Alfred Lord Tennyson once said- “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. I don’t remember the exact moment when I read this quote, but I still remember how I felt when I read it. It was this strange bittersweet feeling that lay siege to my heart. I couldn’t stop myself from smiling and feeling wistful at the same time. Since that day I have often wondered how does one deal with such a profound loss? Surely losing the one you love leaves a gaping hole in the heart which might seem impossible to mend. But can a person who has loved and lost their love find happiness again? Can they find true love …. Again? Mr. Tennyson’s quote compelled me to write a story about love, loss and New Beginnings 🙂
It was way past midnight but sleep was the last thing on her mind. Avni sat at her desk staring at the picture in her mobile phone. The room was dark and the only source of light was the mobile screen that illuminated her face. Tears clouded her vision but she continued looking at the picture with just one thought in her mind- ‘I wish I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop.’
She looked at herself in the picture, laughing with her arms thrown around Varun, who was looking back at her and laughing. She zoomed in on him and traced his face with her fingers, his kind brown eyes, his thick eyebrows, coffee brown hair that always looked mussed no matter how many times he combed it, his aquiline nose and the small cleft on his chin. She squeezed her eyes shut and hugged her phone unable to stop the wave of pain that hit her hard. It was even more painful than a thousand shards of glass piercing her heart.
She remembered every single moment of that day. It was her birthday. He had planned a surprise getaway to Lonavala and this picture was taken just before leaving the luxurious villa. She was sad because she didn’t want to leave and in a bid to make her smile Varun had tickled her mercilessly and then sneakily taken the selfie while she was laughing, unaware that this beautiful moment had been captured forever.
Avni got up from the chair and walked listlessly towards the bed. Lying down she closed her eyes knowing that sleep would elude her for a long time. She relived every moment of that day over and over again. It was after several hours that she finally drifted off to sleep wishing fervently that she too would have died that day along with Varun.
Aakash sprinted across the park with his iPod strapped on his forearm. Running always helped him to unwind and relax. But even as Rihanna’s sultry voice continued to croon into his ears his mind was far away. Ever since his best friend had died in the car accident nothing was the same. Aakash and Varun had been inseparable since kindergarten. Varun was like the brother he always longed for. They had the same interests, the same likes and dislikes and that was probably why they both fell for Avni.
Aakash had a crush on Avni since the sixth grade. They were neighbours and that gave him the chance to see her quite often. She was like a breath of fresh air that came and went as she pleased, never in one place for long. Somehow Avni was never still, either talking while making wild gestures, playing the guitar or arguing with her mother to give her more pocket money. Gradually his crush matured into love but he was too shy to tell her how he felt. Later they went to the same college and before he could gather his courage and confess, it was too late. Varun and Avni had fallen for each other and he could do nothing but continue to hide his feelings.
Since he cared deeply for Varun and Avni, he was content with the fact that they were happy with each other. He still remembered Varun’s exuberant face, as he animatedly shared his plans of surprising Avni and taking her to lonavala. If he would have known what was going to happen, he would have never let him go. But Varun had gone and never come back. While returning to the city their car had met with an accident. Varun was declared dead on the spot and Avni was hospitalised for 3 months. It was indeed a miracle that she hadn’t succumbed to her injuries, but a new lease on life meant nothing to her. She hadn’t spoken to anyone for a month and even after recuperating she remained silent and aloof. For Avni life had stopped the moment Varun had died.
After Varun’s accident, Aakash was so disturbed that his parents decided to send him to the States for further education. His first year abroad was a nightmare, but as painful as it was, he had to accept that his friend was gone and would never come back. Varun’s death made him realise that he could take nothing for granted. He now cherished his family and friends all the more and was grateful for every single thing in his life. When he came back from the states, he saw that Avni was still stuck in her past. She was unable to move on and that troubled him. But he was determined to help her to love, laugh and live…… again.
Aakash woke up early the next day, changed into his running gear and made his way to Avni’s home instead of the park. He saw her sitting on her bed and staring out of the window. She looked unbearably sad and fragile and Aakash felt a sudden urge to take her in his arms and comfort her. Annoyed at this sudden thought, he mentally kicked himself and cleared his throat before knocking on her door.
“Hey Avni! How have you been?”
She looked at him and tried to say ‘I’m fine’ but she couldn’t bring herself to say the words that she herself didn’t feel. She looked away as her eyes filled with tears.
“I know these last two years haven’t been easy on you Avni, but that doesn’t mean that you have the right to behave in such a selfish manner.”
“Selfish? What do you mean?”
She stared at Aakash in bewilderment while he continued to look at her in anger.
“Do you have any idea what your mother had to go through because of you? She is constantly worried about you and still you continue to turn a blind eye to her suffering. Your stubbornness to live in mourning has made your mother sick with worry. Can’t you see that!”
Her eyes flashed with anger and she leapt out of her bed in one swift move.
“How dare you call me selfish! You have no idea what it means to lose someone you love…”
“Varun was like a brother to me and I loved him too, but that doesn’t mean that I stop living my life. Do you think crying and mopping around all day will bring him back?”
“Aakash I don’t want to talk about this anymore. Just leave!”
“Fine. I’m going. But if you think you’re not selfish then prove it. Meet me outside the park in fifteen minutes.”
He turned on his heel and strode out of the room.
‘What the hell! Why should I go!’ she thought bitterly. I don’t need to prove anything to him. Frustrated she threw a pillow on the floor and then headed for the bathroom.
As she started jogging in the park she felt the breeze on her face and the warm rays of the sun on her back. After a long time she felt a genuine smile tugging at her lips. It felt good to run and with every step she took she felt lighter. When her legs began to protest she slowed down to a jog and then sat down on a vacant bench. She didn’t want to come, but Aakash’s open challenge and arrogance angered her so much that she decided to put him in his place for good. But, she had to admit that coming to the park had actually made her feel good. She scanned the crowd and saw Aakash running. He had changed. He was no longer lanky but fit with an athletic built. He was a very quiet guy and shy too, but now….. he was the complete opposite and little annoying too, she added as an afterthought with a smile.
From across the park, Aakash saw Avni looking at him. Her hair was wind-blown and loose strands hung around her heart shaped face. Her cheeks looked flushed but it had a healthy glow. His heart gave a little lurch as their eyes connected. Earlier he had goaded her on purpose because he wanted her to react. He knew that if he challenged her, she wouldn’t back off. Making her angry had paid off and now…. after making her smile, he was determined to make her laugh.
To be continued…<3