The unnamed narrator replays one of the most heart-breaking days of her existence through the short story. The day she looses her world, Tasha, to another man, in marriage.
I was sitting by the bay window in Tasha’s room, smoking my cigarette and watching the immaculate moon dangling in the infinite night sky. It was around 12 o’clock, midnight. The world around me was in deep slumber and all that endured was a serenity that could only be found during these late hours. I always craved for this serenity after having spent most part of my days in the chaotic noise of the city. I enjoyed walking aimlessly on the road or anywhere in the city during these late hours to find the peace I’m longing for and to dive deep into it. It is an escape from not only the chaos of the city for me, but from the chaos in my life itself.
My moon gazing was suddenly interrupted by the creak of the door. I turned my entire self and watched Tasha enter the room and shut the door behind her. She walked toward me and stood right in front of me. The moonlight allowed me to see her face more clearly. I noticed tears rolling down her cheeks. I pulled her closer and held her palms in mine. The detailed henna design occupied her palms going up to her hands. I pulled her closer and planted a kiss on her forehead. She turned herself and walked to the other end of the bay window, establishing herself at that end. We sat facing each other for a few seconds and then, I turned my face and continued smoking. We exchanged glances in between, speaking only the language of silence during those brief exchanges. My eyes fixed on the moon, I finally spoke after a few minutes, breaking the silence.
Tasha, why don’t we run away?
Anywhere! Anywhere away from our little world.
And, what then?
We can start our lives together and create our own little world.
And do you think we’ll remain happy, running away and all?
Of course we will! What kind of a question is that?
It’s a bad idea.
Running away is a bad idea.
What makes you say that?
My gut feeling.
Your gut feeling?
I swallowed the lump in my throat and looked away. I lit my second cigarette and continued smoking.
How can you say that?
How can I not say that? I’m going to be married, soon. My parents have invested their all in this marriage. I cannot just throw it away. I cannot afford to disappoint or hurt them.
And what about me? What am I going to do without you? You’re everything that I have. You’ll be taking away my world from me.
She remained silent for a few seconds and then, turning her face she said,
It’ll be okay. You’ll be fine.
I put out my half-finished cigarette and lifted myself up and got up to leave. I was about to open the door, when she called out to me. I stopped. She ran toward me and held my tightly, from behind as my back was facing her.
Hey, don’t go. Please.
Because I need you.
I don’t think the words you just uttered mean that you need me. You’ve made it pretty clear that you don’t. So let me do you a favor and leave.
Hey, hey no!
She held my hand and turned me to face her. She held my face in her palms and said,
I love you, you know that I do.
I don’t, actually.
That wasn’t me talking.
Yeah, it wasn’t.
She kissed me gently on my lips and I kissed her back.
The sunlight fell directly on my face, forcing me to open my eyes. We were lying on her bed. I remained frozen, staring at the ceiling for a few minutes. I then turned toward her and watched her breathe in and out in her sleep. I noticed the way her chest moved up and down while she breathed. I noticed how peaceful she looked. I very gently removed the strand of her which fell on her face and smiled to myself.
It was exactly 6 years and five days since we admitted to each other that we love each other after spending almost a year living in denial of our feelings.
Last year around this time, we were sitting in a café sipping mugs of coffee for me and tea for her, trying to decide what we were going to do after our coffee date. I don’t think either of us in that moment imagined that she would be getting married exactly a year later. Suddenly she opened her eyes and we looked deep into each other’s eyes.
Hi, you. Good morning.
Not so good for me, actually.
Not so good for me, either.
I pulled her closer and we let our foreheads touch. We have woken up so many mornings together, like this but with the biggest smiles on our faces. But that morning, it was different. It was bittersweet. Tasha couldn’t stop the tears from cascading down her face. I lifted my face up and wiped the tears off, of her face.
The next few hours were spent getting ready. I walked out of the bathroom in my lehenga and Tasha was sitting on the chair of the dressing table wearing her earrings. We looked at each other through the mirror in front of her. She was wearing a lehenga dipped in colors of red and pink and with heavy golden sequined work on it. Her hair was tied up in a neat bun.
You…you look beyond beautiful.
Can I keep you forever?
She got up from the chair, walked toward me and instantly hugged me. Through her tears she said,
I’m so, so sorry!
You don’t have to be. Maybe, just maybe, we aren’t meant to be together.
We freed ourselves from our embrace and walked out of the room.
The wedding ceremony had come to an end. Tasha and her husband were sitting on the podium, smiling for the camera with the guests. The couple through their weariness, warmly smiled or hugged or shook hands with the people who came to meet the meet the newly married couple. Either Tasha was introducing her husband to people before posing for pictures or it was the other way round. I was sitting a few tables away from the podium and Tasha knew where I was sitting. We did exchange glances every now and then. In between pictures, the bride and the groom engaged in small conversations, with each other.
The two of them seemed to be happy. But whenever she looked at me, her sadness erased the garb of happiness she wore for everyone.
I loved her and she loved me. I knew that every single time she gazed deep into my eyes. But maybe, that wasn’t enough. That wasn’t enough not for us, but for the people in our world. But why wasn’t it enough? We loved each other, we made each other happy. We’ve never been happier when we are together. We do well individually when we exist in each other’s lives. In a perfect world the possibility of us having our ‘happily ever after’ was more conceivable. But we don’t live in a perfect world. For our love to be accepted by the people around us, either she or I should have belonged to our opposite gender. I tried to convince myself not to feel this way for her and maybe, so did she. We did not choose these feelings, they came very naturally to us and our feelings only grew deeply and became stronger, over the years.
I felt claustrophobic sitting there, watching her with her husband. I felt like I was living my worst nightmare. Every inch of me was suffering from restlessness. I lifted myself up and walked toward the bathroom. I looked at myself in the mirror. I looked frail and lifeless. I could feel the lump in my throat. This time, I did not swallow it. After one day and six hours, I let the tears eat me up, wholly.