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Love Belated

Plot: Contemporary Beauty and the Beast with alternating narration
Plot Credits: Prasanna Rao
This post is a voluntary submission for the 6th exercise of Indifiction Workshop. Read the story here.



I looked at the pathetically selfish being in the mirror. I was terrified by my own cruelty. The way I just acted in front of poor Priya. Tears trickled down my cheeks and I stood in front of the mirror, crying for the first time in what seemed like a thousand years. Loving someone doesn’t mean that you ought to own that person. “Let her go”, kept saying a voice in my head. I mustered the courage and walked to her room where she was sitting on her bed hugging her pillow all wet by her tears.

“I am sorry, Priya”. I said. “You should go with your sisters to Goa for the vacation like they have asked for. I apologize for holding you back.” I somehow felt relieved after verbalizing those words. Indeed my heart broke a little but it was my penance as in the three years of our marriage I had never let her go anywhere with her sisters, may be because I didn’t trust them or may be because I always had this fear of losing my beloved wife.

“But do come back before the 25th of this month. The grand party of our anniversary will await you.” I added.

*

Ashok had never been so gentle to me like today. He even made the morning tea for me today and served it with a note saying “I love you, Priya. I already miss you”. I wondered what brought about the change. But no matter what, I was happy, as happy as never before. My sisters were waiting outside our bungalow in a cab loaded with their luggage, as I applied the lipstick Ashok bought me a few months back. Ashok always hated my sisters and prohibited me from meeting them. Even I never insisted as it was them who had conspired to ruin my wedding. Also one could easily blame our late father’s heart failure on them.  Three years had passed now and I was glad everything was forgiven and forgotten.  They had insisted for a trip to Goa as a get-together and Ashok not only allowed me to go but he even volunteered to pay for the entire trip. Too bad that my sisters didn’t utter a single “No” or “Thanks” when he offered to sponsor the vacation, but it was expected as they had always been that way.

Ashok was busy in his office so I texted him and left with my luggage to join my sisters to our destination.

*

I was attending to a client of mine in my cubicle when my cell-phone beeped to show a little envelope on its screen indicating a new message received. It was from Priya and it read: I will be back on 25th. I promise. XOXO.
I sighed and kept listening to my client talking while my mind kept consoling my heart with the song “Let your heart hold fast. This soon shall pass.”

*

I never loved Ashok, it was a marriage my father arranged when he couldn’t pay back the loan my sisters had taken from Ashok’s father. I loathed the fact that I was nothing but a property subjected to mortgage, a slave sold, a deal made. It was after my marriage when I realized that Ashok didn’t consider himself my owner but treated me more like a friend. After my father, Ashok was the only person who took good care of me. I never had any real friends; even my sisters were distant from me and when my father passed away, I was glad Ashok was there for me or else I would have been all alone.

“So have you given a thought about what I said?” The voice of my eldest sister Shreya interrupted my train of thoughts. She had been telling me from the last three days how much I hated the idea of marrying Ashok three years back. “Wouldn’t you love to live independently again? The debt is paid in these three years I guess” she had said the previous night. I had cried the whole night listening to her. I wondered what made me sadder- knowing that I was a way of paying the debt we were in or knowing that it was my elder sister who was hurting me with those words. I was still in a quandary wondering if I loved Ashok enough to stay with him forever or wanted to live alone. It was Kriya who consoled me that morning when she saw my eyes swollen and red and teary.

“Let’s go for shopping.” Kriya said when Shreya had again brought the topic of the previous night into discussion.

*

I woke up early on the day of our anniversary. Priya was supposed to arrive that day. Although she hadn’t texted me in the last few days, I knew she wouldn’t break her promise. I had the party all arranged and the guests were arriving by five in the evening. Each part of my body wanted to call Priya asking about her whereabouts but I somehow refrained myself from bugging her. “Don’t be so nosy, Ashok. Give her some space”, Instructed that little voice in my head.

 I waited the whole day with no signs of Priya, not even a text. The guests had finally begun to arrive. “Priya will come in any second. She will surprise me, she will.” I consoled myself.

*

I was supposed to leave Goa on the morning of 25th. I had booked my tickets but it was Kriya who was crying from the morning and I couldn’t leave. After all she had been sweet to me when Shreya hadn’t.
“I will miss you, dear sister. Don’t leave, please. Stay with us.” Kriya kept chanting the entire morning and Shreya joined her too. I had no choice but to stay. After all they were my sisters, I grew up with them, I loved them and they loved me. Being with them, I had forgotten all about the party Ashok had planned at our bungalow in Mumbai. And I decided to stay one day more with my sisters.

*

It was half past nine and there were still no signs of Priya. The guests would leave by ten or eleven and it was embarrassing that I was throwing a party for her and the person for whom I was doing this wasn’t present. I finally decided to make a call. Why had she promised she would come if she was going to break her promise? And she could have informed me at least. Her phone rang twice before a sweet voice answered the call. “Open the door, sweetheart.” Priya said. I turned my head towards the door to look at the love of my life standing at the door wearing a red gown holding a bouquet of red roses in her hands.

We both, just like they do in the movies, ran towards each other as the guests clapped and cheered. I held her in my arms and hugged her tight, I had missed her all these days and I knew I couldn’t live a second without her. She whispered in my ears, “I love you, Ashok. And I want to spend the rest of my life with you and only you. I will never leave you alone.”

*

I will probably never tell Ashok what happened that day in Goa. Although I want to be completely honest with him, I don’t want to ruin this perfect night. After all, we made love for the first time in three years. It is true love that makes me watch him sleep besides me tonight. I stroke his head lovingly, hoping this moment of love lasts forever. Honesty can rest for a few days. Moreover it will be embarrassing to tell him that my very own sisters were conspiring against us. More embarrassing will be the fact that I eavesdropped on their conversation to find out the truth about them and the fact that I actually left them with bitterness and stormed out of the hotel room with my bags without bidding my goodbyes. Also, it will be extremely hurtful to let him know what our sisters think about us, that they were making a fool out of both of us that they wanted to either break the marriage so that I live alone or to make me steal all his wealth. And above all, telling him all this will turn this extremely beautiful night of lovers to a night of friends griping about something bad that happened. I shall not tell him. May be I will tell him a few days later. Or maybe I will tell this to him tomorrow morning itself. I don’t know. I am still unsure. But what I am sure of is that I will always love him.

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