If you see me, you would not believe that I was part of the prettiest rose in the bouquet. When the beggar girl plucked the rose and tied it in a bundle, little did I know what my fate was going to be. Her clammy, soiled hands got pricked as she clumsily plucked the stem off the rosebush. Instead of sympathy, her drunken mother wielded a tight slap on her cute, dirty face.
“Theekh sey nahi todd sakti thi, Champa? Bandaid aur doctor ka paisa nahi hai mere paas. Pakk gaya toh haath kaatna padega.” The beggar woman growled at the girl.
Tears rolled down Champa’s sunken cheeks as she hurriedly tied the stems into a little bundle. “Dukaan par de kar aati hu, Ramu mere se pehle pahuch gaya to woh saala baazi maar lega”
Her mother shouted, “Toh jaa na, mari, kyon ruki hai? Thoda sa khoon hi toh hai, haathon mein mehndi thodi na lagi hai jo itna dheere sey baandh rahi hai. Jaa, bhaag kutiya.”
Champa ran towards the florist. The morning traffic had started, and she stood at the signal waiting for the traffic to start. A boy hooted at her from an autorickshaw, “Aye! Ladki! Phool kaise diye?”
She looked at him and said, “Bechne ke liye nahi hai.“
He shouted back in an attempt to reach her over the noise of the traffic, “Kya? Phir signal par kyon khadi ho? Aao idhar!“
Champa must be around 16 years old and as you know adolescence touches everyone, irrespective of their economic background. She looked at him; he was a handsome man with average build and height. His sincere, beady eyes drew her towards him. His skin was like porcelain, fair and perfect. Despite being around 22 years of age there was not a single pimple on his attractive face. He signalled her to come towards the pavement. She walked towards him nervously.
He smiled at her; he had the most charming smile ever! I could tell she was clearly attracted because I could feel Champa swooning. Her bosom started heaving, and she pressed against me hard as she clutched the bundle tighter. She stepped closer to the curb and waited for the auto to arrive. He started speaking almost as soon as he reached. Champa watched his thin pink lips moving and breaking into a smile every once in a while.
“Kitne ka diya?” He asked eagerly.
“Bola na, bechne ke liye nahi hai.” She mumbled nervously.
“Aap jitna bologi, utne mein de dunga. Please! jaldi boliye!”
As his silken voice reached her dark ears, she melted.
“Do sau rupaiye lagega!” She was taken aback at her ownself. It was ten times the normal cost of the bunch.
He smiled at her and handed over three notes, “Yeh lo do sau pachaas! Theekh hai?“
Champa took a step back in surprise! She held out the bundle and took the money. That’s the last time I saw her.
I was now in the hands of the most handsome man in the world. I took some time to admire him. Dark brown hair, broad forehead, small, beady eyes, a perfect nose and pink lips that housed his pearly whites. He was well-mannered and soft-spoken. I could tell that he was very caring because he held the bundle carefully as if he didn’t want his rough, worker-like hands to damage the roses, stems or thorns. When he held the bundle up to admire the roses, I could see myself in the rearview mirror of the autorickshaw.
I wondered who he was going to present us to. The roses weren’t red. They were yellow, pink and white. The other thorns and roses used to gossip about colours and their position in the human relationship hierarchy. The red roses were at the top of the chart. They never mingled with the lesser roses. I wondered what their problem was. They were so haughty and mean all the time!
He stopped at the crowded railway station, if you felt the traffic in Mumbai was crazy then you haven’t been at the Andheri station! It’s like a swarm of crazy bees constantly buzzing in different languages. Everyone seems to be in a tearing hurry and pushes anyone who comes in the way. He got off, nervously adjusted his shirt and looked around. His eyes spotted her under the crowded bridge. She seemed like a beautiful but scared kitten.
