The night was slowly moving towards dawn. The city was asleep; neatly wrapped in blankets warm and cozy. But Charu could not sleep. She had the best time ever. And after the magical time she had with Vibhas, she could have fallen into the sweetest and deepest sleep. But she forced herself to remain awake. She could not spoil what she had with him. After years of being denied the love that she craved for, Charu had allowed herself to fall in love with someone. After years of lonesome nights she had finally given herself the chance to feel the warm embrace of love. She had decided to come out of her world of fantasy and live the real passion; passion that drives you crazy in love, and then tires you to a night of comfortable sleep. While she allowed herself the love, the warmth, the comfort, she refused to sleep…”I will not fall asleep. I will not spoil this relationship,” is all she kept telling herself throughout the night.
The darkness of the night had begun to fade. Charu went out to the balcony. “It will be good day” she told herself. She made coffee. Vibhas stirred a little and then opened his eyes, “Hello gorgeous, when did you wake up? Umm…Someone’s been making coffee.” He said. It looked like the night’s sleep had charged his boyish charms. He looked as handsome as ever. Charu felt elated. They sat in the balcony and spoke for a while…Charu made an exhaustive effort to stifle her millionth yawn. Soon it was time to get ready for the day.
Charu was a software engineer in a well-known IT firm. Vibhas was an IT consultant for the firm Charu worked for. They had been associated with each other for the last couple of years over business calls and video conferences. But six months ago Charu, along with three other male colleagues was sent on an onsite project to Vibhas’ city, Hyderabad. The project members had meet for an informal get together on the first Saturday of their arrival to Hyderabad. Vibhas being the project consultant was also invited. A 28 year old Charu Sen was captivated by the charms oozing out of a vivacious Vibhas. Vibhas Nanda did not look like he had a good 32 years behind him. Vibhas spotted a silent Charu at one corner and began talking to her. The talking led to an interesting conversation. It did not stop at the party.
Charu was falling in love with Hyderabad. The food was great, the parks were green, the clamor of the bazaars were inviting, and her service apartment was peaceful with a serene view of the residential complex. It was different from her city. The loudness was more earthly here. The people seemed more rooted. And the greenery was natural. But what made her most attached to Hyderabad was the physical presence of Vibhas. His funny comments, his quirky sense of humor, his sharp professional acumen, and definitely his drop dead good looks.
Slowly they started meeting outside office. They visited the Charminar while Vibhas proved to be a knowledgeable Guide. “It is fabled that Qutub Shah constructed the Charminar on the exact spot where he had first looked at Queen Bhagmathi. As the folklore goes here, it is symbolic of feminine beauty and romance” Explained Vibhas with a twinkle in this eyes. Charu blushed a little but maintained a curious innocent look on her face. “Oh well the actual thing is that Qutub Shah build this structure to commemorate the eradication of plague from the city. But such a beautiful monument with a dry history of plague did not go well with the locals. So they still choose the romantic tale over the fact.” Vibhas said trying to abate the curiosity reflected on Charu’s face.
One day Vibhas took Charu to the famous Laad Bazaar which housed rows and stacks of colorful bangles. It was as if they were in a Bollywood movie scene. Charu chuckled at the thought.
“What’s so funny Charu?” Vibhas asked.
“Nothing much. This place reminds of Bollywood movies, especially of Kajol in Kabhi Khushi Khabi Gham, and…” Charu’s sentence was fielded midway by Vibhas
“…and Fanaa right?”
They started laughing together and their hands brushed against each other. Both felt the spark of the touch…There was something romantic in the air of Laad Bazaar. The clinking of the bangles was like the background score of a love song. With heartbeats racing, Vibhas held Charu’s hands. Charu locked her fingers with his and the two began walking…
As much as Charu had opened up to Vibhas, she was also scared of an embarrassing truth. It was the sole reason as to why she had left home soon after her education to live on her own in a strange new city. It was the same reason she did not ever give marriage or romance any thought. She had made many friends in the new city, but always maintained her distance. But with Vibhas she was tempted to take the next step, in spite of the embarrassing fact of her life.
After a lot of thought, temptation got the better of her. Charu was determined to let her emotions take over…she resolved to let her bottled up passion to flow into the loving embrace of Vibhas.
So on a weekend eve when her colleagues decided to visit the history laden site of Badami, Charu intended to get a little adventurous. The relationship had grown quite deep within a couple of months, and so Vibhas lapped up Charu’s invitation.
