The yellowish black crispy crumbled leaves on the roadside flew around her, autumn was a season of ecstasy and falling leaves. She felt like a princess walking down the lonely breezy road at the pleasant hour of twilight. She was going to meet him, her childhood love, hairs tucked beautifully behind her tiny pointy ears still the feather cut never actually tucked right in there.
Her hands slightly reached for her coat pocket, the precious blue locket was still treasured in a red velvet bag, she clutched it right in between her delicate fingers afraid of it hurting her, but a smile made way to her face as a beautiful curve on her placid lovely face.
“Do you still remember me Ayan?” she whispered to the canopy above her, the rustling trees nodded to her words as though nature heard her.
A few more steps, a few more minutes and they would meet, the ticks from her watch was audible to her thumping heart and blushing face. She saw a silhouette of a tall young man casually walking with his Alsatian dog for a walk. Her heart leaped to find whether it was him and she gave out a warm inquisitive smile at the passerby who gave her a surprised look.
It was years ago, nostalgia, a moment of the best phase of her life, her childhood.
Not that she enjoyed reminiscing any of her days while she was trapped in the fortress, a fluffy room, over-protective parents and a bad-mouthed grandma but even while in that dreaded childhood where she was always isolated from people and things fearing of her health, she specially treasured her memories with Ayan, son of her distant aunt and that one whole month with him.
Her eyes glistened as she remembered the last day with him, the eleven year olds bid a goodbye unaware of never having to meet again, the last goodbyes were never told, and that day with him still brimmed with freshness in her memory.
12th September 2002
“Divya! Let’s sneak out to the garden and face ghosts! This was a challenge that I had failed in front of my friends, I’m going to prove them wrong” Ayan stomped his foot as he pulled Divya from her cosy warm bed during the dark hour of the silent night, long after the lights were put off, long after her mother had kissed her sweet dreams and her grandma had grumbled about her fate to be cursed with an unfortunate grandkid.
She never knew the reason, she was always well-protected, her studies were taken from her cushioned sofa with her personal teacher, no pens or pencils but a board and a marker was her study kit but then she never knew that kids go out to study in a common place called school until she met Ayan who had come over for the summer vacation to her place in Bangalore.
“No no Ayan, grandma would be furious” she resisted in her small sweet voice against his rattle. For the past one month, she had enjoyed her adventures with Ayan, she had sneaked into the kitchen and had stolen the ice-cream from the refrigerator, shivered and laughed at the chills, eating in the fridge light where she could see Aryan’s bright jovial face, she had even climbed up the attic and retrieved a hidden box by Ayan, he had hidden the blue locket in that old box and had coaxed her to look for it in the attic, they had played hide and seek, flew the kites from her room window and played like crazy kids even with the isolation rules in her house. Ayan always thought of her parents as strict people never letting kids to enjoy.
Divya was never allowed to wander away from her room and like a bird born in a cage she had always believed that flying was a disease until she met him. At that age of eleven, with no friends, no close ones to share her thoughts, she had devoted her time to music, her only companion .With his arrival Ayan bought with him the light, the opportunities and the life she had never known. It was then she had envisaged the flight!
“Common! You are a coward Divya, a coward! They say that the ghosts roam about in the gardens when the clock strikes 12 at midnight and I challenge you, can you go and get the garden scissor!” his sinister looks had enraged 11 year old Divya.
“Huh coward? Who? Wait and watch” she loved to accept all his challenges and used to faithfully fulfil them all, even though it would risk her very secure feeling, he parents would be mad at her but still he always encouraged her to venture into different things in the weirdest ways possible.
She wrapped herself with the warmest cloth from her soft woollen bag, slipped into her rabbit night slippers and made way to the main door, the night gave out eerie chills, she shuddered at the thought of going to the garden for the first time ever, she had never felt the muddy ground nor the thorns, pain was just another illusion that people speak of in the songs that she had heard. She was happy, frightened and enthusiastic all at the same time.
She quietly took the key from the hook and with minimum noise, she turned the key inside the lock, her heart fluttered, her eyes dilated at the thought of going out all alone into the garden. She enjoyed the night whipping winds across her face, Goosebumps were thrilling and all the rustling trees invited her. She looked for the scissors that she had never laid her hands upon. She was forbidden to but the lark took her further.
“There it is” she smiled and took the scissor that was placed near a pot.”Now let me see who is braver” she grinned and turned around.
A howling sound from far away resounded in her veins, her heart had collapsed, she started to profusely sweat, she feared of the unknown now.
“Maybe ghosts are for real, what if it eats me” she shuddered and plunged to run away.
A thorn pricked her delicate feet through her soft slippers and she fell right into the ground, the scissors angled in such a way that it cut through her shoulders, it was a very strong fall and that was when she knew what real pain was, she grimaced at the blood oozing out from her shoulder, the pain was unbearable, the anguish was streaming through her brown eyes and she screamed with pain!
“It’s been like 12 years since we met huh Divya and you have grown beautiful” a stranger held her hand while she was still strangled in her past memories, she blinked her eyes, baffled and tried to recognise him still bleak to the surroundings.
Yes the same sweet smile, the humorous character and that coal black eyes; she smiled at him with shyness smeared all over her face.
“How are you?” she mustered to ask him with all the memories and his handsome face dazzled her.
“I’m fine but seriously how are you? Your Grandmother had really beaten me up to pulps when she got to know that I had sent you to the garden, your shoulder must have been hurt real bad then, very sorry” he held her hands and apologised, even though it was 12 years of separation he still spoke as if they were never apart, as if they had spent their lives together.
“Oh, you still remember” she questioned, amused by his precision of the events that took place years ago.
