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Well, it started on a pleasant Sunday morning. He was sitting on a park bench wearing shades, his head resting on the bench with a slight smile on his face.
As I jogged by, my hair tied in a ponytail and face wet with sweat, I realised that I was totally mesmerised by his extremely good looks and perfect physique. The thought of him sitting on the bench stayed with me throughout the day and I longed to see him again the next morning when I would go for a jog.
I was lucky because there he was again, sitting on the same bench, perfect as a picture. This time I stopped jogging and decided to sit next to him.
I was hoping that he would turn around and look at me and maybe smile at me and then be bowled over by my beauty.
But alas, nothing of that sort happened. Maybe because I cannot boast of being very attractive or beautiful. My mom says I have sharp features, but other than that I am a little plump, my hair is frizzy and my face is round. The only noticeably attractive feature about me, are my big black eyes.
Anyway, I was really hoping he would turn and smile at me. We’d then introduce ourselves and a long conversation would turn into a cup of coffee, then into a dinner date. We’d start meeting every day, spend hours talking and knowing each other, discussing every tiny detail of our lives. Eventually we’d celebrate our anniversaries together and then get married.
I sat there fantasizing but much to my disappointment, he did not even look at me. I sat there for a while feeling silly, not knowing what to do. Then, I just got up and left.
I felt worse after reaching home as I could not stop myself from thinking about him. Sitting lazily on the couch, I was still in my dream world when my mom’s scream brought me back to my senses. “Ananya, did you get your dirty shoes inside the house. Wait till Dad....” she said stopping midway. I immediately got up from the couch and helped her to sit on a chair. Talking about dad always made her feel miserable.
My dad left us 6 months ago. No, he didn’t die, he left mom for another woman. His departure from the house left my mom dejected and heartbroken but I am not upset.
No more long nights of waiting for him to come home. No more loud arguments that the neighbours can hear. But obviously, my mother couldn’t bear it and still cries for him every night.
She was crying again now and I hugged her tightly and let the tears roll down her cheeks. To help her get rid of this depression, my uncle had asked us to come and spend a month with him and his family in Goa, hoping that a change would be of some help to my mother.
The next morning I went jogging again, hoping to see him. But he wasn’t on the park bench and my heart shattered, but then I felt myself smiling as I saw a man lying on the sand, shades on and a hat on his face.
Instantly, I knew it was him.
Knowing I had to make a move and fast, I gathered all the courage I could and sat next to him, pretending to tie my shoe laces.
“Hey there! Nice day, isn’t it?”
At first, he didn’t respond. Then, he slowly took his hat off his face and turned to look at me.
“It’s amazing” he said. “I’m Siddhant. You are?”
“Ananya” I said
“Beautiful name!” He said with a smile.
This time my heart took a somersault.
Adjusting his shades, he sighed peacefully and lay back.
“Thanks!” I said. “I’d better go now.”
“Then sit next to me for a while” he said and patted the soft sand next to him.
This was going better than I had expected.
I sat for a while, with my feet crossed as we began to talk about our lives.
“I live with my mom” I said.
“My dad left us 6 months ago and we have come to visit my uncle” I added.
“I live alone in a big house on the beach. It’s lonely at times but I love it here” he said.
My mind started telling me this wouldn’t work. He lived here. I was going to be here for a few more weeks.
But I couldn’t walk away.
Not when his voice sounded like heaven and his face looked like a dream.
We spent the next hour talking and then I said I had to leave as my mom would get worried. But I didn’t want to go.
“I’ve never felt like I’ve known someone so well in such a short time” he grinned.
“I have never told anyone so much about my life ever” I said.
“Why don’t you come over to my beach house sometime?”
He sensed my hesitation and laughed.
“Okay, then. Why don’t we meet at the beach again? Same time?”
“Yes” I said excitedly.
He waved as I walked off and I ran home, very happy.
