Author’s Note – Hi everybody, I am a huge fan of YSC. My story is my first humble attempt in short story writing. Hope you all read and enjoy. I would be very much happy if you could give me valuable suggestions. – Thanks and Best Regards, Nadia
“Oh No! This person is such a nuisance…somebody should teach him how to sound a horn…it’s almost midnight” Neharika thought. She hated the way her neighbour blared his car horn for the watchman to open the flat gate.
She tossed in bed and closed her eyes trying to sleep. But no way…her mind was overcrowded with too many thoughts, and visions…. and it drifted from one to the other… few of them which her mind probably is replaying the millionth time since that incident in her first year of graduation…
8 years ago….
It was her first week in college and her first experience in a co-ed environment. “This is not going to be easy for me” Neharika was tensed. On top of it, it was ragging season and she heard rumours that the seniors have already started their prowl for freshers.
One fine day, around 8-10 senior guys barged into their class and started targeting the pretty girls one by one. She saw one of them eyeing her and she could feel blood draining from her face. Before she could think, she was on her feet and out of the class. Through the corner of her eyes she saw the guy getting up too. “RUNNNN” her inner voice screamed. She ran as fast as her legs could carry her for a few seconds and then she had an uncontrollable urge to turn back to check if he was actually following.
“AAAAaaaaHH” she tripped on a stone and was on the verge of a fall when suddenly she felt a steel grip on her arms which saved her. The grip was strong and firm but didn’t hurt her a bit.
“Hey, be careful” a perfectly brewed voice said. She looked up and saw a pair of jet black eyes and a friendly crooked smile.
“Are you OK?” the stranger asked still holding her. She nodded looking down her face flushing with embarrassment and fear.
He released his grip and said softly “You are smart and confident…aren’t you? Don’t be scared of ragging…. you are going to be fine”.
She gathered courage to look up again. That was the moment of her life….little did she know that it would transform the rest of her existence. The charming young man was still smiling at her…the smile which can relieve any stress you have. She couldn’t help staring for a second longer. There was something remarkable about him and his gaze. She suddenly felt self-conscious and walked fast. “Oh no…I didn’t even thank him” she thought and turned after a dozen steps. There was nobody in sight. She scanned the surroundings, no luck.
After that day, she couldn’t remember a single night without her reliving the incident and praying that she would meet him again. Her eyes longed to see his smile and her ears yearned to hear his words. Even in the middle of her strenuous academic years, she could feel his presence always and everywhere.
“Who are you to walk into my life from nowhere and own my soul?” she asked in mock anger and smiled shyly.
She also had bouts of mood dips when her mind was filled with negative questions “What if I don’t meet him at all?” ”What if he doesn’t have the same feelings towards me?” “What if he is already committed?” Her strong practical side always came to her rescue advising her to appreciate whatever life brings and it would be the best for him and her. Her romantic side also consoled her by summoning him in her dreams smiling and reassuring “we are inseparable”.
Years flew, Neharika actually turned out to be a smart, good looking and confident young lady. She graduated with flying colours; post graduated from one of the most prestigious institutions and bagged a job at a leading consulting firm.
She also became increasingly conscious of her growing affection towards him as time passed. It was definitely not infatuation or anything superficial. None of her male acquaintances distracted her from him in spite of their good looks, intelligence and interest in her. For her, she belonged only to him and that’s about it. But she never voiced it to anyone not even to her doting family and friends. “What to say? Who will understand? Maybe they will just think that I am being silly….hmmm…no point” she mused and felt sad. She was even a bit apprehensive that they might ask her to retract from this affair.
Her parents were always proud of their smart, beautiful and successful daughter and were busy in a groom searching spree. “The AIIMS doc looks tall and pretty smart. How about a chat with his folks, dear?” Her father asked her mother.
“Hmmm….maybe we will choose a guy working in a similar field as her. Let’s discuss about the IIT postgrad’s proposal with her” she answered.
