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Swati Singh



Swati Singh


The Last Hug

The Last Hug

7 mins 407 7 mins 407

GURBANI SINGH filled the birthday card with hundreds of chits each with a love message based on her and Jay’s last 5-and-a-half-year relationship and a lot of stickers, she had been collecting since she was ten. While she was doing this there was one prominent thought in her mind, “I hope this is not the last thing I gift him and if it is, then I should pour my heart into it.” The relationship started when she was eighteen and he, twenty-three. Just four days before her eighteenth birthday, Jay proposed to her in the park, right after their gym class and all she could do was smile. It was her first relationship. Happiness could be felt in her body parts. It was not something she ever imagined. She was the daughter of a Colonel, serving in the Indian Army and the past 4 generations in her maternal and paternal side served in the Indian Armed Forces. She was the first girl to be born after 4 generations and the fifth generation, “to be Army Officer” and the “first lady officer of her family” which she decided when she was 3. Gurbani was beautiful. She did not have long hair or blue eyes or a lean body like a princess in fairy tales. She had dark brown hair till her shoulders, pinkish completion with black eyes, not that thick eyebrows, a little chubby, 5 feet 5 inches, and a bindi between her brows and earrings whenever she wore Indian Cloths. 

She always imagined getting married to a Military Guy until she met Jay. He was everything she ever wanted. Rather, more than what she had ever imagined. A true gentleman. He was 6 feet tall with a strong broad body, extremely handsome, fair skin, black eyes, thick eyebrows, large hands into which hers accommodated perfectly, a great sense of humor, smelled amazing all the time with excellent basketball skills and a state champion at arm resting. But this did not make him a gentleman. What made him one was his kindness, loving nature, a matured mind, his ability to express his emotions, to feel that is was normal to cry in front of her, to be vulnerable, to talk about his fears, plans, fantasy, to be protective and to love her unconditionally. Jay gave the best hug in the world with unlimited forehead kisses. He would cover Gurbani in his arms, keep her warm and safe. It happens to be Gurbani’s favorite place. They had imagined everything. Love, marriage, having babies together, 2 dogs, family vacations, road trips, long movie nights while being curled up in each other’s arms, walking together in the park, lots and lots of kisses, and maddening lovemaking sessions. They had it all planned. There was just more thing she imagined. Doing all this while she was an officer in the Indian Army. She saw all this as Lieutenant Gurbani Singh. 

But had everything been that easy, this story wouldn’t exist. While Gurbani was turning into a young ambitious woman, leaving her teen years behind, Jay was already a fully grown man, from mind as well as body. He was five years older to her, an engineer working in a Delhi based company with a six-figure salary. Like any other Indian Mother with her son turning twenty-five, he was worried about the marriage, rather than the relationship with a girl she met once briefly for ten minutes, at a common friend’s wedding function. His mother was keen on meeting Gurbani’s parents to finalize the wedding proposal. On a date, Jay shared his mother’s plans with her while she was in the last semester of her college and just twenty. They talked and she explained her dreams and plans over and over again and he understood and supported her till he turned twenty-nine and she, twenty-three. 

They had the best times of their lives. They had crossed everything in their couple bucket list. From giving each other names to kisses, walking hand in hand, making love, drinking with friends, late-night party, night out at a friend’s place, period talks, birthdays, anniversary, phone sex, and whatnot. 

In the past 5 years, Gurbani had given 4 successful attempts to join the Army. She worked day and night to fulfill her dreams and it happened. She cleared it all. Written exam, interview, and medical. But there were only 5 vacancies in her category. She did not reach the top 5 in the last 4 attempts. Time was slipping. She knew how important this is for her. A selection means a life she can live on her terms. A life with Jay. 

And then 2020 happened. With the Covid-19 pandemic, everyone was locked home. Gurbani and Jay did not see each other for the past 3 months. Only phone calls and video calls. In these 3 months, Gurbani could feel the pressure. There were two things she could not deny. One Jay’s unconditional love for her and second the marriage pressure created on her. Gurbani loves him but hates the pressure that comes with it. 

It was like begging for time to fulfill her dreams and ambitions. Jay’s mother was desperate to have her son married. What concerned her was, Gurbani’s parents who weren’t ready to meet her. And she wondered if a lady in uniform could run a house or give her grandchildren.

Gurbani’s parents knew about her relationship. Her father had met Jay several times. He liked him. She always took her father’s permission before going on a date. For Gurbani, her father was her best friend. A companion every daughter should have. Her mother was worried about her. One can’t say she wasn’t supportive. She just wanted her daughter to be independent and then get into a committed relationship or marriage. 

Gurbani’s mother was a highly qualified woman with the potential to qualify IAS Examination. But she happily gave it all to raise her 2 daughters, Gurbani and her younger sister Mehar. And after 20 years of marriage when things turned bad between her parents, her mother realized the importance of being financially independent. Since then, she made up her mind that her daughters should be financially independent before marriage so that they can take a stand for themselves when things go out of hand. Gurbani knew this and wanted the same. Past five years she confided in Jay. With time, things between her parents turned up to be fine and it seemed that the train was back on the track. 

Mid May Gurbani had an emotional conversation with Jay, which ended up by him saying “be prepared. Things might not be in our favor.” For a second, she thought maybe like other times, maybe for the 100th time, things will be the same. He will tell his mother and after a week, things will be back to normal. But it did not happen. Gurbani told her parents. She said everything. The same thing she had been telling them from the past 3 years. With her eyes full of tears and being ashamed of talking to her parents about her marriage without even been independent, she finally said. Everything, in detail. Her mother hugged her and asked her one question. “Gurbani beta do you want to get married?” to which she replied “yes, I want to marry Jay but not now. I want to see myself in the uniform.” And she had her answer. Although she loved him so so much, she knew what she wanted. She knew his birthday was on 31st May. And this might be the last birthday together. 

So, she made a three-page card with hundreds of chits and expressed herself. Till his birthday things were fine. Jay didn’t talk about the marriage idea and his mother. On 31st May they decided to meet in a famous pastry shop where she could give him her heart wrapped in that letter. There were so many people there with masks on their faces. Gurbani and Jay recognised one another in a glance. They hugged but not the usual Jay-Gurbani hug because of Covid-19 and the crowd. She gave him the letter and the cake she baked for him. They held hand for a few seconds, talked for 10 minutes, said I Love You and never saw each other again. 

A week after Jay's birthday they mutually broke up. Jay loved his mother and he would never disrespect her. Jay and Gurbani texted each other for a few weeks after the breakup but talked like strangers. Rather, worse than strangers. It was hard for both of them. But there was a list of regret Gurbani had. 

The regret of not getting her forehead kisses. The regret of not feeling the warmth one last time. The regret of not holding hands firmly. The regret of not getting teary in his arms and saying I Love You. The regret of not getting the last hug. 

So, every night she curls her blanket around her, thinking it to be Jay, imagine being held close to his chest with his lips on her forehead and fulfilling her last hug. 

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