The next day was even better. We seemed to have hit it off really well and over the next week, we became really close. I loved every little thing about him. The way his shades complimented his complexion, the sound of his laughter and the way he sat close to me when we were on the park bench. I found out that his parents had died when he was very young and he had been living alone for a long time now. He was a writer by profession and wrote books for special children.
“I’m falling for you” I blurted out one day.
He smiled at me, a sad smile, and touched my cheek.
“I’m not right for you.”
I thought it meant that I was not good enough for him as he was so good looking and I was a very average looking girl. This thought brought tears to my eyes.
“I need to tell you something” he said.
He took his shades off and stared at his hands on his lap.
“What happened?” I asked sounding worried.
He looked straight at me, his eyes piercing into mine when he said the words that sent me into a state of shock.
After that statement, we sat there not speaking a single word.
I recalled how I had never seen him without his shades, had never seen him walking on the beach. He either had his shades on or had his eyes closed. He had always been sitting on the bench or lying on the sand by the time I arrived.
“I understand if you want to leave now” he said in a whisper.
I got up, thought for a second and kissed him on his cheek.
“I don’t care” I said.
He smiled, a slow doubtful smile.
Holding my face in his hands, he said the three words that no one except my mom had ever told me.
“You are beautiful!”
I knew then that nothing else mattered now than those words. Because he didn’t see my hair, my face or my body. He felt my heart and I realised that.... that was the only thing which mattered.
“I want to see your beach house” I said, wiping away my tears.
He got up and unfolded the walking stick that was in his pocket. Holding hands, we walked to the place he had been talking about since the time we had met.
“Here we are!”
What stood in front of me was not a marvellous place. It was an old, nearly in ruins, building.
“We’ll take the stairs! A bit of exercise always helps. Besides, I’m only on the second floor” said Sid.
I didn’t even see a lift anywhere.
Searching for the key in his pocket, he opened the door to his house. The sight inside the house was so pathetic that it made me want to cry.
There was a plastic chair in the living room and a mattress on the floor. There was an old table in one corner of the room which had a few books and typewriter on it. The kitchen was just a slab with a few utensils and a stove. A glass and a plate lay on one side of the slab.
He took my hand and said excitedly, “Come you can hear the sea from outside.”
Standing behind me with his eyes closed, he took a deep breath.
I did not see the sea or for that matter I did not see anything except water flowing from a tap.
“Close your eyes” whispered Sid.
The sound of his voice inches away from me sent shivers up my spine.
“Now listen. Don’t say a word.....just listen.”
I did as he said and slowly the noise of the water flowing from the tap turned into the music of the sea.
We stood there silently for almost 15 minutes.
Siddhant asked softly, “How do you like it?”
I turned, careful not to let him feel the tears in my voice.
“I love it!” I said hugging him tightly.
“And I love you.”
At that moment I knew what love was all about.
Sid made me feel secure and protected and loved me the way I was. He made me understand that life has many obstacles but it’s about the way you look at them. He had taught me to live life to its fullest and slowly and steadily, he was also becoming my life.
I introduced him to my mom a day before our holiday ended. I was scared she would comment on his state but I was surprised to see that they actually got along very well.
The next day after a sad goodbye, Sid and I promised to wait for each other till next summer. Back home, I told all my friends about him but they shrugged it off as infatuation.
Some said, “You’ll forget him once you find someone better.”
Some said, “You are mistaking pity for love.”
But I knew it was more than that. I could feel the love and affection for him all the time.
We called each other almost every day. The next year I went back to Goa and spent the summer with Sid. Year after year, our love for each other has only grown.
Now after five amazing years, I’m standing in bridal attire, my face still as round as ever and my body still plump, waiting for my knight in shining armour. As I hear the sound of the marriage procession entering the venue, I cannot stop myself from running to Sid.
It had all started on that beautiful morning five years ago but I knew then and I know now that ‘he’s the one for me’.