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#ShortStory: My Platinum Day of Love

It was a cold and foggy night. The one that comes only in the month of mid December here in Madhya Pradesh and as I stood alone at a deserted bus stop, I couldn't help but chant the “Hanuman Chalisa” fervently wishing for a bus. The preference for an A.C. bus had long ago been replaced by the necessity for any bus. After all beggars can’t be choosers.

I was regretting my decision of taking a short, previously unexplored route to my home, one that no one had seemed welcoming enough to take other than the stupid me who had ignored all my friends’ warnings and taken off to catch a bus from Indore which would take me straight to Lucknow rather than taking one from the college to Jhansi and then from Jhansi to Lucknow which we usually took. But it was too late now and I could not return to the college as there was no transport in sight. I was stranded here with no company apart from the thick swirling fog which gave an eerie sensation of impending doom.

“It’s so fitting. Ava you deserve to be stranded.”

I scolded myself and again regretted my decision to leave alone. I had just wanted to get away from everyone as quickly as possible. After all what was left for me there to stay any longer. The man of my dreams had left with just a dry goodbye and no indication of any sadness on parting from me. Meanwhile I, being the fool that I was, felt hollow. The course had ended and with it my hope that Ajay loved me too as I did had also died. He had seemed too eager to leave and start his new life in which I felt I had no place.

A sob escaped my lips as I thought of all the times I had felt my heart flutter when he was near and had desperately hoped for his care to be anything but platonic. Suddenly I was jerked from my reverie by the sound of a car door opening and then a loud sound as it was banged shut.

As the unwelcome thoughts of kidnapping to assault to mugging ran through my mind, I heard loud footsteps coming towards me through the thick fog that had enveloped everything leaving me more aware of my other senses. My heart started thumping loudly and my blood roared in my ears. I felt trapped. There was nowhere to run and the footsteps were getting nearer with each passing second. It seemed like the person was running now.

“Oh God! What do I do? Please God save me and I promise once I reach home I will treat you with one kg of besan laddoos.”

I coaxed and begged God to listen as I crouched behind the bench hoping that whoever it was, would leave. I could not see the person (I had my eyes shut and I was busy chanting the names of all 33 million Hindu Gods) but I could feel him standing just on the other side of the bench. He was muttering something about someone being stupid and impulsive and once he got his hands on that someone he would wring his neck.

I was trying very hard to concentrate and make my prayers reach God so that the first time I heard my name I thought God himself was speaking and before I could repeat my prayer once more I was suddenly pulled upright and someone shouted my name.

“Help!” I rasped. My throat had suddenly gone very dry.

“Ava! Listen to me. It’s Ajay.”

But I was not listening. My brain had shut down and my worst fears had come true. I was sure I was going to get assaulted and couldn't even shout. Even my voice had deserted me. As I kicked and bucked I was conscious of strong hands imprisoning me and someone shouting. But I wouldn't open my eyes. I had one thought and one thought alone which was to run.

“Wait and listen stupid! I am Ajay. Open your eyes dammit.” He shouted.

Through the haze of fear I heard my name repeated once more and opened my eyes. I blinked again and again but every time I saw Ajay. But that was impossible. He would have left hours ago for Gwalior to catch his train to Delhi yet here he was staring at me like he suspected I had lost my mind.

“Ajay?” I croaked.

“Yes, Ajay. Thank God!” He blew out his held breath as his eyes searched me for any possible damage.

“What are you doing here?” I was still incredulous and not sure if he was still here or my eyes had just conjured him up.

“I should ask you the same question.” He glared daggers at me.

“What were you thinking? Taking off alone like this? It was fortunate that I heard of this stunt of yours and came looking for you.” He scolded me while his eyes flashed.

He was so handsome with wavy black hair and coal black eyes set in a fair and soft face. He was constantly saying something and I guessed none of it was praise for me but still I was mesmerized by his beauty. He was so tall. I thought more than at least a foot taller than me and yet so gentle as he held me. He was my best friend. I smiled as I remembered the first time I had met him. It was our “Professional Development” class and we had been divided into groups of five. Ajay came in our team but he was so shy. He hardly said a word and sat quietly. Later I came to know that he was shy of girls and could not talk to them. Our first interaction started with chatting on “Yahoo messenger”. Ajay, it seemed, had no problem talking through social media, it was only face-to-face that troubled him. As we started talking it became clear that he was a very interesting person with varied tastes and was a very good listener which I knew for a fact as he would listen patiently to my nonstop chatter for hours and hours and I was already known as a talkative person and had often been told that I could talk nonstop on anything under the sun! Our talks became a constant and much anticipated time of the day. Slowly Ajay was opening to me and we even tried talking face-to-face which I think went really well since it was only me talking and him listening!!

Now after two years, he was totally at ease in my company and I really believed that he thought of me as a friend though how I wished he would consider me more. I don’t know when I started falling for him but I had fallen pretty hard. He was still talking and I could see his mouth moving.

“Are you listening?” He shook me.

“Are you okay? Speak up damnit.”

“I am fine. What are you doing here?” I asked meekly. He was really angry and it somewhat sacred me because Ajay never got angry. He was a taciturn and calm person.

“I came for you. I don’t know what you were thinking. Come now. I have a cab waiting.” He told me while taking my luggage and pushing me deeper in the fog. A cab was waiting and as we sat he told the driver to take us to the train station.

“Why are we going to the train station?” I still felt as if all this was a dream.

He muttered something unintelligible.

