"Sorry sir, I'm late," Anjali held her ears and smiled like an innocent baby. "I was stuck in a traffic jam."
"That's okay," Sunil smiled as usual.
Anjali let out a sigh of relief and ran to her cabin. Sunil's eyes kept following her gorgeous face. Anjali had joined his office as internet only a couple of weeks ago. But whenever his gaze fell on her beautiful face, he felt as if he had known her since ages. Anjali was the only child of an affluent businessman. Though she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, she was not one among those rich-spoil, arrogant brats who looked at everyone around with sheer contempt. She was a simple, sweet and down-to-earth person. And Sunil was well aware that he was head-over-heels in love with her.
He would have confessed his love to her if his circumstances hadn't had forced him to pull himself back. Sunil was born in a poor family to a father who was a peon and could hardly make the two ends meet. When Sunil was in his 10th standard, his father died leaving behind a colossal amount of debt for them. His mother took up the job of a housemaid to feed her three children. Sunil used to do part time job to pay for his school and college fees. Somehow, he managed to land up in a good job and started earning a respectable income. But that was not a happy ending for him. He had to support his two younger sisters who were college students and then arrange for their dowry and get them married. His mother was an old and ailing lady and more than half of his salary went in paying her doctor's bills. They used to live in a small 1-bedroom flat where each member of the family occupied a tiny space by each corner of the house.
"How could a girl like Anjali who had been brought up in a luxurious palace live happily in the cottage of a pauper like me?" Sunil smiled rather ruefully and shook his head to exorcise the thought out of his mind. "I have no eligibility to ask her hand in marriage. I must keep my love locked within the depths of my heart forever."
He gulped down his agony of letting go of his first love and made up his mind to keep himself at a distance from her. He resigned from his previous job and took up a job in a new company. He immersed himself in his work to keep the memories of Anjali off his mind. His hard work paid and he prospered very much within a short span of 5 years. Both his sisters were now married and were well settled in their lives. He bought a spacious apartment and started living there with his mother. Whenever his mother cajoled him that it was high time for him to get married and settle himself down in family life, Anjali's smiling face came to his mind. But it was too late by then. Anjali was a married woman by then who had settled abroad with her NRI husband.
Sunil started regretting his decision of keeping his love locked.
"I should have conveyed my feelings to her," he used to think whenever the overpowering feeling of regret burdened his soul. "I should have asked her to wait. The glint in her eyes had hinted me several times that she was as madly in love with me as I was. But I behaved like a coward and turned a blind eye towards her love. I deserve this as a punishment." He thumped his fist hard on his table.
"Now I can neither marry her nor could think of replacing her with someone else as her love would remain locked in my heart forever."