Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Love That Never Was

Sunday, June 13 1999.

It was a usual lazy Sunday morning. No one really got up early at our homes. But today it was something different. Not just that it was a bright June morning in Mumbai but something surely more than that. Mom and Dad were all in hustles, preparing to leave for somewhere. Dad held my hand and said “Champ, would you stay at your maasi’s place this day? Me and mom gotta go somewhere urgently.”

Well I never could say no to visiting Drishti maasi, she always made special dishes whenever I went there and day long fun with didi and bhai was an added feature. But something made me wary, for the first time I saw mum weeping. The lady who always smiled even in toughest situations had broken down today. I didn’t ask her why but I overheard Mum and Dad saying something about a telegram. Well, I knew what telegram was, back then. You can call it the SMS service of the 90s. The television set was on, displaying some disturbing images from the ongoing war. It had become the talk of the society, schools, societies, friends, relatives, everyone spoke about it. Well Dad had to console Mom really well and we left for maasi’s place. I was puzzled the entire way, what could it be which disturbed Mom so much that she won’t share it with me! Even at maasi’s place, she clasped Mum’s hands real tight and persuaded her to keep calm. They left in the car and I was getting frustrated now, “What could be the matter which is still under wraps for me? Don’t they think I’m their family?”

The day got over and Mum Dad had returned. Mum was still weeping, even Dad’s eyes were moist, this was getting on my nerves. I finally asked Mum the reason for her miserable condition, she simply said “You’re too small to digest this pain sweetie.” I saw no point in digging it up further. A 13 yr old boy is too old to cry and he’s too small to understand why his mom cries, Lord save the teenage!
As years passed by I had forgotten this incident, I had completed my graduation and was spending some real good family time at home before I could join my company. Then, one fine day…

Tuesday, 13 June 2006.

Mum asked me to sit beside her and played a video disc on the TV. It was a recorded message, probably when I wasn’t even born. The man was a charming, good looking person in his 20s. Here’s what he said:

“Hey Ananya, I know this comes too late but heartiest congratulations on your wedding! Before you throw something on the TV patiently listen to me. I knew I did not attend it, your anger is justified. I also know you wanted me to be there just like your shadow, but I’d made you a promise, I shall never attend your wedding. Yes, you felt it was a joke, but never for me. I never attended it coz I knew I would have cried in front of you and you would have done the same. For same strange reason, we never could see tears in each other’s eyes.
Remember the first time we met? I suppose it was the 8th grade. A shy introvert guy, new in school, asked to sit beside the most famous girl in school and for me, the most beautiful. Our first handshake was so damn funny. It labeled me as a dumb for you. That was the kick start of a new friendship, or was it something more. Those school days, our chats, teasing each other with the worst girl or boy of the class, our break time fun, our quarrels, our fights, everything, all those memories bring in a new lease of life for me. As we grew up, we just got closer to each other, the tenth board exams, the farewell, we were taking leave of everyone around, I came up to you, you pulled my cheeks so hard and assured me that you were not gonna let me go away so quickly. The cheeks still do hurt, but those words bring in a greater relief. The “farewell” actually did never happen. We got into the same colleges, people around us changed, the place changed, not even our friendship remained the same, it grew much stronger. I still remember others asking me ‘Is there something between you guys?’ My answer was yes, something which cannot be explained to your trifle brains. Was there something we didn’t know about each other? Right from our first flings to our career plans, we could write a book on each other. Days passed by Anu and I had to make a decision for myself, this is what I secretly wanted to become. This was one secret I had, never told you ‘bout it. Shall always feel bad for it, but I knew you would have never allowed me to do this. Here I am, away from everyone, away from you, living a life I wanted, don’t worry dear, am doing something which will never let you down. I hope you don’t wear on your detective hats and search for me, you were always bad at searching, every time we went to a crowded place, I was the one to search you, I hope you’ll get rid of that habit of loitering.
The day I left giving you a reason that I had got a new job in other city, those memories are still crisp fresh. Never think that I was jealous that I shall lose you, no one could ever snatch me from you, you always said this, I knew Vivek was the guy for you and were soon going to be hitched. We met one last time at our favorite cafĂ©. You were so excited then, I could see it in your eyes. Vivek is the right guy for you; he’ll always keep you happy and smiling. P.S. Don’t torture him the way you’ve done to me.
My farewell couldn’t have been better. I could hug you tight and a kiss on your cheeks was the perfect sendoff I ever wished for. Your moist eyes, at the railway station, were the last painful sight of yours. I was pained coz I had lied to be there at your wedding. One thing I never said, I love you Anu, and shall always do!
Life throws up challenges at you when you’re not ready to face them. I know you must be searching for me at your wedding but you never saw me. I also know you must have sweared never to see my face. I hope you do see it now. I can’t assure you more such videos but will try to pen a few letters to you. I hope you read them and forgive me somehow. If destiny scripts, we shall meet in future.
As of now, it’s time to leave, goodbye, take care and tell Vivek to look after my sweetie, and I love you.”

The screen went blank and a tear rolled down Mum’s cheeks.

She murmured,

‘That’s Capt. Aryan Khanna, the man who loved your Mum and the one who taught your Mum what love is. Without him I could never love anyone, you or your Dad. Vivek knew about this, he never complained, his heart accepted me with happiness. I had found the love which every woman longs for, but not the one which I longed for. Your birth had completed my family and I named you Aryan, the sunlight of my life.’
That’s when I understood, the name Aryan had been engraved on her wrist, was for Aryan Khanna and not Aryan Kumar. I did ask her whether he had sent her more letters. There were a quite few of them, neatly arranged in a folder. The last page was “the telegram” which read:

“Capt Aryan Khanna dead funeral at 6 Mumbai home”
Mom said, ‘This was the telegram which shook me, I never knew he was in the army, I broke his promise, I said I would never cry, but I did that day and do it every 13th of June every year. Vivek and Drishti supported me quite well but failed to erase his memories. I still do love him and always will. I couldn’t stand the fact that I can never talk to him but only could kiss his forehead and thanked him for everything he had given me!’
Mum showed me an old photo of theirs, lovers or friends, your call, but they always looked so adorable but as Capt Aryan Khanna said, destiny had a different script.

That’s my story, the love that never was made for each other. People ask me, is this reality or fiction? I got no answer to them. Maybe mum was right, “I’m too small to understand this!”
I got to know one thing, Love is not what we see today, it’s not hanging out together, it’s not wasting your precious time with each other in a mall or a garden bench as if you’re on a duty, it’s not about precious gifts and expensive dinner on Valentines, it’s not about texting a 1000 love texts in a day; it’s about having that person in your heart, in your wishes, in your prayers and yet not expecting something in return. My Mum has done the same, she prays for me though, she says I got eyes like him, I’m her Aryan and one thing Mum, “I love you too!”