“Why do think? We will take a train to the next station and hopefully get a bus to Lucknow or any city on its route from there.”

“But why are you going to Lucknow? You live in Delhi.” I justified thinking that he needed to get his memory refreshed.

“I know I live in Delhi.” He snapped.

“Then why are you going to Lucknow?”

Everything was looking so unreal to me that I felt in a trance. My heart was still beating a little faster which scared me. The thick fog outside the cab windows and the shifty eyed cab driver were no solace either. I was feeling cold and uneasy which was odd. I had always felt safe with Ajay.

Could it be that this was not Ajay but a ghost?

I had heard of stories where people swore they had seen someone they knew but in reality that person was not there and this mostly happened on a cold foggy night!

“Stop it! Stop it!” I chanted and tried to shut down my overactive imagination.

I was shivering now.

“What is it?” Ajay was worried. I could see his eyes narrowing and seeking an answer to my uneasiness.

“You are here?” I whispered.

“OMG Ava!” He whispered and suddenly I was in his arms.

“Of course I am here. See.” He said as he got away from me and straightened, waving a hand at his body.

“I heard about how you had left alone to take a direct bus from Indore and I knew I could not let you go alone so I came.” He flashed his mega watt smile at me.

Now my heart was thumping for another reason. He had come for me, for just a friend. I could not believe it. I had to know. Know if I was just a friend or something more. This was my last chance before we separated forever and so, taking a deep breath and the biggest risk of my life, I asked.

“Why did you come?”

“I told you just now. I heard that you had …” I interrupted him by raising my palm to make him stop and asked again.

“No, why did you feel you had to come? I could go on my own?”

“Yeah, I can see how you could go on your own.” He laughed like I had cracked a joke. This angered me. Here I was with my heart on my sleeve and breaking every possible rule of the society by asking a boy how he felt about me and he thought this was a joke!

“Who am I to you that you think I need your protection? You are not my keeper.” I lashed out.

“But I mean to be.” His answer was so low that I barely heard it.

“What? What did you say?” I asked between the loud roaring going on in my ears and the banging of my heart against my ribs.

He straightened even more and looked me in the eye.

“I said that I hope to be your protector and your keeper. I love you Ava. Marry me.”

I wasn't sure I had heard correctly. The drop dead handsome and the one, who had captured my heart so long ago, loved me!

My heart soared with happiness and as I looked at him I saw the sincerity and the doubt he had. Hell! Who could have believed that this so-sought-after boy could love me, a plain Jane?

“Well. What is it? I just bared my heart to you and you have nothing to say?” He was getting angry for the second time in one evening which was so uncharacteristic of him. All because he cared for me! Yippee…I felt powerful and a bit smug.

“Oh, I have a lot to say.” I faked anger and saw him blanch with the light going out of his eyes.

“I am sorry. Please forget what I said. It was nothing.” He spoke in a dull and robotic voice.

“Oh, but I know it is everything I wanted to hear and more.” I told him all the while looking for a reaction.

He jerked like I had slapped him.

“What do you mean?” He looked at me with beseeching eyes like a love starved puppy.

“It means that I love you, stupid. I love you so much that sometimes I feel like I will die if you leave me. It means that I have always loved you but was never sure if you would love me back. It means that I could have jumped into the well had you asked me to jump, even once. When you left me so easily today, I died a hundred deaths and you have to pay for that.”

I shouted as I jumped across the cab seat towards him as he caught me and we both laughed. Even the shifty eyed cab driver or the fog could not daunt my happiness then.

“Why did you leave so suddenly? You didn't even say a proper goodbye.” I admonished.

“That’s because I had a surprised planned for you which thanks to you, is now spoiled.” He reprimanded me.

“What surprise?” I asked ignoring his dark eyes which now had turned even darker with an unnamed emotion sending shivers down my spine.

He cupped my chin in his palms and said, “I was going to ask your hand in marriage and seek your parent’s blessings once I reached your home. I even had a flight booked which would have got me to your place before you. But what do I get? I get to give you this, here, like this, in the back of a cab!” He shook his head as he feigned irritation but there was a twinkle in his eyes as he slipped a beautiful white band on my finger.

My eyes opened so wide that I felt they would pop right out.

“I love you, Ava. Even though you are a major pain and I never know what stunt you will pull next but what I do know is that I can’t live without you. I promise to cherish and respect you as long as I live. This band is my promise to you.”

I could not believe that all this was real. I was too shocked to formulate a proper reply to his great admission of love for me and so the best I got out was this.

“Why platinum? Why not gold or diamond?”

As soon as the words were out I cringed and was afraid of his reaction to my blunder but Ajay laughed heartily.

“It’s just my luck that out of all the fair ladies, I fell for one who instead of hugging me questions my choice of metal.”

He rolled his eyes in feigned disgust but hugged me nevertheless and said in a gentle tone.

“I chose platinum because it is eternal. Just like our love, platinum will never fade or tarnish. So it is best suited for us.”

“I will always love you.” He whispered as he stroked my ring adorned finger.

“Me too.”

I replied as I finally got the love of my life and thanked God, vowing to treat him with my promised one kg of laddoos.

My impulsive decision to travel alone got me the love confession from the man I loved. That day was truly our “Platinum Day of Love” which we made memorable with our platinum bands vowing to love and cherish each other forever.

Our parents gave us their blessings and soon we were married. Our bands of love still shine bright and each day reminds us of our promise to love each other.
Because real love can only begin. Never end..

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