Walking hand-in-hand, he felt a slight tug of her hand on his. Turning back, he looked into her eyes – only to see what he had been dreading since that morning. A look of resignation, tinged with fear and laced with uncertainty. “What happened?”, he asked, not really expecting an answer. She continued to look at him, almost urging him to not say anything.
“Lets sit down here for a minute. Is that okay?”, he said – pointing to a bench nearby. “Do you really think everything is okay, Bugs?” was her hesitant reply. “I know its not, but I don’t want you to get affected by it.”. She said nothing and just sat on the bench as if someone had laden a million burdens on her shoulders. He settled down next to her and just held her hands, silently, reassuringly.
For a few minutes, the only sound one could hear was of the traffic passing them by, while both just looked at each other – speaking nothing, saying a lot. When the silence got unbearable, she blurted out – “I can’t do this anymore. I don’t want to do this anymore!!”. The suddenness of what she said took no time to hit him, yet it was a few seconds before the impact of it truly hit him. And when it did, tears welled up in his eyes. However, this is not the time for them to show up, he thought to himself as he pushed them back with sheer effort.
“I know why you said that first sentence, but I don’t believe you when you say that second one. I know very well that you do want to do this.”
“This is what scares me really. Why do you know me so well that I can’t even bloody lie to you? At least then you would be hurt less than now“
“There is nothing like more or less when it comes to pain, Bunny. And who says that you are hurting me? The situation that we are in is screwing us..fine..agreed…but we will overcome this, I am damn sure.”
“How the hell can you be so confident that it will work out? I don’t see it happening.”
“Even I don’t see it happening – we will have to make it happen. And no matter how optimistic I am, I cannot do this without you. We cannot do this without each other.”
He reached out to her and held her face in his palms, tenderly kissing her forehead. “Don’t do that. You are making it more difficult for me.”, she said.
“Really, if that is the case, why are you still holding on to my arm? Why are you not letting me go?”.
“Coz I don’t want to…I don’t want to.”
“So now you know how I am feeling…right? And you felt you could walk away just like that out of my life?”
“I was hoping I could, but I know I am wrong. I am so selfish. I can’t assure you of anything, yet I want to hold on to you.”
“You’re not selfish re…its just that life is really testing us. Do you remember about how we talked that day about having a house on the beach in our old age?”
“We may or may not end up in that house, but does that mean we don’t even try?”
“We must try re, but I am not sure whether we will succeed”
“Neither am I…but then that is the beauty of it. If we succeed, we enjoy the destination. If we don’t, we have at least enjoyed the journey.”
“How can you be so calm? I just don’t understand that.”
“Well…firstly you don’t understand many things. Secondly, who is calm? Idhar mera band baj raha hai. Baahar se nahi dikhta to kya hua?”, he said, tapping her head lightly.
As she broke into a slight smile, he pulled her cheeks and said..”Do you like salty icecream?”
“Salty icecream??? Kuchh bhi!!!”
“Haan of course!! Itna rona dhona kar diya…icecream khaaogi to wo bhi salty ho jaayegi dekhna..”
“Nahi hogi…meethi hi hogi…tum hi dekhna. Aur haan…I am gonna eat up your coffee walnut icecream too.”
“Arey then what I am supposed to do?”
“You? You are supposed to pay for the icecream, watch me while I eat it and yes, then you are supposed to drop me home. Chalo..kaam pe lago..bahut kaam hai tumhaare liye!!”
As a bright smile returned to her lips and her eyes sparkled with a new-found happiness, they walked towards the ice-cream counter. The future was still uncertain, but love had lived on, to witness one more day of sunshine.