The university festival had come to its end. Brushing all the apprehensions aside it came out to be an incredibly successful event. The sudden illness of the drama coach had terrified the college authorities and now the big question was how to pull all the event arrangements.? The principal, knowingly that Mrinalini has fairly good experience of managing the events, asked her to take over. Mrinalini left with no option, contributed to the arrangements with her hard work. These three days have been completely bizarre. Before that, the practice sessions had taken a toll on Mrinalini. She was feeling weary and craved rest. There was banter and hoots of laughter in the auditorium.
Everyone was talking about the day. Surrounded by the gang of friends, her eyes thrived for the sheer glance of Shashank who kept on hovering over her the entire festival. He was a participant from Ambedkar College and possessed a charismatic personality. Merely three days of the association had sprung up a very tender feeling in her heart too.
“Hey!!! Congratulations”, Shashank suddenly appeared in front of her.
“Must be tired. Join me for a cup of coffee” his voice was more than an invitation.
Oh! That’s a great idea. She took a leave from her gang and retreated with him leaving chaos behind.
“I am dead tired, you know, the coffee session with you will definitely wear off all the tiredness,” Shashank said winking.
“Shut up,” Mrinalini said sheepishly
“There is precisely something special in you, Mrinalini. I fell in love with you the moment I met you. I have really not felt like this about anyone before, trust me. I have gone crazy about you.” He said looking straight into her eyes the moment they settled down in the cafe.
The next moment he was bowing down, holding her hand and said “I like you Mrinalini, accept my unconditional love” his voice was quivering.
She was completely taken aback. She did not expect such promptness even though she had half anticipated it when he asked her for the coffee. His eyes shone with sincerity and a kind of desperate manic glint that was hard to comprehend.
“You have known me for what, three days”? Mrinalini raised her brows and questioned him firmly, though with a pounding heart, trying to veil her feeling of exhilaration.
“That is vague reasoning, Mini”. he started calling her by nickname in a spur of a moment. “I just want to hear about your feelings for me because Lipika told me that you don’t have a boyfriend.
“So you asked Lipika about me,” Mrinalini asked, completely lost with this sudden proposal.
Mrinalini was the only daughter of Mrs and Mr Kumar. Her Cochin based conservative family never allowed their daughter to hang around with some boys. She was not permitted to invite guys home or to visit any boys house. It was her first year of college. She had entered the college with a feeling of a caterpillar emerging out of the cocoon. No more uniforms, no more strict rules and no more being treated like a kid. Although she was enjoying this new love but had no courage to accept it at one gohttp://rishikajain.com/2013/02/03/very-emotional-heart-touching-short-story/
the unconditional Love was in the air which led to the series of bike rides with him. It was in one of their meetings when Shashank asked her for a visit to her house. Mrinalini agreed and the next minute he was riding her home. A servant opened the door and Shashank led her inside. An elderly looking man emerged from the kitchen when they were sitting in the drawing-room.
“Appa, this is Mrinalini, my friend from college,” said Shashank introducing her.
“And Mini this is my darling grandfather,” he said
“Hello sir,” Mrinalini said automatically. She immediately stood up, out of respect. (Years of schooling in a system that drilled Indian values in you).
“Hello, young lady! And there’s no need to stand! Do have a seat. So!!! Shashank calls you Mini” his eyes were twinkling. He sounded warm and friendly and she could sense the camaraderie between Shashank and his grandpa almost instantly.
“Care for a coffee?” Shashank asked, getting up. Mrinalini shook her head in approval, and he disappeared into the kitchen. In that 15 minutes of interlude, she got well versed with their family history through his grandpa. Shashank’s childhood had been very lonely. Her mother died when he was 7 and his father is a busy and carefree person working in Dubai. All this had made him a very sensitive person and grandpa was his only confidant. His grandpa did not miss to say that Shashank seemed so delighted in her company and advised her “Never Belittle Love”
It was the final year of their graduation and few more months were left. Mrinalini’s only agenda was to get admission into any of the top institutes of the country offering an MBA. She had dutifully filled the application forms like every other student. Her parents, though conservatives, were still happy about her decision and she did not want to disappoint them. Everyone was waiting for the results. She was delighted beyond measure when she got an interview call from not one, but four institutes one of which was well known in Bombay! She had also been selected for CUSAT. She had never expected to be this lucky. She had cleared the group discussions and interviews too. Her parents’ happiness was also at its peak, as they boasted to all relatives about her achievement.
