Monday, May 9, 2016

Will you marry me?

Okay. So there was a writing contest where every month a renowned author would give a passage, using which the contestants have to craft a story. I sent for one of the months. Needless to say, that my story could not make it to the winners list. But then I thought, if not for contest, I still liked my attempt on story writing. I can still put it up on MY BLOG. So, here it is. Enjoy. 

It was a cold February dawn as I stepped out of the cab and ambled towards the entry gate no 3 at Delhi airport. I was headed to Bangalore to attend a college friend’s wedding. It had been a tumultuous four years since we had got adjusted to our lives after graduation and this was also to be a class re-union of sorts. What I didn't know was that the reunion would begin much ahead of time; right in the queue in front of the airline counter.

For a moment I was hesitant but in the very moment I was sure it was her
Same height! Same long hair! Same complexion! Curiosity had my eyes glued to her. And then about 60-odd seconds later, when she turned, she proved me right. My ex-girlfriend stood two places ahead of me in that queue. We had never met after the college farewell.

For next ten seconds so many thoughts raced my mind. Does she still hate me? Will she forgive me? Is she married? Yes? No? Should I talk to her? But who is this old lady holding her hand? And before I could stop myself I heard my own hoarse quivering voice, “Hi, Kavyaa”

She turned around to see who called her out but I think she didn’t notice me. I stepped up to her and repeated, “Hi, Kavyaa. How are you?”

“Umm, I am sorry, I can’t recollect you”

My heart skipped a beat. It has been just 4 years. Yes, we fought on a trivial issue. She wanted to get married a year after college while I wanted 3-4 years of money making and then talk to my parents. Only I know that I didn’t have the courage to walk up to my parents and introduce her to them. But we were girlfriend and boyfriend for 3 long years. And here she is. Not looking into my eyes and asking who am I?

“Its me, Kavvya, Nihit!  Don’t tell me you already forgot me?”

“Nihit!!! Oh My God. How are you? I just didn’t expect to meet you here”, she said with the same energy and love that made me fall for her.

“Nihit. I am Kavyaa’s mom”, the old lady accompanying Kavyaa turned to me and began speaking

“Looks like you two have not been in touch off late. She actually met with a near fatal accident after her college which took away her vision”, said the old lady

The queue moved ahead and so did Kavyaa and her mom but I couldn’t move an inch. I felt like throwing up. Only if I could have mustered some courage to talk to our parents, her life would have been different with me. She wouldn’t have met that accident. Oh, she is still so beautiful and vibrant. I stood there like a rock.

After the security check, I caught up with them at an eating joint.
“I am going to have some coffee. Do you want something Kavyaa?”, asked her mom.
“Coffee for me too”
“And you beta?”
“Nothing aunty. Thanks. I will get the coffee for you”, I said
“No no. You both talk. I will get the coffee”. I also didn’t pursue her further. I wanted to talk to Kavyaa alone.
“I am sorry Kavyaa”
“For what? Nihit, I am alright. Yes, that accident was devastating but thanks to my parents and friends, I have moved on in my life. I work as a counselor at a trauma center. It took me some time to gather all the broken pieces for my life. But I joined a blind school and they restored my confidence and faith in life. Don’t feel sorry about me”

How can she be so positive about life? Has she actually moved on in her life?

“You have no hard feelings for me?”, something which was bothering me the most.
“Of course not, Nihit. The best thing that this accident has taught me is to live your life with no regrets and hatred. Life is too short for all this. I could have died in that accident but I got away with few broken bones and loss of vision”, she said with as-a-matter-of-fact attitude. That put me at ease.
“I hope you are also going for Swami and Richa’s wedding at Bengaluru?!”, I asked
“Yup. I still can’t believe that they are getting married. They always fought and argued. But it would be fun to see them get married in both South and North Indian styles”, excitement flowing through her eyes.
“So, are you married?”
“No. Many boys proposed to me but when they came to know that I can’t see them, they ran away”, she laughed and I only managed to give an awkward smile. 

Shortly, her mom joined us with three cups of coffee. Kavyaa kept on telling her mom about our college time, even dropping obvious hints that we were a couple back then, while I sipped my coffee in complete silence.

We landed at Bengaluru airport after a two and a half hour journey and decided to board a single cab since our destination was same.

The moment we walked in to the venue for the lunch cocktail party, Swami and Richa ran towards us to get into a group huddle. Other gang members shortly joined us to form a bigger huddle. I managed to smile and congratulate the bride and the groom. All of us were looking ultra-suave as compared to our college days. No more once-in-two-months-washed jeans, loose yet cheap shirts, some local pair of shoes with a fake logo of popular brands. Our gang looked bigger with some new additions as spouses or kids.

“Hey guys. Wait wait wait. I have been eagerly waiting to ask you guys. Since mom has never seen Nihit during our college days, how does he look now?”, Kavyaa asked our gang.

“Bulging belly almost about to tear up his shirt. Bald. Have got himself a moustache. Looks like an uncle”, quipped Meera and I instantly looked towards Kavyaa who broke into her patented laughter while others joined in to embarrass me, though I still looked the same as I was during our college days.

While in college Kavyaa always told me: “If you eat all this junk 18 hours a day, you will soon have a fat belly tearing up your shirt, go bald and look like my uncle in next 2-3 years. Stop eating that garbage”

Looking at everybody, I realized that I was the only one who knew nothing about her accident. Kavyaa might have told them not to inform me about it. I decided to be by her side for the rest of the wedding event.