Neharika absolutely hated the idea of arranged marriage but she didn’t want to hurt her parents who have big plans for her wedding. At 24, she dismissed the proposals giving a reason that she wants at least a year to settle in her career and they agreed. After a year, they raised the topic again and her disinterest disappointed them. She couldn’t bear to see their sad faces and so had to give in. She had no more excuses to say.
“Do you think she has an affair” her father wanted to confirm.
“No way, if she had one she would have certainly told me….you know how close we are” her mother was confident.
A month later, she got a call from her parents. “Neha sweetie, a dashing proposal has come and we are so excited” her mother beamed. “He is a post grad from Harvard Business school…smart, tall and good looking. We were very doubtful whether we would get a response from them when we sent your details and picture four days ago…but guess what… within minutes we got a call from the guy himself saying that he is very interested and would like to meet us…..he flew down from Bangalore yesterday and spent some quality time with us. We are absolutely impressed. We are planning for you both to meet sometime next month…let’s see”.
“Whatever” she sighed.
……she checked her mobile. It was 2:00AM. She was wide awake. Her mind didn’t have any intention to shut up and go to sleep. It was devising crazy plans of stopping the marriage. She hated the guy who impressed her parents. “Maybe he learnt such manipulative techniques at Harvard…but he can never manipulate me” she thought bitterly.
“Hey!!!!I’ve got an idea! Why didn’t I think about it before” she exclaimed after rigorously thinking for an hour and her lips widened into a bright smile.
The following morning she called her parents “So the guy is working in Bangalore as well? Which firm? Wow! …that’s superb…..Of course, I know that place…. Nishan? That’s a nice name…”. After they kept the call, her father smiled at her mother “Yesterday you were complaining about her lack of interest…now what do you have to say? She is my daughter and knows that we have always made right decisions for her”.
She took half day leave and set out on her mission. During the journey, her mind was busy webbing a more detailed plan for the rest of her day.
“Wow! What an office? “she gasped and counted the floors “27…Oh my!…no wonder this is the tallest building in the city”. She stepped into the foyer.
“Can I please meet Mr Nishan Verma?” she enquired.
The receptionist checked her system and replied “He is in a meeting for the next half an hour….if you don’t mind can you please wait in his lounge and I will send him a message. Your good name please?”
“Neharika Rai” she answered.
She walked to the spacious luxury lounge. “This guy is doing really well….good for him” she thought while she seated herself on the couch. The ambience made her a little nervous but she mustered up her courage soon “I will just politely decline his proposal …I don’t have to explain to him anything anyways” she made up her mind. “I hope I don’t upset him much…if only I had a choice…hmmm” she simply hated to hurt people.
Seconds ticked by…..she flipped the pages of a magazine to pass away the time. “Did I make you wait for too long?” a voice asked from behind and she froze. She didn’t expect this at all…she was completely floored. With great effort, she collected herself and turned around.
It was “him”. Emotions flooded her and she was speechless.
“Let’s have a coffee together” he said and made her sit down on the sofa.
“Do you remember our first meeting” he asked and she nodded while sipping her coffee. She just wanted to gaze at him and hear his words forever. “You wouldn’t believe….ever since our first meeting my life completely changed. “
He resumed calmly “I had come to our college for collecting my certificates” she raised her eyebrows hearing “our college”.
“Actually, I am your super senior” he cleared her doubts “when you left in haste, I had a strong urge to stop and ask your details….but something inside me stopped…I didn’t want you to have a wrong impression about me. “ he said and smiled. “A month later, I left to US for my post grad studies. Gradually, I realized that I have actually fallen in love with you. I used to regularly ask your updates to my friends. I made up my mind to work hard to deserve you. Whatever I have achieved is only because of you. “
He stopped briefly and continued “I was preparing myself to propose you when my parents without my knowledge put my matrimonial ad in the papers. I was really annoyed… but I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the first reply. I contacted your parents immediately and expressed my interest. They responded frankly that even though they are very interested they might need some time to convince you. I am willing to wait a life time for your consent”.
He looked at her for an answer and saw that she was crying softly. He cupped his hands and lifted her face towards him. Through her tears of joy she replied “The wait is over”.