Shashank had got an interview call only from CUSAT.
Mrinalini’s dad had another surprise for her. He said he has an option of taking a transfer to Bombay from his job.
“Look, Shashank,” she reasoned with him. “Even if my folks were not moving to Bombay, we would still have parted as I would have chosen to do it in Bombay,” she said.
“Come on Mini, isn’t CUSAT good enough for you? Doesn’t ‘WE’ mean anything to you? Blatant defiance was so sweetly uttered, she didn’t know how to respond.
Most of us had got offer letters from CUSAT, and those who had got interview calls from other places were stalling, keeping CUSAT as a backup option, in case we did not get it anywhere else. And Mrinalini had been fortunate enough because CUSAT was definitely not her first choice.
“Shashank, how can you be so unreasonable? This is your unconditional love?” She said “Look, put yourself in my place. If you had gotten a call from the places I have, wouldn’t you have grabbed it?”
“No Mini. I would still have gone to the place where both of us can study together. That is how much you mean to me,” he said simply. She did not know what to answer as she knew, he meant it too. He was such an emotional fool. This opportunity meant life for her. How could she just chuck it up, for something which she presumed was love? How foolish was that? Shashank thought that she was being hard-hearted but she thinks that she was being practical and rational.
“Look, I had told you to study hard. If you had, you would have made it,” she said. It came out more accusingly than she intended.
“It is easy to say now, Miss Bombay. You know what, pride has gone into your head,” he said caustically, getting bouts of insecurity.
She was taken aback and without saying anything, she walked away.
“Don’t get angry with me,” he called out. “I am the only one who dares to tell the truth. So learn to face it”
Mrinalini was fuming. How dare he talk to her like that? He called out to wait, but she was in no mood of listening to him. On her way back, she fretted over, thinking that how could he ask me to give up my dream for which she has worked so hard. Just to stay together? He thought he was striking the right chord by saying all this? She was very upset initially but then eventually she ended up thinking that he might be jealous and frustrated as he could not make it. She fretted over, thinking that how could he ask me to give up my dream.
There was still a month left before Mrinalini would finally move to Bombay with her family. She was packing things and arranging other stuff with immense pleasure, keeping the Shashank episode at bay. Since that day she was trying to let things sink to the bottom. Bombay beckoned and time to leave Kerala was approaching. Everything seemed to have worked out perfectly for her. Like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, her life was falling into perfect order. A week before leaving, Lipika proposed an outing with the entire gang, on account of her farewell.
Knowing everything, somewhere Lipika wanted to thaw the chill between Shashank and Mrinalini so without her approval she invited Shashank too.
With unsettling energy, she reached their favourite seaside Cafe. My batchmates had already settled down there. Everyone was busy enjoying the food when Shashank pointed out to a separate table to come.
“Mini, Marry me! Let’s get married before you go,” he said. It was evident that he was unable to face the upheaval of her dislocation and question to his unconditional love.
“ What!!!? What are you saying Shashank? Are you serious? Mrinalini was completely shocked.
Yes, I am serious. It will be a secret marriage. It’s not that complicated. In Fact, even a month is not needed if you know the right people. And I know who’s palms to grease.” he was pretty convinced. It was quite evident that he was unable to face the upheaval of her dislocation.
This was getting out of hand and in a direction, she had never anticipated.
“Come on Shashank. We can’t possibly do that. Don’t ask me about the impossible.” She stalled for a time thinking about what to say.
“Why not Mini? What’s the problem? Okay! At least you can promise me. I am willing to wait a lifetime for you Mini if you say yes” he was pleading.
