“I guess that’s just part of loving people: You have to give things up. Sometimes you even have to give them up.” Lauren Oliver
Aditi looked elegant in an olive Elizabethan gown with an emerald necklace adorning her neckline. Her hair tied up into a bun; she looked every bit of a princess right out of the seventeenth century English tales. Her deep blue eyes accentuated her whole appearance. Yes she was the most beautiful woman on the floor that night. Her eyes though kept searching for someone. From left to right she glanced to catch a glimpse of Harsh but he was nowhere to be seen.
It was the annual Aurbery Costume Ball with seventeenth century as the theme; an event of glitz and glamour; an evening of dance and music. Tourists, the hoi polloi and the high and mighty celebrated this occasion together in the town hall. It was every bit of the carnival that she had imagined and she had read in books about.
It was her last night in Aurbery, England, infact it was their last night there. A fortnight of vacation was about to end; they were about to return to the monotonous life; shuttling between home and office. But where was Harsh?
Aditi and Harsh had been dating each other since their college days. It had been eight long years of togetherness. They had seen both good and bad times together; standing by each other through thick and thin. They were soul mates undoubtedly; perfect for each other. But they belonged to traditional Indian Families; educated yes; open-minded no. The families were morally and culturally uptight hence the decision of them being together was not their own but of their families.
They had spent the last three years trying to convince both set of parents. Unfortunately all the pleading and logic of why they should be allowed to be married to each other fell on deaf ears. They belonged to different castes and parts of India which made things even more complicated.
Neither side was ready to relent; so much so that the situation now was that Aditi’s parents had gone ahead and promised her hand in marriage to a so called well-read boy from their caste; who as per them was more appropriate for Aditi than Harsh could ever be.
Things weren’t too different at Harsh’s as well; his parents had categorically shut out any discussion related to Aditi in their house; for them she was not suitable for him as she was a girl who fell in love against her parent’s consent. She was in their words ‘a spoilt girl without any character’.
There was not a way or option left for Aditi and Harsh. They didn’t want to hurt their parents and get married without their approval. Yes that brought them at crossroads; but contrary to what their parents may have thought about them; contrary to them being termed as ungrateful; they were aware of their responsibilities towards their parents.
Before going their own separate ways, they had decided to spend some time together; their last vacation together. It would be these memories they would cherish and live by their entire lives. It was hard but children in India do not have the option to walk out on their parents. It’s not out of compulsion but they usually choose not to. So they lied for one last time at their respective homes and left for a few days of eternity; few days of life and love.
‘You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have really lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.’ - Henry Drummond
So there Aditi was standing in the middle of the dance floor lost in thoughts when suddenly she felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned back and there he was, her Harsh, looking dapper dressed as a noble lord. He was tall and looked every bit of the royalty he was clothed as.
They were so in tune that without saying a word they began dancing, looking deep into each other’s eyes. It was their last dance together; they wanted to open out their hearts and choked with sadness but chose not to show it on their faces. There was a lump literally in their throats; so much to be said and shared but so little time. It was their last time together; it was painful and unfortunate. They wished for a miracle; one they knew would never happen. They had to be strong for each other; they had to smile for each other; it was damn hard but it had to be done.
As they danced, the music died down to their ears. All they could hear was voices in their own heads saying ‘Don’t let go. Please don’t let go!’
As they moved through the floor, they went back in time when they had just met each other. They had come a long way and still had a long way to go but alone. How they wished to travel back in time; how they wished it was the beginning and not the end.
‘The hours I spend with you I look upon as sort of a perfumed garden, a dim twilight, and a fountain singing to it. You and you alone make me feel that I am alive. Other men it is said have seen angels, but I have seen thee and thou art enough.’ ~George Moore
They didn’t stop that night; they danced till dawn in each other’s arms; tears glided down Aditi’s eyes eventually. She hid her face in his chest and cried her heart out. She felt safest in his arms; she felt secure in his embrace and that was not to be any longer.
Harsh held her tight; he cried too for the first time in his life. He loved her more than anything else; he loved her much more than he could himself fathom. He hated himself for everything to have come to this.
Finally the time came; the moment to part. They say it is easy to get over a broken heart; you eventually are happy for a second time and you also fall in love all over again. But what would they do? Their hearts were still entwined together; they still loved each other but they had to go away for reasons they had no control over. None could replace the love they had for each other as they say “When the sun has set, no candle can replace it.”
From then on Aditi and Harsh led separate lives but deep down always felt a connection as they say ‘Dusk is just an illusion because the sun is either above the horizon or below it. And that means that day and night are linked in a way that few things are there cannot be one without the other yet they cannot exist at the same time. How would it feel I remember wondering to be always together yet forever apart?’
28 years after their night in Aurbery together; Aditi stood in her house lost in thoughts of that fortnight with Harsh when suddenly her daughter entered the room.
‘Mom, Dad I’m in love and he is from a different caste. I want to marry him. Would you atleast meet him once? urged her nervous daughter Reva.
Aditi turned to her husband and said ‘Mahesh, we need to book that hall we always wanted Reva to get married in. ‘’ Yes she wouldn’t allow the same fate to befall on her daughter too. Yes Aditi had a good life but it wasn’t one of her choice and it wasn’t with Harsh. She knew the pain that she had been harboring for ages and didn’t want her daughter to go through the same. She would give her daughter what she had failed to hold on to in her life. If not her atleast her daughter would live a life with the man she loves! Aditi at that moment pledged to give her daughter the happy ending that she herself was once devoid of for all her life!