And They Lived Happily Ever After
by Geetika Sodhi Lohan
The Amusement Park occupied Golden Beach was the closest to her Chennai Office where she had arrived four days back for a conference. Last day in Chennai and not even once had she managed time for herself.
Samiksha had spent ten years of her life as a war widow and had failed to replace Lt. Ankit who had been martyred during a terror attack. Her parents and in-laws had failed to convince her to remarry. She had lost Ankit within the first three months of their marriage but the void had stayed for too long to be filled. Work had been both her resort and escape from her inability to move on from where Ankit had left her a decade ago.
She overlooked the dark clouds unaware of the weather extremities and headed towards the beach unoccupied by the amusement park. Fever hadn't left her from the time she had entered the city however medicine and precautions had kept her active. The waves managed less to reach beyond a level due to slight elevation at the shore, on which she sat with her feet immersed. The silence, the view, the peace she felt were all short lived for the storm kicked in just when she had started embracing it all. South Chennai needed a time of at least an hour to reach from her current location. The storm worsened before she could manage a cab for herself and on her way to finding a suitable shelter she came across an old couple which looked lost and baffled by the city. She approached them with an intention to help, only to realise that one number and a name is all they had in the whole city. A dead phone, a misguiding driver who had dropped them away from the location and unawareness of the fast city life made them almost break down as Samiksha offered to help. She instantly called the number of their son who worked here away from his town in Madhya Pradesh and would still have taken an hour to reach them from his flat. Totally dedicated to be beside them she entered a decent restaurant and ordered food for them. By the time she paid the bill Parth entered the restaurant and hugged his father relieved to see them safe.
Had they identified each other? Of course they had for their lives had changed twenty years ago because of each other, forever.
Samiksha hated to go to school due to the boy in her class who bullied her to tears almost every day and teased her for everything. In the winters of their eleventh standard in school he had crossed every limit by humiliating Samiksha in front of almost 50 students, using the name of one of her friends from another section. His words had bruised her little heart so much so that she had been found two hours later with a bleeding wrist and an emergency to save her from a suicide attempt. The guilt of having almost led her to death and the view of her bleeding wrist had never left him ever since. The incident had made both of them silent thereafter and none of them had ever returned to school after that. Parth had changed completely and had shifted his life to help uplift anyone and everyone he found oppressed and Samiksha had worked harder to keep patience even in worst of scenarios for her parents' condition that evening had made her understand how precious her life was for them.
"Had she not been there we would have been buried in the sand." Parth's mother innocently ranted while her father nodded in affirmation.
"Thank you Samiksha". Parth braved his fear and looked into her eyes also confirming that he remembered her.
The storm seemed to be settling outside and in the few arms distance between them. After the couple felt relieved to see their son the woman hugged Samiksha and got alarmed because her body was hot and fever had already crossed
a mark. Parth confirmed his mother's doubt by placing his hand gently over Samiksha's forehead.
"I will book a cab and leave."
Samiksha felt a little out of place but she was forced to not be alone by the old couple and was taken to Parth's temporary accommodation instead, much to his relief for he felt like destiny had given him a chance to repent. After taking care of her with food and medicine, mother retreated to sleep leaving Samiksha to Parth's attendance. Parth sat beside her keeping baggage of guilt in between, his eyes on the floor and ears open to take orders.
"How are you Parth. "
"I am good...
.. I am sorry Samiksha for what I did in school.. I ."
Samiksha smiled because she had forgiven him long back..
"We were kids then Parth it's alright". She could barely talk but managed to smile. They chatted about their lives, decisions, and also about how the incident changed them. A night spent chatting like old school friends and relishing rounds of tea. Parth's confession of how the guilt had never allowed him to do anything major because he always thought he deserved to be punished, saddened Samiksha who stared at him trying to absorb that the one who sat there was not a school mate but a man who was kind, sensitive and suffering for having hurt her twenty years ago a time she had long forgotten .
"Why didn't you marry again?" Parth broke the silence.
"Not that I didn't try to move on but never felt the need to have someone beside me. Or you can say no one made me feel safe, strong and wanted like Ankit."
'Until now' was left unsaid. Ten years, so many dates but none good enough to even continue. Ten years of not having felt a man and this sudden gush of feelings for Parth. Couldn't have been her school crush for that was over soon after her suicide attempt, and it couldn't have been a weak moment for she had crossed many of them in these ten years but none affected her. Parth, too, hadn't experienced this peace for years for everything had bounced back to that year in school. Life had stopped beside Samiksha on the stretcher and since then everyday he had thought about her. Seeing her healthy and strong and getting a chance to take care of her was like moving forward finally after twenty years. As if life had restarted from where it had stopped. He still continued to look at the floor.
Samiksha slipped into the quilt with her hand on her aching head and started snoring as soon. Parth quietly raised and began to leave but couldn't. 'What if she got fever again.'
How much he wanted to embrace her! He silently sat on the same chair and kept checking her temperature by placing his hand on her forehead which now had started becoming colder. He checked it one last time before leaving when Samiksha placed her hand on his and uttered "can you hold me Parth". All he wanted was asked for. He laid down beside her and placed her head on his arm and hugged her. Samiksha almost buried herself into him. Emotions took over and they were into each other in no time. A leap of a lifetime transformed destiny and everything that seemed endless.
Love began for them right from what looked like a dead end and then they lived happily ever after.
Life doesn't have fixed rules nor boundaries. It flows at its pace amid uncertainties. We all pass through moments which feel like the end but if we see closely they are new beginnings. All one has to do is never give up on hope and above all on love for with love all things beautiful are possible. Love isn't always forever. Somedays love is the gentle embrace, a silent care, an apology not said, a gratitude not expressed and a prayer that was heard. ***