They had a crazy love filled peaceful night. In the morning Charu made coffee for the two. And soon it was time to get ready for the day. They got ready to head to the temple town of Warangal for a long lazy drive. But Charu found it difficult to keep her eyes open even while picking her attire for the much awaited trip. As soon as they touched the highway, Charu fell fast asleep. Vibhas was a little taken aback. But the sleeping form of Charu looked like a baby who had fallen into a sweet slumber after playing the whole day. Yeah she played well indeed. Vibhas thought to himself and smiled at the recollection of the events of last night. He knew he was in love with this simple girl. She was not full of herself, she was a great listener, she was disarmingly pretty, and there was a charm about her that is only evident in women who are oblivious to their loveliness. And to top it all Charu was extremely intelligent and bright as a person.
“My past may have seen a horde of gorgeous women, but it was this that I was looking for so long. She fulfills me and compliments my being. I think I should propose to her soon.” Vibhas kept thinking while he drove.
Charu was as fresh as a daisy when she woke up. Vibhas had brought her to a beautiful resort near the temple town. Throughout the day, the two lovebirds kept chirping while roaming the temples, and before they knew night had fallen. With the fading of the daylights, Charu’s heart began to feel the darkness of an embarrassing truth .
“How will I remain awake today? Yesterday it was a tremendous task. Today my body is already craving sleep. My muscles will refuse to act in some time. What will I do? How will I be awake tonight. How will I keep Vibhas away from me when I sleep? Oh God…I don’t want this thing to end right here.” Charu was getting frantically worried.
“What’s the matter Charu? You don’t seem to be in your element today? What happened sweetheart? You know you can share everything with me.” Vibhas stroke her hair to comfort her.
Charu could not tell him. It was too embarrassing. So she said, “I am just so happy to be with you here. Away from all the chaos. And tomorrow we have to leave. The project will also get over in another two months and I will have to go back. I don’t know how I will manage without seeing you.”
Vibhas helped Charu on her feet and led her to the poolside restaurant in the resort. And then came the big moment!
Infront of vacationers and others present, he went down on his knees and said, “Charu Sen all your worries can be fixed if you nod your approval to my fast approaching question…Will you marry me?”
Charu’s heart could have burst with joy at that precise moment. She held Vibhas’ hands ever so tightly and feverishly nodded her head. The audience clapped and cheered to a movie scene. Charu’s life at that moment was nothing less than a super hit Bollywood flick.
Unable to contain the excitement the newly hitched couple went into their room. The passionate pulsating breaths culminated to a crazy crescendo as the two wildly got entangled into each other. It was perfect. Most satisfying. The best ever. But just as happy ending do not happen without a twist, the elation of the two was interrupted by Charu’s sobs.
“Oh Charu. Darling what happened to you? Did I hurt you in anyway? Why are you crying? What is the matter?” A concerned Vibhas inquired.
“Vibhas I have a secret. A horrible embarrassing secret. I can never be with anyone. No one will accept me with this flaw. I am sorry. But I guess we cannot be together.” Charu managed to utter in between her sobs.
“There is nothing, no flaw in you that I would not accept Charu…There are flaws in me too. See I have seriously dated at least five women before you. I have been a maverick. I drink. I am a spendthrift and cannot save any money. I am not good at arts, I am growing a paunch. I am an emotionally dependent person etc. See but that does not deter you from loving me, does it? Then why will I have any problems with your flaws?” Vibhas tried to lighten up her mood.
But Charu was inconsolable. “No Vibhas, my problem is different. It is not something that a woman of my age usually has. Oh my god, how will I ever be able to tell you. My parents are ashamed about it. They never took me to any relatives place. We did not go to any weddings if it meant travelling or staying overnight. I was sick and tired of that life. So in spite of getting a good job in my own city I chose to settle in a completely strange city all by myself. I have never had a roommate. I have never had any relationships. I am a mess Vibhas.”
“Ok now come out with it. I promise I will not throw away the imaginary ring that I am putting on your beautiful, slender finger.” Vibhas took out an imaginary ring from his pocket and put it on Charu’s finger and began to listen to Charu’s embarrassing tale of life…
It was exactly six months from the day they had been to Warangal. The family was exhausted with the wedding rituals. The guests were gone. The gift were stacked in one part of the wedding hall.
“Ma, we will take everything tomorrow. Let’s just all go to sleep now. Vibhas and Charu are also worn out.” Vibha’s elder brother told their mom.
The newlywed couple was ushered to the majestic bedroom, adorned with red roses and candles.
As they said their night greetings and locked the door behind, the two got all mushy. And then Vibhas opened his travel bag and took out the rubber cloth. He neatly put it under the bed sheet.
“Come sweetheart. I have made the bed for you. Hope you did not drink a lot of water or eat too many sweets. Remember what the doctor said? These things after 5pm in the evening increases the pressure on the bladder. And don’t worry, go to the washroom just before you sleep. I will set the alarm at regular intervals.” And then the husband and wife got busy…