This is the outcome of my very first attempt to write a Short Story. The broad outline of the story was given by a fellow blogger, and few of us wrote our own versions of the same for a friendly competition. No one won. Apparently, we all did a good job of it. The best part was that all of the stories came out totally different. 🙂
A comment on my previous post Nimisha’s Nemesis from a dear friend prompted me to post this again here.
Life is Beautiful
The cool breeze was a welcome change from the hot summers in Chennai that Priya was used to. Her life as a journalist required her to bear a lot of bad weather. That life also didn’t give her the luxury of having time to dwell into the happenings in her life with a feeling of remorse, nostalgia or sheer happiness and bliss. Her past life, which she has knowingly put on the back seat as she struggled to get back to life.
Mom was in the kitchen giving orders for the grand lunch planned for the day. Dad was relaxing in the grandfather’s chair placed on the open verandah. These were the two people who have become family to her by a strange twist of fate.
She walked towards the hammock that was tied between palm trees in the front lawn and settled down with her book. She intended to utilize her long overdue vacation to the maximum. She doesn’t even remember the last time she had taken a day off. Perhaps it was when Dad had had a heart attack two months back and she had to rush down here to tend to him. She really didn’t want to think about that incident. She let that memory pass by. While in service, her Dad had to settle for a life in a flat, and these vast areas of paddy fields and fresh air was a blessing to him and his wife when he retired and decided to settle down in Kerala in their ancestral home. Her parents forced her into this vacation. They had urged her to take a few days off to come and celebrate Onam with them. Priya was not too fond of festive seasons, but she gave in this time.
Maybe she was tired too. The mad run between interviews and news broadcasts and the hectic life of a TV journalist was finally taking a toll on her. Her dad’s incident was also an indication to her that she was not actually fulfilling her duties towards them. They needed her as much as she needed them. But the career she had chosen was in Chennai, and she needed time to shift her base, if she ever intended to do so. A career that she never dreamt would be hers. She was a good writer and a keen observer. Her talents in journalism coupled with her pleasant looks were a perfect combination for the field she had chosen. Not to mention the backing she got from Arun.
She pushed her thoughts away and turned to the first page of the book. It said, “In loving memory of”. She tried hard to recollect when was the last time she picked up a novel to read. Was it before she met Arun? She was a voracious reader back then. Reading at least two to three books in a week was the only pastime. Those were the early twenties of her life. She was working for Airtel then. She was living in a hostel in Chennai after her mother , Meera, passed away .Priya didn’t want to live in the flat that had so many memories attached to it.
She still remembers that night. There was always a tensed atmosphere at home and that night was no different. Dad got back from work and within minutes their argument started. Ego issues and unsaid desires caused a split in this couple and Priya was a witness to this every single day since she can remember. Priya was old enough to stand up for her mother and so she did. Rajesh pushed her aside and Priya’s head hit the wall. Meera lost her head and asked him to leave. Rajesh walks out of the apartment and gets into his car. He drives off in a rage. The next they heard was of a tragic car accident that ended her dad’s life.
Priya was brought back to the present when her Dad comes to call her for Lunch. She enjoyed being treated like royalty by her parents. She enjoyed seeing the happiness in their eyes as they serve her one dish after another. She was indeed a princess to them. She was in a new life now. She had Arun to thank for that.
Priya was in no mood for a nap, so she walks down the gardens towards a small river that flows by their house. She finds a steady rock to sit on. She has never seen such a beautiful place in her life and the warmth of it brought a smile on her lips. Arun’s voice echoes in her ears “Young lady, I have a place back in my hometown that I would love to take you to. It has a breathtaking view and I would like nothing better in life than to share it with you. Will you marry me?”
Smiling from the memory of it, she tried to recall the first moment that she realized that she was in love with Arun. He had walked into her office one day to place a complaint regarding his mobile service. It was her day off, but she had agreed to fill in for a friend. Arun had an impressive way about him. He was of a good built and had the most expressive eyes she has ever seen. He was complaining and yet he had a smile on his lips and in his eyes too. Priya was never the type to take notice of such things. She worked, went back to the hostel, read a book and came back to work the next day. She had lost interest in relationships a long time ago, and she viewed every relationship as a potential disaster.
Arun came in again the next day and the day after that, and they started spending the evenings together. Priya often wondered what it was that was making her do all this. She would longingly await his calls and for their regular meetings in the evenings for a cup of tea. Slowly they came closer and closer beyond anything that Priya ever thought was possible for her. She agreed to go to the movies with him. They went out for dinners on special occasions. They had become inseparable in no time.
And one day, Arun pops the question. Priya was taken back by his proposal. Yes, she was pleased beyond words, but there was a tug at her heart at the mention of marriage. The scars from her childhood were still fresh in her heart and she didn’t even realize it. Arun understood, as he always did and gave her time to decide.
Darkness fell and when Priya headed back home , mom was bringing the lamp to the hall for the evening prayers. She sat beside her as they all prayed together. A ritual that was Arun’s favorite. He liked the peace the darkness brought in, the light of a single lamp lightening up the entire hall. Priya got up to switch on the light.
After dinner, Priya decided to retire early. She went upstairs to their room and switched on the light. “Welcome to my humble abode, my love. The room and I have been waiting for you anxiously since ages. “ Arun’s voice echoed. Priya smiled at the remembrance of their first night together. He had made her feel like the most important person on earth.
The morning after the wedding, was a beautiful one. Priya had never been happier. They had decided to have a traditional wedding in Kerala with all their relatives to grace the occasion. They were everyone’s envy. The perfect pair in every sense of the word and so much in love.
They were back home in Chennai and Priya had shifted into Arun’s apartment. A perfect life of a perfectly happy couple. They had organized a small party for their friends at home to celebrate their new life. Priya was dressing up for the night, when a call came in from Arun’s office. Arun had suffered a hemorrhage and had been taken to the hospital.
Priya had no idea how she reached the hospital. There she saw a familiar face from Arun’s office, and he was coming towards her. She panicked when she saw the expression on his face. Death was not something new to her. She had faced it at the age of 7. But to let Arun go was not something that she was ready to do.
The days that followed saw her in a hospital bed recovering from the shock. Her bold exterior had finally succumbed to what fate had in store for her. She gave in. She had had it with life. She had just lost a piece of herself. She was incomplete without Arun. She had lost the desire to live.
But she was pushed back to life. She was sure it was Arun who had refused to let her lose hope. She had to wake up. She had to take care of their parents. She was their only hope in life now. She had to live for them.
Priya sat on the bed, tears rolling down her cheeks. She had tried her best to drown herself in her work. Arun’s parents persuaded her to take up journalism as Arun had wanted her to. She finished her course and started to live life as normal as she could. She always envied her in laws and the way they have let go off Arun. She was not able to do so even after 4 years. She could feel all that pain all over again in her.
At that moment she felt a hand on her shoulder and the sound of a familiar voice. “Priya, you have to let go off this pain. And the only way you can do that is by accepting that I am still a part of you. I haven’t gone anywhere. I am right beside you. You will find me looking at you each time you smile and you will find me right next to you every time you miss me. But you have to move forward, you have to live a full life for the both of us.”
This was Arun’s favorite place on earth. This was the home where he was born. This was where he spent a good part of his childhood. This was the place he intended to bring Priya to. This was home. And he was here. She had found peace at last. She no longer needed to run away from her past to survive. She had to move ahead with Arun and his parents. She made up her mind to shift back here as soon as possible.
Priya switched off the lights and got into bed. “Good night, my love and Welcome Home”,Arun said.
Priya slept with a smile on her face.