USA! My dream destination! The place I always wanted to be. Not that I am any less patriotic and don’t love my country, but dreams don’t really care, do they? Dreams are just what they are… dreams. And in the achievement of those lies fulfilment. I was always a go-getter. Since my humble background did not permit me to go for vacations to the US, I worked really hard in a focused manner to ensure that with the power of education and intellect I reached my dream country. And as they say, fortune favours the brave. I completed my Engineering with specialisation in IT and my first job took me to city of the Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco. I was in seventh heaven, if that’s the highest and most alluring place to be in. I had a family that needed my support back in India – my parents who had worked really hard all their life to see me successful and my little sister Chinky. My world revolved around them and I decided to do well in my career and give them life’s best. I was far from them and they willingly let me go, despite being the eldest and only son of the family. Such sacrifice and love from my family made me more determined to achieve the best.
Life was good, never a dull moment. It was two years since I was working in the US. I would go back to India to meet my parents and sister as much as possible. I had gone over to India to celebrate Diwali with them and was on my way back to Frisco. I loved traveling and long flights never made me feel tired. I enjoyed the ‘space’ as it gave me ample time to connect with myself. And whenever I felt my thoughts drained me completely, movies on flight were a great distraction. All in all, long flights were amazing. This time when I was at home, mother broached the topic of my wedding. Well, I wasn’t sure if this was the right time, I think it was a bit early, and I still had much to achieve. Very soon, Chinky would come of age too, and father had big dreams for her wedding. She was doing well in her medical studies and we would not have a problem finding a suitable groom for her; and that was a bigger priority for me. Also, I wasn’t too sure if arranged marriage would work for me. But did I have the time to look for someone, not really. I was busy with life and enjoying it thoroughly. Well, let’s think about this some other time, I said to myself, and dozed off.
The eagle landed with a thud. It was time to step out of the craft. I collected my laptop bag and carry-on luggage and walked towards the exit, only to be pushed by a dainty looking pretty girl in the wee hours. She bumped into me and my laptop bag fell, as did her purse. Oh well! But, oh wow! That was the first thought that crossed my mind when I my eyes fell on her exquisite face. She was an Indian, a Parsi girl I think; and the only thing I can say is that I had never seen such beauty ever before. I think I kept staring at her when I suddenly heard people asking me to excuse them. The girl was mighty embarrassed too. I braced myself, offered to help her, but she declined. She picked up her stuff and walked out, leaving me completely forlorn. Strange, what one look at a person can do to you! I’d never experienced such an intense feeling before.When love strikes, even when situation throws odds at you.. hope often sees one through #ShortStory #Love Click To Tweet
As I made my way towards the immigration desk, my eyes spotted her again. She looked majorly tangled, almost scared too. Well, anyone would be a bit wary if it was their first brush with Uncle Sam. But then why was I assuming? She could be worried about anything. But the gentleman in me walked up to the damsel in distress to genuinely find out if she needed any help. First she was unsure, but she finally did open her mouth and came across as thoroughly confused and as I had presumed, a bit scared too. It was her first time in the US in the first flight ever, and she wasn’t sure how to proceed. I told her not to worry as I was a pro by now and would help her out, and to treat me as a friend; because I was a fellow Indian too afterall. At last she seemed at peace and knew I wasn’t taking advantage of her. I helped her with the immigration forms and the formalities. She cleared the immigration and waited for me at the conveyor belt. I helped her with her luggage as well; at the cost of a broken back I guess. But the chivalrous man that I was, I did it for my heart’s sake, which looked like it had stopped beating. Or was it beating so fast that I couldn’t count the heartbeats at all. Whatever it was, this was a first, and a beautiful feeling.
Anahita, I learnt her name at the luggage belt; was a demure, immaculately dressed, blue-eyed, fair complexioned, thin girl. Grace personified! My heart I realised wasn’t just skipping beats but looked like it was doing cartwheels as well. It seems she was on a project for 2 months here, and if she performed well, it would extend to a year. Wow! That was some good news, and even better was that she was going to stay at the Grand Hyatt at Stockton Street in Union Square; which was very close to my apartment. Without coming across as a wannabe I offered to drop her to her hotel since it was where I was headed too. She seemed relieved to hear that and my heart took to Salsa and Bachata now. I was ecstatic. We got into a cab, and she got talking to me, finally! She told me a little bit about herself as I did too, and we sincerely struck a chord. She understood that I meant no harm, and was a well-wisher who wanted to help her. So all was good!
She was a Parsi girl from a slightly traditional family. Her mother was no more and she was the only child. Her father, though very protective about her, wanted her to excel in her career as she did very well and did not stop her from accomplishing her dreams – which just like me, lay in a land across oceans. She was hoping that her project gets extended so that she could make a career here in the US. I was very happy to hear all this – seemed like déjà vu for me and my heart went out to her (as if it was with me all this while!!). I made up my mind to her help in every possible way. I felt sad on reaching her hotel, as I had to drop her off and the love-ride came to an end. She bid good-bye but not before asking for my coordinates. Well, looked like HE did help people in distress. I told her she could call me anytime she needed help.
