreya whispered something into my ears,“ Meet me at the sea shore, tomorrow at 6 am. Come alone and don’t tell anybody about this”
That was so shocking for me! For a moment I blacked out! She was smart; she ensured that Gautam could not hear her. He stood completely unaware of what Shreya had just told me. However, that left me a brain teasing puzzle to solve.
Without any further thinking I stepped down from the stage, it wasn’t easy though. Her words had corrupted my brain. I could only hear the last conversation I had with Shreya that night.
Why does she want to meet me, that too alone? Is this marriage against her will? But she seems happy! What is so important that she wants me to meet her at sea? It’s her favorite place. Does she want to say a proper good bye? No it can’t be! Why would she wish to say good bye to me? I am just a high school friend. Am I so important to her that she had to hide it from her husband? No, that’s not true! But she remembers everything about me……… I had too many questions bothering me that night, but I did not have any of the answers.
Thinking about all the permutations and combinations of questions possible, I could hardly sleep. I hoped it was her normal behavior.
Next day: 6 am: Sea view.
Since childhood, I’m very punctual and this wasn’t any ordinary day for me, so I had no option of getting late. I had reached the spot on time. Obviously, I was very eager to get answers to my thousands of questions.
I could see Shreya standing facing towards the rising sun on the shore.
She was not wearing any accessories, like her wedding day. With a simple blue shade denim jeans and white plain top; she stood there with her closed eyes. Though she was completely sober in her apparels, the orange bedspread in the sky and rays of semi raised sun were falling directly on Shreya’s face, she looked like an angel who had stepped on earth. For a moment I forgot about all the unsolved puzzles I had for her.
I could not see anybody else on the shore. It was just Shreya, along with the rising sun, small waves caused by the wind, cold breeze and me.
“Let’s meet her,” I said to myself and approached her.
Me: Hi, Good morning.
Shreya: (With a smile and looking down towards her shoes) Hello. Hope you had nice sleep.
“What! Nice sleep? After installing a virus in to my intelligence she expect me to have a nice sleep?? Well the answer is, NO!” I wanted to say this but replied with simple “Yes”
Shreya: Well I understand, you want the know reason behind this mystery meeting.
Me: Not like that, I too wanted to meet you in private but…. Anyways I would not mind to know the reason.
Shreya: Hmmm, read this!
She handed me a folded, old, stained paper. She seemed hesitant. But I myself had too many doubts so I ignored her expressions and dig into the paper to get the answers. Without any further questions or thoughts in my mind and crystal clear intention of solving the riddles, I unfolded the letter.
I guess I am infected! Infected with a universal disease called LOVE. It’s a strange delusion; the root cause and the drug to heal this disease are the same. Unfortunately, even after lot of precautions, I could not escape from being its victim. Well, all the credit goes to you. After all, you gave me this contagious obsession about you.
I could not resist to your deadly weapons i.e. your smile, your presence, your style, your attitude, your care, your wisdom, thus surrendering myself to you. You know, the best & worst part of this sickness of love is, it never attacks your body but targets your soul. And soul is immortal.
I was a free bird. Bird that didn’t have any boundaries, but your attraction, your passion, your determination, built an invisible cage around my heart. And the intense part is I do not have the key to unlock it.
I am not sure whether this is love, as I don’t know what exactly love means. I just know that I have an invisible attraction towards you. I always feel like talking to you, visualize the world through your eyes, feel the nature through your senses, and hear the rhythm through your heart. I want you to be my smile, when I am happy; my tears, when I am sad; my repose, when I am angry, and my only solution to all my problems. My friends say these are symptoms of LOVE.
Well, a regular disorder is caused when you get intact with the virus but it could be diagnosed. You are away from me after high school. Everything around me seems boring now. I imagine you and me in every Bollywood movie playing lead roles. I smile without any reason, I laugh when nobody is around, and I imagine you in everything I see. Initially it was irritating but gradually I started to enjoy this mysterious feeling.
I must be the first girl who is proposing a guy, but I can’t hide this anymore. I am bad at writing letters, especially the romantic ones. I don’t know how you going to react after reading this, in fact I have not even thought about the odds. I know you secretly love somebody else but I just have a faith that you belong to me. I have a blind belief that you will accept me for what I AM!
