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Shades of Love

VALENTINE SPECIAL

Three amazing short love stories, just for you. Enjoy!!

By Shamim Merchant

1. Temporary Separation

As I was getting ready, my eyes moved from the mirror and fell on the photo of Rishabh on the table. Seeing his smiling face, I couldn't stop myself, and involuntarily, my lips lifted up in a small grin. Looking at his picture, I commented,
"What's the point of admiring me from a photo? It would be a different story if you could come here and say something nice about me."
I chuckled out loud and finished dressing up.

There was something very magical about this particular photograph of Rishabh. Every time I glanced at it, I could feel his eyes on me, as if he was trying to tell me something.

I don't know why, but nowadays a strange feeling has gripped my heart. I wished to talk to him again, and I looked at Rishabh's picture once more.
"My dear husband! For the past five years, you are seven oceans away from me, residing in the US. Moreover, far and wide there is no hope of you coming to India, at least for another two years. Then why do I have this gut feeling, that now if the bell rings, and if I open the door, you'll be standing in front of me?"

"Ragini, are you upset with my decision? I am doing all this for our bright future. It will take at least eight years. Will you be able to stay that long without me?"
My feelings pulled me in opposite directions. At that time I had tamed my drenched emotions and suppressed my tears, as I hugged him, giving my approval to his choice.

There has been a vacuum without him. Not only in my house, but even in my heart and soul. I had to sacrifice our togetherness with this temporary separation, in exchange for a happily ever after. But even five years is a long time. And without Rishabh I don't like anything anymore. To avoid feeling the pinch of loneliness, I strive to douse myself in work as much as I can.

"Enough! Stop doting me, okay? I'm getting late to go to the office. See you in the evening."
Lowering the photo frame, I went to get my purse and take the lunch bag from the kitchen. Just as I adjusted the strap on my shoulder, the bell rang.
"Oh God! Who could possibly drop right when I have to leave for work? Why don't people understand, I'm running late!"

I took the keys, put on my sandals and hurriedly opened the door.
"Hi sweetheart! Hum aa rahe hai aur aap ja rahe hai, so unfair!"
"Haaa........ Rishabh!!!!"

Do I need to tell, what happened next??
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2. An Unexpected Proposal

"Mohini please! Don't be so desperate to get married. Let my career come on track first. You and I are not going anywhere. Within two years we'll tie the knot, okay?"

Mohit was right and practical. But after five years of being in a relationship with him, I was becoming anxious. Reasoning had taken a backseat. It wasn't that I had any kind of doubts. I had complete faith in him, but still, another two years ....?

I opened my mouth and closed it again. He could see the debate going on in my mind and narrowed his eyes, waiting for my response. Putting on a half hearted smile, I gave in to his wishes.
"As you say."
Embracing me, he rubbed my arms and tried to pacify me.
"Don't stress that pretty head of yours so much. Trust me, it's just a matter of two years."

Time moved on, and as usual, both of us were busy with our work. We met almost everyday, nevertheless, after that evening, I made sure to never talk about marriage again.

Four months later, early one Sunday morning, out of the blue, Mohit landed in my house and adjourned me hurriedly,
"Mohini, quickly pack a couple of clothes and come with me."
I was taken aback and couldn't think straight.
"Why? What happened?"
"Don't ask questions. Just get moving. We have to reach before sunset."

His behaviour was mind boggling and I couldn't fathom what was happening. But without further ado, I went with him. We went to Goa by train. Throughout the journey, he didn't bother to give me any information. On the contrary, he went to sleep, leaving me in agitated suspense. As much as I wanted to, but how was I supposed to talk to him?

We rented a car, and Mohit drove me from the station to the beach. Leaving all the luggage in the trunk, we went near the water. The crimson setting sun was looking amazing in the cool waves of the sea.

Howbeit, I was not in the mood to admire it. The secrecy was getting on my nerves and I scowled at him with disapproval in my eyes.
"What's wrong with you Mohit? Will you please say something? What's going on?"
A stupid grin had plastered his face and he was smiling from ear to ear. But I didn't find anything funny after having travelled for so many hours.
"I've been promoted. I'm now the general manager of my company."

After hearing his declaration, I was happy and angry in equal measure.
"Great! Congratulations! But did you have to drag me till Goa to give this piece of news? Damn fool!"

I averted my gaze to the sea. He guffawed and then was not to be seen anywhere. Looking around, I found him in front of me, on the sand, crouched on one knee. He was holding a small velvet box, open in his hand.
"Mohini, my darling, will you marry me, say...about in a week's time?"

I had never laughed and cried at the same time in my life. But that day, Mohit's unexpected proposal turned my insides to jelly. His expecting puppy eyes and goofy smile, took my breath away.

Taking a deep sigh, I struggled to control my joyful racing heart. I'm sure my face was fifty shades of red when I gave him my reply. But first I pulled his nose.
"You know my answer. Nonetheless, this beautiful unexpected proposal will stay locked in my memory for a lifetime."
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3. A Symbol of Love

The reflection of the light blue sky, and the white clouds moving in it, fell into the clear river, making the water look more enchanting. The surrounding greenery was dancing to the melody of the cool breeze. Tiny butterflies hovered over yellow flowers, and a pair of swans in the river looked very romantic. The entire picturesque view was extremely beautiful.

I was completely mesmerized by the place, which I had seen in my dreams thrice in a row. Witnessing it in reality was quite overwhelming. Curiosity dominated my logic, and after much googling, I had arrived here.

I was convinced that this was not happening without a reason. Definitely the universe was giving me a hint of something. But what? I was pondering over these baffling thoughts, when a deep, rich, velvety voice attracted me to it.
"Excuse me."
Taking my eyes from the river, I glanced sideways to give my attention to the owner of that melodious voice. His looks were equally captivating. A very strange emotion gushed through me and I couldn't define it. It was weird.
"Yes?"
He introduced himself, extending his hand.
"Hello. I am Lokesh Kumar."
Just for the sake of etiquette, I shook hands with him.
"Hello, I'm Lajwanti."
He affixed further.
"I don't have anyone to go boating with me. I noticed, you too are standing alone. If you wish, we can take a two seater paddle boat and divide the fare. What do you think?"

* * * * * *

Today, two years later, I am standing in our living room, admiring the picture clicked at sunset that evening. In the golden framed photo, in front of the river, we are seen holding hands, lost in one another.

"Happy Anniversary Sweetheart!"
Lokesh came and wished me, whilst he embraced me from behind. His touch warmed me and decorated my cheeks with a gorgeous rose hue. I turned in the circle of his arms, and wrapped my hands around his neck, before saying lovingly.
"Happy Anniversary Dear! Lokesh, I'd never imagined that the sign of my dreams would turn out to be so beautiful and ecstatic."
The grin on his face was pure happiness, identical to my own. He kissed me on the forehead and remarked delightfully.
"Lajo, I'm utterly grateful to that dream of yours. It's only on account of it, that we met and became one."
"Yes Lokesh, and now this picture has become a symbol of our love."

Shamim Merchant, Mumbai
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