I reached home, tired and excited as hell; crashed and fell asleep, only to be woken up by Anahita’s call two hours later. It was almost like another wish granted. She wanted to know if we could meet later in the evening; being new to the place, she could do with some help. And that was it! The beginning of my love story! Hours turned into days, days into weeks and weeks into months. We met every single day and with Anahita by my side, life was as lovely as it could ever have been. Though neither of us formally proposed to each other, we knew we were in love. It was as if it was always meant to be. Soon we learnt that she got her extension and would be here in the US for the next 10 months atleast. This called for a celebration. I decided to take her out for dinner and propose to her that very day.
At dinner, I asked her the inevitable question only to be left heartbroken with her answer. “Ashish, I love you as much as you love me, but I come from a traditional Parsi family, and my father will never agree to our wedding. Besides, he’s the only one I have. I cannot afford to lose him. Even if I agree to marry you against all odds, he will be put to shame in the community and I will never be able to enter the fire-temple again. I am sorry, Ashish.” That moment, time stood still. My head spun and I had no clue what I would do without her. She was the only one I ever loved and without her my life was meaningless.
We stopped meeting. I couldn’t concentrate on my work and I decided to go home to see my parents for a bit. I booked the tickets and to my bad fortune, on the day of the flight, there was a bad unanticipated jam; due to which I missed my flight. When things have to go wrong, Mr. Murphy comes to mind. I didn’t want to let this get to me. I went to the airport and booked myself into another flight to Delhi. Luckily there was another one in 3 hours. Though it made a big hole in my pocket, I was happy. I just wanted to get away and see my mother. On the flight I was too restless. Today, even the space that I loved was eating me up. I couldn’t bear to watch movies, nor could I eat, neither sleep. All I could think about was Anahita. I decided to have a drink. As a rule I never had alcohol on flights, but today my mind needed some rest. I requested the hostess for Vodka with Sprite and gulped it down, hoping it would induce me to sleep.
Alas! There was no sleep, only heartache. I opened my laptop and browsed through the net since luckily, the flight had wifi. I kept browsing mindlessly and suddenly opened a word document to start writing. I had never done this before. But I just let the words flow. My fingers kept typing and what they typed is anyone’s guess. It was my love for Anahita. Suddenly Ashish – the sort after IT consultant became a poet; and all that he penned was lovelorn poetry. It was a new experience again. What was about that blue-eyed girl? She brought the best and the worst in me. Teary-eyed, I actually managed to write a nice poem about Anahita as well as an account of us together. I felt exhausted with the writing, heartache and the turbulent flight. Suddenly I came across a site called WriteUpCafé.com where they were inviting stories for some contest. Why not?! I entered the contest and closed the laptop, finally feeling drowsy. I woke up only after we landed and was happy to be home. My family came to receive me and I was in tears when I hugged each one of them.
Mother saw through me and so did Chinky. I never hid anything from them, and so I told them about Anahita and that I could no longer bear to be in the same city as her and hence made this trip, with no intention of going back. It was too painful for them to see me languishing like that. Mother wanted to speak to Anahita as well as her father. For my parents, religion, caste, creed, language did not matter, and she was more than happy to welcome her in our family. But I knew it was pointless. A certain part of me also respected Anahita’s decision. Perhaps if I were in her shoes I would do the same; and there was never any joy in hurting parents. So I accepted my fate. I wasn’t going back to my dreamland; hence I decided not to hurt anymore and get my heart and thoughts under control. I had to start looking for a job if my company didn’t allow me to take a transfer to Delhi. My boss had granted me a two-week holiday and one week had already passed. I had to pull up my socks and act.
I was deep in thought about my next career move when mother suddenly jumped with joy over a phone call. She covered the receiver with one hand, and called out to me, “Ashish, its Anahita, calling from San Francisco. She wants to speak to you. I already told her that I would love to see her as my daughter-in-law.” While she was beaming, I was mad at whatever she had spoken; and with a contorted face took the phone from her.
“Hey Ashish, sweetheart can you please forgive me?”
“Well please don’t ask for forgiveness Anahita, I understand and respect your decision. It’s just that I didn’t expect you to say no because I have seen love for me in your eyes. It’s ok my dear. I am fine.”
“Ashish, will you marry me?”
Huh? I couldn’t believe what I just heard. Was I dreaming? I heard mother and Chinky giggle out loud, and I knew this was happening in reality, it wasn’t an illusion. “Ofcourse, but… how.. when….” I was just fumbling.
She quickly blurted that it was all thanks to mother. She found out her number from my phone, called her and spoke to her. Reassured her that she would speak to Anahita’s father, and if he was even a little unhappy with this relationship, she would never broach it again; and would also ensure that she looked after me such that I wouldn’t feel the pinch in my life ever. Mother spoke to Anahita’s father, convinced him. Contrary to what Anahita thought, it wasn’t difficult to convince him as he loved Anahita too much and wanted her to be happy. She was the only light in his life and he couldn’t see her broken in anyway.
Thank god for such lovely parents I thought. Not only are they god’s gift, but God incarnate too. I couldn’t believe my luck. I cried and hugged my mother and Chinky. “How could I ever let you lose hope, my son.” She said. My faith in love and goodness restored, I decided to go back to the love of my life – well the US and Anahita. Her father was to come to Delhi to see me before I left for the States; and soon we were to get engaged. The wedding would happen at an appointed date when we she would settle with her job there and we could make a long trip to India. All I can say is… with love all around us, we lived happily ever after!