How could she promise? How could she say that her dreams had grown beyond the town of cochin? They had tasted life outside.
“Oh, Shashank. I won’t mince my words. I can’t promise anything. I wish I could” she did not know what to say to make this blow gentler. She thought she would close the loop today but everything was very unexpected. Shashank looked crestfallen. The look of bewilderment and hurt on his face was too much on her shoulder. He understood that her decision was inadvertent. He looked away and stared at the sea and very heavily said “At least keep in touch, that is all I ask.” For the briefest of moments, she thought of giving him a fake assurance. But she did not want to give air to his hopes, so, got up suddenly, bid everyone goodbye and left the Cafe.
The next day was Sunday and Mrinalini’s parents again had a round of relatives to visit. She was getting tired and opted to stay in the room. It was when she got a phone call from Lipika.
“Hey! What in the world had happened between you and Shashank? He has been missing from home since last morning. He did not go home at night. Jasmine just called me Shashank’s grandpa is frantic”
“Oh my God,” Mrinalini worried. No, I have no idea, last I saw him in the Cafe only”
She did not know what to do. She wanted to call up his grandpa to tell him what happened between us. But that would not be helpful at all. Maybe he got drunk or had spent the night with his friend. But it sounded hollow to her own ears. There was nothing she could do to the sinking feeling which was beginning to creep up. She could not sleep a bit that night.
It was her mother who broke the news to her the next morning. It was all over the newspapers that a guy was found dead at the seashore.
“So young, only 23 years, I don’t know why these people drink,” mom said, throwing newspapers on the table. The sinking feeling had grown against the giant wave and Mrinalini was submerged in it completely now. She was stunned to react. She went to her room and sat on her bed, her heart was pounding away like an overworked pump. She was numb with pain. She desperately wanted some vent otherwise she would definitely get a brain haemorrhage. Grabbing her dupatta, she told her mom that she had some urgent work.
Coming out of the house, she hailed a cab to Shashank’s house. The moment she boarded the cab her tears started rolling out of her eyes unstoppably. Why? Why? Why was I so rude? Why could I not give her a promise to be in touch? Why couldn’t I convey my message calmly and politely? Why have I belittled love? That poor guy was so fond of me and I shooed him away like anything. She regretted disrespecting his love and pushing him to take such a big step. Her senses were seamlessly swaying.
She made it through that harrowing journey and reached the place. Heading towards his house, each step seemed heavy for her. With shivering hands, she pressed the doorbell. After a few moments, the servant appeared at the door and greeted her warmly. She was rooted to the spot, paralysed with fright. Her voice stuck in her mouth. Politely, he left the doorway and let her in. She slowly went inside and what she saw was nothing less than a bombshell for her. Shashank was sitting on the sofa watching T.V.
A wave of dizziness rushed through her. Her puffy laden eyes were making her vision hazy. Mixed emotions started whirling in her head and she felt too feeble to stand. Very slowly she managed to sit next to Shashank. There was static friction in his body to see her. His eyes broadened with surprise
“Heyyyyy!!!!! What a surprise? Is everything okay”? He couldn’t control his emotions.
She had a huge sense of relief and comfort. They exchanged meaningful looks. Life changed in an instant, dramatically and probably forever. Up until then, she had regained her lost composure. The days earlier unpleasantness receded a bit. With tears rolling down her eyes, she took his hand in hers and very softly said “don’t worry Shashank I don’t doubt your unconditional love and will be in touch.” She could feel a lump in her throat. Without even looking at the newspaper, she had assumed that the dead boy was Shashank.
Happiness was pretty evident on his face. In this blissful moment, suddenly Grandpa joined and smilingly said, “You know what Mrinalini this Shashank has been pestering me since yesterday morning. He came home drunk and without my knowledge, he went to the terrace and slept there the entire night, and I was finding him all over. I even called the police.” he said darting his eyes. Come! Let’s have a cup of coffee to celebrate this.
There was a new wave and a new beginning of peace, gratitude and of course reverence for love.