So finally here I am, after three and half years of being with the most charismatic and equally idiotic person I have ever known. I love you KUNAL! Please be my cure to the disease you have infected me.
LOVE you always,
My jaws dropped! It took me few minutes to realize what actually the letter meant.
My heart was pounding with tremendous happiness which I had never felt before. All I ever wished was to be with Shreya and all this time she also loved me. The person for whose affection I have been waiting for, the very feelings I have been feeling, and the breath I have been breathing for has said that she too feel the same.
There is no better pleasure in this world which can compete with sense of knowing your beloved perceives the same instinctive emotions for you, which you possess.
“I love you too Shreya! I have been in love with you since I met you. You don’t have any idea how much you mean to me. This place has become a holy for me.” I so wanted to say this but Shreya turned towards me and before I could tell anything, Shreya said, “Kunal, I am sorry that I brought all this this up to you now. Please don’t be mad at me. After 12th grade, you left high school. After few months staying away from you I realized I loved you. I searched for you at many places, enquired with many people but I could not trace you. But one fine day, I got your mail address and sent you this letter. I was so anxious for your reply, but few days later the post man delivered it back to me, telling me the address was not valid. I was disappointed.”
Me: I don’t know how to react. I am sorry, it was an emergency!
I certainly had no clue or any idea what to respond. I just wanted to hug her and say, “I love you too” but I thought let’s wait, let her finish whatever has been buried in her heart.
Shreya: That’s okay. I can understand now. It has been buried in my heart from a long time; it’s very hard, you know. It took me years to gather courage to reveal the truth.
Me: What happened later?
Shreya: My search for you was like needle in haystack. I had no link to connect with you. Years passed! I joined college; where I met this person, Gautam. We became friends, lab partners, and within no time he became my companion. Initially our relation was strictly friendship, but with time, I realized he is the ONE for my life. One fine day he asked me to marry him; it was best day of my life. He proposed me in a typical Bollywood movie style.
“What the hell?? Just a moment ago she had said that she love me and now in a fraction of second the tides have changed against me,” thinking this I stood silent.
Shreya: I know you must be wondering that when I am happy with Gautam, why I am telling all this to you.
“YES” was my quick response.
Shreya: Though he is my life partner, you always remained my first Love, a love which is innocent, a love which will remain in my heart forever. I don’t know what would have happened if this letter had been delivered to you. But we should not cling to the past because sometimes when we turn back its already gone! So, today I want you to free me. Free me from your cage. I just wished you to know about the letter so that in future it could never bother me.
My mind and heart was completely blocked. I so wanted to tell her how much I love her, I wanted to scream, I wanted to cry, but to my ill fate there was nobody to listen. I wish somehow she could see my invisible tears, she could hear my inner voice screaming, and understand my pain.
Me: You are always free Shreya!
Shreya’s face gloomed with a smile. A sign of relief, a sign of rejoice, a sign of victory. Yet I stood mute.
That’s all I could say. Yes, Shreya and I could have been together, if that letter had got delivered. We could have been together, if I had expressed my feelings. We could have been together, if I had not left the city. But that “If” remained an “If”.
Shreya: I know! My cage is this letter. I can’t take it back, so I want you to free it in this ocean. You remember, you taught me how to prepare a paper boat; I want to sail this love boat into the ocean, so that my love will always be there as pearl in the mantel of this ocean.
I sailed it as per Shreya’s wish and watched it disappear in the glow of the sun. With the rising sun, Shreya’s life was also about to rise with new hope, new dreams, new memories and new life.
When I turned back, she was gone! Leaving behind, only her footsteps on the sand.
Every year I come to this sea shore at the same day, at the same time. I spend my day on this shore, waiting for Shreya, hoping to see her again, hoping she would come and hug me. But I know, she will never return!
Expecting to be free from Shreya, I sail my feelings into a scribbled paper boat. But neither my feelings nor my hope has stopped!
“Even now, after all these years, she is the first person I think about in the morning and the last before going to sleep!”