I realize that I have always loved you. No matter where I have been, or with whom I have been, you were always there on my mind. Now as I look at you, I know that I have let go of something that could have been so very mine. I find that you have aged, gracefully so. Your eyes still have got that twinkle, the naughtiness that often took my breath away. I remember the smile in your eyes and the madness in them too. Your have a few gray hairs. I remember you always did- premature grays, we talked of, often. How hard we had laughed when you kept telling me I'd go bald by the time I got 35 and you'd still be young and pretty! I can see that you are surprised to find me this way today, still not bald, and not even a gray hair to point to. Ah! I am amused.

It has been 14 years since we last met. Do you remember? That misty dawn of December, when you had come running to my Hostel Block. I remember being woken up so early by my room mate saying you were waiting for me at the visitor's lounge. I remember walking up to you, groggy and still sleepy. I remember the look of horrid pain in your eyes, and all I knew that moment was I could never see you in pain. I wanted to take you in my arms, and tell you that everything is fine. I wanted to promise you that everything would go fine. But all I did was stare at you, helpless. You threw yourself onto me, sobbing uncontrollably. I held you close. I could smell the coconut oil in your hair mixed with fresh sweat. Your slender frame fit easily in my arms. I felt as though I held my world in my arms. Gently I pulled away. Your eyes tore my heart. You told me about your father's call and how you were being called back home. I did not understand the graveness of the situation. I thought he wanted you home for a while, and eventually you'd be back. After all you still had 4 months of college left. How could he not send you back? I offered to take you home myself. But, I had got the point completely wrong.

You had come to me, to never go back. I never realized it. I saw the brief shock register. I did see the terror in your eyes, and how you turned away from me. I took your hands in mine, and asked if everything was alright. You told me that your father wishes to get you married off to someone from your village. I couldn't get myself to believe that. I argued with you, saying it could never possibly be. After all you had never met the man, and you were just 21. You were one of the best students in the college, and your studies hadn't finished yet. And moreover, you were never informed of any plans before. And then you received a call saying you were to be married to someone and that too the very next week. It seemed impossible to me. I realize, I had been insensitive and immature then.

Your eyes were red and sore. The tears never stopped. I didn't know what to do. I was still at college, barely 21. I knew that I wanted you more than anything else. But, I didnot know what I could have done. I held you in my arms, and sat speechless. The visitor's lounge was soon filled with people, and we decided to go out for a walk. I rushed to my room, and in a while we were walking along the winding road towards the Mussorie Lake. We had spent quite an awful lot of our college days there. But unlike all other times, there was no laughter, and no playfulness. The air was suddenly cold, and chilly. The lake was suddenly a reflection, that showed two lonesome hearts, in turmoil. We sat at our favorite spot, beneath the litchi tree. Time sped by, without either of us realizing. There was nothing I could offer you. I did not know what I could do, to stop you.

You turned to me smiling, bittersweet. I held you close, once again. I tipped your face up to mine, and leaned over to kiss you. Your eyes were closed. I could see the little mole above your lips and the thick eyelashes you always loved to bat. Your eyes were sore, I knew. I gently kissed your eyelids. I felt the sadness in me welling. I knew this could possibly be our last time together. You sensed it too I realized. You held me so close, and my hands wrapped around you. I wanted to never let go. Gently, my hands roamed over your body, shivering. I was filled with a sense of sadness and love. You gave yourself up to me. We made love for the very first time. The breeze soft, chilled our skin. Yet, in the warmth of our bodies, we found comfort. I remember the softness of your skin, the warmth of your body. You were so tiny, and slender, and we fit each other just perfect.I remember the contours of your breasts and the depth of your navel. I remember the taste of your skin, the fragrance of you. I remember the calm of the lake, and the frenzy of our heartbeats. But every time ever since you left that eve, I could only remember the drop of tear that spilled when you kissed me the very last time, before turning away from me, forever.

I have been always held down by the weight of that drop of tear. As I felt the tear touch my skin, I realized in all certainty that I had lost you, forever. I stayed near the litchi tree that whole night. Your fading image filled my eyes, over and over.

I wonder are you thinking just the same, now? I can never ask, can I? The time has sped by. You still look pretty, with that mole that shifts when you smile. And you still have the lustrous black hair, with your special grays. I wish the breeze would carry over to me, the fragrance of coconut oil in your hair. I have missed it, I really have. All this while. I find that you have out on a few pounds onto your once slender frame. It looks good. Age looks good on you. I wish you were with me, growing old together. Ah! How I wish....!

I answer your queries politely. You introduce me to your husband, and your little girl. I kneel down, to talk to your child. She looks so beautiful. A drop of tear falls out of my eyes, as I kissed her on her forehead. And as I come up to my height, I find your smile. And, I feel the gush of cool air around me, as though I have been freed, as though I have been sanctified. You smile and wish me luck, before turning away to join your family. I stand at the platform watching you board the train.Watching the train starting to move, I find your little girl waving at me, in sheer joy. And then you smile one last time.

Your image has faded away, once again. But this time, no tears have spilled from my eyes. I feel calm, and happier than I have ever felt in ages. You have just set me free. All I needed was your smile...

11 comments

I realize that it needs a lot of concentration and dedication to be the first to comment on Miss Sashu's short story. :D I am humbled. Let me tell you this. Okay, now on a serious note,

One can never doubt your caliber of wording every emotion as if it is being felt by the reader. So effortlessly you do that in this form of the art too. And again, the short story, on its own, talks like as if a poetry is here without line breaks. It flown off literally.

Wonderful. Keep treating us.

i loved this one...

jst a few things that i noted...you give in to cliches:"That misty December morn" " Age looks good on you" etc, would be nicer if you could coin new phrases for these, am sure it wouldn't be a huge task for someone your caliber. also words like "morn" are nice, but better suited for poetry i feel...

these are small observations, and take nothing away from your lovely story :)

A beauty there Sash! Truly ma'am hats off! What expression...mind blowing! :) Great work dear, keep it flowing! :)

There is a lushness of emotion in this story. Moments when time stands still. Moments when a lump forms in the throat.

You have the gift of articulation, even in stories :)

As Soumya has said, poetry here too! A treat to read!

I'm choked,Sashu!Beautiful!The story has been so engaging that I just could not get myself to leave my chair for one second despite the constant calls from my daughter to play with her.
I remember reading in your google image tag that you have a dream to write a book.I so wish you realise that dream of yours soon as I know it sure will be a treat to read just like this post of yours.
God bless:)

All I needed was a smile.. Indeed!

Sashz, only you can do this, and deftly. Loved every nuance and felt 'em creeping into me! GOSH! WOW and WOW!!

beautiful , peotic as the others have said so rightly..
and as Usha says a lushness of emotions...
you write and how!


:)
((hugs))
loved this

I liked it.. it's special

Held down by the drop of tear! how true!

@soumya,vrinda,tara,usha mema, deeps, prabhu, rini, indyeah, rohin n meena!!

thanks so very much all f ya :) means so much to me, those words!

loads of love :)

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