The Last Love
The Last Love11 mins 1.0K 11 mins 1.0K
" Mom!! who has served this mango pickle along with my parathas? I can not simply stand the smell!! Yucks! I am getting late for office.. I will have breakfast at office. Bye." Before leaving in a hurry, he bumped into Mrinalini who was standing teary eyed at the kitchen door, full of guilt. The guilt that a newly married girl holds for unknowingly annoying her husband and in laws - Arjun understood the reason behind the mango pickle on his plate. He gently stroked Mrinalini's hair and said in a barely audible voice "I like only curd with my parathas.. no pickle please. No worries, I will have something in the canteen. Take care."
These words were enough to melt her down and the tears that were hidden behind her dark eyelashes now flowed out as if the dam gates had been unlocked. Arjun left for office and Mrinalini was left back at home with her in laws. She could hear her mother-in-law muttering to herself, "Poor boy, left just like that. I don't know why girls act so smart these days. She could have asked me what to cook and what to serve. Oh! my poor son!". This hurt her more, she felt more guilty. She knew she made the best aloo parathas (as her father always told everyone) and she could see her father- in-law savoring the same along with the mango pickle that her mom had packed for her. Mrinalini skipped breakfast that day and no one really bothered to ask her to have it.
This was Mrinalini's first day at her new home - the first day after they had come back from their honeymoon. Mrinalini and Arjun were married a few days back. Some common acquaintance had matched their alliance. The families met and agreed. A short meeting was set up between them. They exchanged a few words and were ready to spend the rest of their lives together. Their honeymoon was a quiet and pleasant one. Arjun had booked the tickets for Sikkim and had planned to give it as a surprise to Mrinalini along with the lovely diamond ring on their first night.
Mrinalini loved the ring. She was amazed to see how Arjun knew her choice so perfectly - just the kind of ring she liked, a simple one with a solitaire. When Arjun gave her the tickets to Sikkim, she was happy. Happy to have begun a new life - happy to have let go of her past and begin a fresh new chapter. The shy bride softly told her husband, "Sikkim is a beautiful place. Though I have severe hill sickness, I will try my best to enjoy your company. I will let you know the names of the medicines." Arjun's heart was immediately filled with love for his innocent wife and he said a little prayer in his heart - a prayer to keep them together for lifetime, a prayer to strengthen their bond and love with time, a prayer to help him forget his past and tread on the fresh new path that lay in front of him with Mrinalini by his side.
Mrinalini was in deep love with Divakar during her graduation years. They made quite a decent pair and were admired by everyone. The teachers, their batch mates everyone knew these love birds right from the first year of college. However, in their final semester when Mrinalini told about her love and her plans about the future, she met with severe resentment at home. Her father who was a very religious Brahmin, strictly announced, " I anyway do not want Mrinalini to work in future. It was her merit that she got admission in the prestigious Science College. She has gained enough knowledge to guide her children in the future and need not go to college from tomorrow."
Mrinalini was devastated. In one go she was snatched off her career as well as her love of life. She was not allowed to contact any of her college friends and teachers and had to stay at home under her parents' strict supervision. She got to know later from a neighbour whose daughter was an undergraduate in the same college that Divakar's parents moved to their native village after he failed miserably in the final examinations. Mrinalini cursed herself and her fate. She could not even mourn for the person she loved, for the person with whom she had dreamt to spend the rest of her life. She cried when she was alone in her room, but composed herself in front of her parents. A few weeks later, they got this wedding proposal from Arjun's family and the marriage quickly followed.
Mrinalini told Arjun about Divakar during their Sikkim trip. She always wanted to be transparent in her relationships. One cold evening, when they were sipping their coffee in the hotel's balcony while admiring the sunset at the mighty Himalayas, they opened their hearts to each other. Mrinalini had discovered Arjun to be a very gentle person. He was really good and decent to her. He had till now never forced himself on her. He was giving her the time and she was respecting him for that from the bottom of her heart. The closest they had come to till now was when Arjun held her hands while walking down some narrow hill-ways and while he patted her back when she vomited during the hill drives.
Arjun made sure that Mrinalini had her medicine. He realized that he had made the wrong choice by selecting a hilly region for their honeymoon. In order to set things right going forward, he tried to explore her preferences in food, the kind of resorts she liked, her shopping preferences and gifted her small tokens from the local market every night before they retired to bed. Now, with such a gentleman by her side, Mrinalini gathered all the courage and told him about Divakar. She was all in tears when she finished talking. She realized that Arjun had by then held her closely in her arms and was caressing her hair. He gently placed a kiss on her lips once she was done with her story. Mrinalini hid her face in his chest and could feel his fragrance, could feel his heartbeat and the longing that was taking the shape of desires in both of their hearts.
Mrinalini gently unbuttoned his shirt and placed a soft kiss on his bare chest. The evening was getting colder. They came to the room and lighted the fireplace. Mrinalini, snuggled into the cozy blanket and Arjun joined her in bed. Mrinalini felt like melting down in his arms, she felt so weak in her knees, unable to speak she simply rested her head on his chest. Arjun gently stroked her hair and spoke in a grave voice, "Mrinalini, I love you. I love you for your honesty. I loved your simplicity when we met for the first time and I promise to love you for the rest of my life. I promise to be a loyal and caring husband. I may make mistakes, you may make mistakes - but we need to stand by each other at all times. I am all yours Mrinalini, however, I have to confess something to you. You are not my first love Mrinalini."
