Saturday, January 26, 2013

Excerpts... The last night

He looked at her standing by the window staring at the reflection of the street lamp in the puddle that had formed on the road. The raindrops smeared the pool with the orange light of the neon lamp. Hundreds of ripples formed every moment and manifested their existence before they merged with hundreds of others and lost it. Her life bore a strong resemblance to those ripples. Just a week back, she knew where her life was headed and what lay in store ahead – just like the newly formed ripples that moved away from the core in hope of ending their journey at the confluence of land and water, unaware of those unseen forces that possessed the prowess to change the course of their journey. And now, merely seven days and as many meetings later with a stranger as foreign as any ripple was to any other ripple in the pool, she found herself lost, voyaging on a path propelled by her heart. She was better off than the ripples for she had the option to change course and revert back to the path she was meant to tread. But she also had a heart that granted her the liberty to decide which path she wanted to tread.
 
“Change your clothes. The wet clothes might make you sick”, he said.
 
There was no reaction from her. She stood pondering over the things he had said in the last seven days. She was amazed at the how the truth in his words had begun to unfurl. She realized how stupid she had been to blindly believe that life was indeed a fairy tale. The realization gave way to fear as her thoughts wandered to those things he had said that were still to be encountered. It sent a shiver down her spine. She perceived some movement behind her. He had walked to her and stood just behind her.
 
Another shiver ran down her spine as she felt the soft touch of his hand on her left shoulder. She closed her eyes. Uncertainty of the moments to follow tormented her. A feeling of guilt gripped her. She was all set to commit the rest of her life to a stranger she had never met in ten days, and here she stood inches away from a stranger for whom she felt an affection stronger than she had ever felt for anyone in her life. She said a silent prayer for strength in her mind. She debated if only the fact that her parents had selected the former should make her feel guilty - for he was still a stranger to her and stranger than the one who stood with his hand on her shoulder. She was probably meeting him for the last time and if all his words were as true as the one’s that had come true; she wanted to express her love for him before they parted.
 
She felt the grip on her shoulder tighten as he turned her to face him. She stood there head lowered, looking at his feet. The expression on her face resembled that of a child caught guilty of some wrongdoing. He removed his hand from her shoulder and bent over, trying to catch her sight.
 
“What happened? Are you okay?” he said.
 
She stood there motionless; her heart beating hard. She was unsure of what she should do. She could listen to her mind and walk away or she could listen to her heart and stay. Walking away would mean that only one person in this world would know of the guy she fell in love with days before her marriage. Staying would mean two people would know of it, and she trusted him enough to believe that number won’t increase. She would have nothing to fear from the world and perhaps have a memory that she would cherish all her life.
 
He placed his hand gently below her chin and raised her face. She still looked down.
 
“What’s wrong? Are you okay?” he asked again.
 
She shook her head. She still looked down and the expression on her face made him think she was about to break into tears. With a voice more gentle and more caring, he spoke again.
 
“What happened?”
 
She stood still for a few moments gathering all the courage and power to reason she had. The turbulence in her heart and mind had reached its peak now. The wet clothes and the turbulence made her shiver.
 
“I love you,” she said.
 
She did not look up as she said those words. The feeling of guilt still lingered in her mind. She found herself lost in a spate of questions. For the first time since it was planned, she questioned her decision to marry the match her parents had found for her. She questioned the possibility of the stranger she had never met being anywhere close to this perfect stranger she met only a week back. She questioned if the man standing next to her was a stranger anymore at all. She questioned how this no-more-a-stranger would react to her words. She questioned and she questioned but there was no one to answer those questions tonight. She resigned herself to her fate and waited.
 
It came as a surprise for him. He could feel his heart beating hard and his feet trembling. It had taken him only a couple to days to make himself believe that nothing lay store for them together and perhaps she would never feel the same for him as he did for her. He had effortlessly believed that a marriage scheduled in ten days denied her the right to fall in love. He had decided, against his own rationales, that revelation of one's love wasn't always in the best interest of the heart. And here he stood ,silent, astounded by the manifestation of her love. He realized he had been a coward to hide his feelings for her. He tried to reason that it was only an infatuation that would have faded in a matter of days. But deep inside even he knew it was only his ego that brought this thought to his mind. He had felt a very strong sense of attraction for her and it was only the fear of rejection that had forced him to into a blanket of silence. The same blanket of silence that still prevailed upon him.

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