He clutched the bundle in his hand and strode confidently towards her. She was a young girl, maybe around 20 years old, She was clutching a suitcase in one hand, a heavy haversack was on her left shoulder. She was dressed differently than the average teenager, well-fitting jeans, floaters, an over-sized shirt knotted at her flat belly. She seemed to have her own style in the world of pretty women. Her face was round and innocent, her eyes were soulful and told a story. She had bundled her rough curly hair into a ponytail and that revealed her beautiful, broad forehead.
As he stepped towards her, she looked at him and blushed nervously. He seemed like he was in complete control. He held out the bundle.
She blurted, “It’s your birthday, I should be the one getting you flowers!”
He looked at her lovingly and whispered, “It’s our first date, so traditionally that right belongs to me!”
She blushed and looked away. She kept shifting her weight from one leg to another in nervousness. Suddenly she stopped and said, “They are not even red! There’s no symmetry to the colour or quantity. Yellow, white, pink are just bundled together!”
He kept holding them out, and she hurriedly grabbed at it.
That was me, I pricked her delicate fingers as she wrapped them around the bundle. She winced, he stepped closer and said, “This bundle of roses is like my love for you. Lover, friend, confidante, life partner, you are so many things to me.”
She protested! “Yes! But this one has thorns…haven’t you ever gifted roses to a girl before….they always -”
“Shhh… from today, all the thorns in your life are mine…”
She blushed and stepped closer. He stepped behind and smiled at her hinting that the crowds at Andheri station were casting glances at them. She didn’t seem to care and interlocked her fingers in his rough hands. They stood there for what seemed like eternity or till a passerby pushed her and strode ahead.
She softly said, “See you after my college trip, you will wait, won’t you.”
He beamed at her, his eyes were overflowing with love as he replied, “Always… I’m there… always…”
She plucked out the prettiest rose in the bundle and returned the rest to him. He looked at her quizzically, “I cannot take this on the trip, people will question, some may even snitch to the teachers or to my parents.”
She neatly tucked the pink rose in her book and looked at him lovingly. He took the book from her hand; it was Robin Cook’s Fever, a popular medical suspense thriller. He smiled at her, his beady eyes were shining with love. There were so many unspoken words in those 15 minutes. It’s been 25 years since they trapped me inside Robin Cook’s writing.
During the college trip, while she was fantasizing a life with him, he had already withdrawn from the relationship. There were no mobile phones or messengers in those days so contacting him on the go was impossible. She tried calling him from the hotel reception whenever she could. He hardly came on the phone. Even when he did, he was quiet and non-responsive. She tried her best to keep him talking for over 60 seconds. But, he had distanced himself from her because of some unknown reason. She spent her trip wondering what was wrong.
He never met her after she returned from the trip. She would clutch the book and cry herself to sleep. They broke off, but she never forgot him. He never said goodbye, just went incognito without informing her. She didn’t know whether she could define their bond as a relationship since they never went on dates, never exchanged love notes nor did they do anything was in the purview of an affair.
She doubted herself every moment. She wondered whether what she saw in his eyes at the station was true. She kept rewinding the scene in her mind and each time the answer was that he loved her more than anything else in the world. Every once in a while, she would open her book, admire the rose, touch me and cry.
Years later, they met, she was married to someone else and so was he. They had wonderful partners but each time they met, their eyes would converse with each other. She would come home and caress me while tears would fall from her pretty eyes.
Their love never went public because he wanted no one to know. Throughout the past 25 years, they have been always there for each other whenever the need arose. But thier relationship and bond remains a secret. Sometimes they called each other and remained silent for long pauses, just breathing through the mouthpiece. So many overwhelming emotions being shared while tears fell from both eyes.
Yes, I am the thorn that is the sole testimony of love between soulmates and I am glad my life is eternal – just like their love. She never spoke to me and nor did he, but I know that I remain their keeper for life.
©MayuraAmarkant. This is an original work of fiction written by Mayura Amarkant. This article – in whole or in part CANNOT be used by any platform without prior permission from the author. This article is the property of DiaryOfAnInsaneWriter. Any unauthorized use or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mayura Amarkant (DiaryOfAnInsaneWriter). With the right and specific direction to the original content. This is NOT a sponsored post.
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