Lying at her deathbed, Aahana kept looking at all that surrounded her— a number of wall-scraping bookshelves — all filled with books, a big pile of letters — most of which were from her late husband which he had sent to her during their youthful days. Also, she kept looking at the photo frames which held photos, as people called them and memories as she felt them to be. She kept looking at the clock and wishing that she could go back in time.
She wanted to go back to all those days of infancy, when all she was responsible for was breathing, just to survive. The days, when she enjoyed and cribbed about her school life, both at the same time. The time, when she had gotten the news of getting selected in the Oxford University. The graduation day, the farewell at Oxford, getting a job at an MNC, finding her true love, getting married — so many memories lay hung on those lifeless walls, and how she wished to live these moments again.
The one memory that clung on to her the most was a sad one. It was her first love. Ikshvaku, his name was. Deep brown eyes, comparable to chocolate, both in colour and in her love for them; an ear-to-ear smile, which made his round face look cuter and his deep voice, which she loved to hear, she could still hear her name in his voice. A bit taller than her, an exceptional speaker, diplomatic yet funny, an excellent adviser, her midnight WhatsApp chat — he was all that she needed and wanted. His striking feature were his dimples, which made her fall in love with him again and again. They never actually got separated, just that both hid their true feelings from each other. Their story could have been the modern ‘Romeo and Juliet’ without a sad ending, if even one them had had the courage to confess. They remained friends forever, never any more than that. How God might have hoped for them to confess!
Once, long time back, she had received a letter confessing someone’s love for her. Unfortunately for her, the sender has chosen to stay anonymous. Ikshvaku’s letter had touched her heart and soul, but without telling her that it was him who had written it. He had chosen to stay anonymous, for he did not want to risk the friendship he had with her. He would have loved to write his name, had he known that she would accept his love. But a bait like that — he couldn’t have exposed his identity.
Since Ikshvaku was her immediate senior in school, she got to meet him till he passed out of school. Her last year in school had been a bit boring for she missed his presence a lot, though they spoke and chatted over the letters.
After her 12th, she got selected for a course in Science at the Oxford University. She still can see the glittering eyes of her parents and the dance of her brother when she told them about it.
Leaving Bombay at an age of seventeen was a difficult choice. Especially, when BARC had also accepted her application and Oxford was in a foreign country. But, the choice had been made. With a heavy heart, she sat in the airplane that would take her to the heights of success in her career.
Life at Oxford was very much difficult, not just different. The only Indians in her batch were Sania, the one who would be a close friend years later, and Arjun, her to-be husband.
Arjun was not at all like Ikshvaku. Deep blue eyes, taller, fairer, but not a character as deep as Ikshvaku. He loved her, but she didn’t love him, she only liked him. When she came back from Oxford University, she got a job at a MNC based in Mumbai.
Time flew by. Now, she was in her mid- twenties and her parents were hunting a suitable husband for her when they found Arjun. A well-qualified, handsome, a boy from a good family, and a boy Aahana liked. Arjun was chosen.
They got married and had two kids, Sushant and Nupur. Sushant had been a chubby boy, who was like a perfect copy of Ikshvaku in all aspects except that Sushant didn’t have dimples. An academically studious boy, he had become the CEO of a company that had begun with only 20 people and within 2 years, had crossed the boundaries of not only the nation but also the continent. A son to be proud of! A boy who anyone could fall for. Sushant had married Chandrika and moved to the US. Not that he ignored her, he stayed in touch through various technological means. Also, he came home very often.
Nupur was a grey eyed, fair, brilliant and exceptionally beautiful girl. Nupur was everything Aahana always wanted to be. Though not academically brilliant as her elder brother was, she was an exceptional speaker and delegate. Any conference she attended, the best delegate award came with her. This was the case with the conference for the choice of the delegate of India in United Nations, too. She was now the Delegate of India in the United Nations Security Council. Nupur stayed away from home for most parts of the year and came for only around 4 weeks a year. Yet, she stayed in touch. Aahana had has the luck to have been able to stay alive to see Nupur representing India, whereas Arjun had died quite some time after her selection and couldn’t see her representing India.
Time had its effect on things. She was no more “the prettiest human on Earth” as Ikshvaku’s letter had described her, but was now an old woman in her seventies, quite satisfied with her life. Happy with her wrinkles, as most other old women are not. Thinking this, she breathed her last.
The story of her life is now over. The breathtakingly beautiful wife of Arjun who had entered this house around 40 years ago in the bridal red, now left, draped in white. Sushant, Nupur and Chandrika are here and shall stay for the next 13 days. Chandrika’s home seems empty and Sushant feels that a part of his heart just got lost in a black hole. Chandrika, however, griefs by crying like a little baby for Aahana, who was the only mother this girl had seen as her birth mother had passed away soon after she was born.
Two weeks passed by. The ashes are being taken to the Ganges. Aahana departs from this world to meet both Ikshvaku and Arjun, again.