It was going to be no ordinary day! She loved his cryptic little notes that never failed to make her smile! Today’s was no different. “Megha, meet me at two, I want to say ‘I do!’” The little rhyme was written in a script that was unique, for his handwriting was filled with curls and loops, created with painstaking care. She touched the paper with her lips and put it away deep within her personal diary, which was filled with dozens of these little notes on little coloured squares of paper. Every colour stood for a different mood... when he was elated, he sent a purple message, the blue ones were for when he was dejected. When something touched him deeply, he responded with a sunshiny yellow message and a red one heralded his flaming temper.
Megha loved these quizzical missives. Rohit had always been a good friend, right from high school onwards. They had studied in the same class, acted in college plays together, hung out with common friends and all problems seemed to disappear when they were together. He beat up her enemies, she consoled his innumerable female fans who complained that he had no eyes for them. But that was because he had eyes only for her...
As the door bell rang, she shook away her thoughts. As she paid the newspaper bill, she wondered what she should wear. Of late, Rohit had turned from a good friend to something more romantic. She dreamt of his lopsided grin, his way of giving her a hug every time they met, the smell of his cologne, and the look in his eyes when he gazed at her. One day he had taken her home to meet his parents, and she was amazed at the way his Mom enveloped her in a bear hug, whispering, “I am so happy that Rohit has found a girl like you! I know you will be happy together!” And this was when they had no romantic feelings for each other. Even before she could respond, his father shook her hand and smiled. “Welcome home, Megha!” The warmth was palpable and she suddenly found herself imagining how wonderful it would be to be part of such a family.
Maybe that is where it all began. She started looking at Rohit through different eyes, and many of his little notes began to make sense to her. They were declarations of love which were wrapped in a veneer of frivolity so that maybe, she would not be frightened away by the intensity of his feelings. They were never mushy and overly romantic, but fun notes that made her smile deep within, and made her think about him more than she would have otherwise liked.
Megha had made it a point to go over to Rohit’s house to meet his parents who had really grown fond of her. His mother would cook her favourite dishes for her while his Dad would sit down and discuss everything from current affairs to movie with her. She felt an amazing sense of comfort in their presence, and often she felt that she was closer to them than Rohit himself was. Rohit often evaded her questions on his relationship with them saying, “Megha, don’t worry your pretty head over this! I had issues with them when I was growing up! I was always a rebel and they were not happy about it. But they have to accept me as I am!” She had reassured him saying, “I think your parents are very proud of you and love you very much! Only they don’t know how to show their love!”
Rohit had smiled, and replied, “Well, they are definitely fonder of you than of me!” She tried to ignore the tinge of bitterness in his voice, and the hurt that revealed itself in his eyes! But when she tried to talk to him about it, he evaded the topic by joking about it. “You should have been born as their daughter!” “I could still turn into their daughter!” she couldn’t help thinking, but since he had never said anything of the sort to her, she hugged the thought to herself.
Valentine’s Day was round the corner. The shops overflowed with red hearts, stuffed toys and cards of every size and type. Boys and girls went wild, trying to pick that unique gift that would melt the hearts of their loved ones. Pastry shops made heart shaped cakes and love songs blared from every shop. The atmosphere was electric and love was in the air everywhere!
Megha had worn her prettiest salwar kurta, and there was a song in her heart. She had the strangest feeling that something momentous was going to happen today, something that would change her life forever. The sun was shining and the world seemed even more beautiful than it normally was. Rapt in her reverie, she suddenly heard her mobile phone ring. “Hi, Rohit!” she said, a smile in her voice. “Happy Valentine’s Day, Megha!” came Rohit’s response. “How many red roses have you got today?”
“Quite a few, Rohit! Where are you at the moment?”
“I am with friends right now. Why don’t you meet me for lunch? There is something I want to discuss with you!”
Megha’s heart leapt. This was the moment she had been waiting for all her life, the moment when Rohit would declare his love for her, when they would discuss their future together. “Of course, Rohit! I would love to!” Plans were made and Rohit hung up, as she thought of the gift she needed to pick up for him. It had to be extra special, the right gift for the occasion.
At the mall she wandered around, browsing for, she knew not what! She picked up a card that expressed her feelings for him, and finally chose a chunky watch for him. It was expensive, but this was the DAY, after all!
Rohit’s eyes lit up when she walked into the restaurant. He had made sure that their table was tucked away in a cosy corner, far from prying eyes. “Shall we order?” he asked with a smile that warmed her heart. There was a kind of suppressed excitement in his eyes and it was evident that he wanted to speak to her desperately. But that would come after they had eaten. The food was delicious, and they chatted on desultory topics while they ate. Finally when the last morsel was eaten, and Megha sat back with a feeling of contentment, Rohit said, “I guess it is time to tell you what is in my heart!” Megha sat up straighter, her eyes a-dance, all set to hear what Rohit had to say. She clasped her hands together to stop their trembling, but it was a wonderful feeling.
“Megha, I have always looked upon you as my best friend and companion. We have been there for each other for the last so many years. Today is the day when that changes!”
Megha looked at him, her heart in her eyes. Time itself seemed to have stopped and she waited almost breathlessly for his next words.
“Now I am in love, Megha, and it is the most wonderful feeling in the world! All these years I was incomplete, waiting for the right person to land up. And all this time the right person was in front of me, but I didn’t know it!” Tears flowed from Megha’s eyes as she saw a new side of Rohit’s, the romantic side that he had always masked with a laugh.
Suddenly a strapping young man strolled across, and sat down by Rohit’s side. Megha looked on in utter shock, as Rohit smiled and said, “I would like you to meet Bhaskar, the love of my life!” it was then that the darkness enveloped her!
The Winner of the Readomania Short Story Contest