The wedding was organized in a resort which was very much closer to the Bengaluru airport and it was a beautiful place. Open, green, stylish and comfortable at the same time. Bengaluru’s famous weather added to its beauty.
“What do you see in front of you Nihit?”, she suddenly asked me while both of us were relaxing on a bench close to a pond catching me unawares.
“Nothing much”, I replied
“Nothing at all? How is that possible? Look around and tell me what you see. Okay, look around for me please. I am going to feel the beauty of this place through your eyes”
Suddenly, I realized what she meant.
“We are sitting on a white bench which is facing a small pond with crystal clear water. I can see two ducks with 3 baby ducks in that pond. The duck family is enjoying the sunshine. All around us is a carpet of green grass trimmed beautifully, where I can see three, no, five rabbits chasing each other and the grass is outlined with tall trees which shelters lot of birds. Far behind us, two morons are throwing fake smiles at unlimited guests who have gathered here for their wedding. They don’t know even half of those relatives. Sun is playing hide and seek with us, hiding behind the white clouds who have no intention to shower rain. And, I am sitting next to a beautiful girl who wants to keep on talking and at this moment, is patiently listening to my blabbering”. This is when I actually paid attention to the beauty of the resort.
“Thanks Nihit. I can see all this now”, she looked satisfied and took a deep breath to soak into the atmosphere

Then I saw, what she had done.

Apart from getting her ready and plating food for her, which was done by her doting mother, I became her eyes. I almost forgot that I have come here to meet my gang. It was as if I was here to be by her side, to make her laugh, to show her the wedding. Every time she changed her dress, she looked even more beautiful. She still has not lost her sense of dressing up.

“What do you think? Am I looking okay in this saree?”, she asked me while I was lost admiring her beauty
“Okay? You look stunning. Don’t stand closer to Richa, people will mistake you for bride”, I said, and I actually meant that
She was dressed in a stunning red saree for the Sangeet night. Opening performance was by the bride and the groom. More than a dance performance it was a shy bride-shy groom singing some overtly romantic Bollywood song while making some gestures with their hands and excited Uncles and Aunties joining them while throwing away crisp new currency notes into air. We had a good laugh. Still not able to digest that they were getting married.

After that I realized that Kavyaa is not standing next to me anymore. While I started searching for her, Richa’s younger sister, Anu, announced the next performance.
“Put your hands together for the dancing diva of Richa’s gang – Kavyaaaaaa”, and she exited the stage amidst a thunderous applause to hold Kavyaa’s hand and bring her to the centre of the stage.
The music started but I turned deaf. I could not hear anything. I was just staring at her with my mouth wide open. “She can dance as well?”, I thought to myself.
“Of course, she can. She has just lost her vision, not the spirit”, reminded me my inner self.

Next morning, was the wedding in South Indian style. It was very early morning actually. I missed most of it, since I thought sleep and breakfast were more important for me than attending the early morning wedding rituals. It was almost over when I made an entry and our gang was being adjusted by a team of photographers around Swami and Richa for a group photo. After adjusting them tirelessly for fifteen minutes, I silently made some space for myself next to Kavyaa, who immediately knew that it was me.

“Your love for food won over your friends’ wedding. Again, huh?”
“How did you know that it’s me?”, I asked her in surprise.
“Losing sense of vision meant gaining sense of touch and smell”
We then had our traditional South Indian lunch on banana leaves, somehow managing not to spill over the sambhar on our cloths, while she ate everything so neatly.

The evening was reserved for North Indian wedding complete with baraat (the funny procession of the groom), jai mala (the noisiest event of the wedding) and pheras (the most boring part). We danced our hearts out during the baraat on long forgotten Punjabi songs, tossed the bride and groom in air during jai mala. Now was the most boring part of the wedding but I still have not understood, why is this the most important, emotional and exciting part for the girls?

I remember Kavyaa telling me how much she loved the chanting of mantras, swearing in to live with each other for the next seven lives, getting your hands yellowed by your parents, going around the fire. Listening to her only made me sleep. Anyways.
“Are they ready for the seven pheras?”, she asked
“Yes”, I replied while casually looking up from my mobile to check if they were actually standing
“Did I see tears in her eyes? No. What is there for her to cry?”, I thought to myself and got back to my game

As soon as the Pandit ji announced that seven pheras were completed and they are now husband and wife, lot of things happened all of a sudden – thundering applause, showering of flower petals, some sighing with relief (finally, it was over), some making sure that Swami remembers what all Pandit ji said during each of the pheras and Kavyaa springing up from her chair and clapping her hands with all her might, tears rolling down her lovely cheeks
As the tears rolled, I went down on my knees, catching them in my left hand and my right hand holding her hands. Her mom was the first one to notice this and all of a sudden everyone went quiet, I guess my movements were way too fast to bring everyone’s attention to us

“Kavyaa, I am not saying this because I feel pity on you for your accident. I am not saying this because you need a support. I am not saying this because I think you can’t take care of yourself.
I am saying this because I need you. You made me see things around me which were always so beautiful. Only I was too busy to notice them. You gave me a reason to laugh, because I wanted to make you laugh. In the last two days you have shown me what I have missed all these years.

Kavyaa Arora, will you please marry me, support me, make me a better person?”