“Why wouldn’t I, you were the sole reason for grandma to beat me to knees” he scoffed
“I’m sorry” Divya tucked back the hairs behind her ears, a vain act.
“Just kidding Divya, so how’s life?” he probed her with inquisitive eyes
“It’s good, I’m a singer now, I have sung for a few albums, a few more yet to hit the racks! What about you?” she was feeling very comfortable by now.
“I’m an art teacher in the most prestigious school of your city, I aspire to air my own show on television” saying so he whipped out a paper knife and a pencil from his pocket, snatched the tissue from her hands, drew a few consecutive squares interlinked as a maze and with the help of the knife, with his skilled hands stared to cut the delicate tissue and transformed it into an art within moments.
“Wow!!! I can never do that!” She spoke with evident surprise in her words.
“Why not? Here hold this” He thrust the knife into her hands and drew triangles on another tissue, one inside another but linked only at one end.
“No I can’t Ayan, I should not, it’s dangerous” her pleas were never heard.
“It’s a paper knife and you are 23 Divya, it’s totally innocuous” he fanatically pushed the knife.
“Noo “She screamed as her finger had a little cut, the red devil erupted from her finger to drown her very soul.
“Oh shit, I’m sorry Divya, wait up, it’ll stop. Why are you so frightened, it’s just a little cut” He wiped her finger and bandaged her with his kerchief.
“Why isn’t it stopping? “He grew worried now.
“It won’t stop .I’m suffering from haemophilia Ayan” She whimpered leaning onto his shoulders.
“What? You don’t have platelets in your blood? There would be lots of blood loss then” sweat beads started forming on his tensed forehead.
“It’s severe case haemophilia, it’s a small cut but I need to get to the hospital!”She cried.
“Wait here, I’ll get a rikshaw.Here stop that blood from all the tissues here” he towered the tissues in front of her racing to the exit of the cafeteria.
She smiled to know that he was concerned for her and in a jiffy slipped the stained knife into her handbag. A few hours later the doctors comforted Ayan saying that it can be treated but he was still morose, Divya wanted to run to him, he looked far more hurt than her.
“Why are you like that, I’m fine” she elbowed him once out of the hospital but in return he broke into violent sobs.
“Hey why? Ayan what’s wrong?” she hugged him out of love and sympathy.
“I’m so sorry Divya, please forgive me. I had put you to death’s hell when we were younger, you could have died, it is fatal, isn’t it?” his bloodshot eyes cornered her spirits.
“Yes but its ok” she smiled like a wise girl.
“I never knew it Divya, I thought your grandma was crazy to over-react to your injury, I never wanted to see you hurt, I’m sorry” His realization stripped him off any pretence.
“It’s fine, I’m doing well as you can see, I’m a singer Ayan, thanks to you .I learnt to fly, I can confidently travel the world! I really liked you a lot and I don’t know if this makes you feel any better, I really love you for ,you showed me what real life is and gave me the wings to fly” she still hugged him but a premonition haunted her that he might push her away.
But he hugged her back and retrieved an orange coloured hair band from his pocket! It was hers.
“You think that I just contacted to meet you just like that, I have been following you on social sites, I love your songs, I knew it was for me when I heard it Divya, you are my childhood love too” he confessed
She jostled from his hug, she never meant to take this further, with her disease where a wound never heals, and she wasn’t ready to hurt his heart in a way that it never would heal.
“What are you speaking Ayan, Do you even see any future with me, a tiny fall can prove to be fatal, I’m sorry but I never can be with you, I still have treatments, this cut today, it’ll take months to heal and I can never keep you happy devoid of all the happiness in a marriage, I’m sorry” she never turned to see his expression, never did she turn to see whether he left or stayed. She just walked out of his life.
Couple of days later.
She sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf, her hand still wrapped gently with a white band-aid and her memories travelling back to the day of the knife incident, she still felt the knife under her scarf!
“Why would he want to meet me again, I was clear of my decision, I never want him in my life rather I don’t want to make his life a living hell” she whispered to herself.
“Where are you lost Divya?” a hand oscillated in front of her eyes, he was already in front of her ordering another cup of coffee. So cool as if nothing had happened. She sat there trying to decipher his deepest thoughts.
“Listen Ayan…” she was still halfway in her sentence when a parcel arrived to her table. She gawked at the present, it was from him for sure but what was it?
She stripped the cover by gently removing the tapes, taking extra-care fearing of a paper cut.
He slowly opened it with her and inside lay a big diary, of his childhood and she was dismayed as she was there on every page of it, this person in front of her loved her with words and paintings of the little her and as she grew up, he had tried to imagine her features settling into her beautiful face with a splash of colours.
She just sat speechless, an overwhelming feeling took the better of her while she listened intently to his soulful words.
“I could die any minute Divya, death is inevitable but so is love, I would be selfish to throw your memories away for your rare disease but you are the rarest precious I can ever find, I promise you to look after you without a scratch, without a tiny drop of tear or blood” then he went on his knees
“Will you marry me Divya Gupta ” and he smiled with a heavenly charm.
She stayed numb. Was this for real? Her dreams had come true; a true love with open arms welcomed her to a new world. The words that she had read made perfect sense to her now.
“If you really want something in life, all the things in the world perceive to make it come true,even if it is love.”
For her this was the best moment of her life, a blessing, she wished to die any moment from now!
Now that he was here like hope against hope, she just hugged him while silent tears escaped her eyes and there were butterflies wafting in his stomach.
They stood like that for a long time dreaming of a happily ever after!
I know, I know…This was a pretty long post, this story was for a competition and I could never write in this genre if not for the compulsion, hope I didn’t screw it up!!The next genre would be of horror, so experimenting on genres after-all I wold love to be good atleast in some genre if not for this;)see you in the comments:)
Until next post:)