Mrinalini sat up straight on the bed eager to hear what Arjun had to say. Arjun showed her his wrist which was adorned by a watch. Mrinalini had noticed that Arjun never removed the watch from his wrist. It was there on his wrist when he had come to meet her for the first time, it was there on the wedding day- though it did not go well with his Sherwani, he never changed his watch. Arjun told her that this watch was a gift from his love Shweta. Shweta was his childhood friend whom he lost two years back. Shweta and Arjun had built their dream castles when she was diagnosed with third-degree cancer in the lungs. Arjun stayed by her side all the time, but as fate would have it, he lost the love of his life to this deadly disease a year back. Arjun was doomed. He did not want to talk to anyone. He missed Shweta every moment. His parents could not bear to see their only son ruining himself in front of them every passing day. After about eight months of Shweta's demise, Arjun's mother all teary-eyed had spoken to him and explained how she and his father were in despair seeing him like this - his loneliness almost killed them. His parents could slowly convince him to move on in life and get married.
Both Arjun and Mrinalini had tears in their eyes. Arjun lay his head in Mrinalini's laps and Mrinalini stroked her hair gently. She promised in her heart to love Arjun till her last breath and never let him be sad. She never intended though to replace Shweta and her memories. That night they promised each other to respect their past and move on the new path without digging into the past ever. They promised to love, trust and respect each other - and they did. For the first time, they made love. Gentle, slow love. Arjun carefully savored every inch of Mrinalini, careful not to hurt her body or soul... Mrinalini enjoyed each stroke and responded equally to all his moves. Their lips were busy for the rest of the night, exploring each other's unexplored self, tasting each other's body and inhaling each other so closely. Their bodies entwined as Arjun entered her softly and with every move, Mrinalini felt the completeness, the urge to have more of Arjun and both of them savored this heavenly moment together..
Today is their twentieth wedding anniversary. Mrinalini and Arjun have traveled a long journey together. They have seen many ups and downs in life. They faced a severe crisis when Arjun lost his job during one of the IT recessions. It was then when Mrinalini stood by him. Mrinalini had been able to do so because it was Arjun who had encouraged and helped her to complete her graduation. Mrinalini worked as a teacher in one of the nearby schools. Arjun soon got a job in another organization which demanded more of his time and attention. Mrinalini quit her job some years later as their son Mihir needed her attention. The couple was blessed with a son two years after their marriage.
While nature had bestowed its best gifts on Mihir, it had been cruel enough to snatch away Mrinalini's parents in an accident. Arjun's father passed away last year and his mother was now almost in her mid-seventies- weak and fragile. She realized that she had been nasty to Mrinalini in her earlier years. However, down the years, she had grown so fond of her daughter in law that she could not even imagine staying without her and Mihir for a single day. Mihir also loved his grandma. Arjun was busy with his job - he was a responsible son and a father and a very loving husband. Despite busy schedules, he never missed attending Mihir's parent-teacher meetings along with Mrinalini.
He never missed a single doctor's appointment for his mother and he never missed to buy small tokens of love for his wife whenever he got a chance. They were admired as a couple among all relatives and friends. They shared a wonderful bond. It was amazing to notice how their eyes could do all the talking whenever they were in a gathering. Arjun never missed appreciating Mrinalini and Mrinalini never missed a chance to hold is hands and give him a peck on the cheeks. Each birthday in the family was celebrated with much love and togetherness. Arjun and Mrinalini preferred having quiet anniversaries - they were of opinion that marriage anniversary is an absolute private affair and they celebrated it each year without any pomp. With just blessings from their elders, a visit to the nearby temple and a quiet dinner in their favourite restaurant, they celebrated their anniversary lovingly.
This anniversary was however different - it was their twentieth and Arjun had gifted a lovely house to Mrinalini for her to make it a comfortable home - their nest for the rest of their lives. Today was the housewarming ceremony. While Mrinalini wore lovely Murshidabadi silk, she carefully chose a silk kurta and pajama for Arjun. Arjun took her hands gently and placed the keys to their new home in her palms. Mrinalini whispered a small "thank you" and rested her head on his chest like always.
Just then there was a knock on the door and Mihir came in. He was son every parent could wish for. He was nurtured with love and that reflected in his personality. He loved his parents and grandma. He was eighteen now - matured and a sensible boy. He came in to check if his parents were ready for the ceremony. Hearing him enter, Mrinalini blushed and moved away. She opened her almirah and took out an old key ring to put in the new keys. Mihir examined his parents from top to bottom and exclaimed, "The most gorgeous couple in town!! But Dad, do you realize that this college boy watch does not suit you anymore and does not go with this kurta at all!!
Mom!! why don't we simply buy him a new watch? And..what's this you are holding... where did you dig out this key ring from..newly bought ha? And what's this "D" on this ring? Should have been M or A..right? Whatever maa!! you should analyze while buying naa! you bring home anything that the shopkeepers give you!!" And on and on he went....
Mrinalini and Arjun smiled at each other - they understood the importance of the key ring and the watch. They did not speak a word, their eyes did all the talking..they stroked their son's head lovingly and arms in arms went for their housewarming ceremony. They knew in their hearts that though they did not have a complete first love, they were sure of their last love and its strength!!