The cool wind was light and refreshing. The waves are touching the feet of the beach. But my heart was not obeying my orders. I am so eagerly waiting for her at the Puri beach, which was our favourite spot. I sat on the cool sand and playing the sand with my fingers. My eyes were searching for her desperately. Only my heart knows how much I miss her. How much days I waited to see her. I shall be going seeing her after the month long exams of my final year of Graduation.
Shalini was my junior at college. I proposed her a year back. I did not take much time to accept and express my feelings, as I too love him. She was beautiful with a naughty smile always on her face. She was very popular in college, as she participated in dramatics and her voice was so sweet. I was head over heels when I saw her enact in one of our cultural events. She has the capability to stand out in a crowd. She has a charming personality.
Last one year has been so wonderful for me. In love we are happier, we smile more, we rethink the loving moments, re-read the romantic messages, we are more expressive. Overall, we are living in a different world.
“Hi darling” Shalini gave me a light squeeze on my shoulder and sat near me. I smiled towards her and hugged her tight.
“As usual you are late by thirty minutes Shalini.” I tried to be little annoyed, hiding my desperateness to see her.
She kissed on my cheeks and smiled looking into my eyes. I just melt and lose myself in him when she does this.
“I missed you so much Shalini”, I hugged her again.
“Hey, how were your exams, darling? and what you have been planned further?” Shalini asks me in her stylish accent. She likes to be very stylish in her clothes and in accessories too. She belongs to a very well-off business family. I love what she wears, how she walks, talks, her perfume, her cool attitude, in fact, I am awestruck by everything she does.
“Oh leave about exams. I did my best and my results will tell how I fared and my immediate plan is to introduce you to my parents. You are always postponing it. This time you must come. No excuse my dear!”
“Hey, cool. Why you are getting so hurry? I will surely meet them one day.” Shalini didn’t take my words seriously. She is always in a carefree mode.
Later we chatted hand in hand until its dark and returned to our homes carrying the sweet moments in our hearts.
Finally, the day came when I took Shalini to my home and introduced her to my parents. Apparently, my parents managed to speak well with her, but I could sense that being a very conservative family they did not like me for bringing home a “female” friend..in fact befriending him.
My father asked her about what she does and about her family. Shalini elaborated about her family and business. She stayed for a little more time and left after having tea and snacks.
“Is Shalini just a friend of you or what? “my mother nailed the point directly. My father was looking directly into my eyes as if he too demands an answer for this. I gathered lots of courage and said “we like each other and would like to marry”.
My parents were extremely furious and were trying to explain to me how from different backgrounds and caste me and Shalini are and how difficult it will be to adjust.
I immediately said, “Where there is love, there will be an adjustment and sacrifice.”
My father sarcastically said, “Whether Shalini is also ready to adjust? Because love and adjustment has to have come from both sides; not from the one side like what you are doing”
“No doubt “, I said vouching for Shalini.
“Ok, I will give a chance. Tomorrow talk to her and invite her parents to our home. If they are ok with this, I will also rethink. Otherwise, you have to marry as per my choice. “, my strict dad stepped down a little.
I am sure she will convince her parents and no one can stop us from being united. The night seems to be unusually long. I want to talk in person and tell all this development, so I refrained myself from texting Shalini. She will be too excited to listen from me directly. I just message her, “5 pm Puri Beach, at our favourite meeting spot, excited to share something very interesting with you!” She replied, “Sure...Can’t wait..” I tried to sleep somehow.
I jumped with joy when I spotted Shalini walking towards me on the beach in the evening. I was on cloud nine. I told her “after you went from our home yesterday, I told my parents that we love each other and we are planning to get married. My father kind of agreed but he wants your parents to agree for our marriage and meet our family. Isn’t that too exciting ..I couldn’t wait to tell you. You will now have to talk to your parents and convince them and I am sure you would. Wow Shalini.. our life together would be so loving!”
“Hold on dear.. what's all this about marriage? I have not yet thought about it. I am too young for marriage and all. “
“I know Shalini. Once you convince your parents, I can wait for you.”
