Love, is it?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Romance Stories In pieces
What is love? When you say, you want someone, do you really know what you want? How much does the society influence your love life? How much does your religion help you get love?

Submitted: June 18, 2016

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Submitted: June 18, 2016

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LOVE, IS IT?


“On my way. Have something important to tell you."
Gayatri looked at the screen and felt that familiar anxiety knotting her innards.

Syed and Gayatri didn't mean to fall in love. But love happens when you least expect it. It creeps up suddenly. When someone needs attention, care, conversation, laughter and maybe even intimacy. Love doesn't look at logic, or at backgrounds and least of all, religion.

Gayatri was from a very conservative South Indian family that went to a temple every Saturday. Syed bought goats for his family every Eid. That said it all. Their paths would never have crossed if it hadn't been for that fateful day. That day when he walked into the coffee shop. Gayatri wondered if destiny chose our loved ones for us. Did we have any role to play at all?

She looked at her watch. Syed was late. They met every Thursday at five pm to catch up. Their conversation lasted for hours. Sometimes at the cafe, sometimes in his car, sometimes in places that she could never tell her friends about. They would never understand. And yet Syed made her happy.

Suddenly her phone beeped. He had sent a message. "On my way. Have something important to tell you."

Gayatri stared at it and realised she had knots in her stomach. Thoughts flooded her mind. What did he want to tell her?

A part of her mind, silently wished that he would finally blurt out the three golden words – I love you – and another part of her mind, dreaded that he would finally blurt out those three scary words – I love you.

Gayatri enjoyed talking to Syed. She knew that he was a good, honourable, endearing man, who loved his family and friends, and would do anything to make their life happier. She had seen him rushing out in the middle of the night, to rescue some friend in need, or to simply go and comfort a friend in disaster. He would always leave a message on her phone; one before leaving the house, and one as soon as he parked his bike; letting her know that he was well. The details would follow the next day, or the next Thursday.

Many times Gayatri had ardently wished that Syed was not a Muslim, but a proper Iyer Brahmin like her. She saw a perfect life partner in him, but was sure, that this very obvious thing would be completely invisible to her family!

Gayatri tensely waited for Syed, every few minutes checking her watch and wondering what could have kept him so long. She also thought of messaging back that she got an urgent call and couldn’t wait any longer… but immediately she would reprimand herself for being so foolish. Syed might be wanting to tell her anything! They hadn’t made any kind of confessions to each other… Who knows? He might be seeing her as a very good friend, that’s all!

As she forced herself to keep calm and breath easily, she started letting her thoughts flow. She found herself unable to tear herself from remembering the ill-fated relationship of her first cousin – an Iyer Brahmin in love with a Parsi guy. She shuddered when she remembered how Kavita was beaten black and blue, lectured, shut up in the basement of the family mansion for days together, and then finally forcefully married off to an unemployed, loser of a man, ten years elder to her, just because he happened to be born in an Iyer family!

The heartbreak and torture left Kavita miserably weak and depressed. It was her body that got married that day… her soul was dead long back! All through the wedding ceremony, she sat like a zombie – eyes open but the light dead in them. Many times Gayatri and her other cousins decided to call the authorities, or to help Kavita elope, or to rebel and fight the elders who were obviously weaker to them in physical strength… but to no avail. None of them could muster the courage to raise their voice even a bit! All they managed was, hushed whispering by the side, and sad clucking and sushing sounds…

Beep beep!

Gayatri was jolted out of her thoughts by that all familiar bike horn… Syed was here.

A moment later she saw Syed sauntering towards her, with that wide smile lighting up his face! On a normal day, she would have immediately, gladly mirrored his effervescence… but today? Today, she kept staring at him morosely, not having stepped out completely from her thoughts.

“Hey babe! What’s up? Is anything wrong?” Gayatri heard Syed speaking.

“Babe? Babe!! Hey girl! Don’t scare me! What happened?”

“No… Nothing… I.. I am sorry Syed! I am terribly sorry! Guess I was half asleep!” Gayatri finally managed to blurt out, half laughing to dissipate the tension.

“You sure? All good..?” Syed was very concerned now; he had never seen Gayatri this pensive before.

“Yes Syed. Don’t worry. Tell me. What was that important thing you wanted to tell me about?” Gayatri tried to make light of her concern.

“Oh alright… I still think there is something going on in that stubborn brain of yours… But I will let it pass. Because, what I am going to say, is going to make you so happy! You will forget all your worries and start slow dancing with me!” Syed laughed.

A flicker swept through Gayatri’s eye lashes, her forehead got creased with worry lines, she was clearly stressed and Syed could see it as clearly as day.

“Hey Gaay, are you sure all okay? I am sure something is wrong. Aren’t you feeling well? Are you in pain? Come now honey, tell me!” Syed was very concerned now.

“No Syeddddd. Nothing. I am well. I think it’s the heat. I think I must have some coconut water or something! I can’t wait for the rains! Forget all that, tell me what you wished to say!” Gayatri impatiently took hold of Syed’s arm.

“Babe, my bestie! You always wanted to hear this, I know. You never said it openly, but I knew that this was your wish. I shared that wish of yours, but, well, things had to fall in place first! You have waited so long to hear this, and now you get your wish. Babe, I Finally got that Ph.D! I am Dr. Syed Iqbal Khan! Can you believe it! Finally, all that hard work paid off! You were with me all through those bleak days when self-doubt tortured me and I wanted to simply give it all up. Babe, this Ph.D is all because of you! Babe, I am finally a doctor!!” Syed was beside himself with joy! He swung Gayatri from hand to hand, not bothering about the weird stares they were getting.

“Doctor… you… Oh!” Gayatri didn’t know what to say… She fumbled with her words.

“Hey! Gayatri, now I am sure you aren’t well. I am dead sure. Come, I will drop you home. You need to rest.” Syed said this somewhat disheartened. He had counted on Gayatri to share his joy at this achievement. Her blank face and mumbling left him a bit disillusioned.

“NO Syed! I am fine. Really. Oh! This is such a super news! Oh! It is awesome man! Congratulations!” Gayatri managed to regain her composure.

“Yes babe! It IS! Oh I can’t tell you how happy Ammy and Abbu will be today! They always wanted us four kids to be well educated and well respected! My three brothers have done well, Inshallah! But I wanted to be the best of all!” Syed had tears of joy in his eyes. “Do you know I came to know this as I was leaving the office to come here? That is why I got late. You are The First Person I am sharing this with. Do you know? Oh Gaay! I am so happy!!”

Gayatri sat through the next one hour, half listening, half dreaming. Syed was happy and as it happens with happy people, at times, they become blind to the other person’s sorrow. They are so full of their happiness and achievement, their cup overflows. There is no place for any other emotion to even touch them lightly…

Gayatri was glad when finally Syed suggested they wrap up their date early, as he wanted to go home and share the news with his family.

Gayatri declined Syed’s offer to drop her home, giving a half baked excuse of some non-existent shopping she had to get done. She wanted to be alone with her thoughts. She knew she wouldn’t get that if she went home. She turned towards the sea, her best friend before things started moving with Syed. She had spent endless hours sitting by the waves, lost in her thoughts, her fears and her insecurities. She would at times let the tears flow unbidden from her eyes, as she did now.

Why was she crying?

He hadn’t said those three dreaded words… But he hadn’t even said those three golden words…

 

 


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