“Oh plzzz.. I don’t like to marry..it’s a sticky bit..what’s wrong in being like this?” hissed Shalini.
“But..you loved me... we loved each other..our love has to progress a step further and we marry. That’s what happens and that’s what everyone does.“
“So if I don’t like marriage, you mean I can’t love too? It’s your wrong conception that love and marriage are a sequence”, shouted Shalini red with anger.
I did not understand her logic. First time I saw a girl was speaking like this. In fact, now I feel I have never understood her. Her words ‘It’s your fault..it’s your fault’, echoed in my ears and involuntarily I was murmuring, “yes it’s my fault..yes it’s mine” and I was already walking away from Shalini. Words fail beyond a certain point. No point in arguing further.
I was walking mechanically, my legs involuntarily leading me to my home. I felt betrayed, cheated, humiliated for my love. I directly went inside my room, bolted and fell on the bed. I am trying to assimilate what has happened and I am unable to come to terms with it. My stomach is churning and I feel a deep hollow inside. Tears roll down and I dug my head in the pillow and cry the loudest.
I had to wipe my tears and open the door when my mother sensed that something wrong happened with me and knocked. “What happened? Why are you crying? Look at your swollen eyes and face.” My mother panicked. I narrated sobbing what has happened between me and Shalini.
“We come from a very conservative family and you never even once thought of us and our family repute. You loved and wanted to marry the girl from another caste. Do you realize how difficult is to deal with these marriages? What will we say to the elders in our family? Whatever happened..has happened for our good. Now just marry whomever we chose for you”.
I wish my mother consoles me and helps me get over my grief. But instead, she was the harshest ever. Evening after my dad came from office, mother narrated everything. My dad came to my room and said, “ In one glance I could sense that she is not marriage material. How blind were you all these months? Couldn’t you sense that? Now enough of all this love and nonsense..do what we say.”
Next few days, I was mostly in my room, trying to overcome the agony. My parents saw me as the culprit who never bothered about their feelings and family honour.
More than the pain Shalini gave me, my parents' behaviour hurt me. What wrong have I done? I loved her sincerely, wanted to marry. But Shalini cheated, not me. I am the victim. Not the culprit. Love is above caste and religion. That is what I felt. But my parents don’t feel so. I just feel all alone in this hour of pain. I just want to run away from all this. But where? The only option I have is to say yes to the alliance I got yesterday. My parents put her photo and details on the table and asked me to see.
I opened the envelope and saw her picture. Her name was Puja. She was looking ok but not as beautiful as Shalini. How in the deepest of my thoughts I still have Shalini. I am unable to forget her. My mind repeats the memories of our togetherness. I am extremely angry on Shalini now. She has not contacted me after that. How easily has she moved on in her life? I too will move on. Why I waste my life sulking? Somehow I want to take revenge on Shalini by moving on and being happy.
That night I said yes to marry Puja. Not that I liked her but I felt it was my way to show Shalini that I do not care about her.
My parents are very happy that I agreed and the marriage ceremony went on well. It’s been a few months to our marriage. I observed that Puja is a nice girl, very simple and loving. I started liking her, loving her for the way she is. She has a romantic side too. She listens to music a lot, sings a line or two apt to the situation. She loves to express in a song rather than mere words. She writes romantic two-liners which have a much deeper meaning. I enjoy listening to them.
I tease her by asking “which song is in your mind right now?” I know her fondness for songs and lyrics that she has a song in her mind always and can start from anywhere. When I asked this after a month of our marriage, she immediately sang this for me...
“Ajeeb dastan hai ye kahan suru kahan khatam...hai ye manzilein kounsi na tum samjh sako na hum” . By signing this song she wants to tease me a little as I told her everything about me and Shalini.
In all these months we had our share everything with each other. She always excused me for my impulsiveness and emphasized on a healthy way of expressing our views. She is my friend, philosopher and guide. She is everything to me. My wounds are healed now. Shalini’s chapter is now buried deep. It’s only Puja in my mind and heart. I finally got my true love. I love her so much that this one life is not enough for me to express it.
I took out my cell and messaged her.
“Tum dil ki dhadkan mein rehti ho ...bas tum rehti ho”