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Crossing the Mirage - Passing through Youth
While Nithya bowed her head narrating her tale of woe, Chandra glued his eyes on her. When she finished, as she looked at him to gauge his response, he bestowed her with his caressing look of love. Overwhelmed, she cried for the empathy he evoked in her.
“Oh, God,” Chandra said in sorrow, “how sad!.”
“What to do when someone deceives you?” said Nithya sighing. “See what a mess I'm in now!”
“So you want to get aborted?”
“Why don't you help me?” she clutched his hand involuntarily. “I've no clue how to go about it.”
“I value your trust in me,” he said placing his on hers, “as much as I value you. But is abortion a solution?”
“Tell me,” she said helplessly, “what else can I do now?”
“Why, life has a way of shadowing problems with opportunities,” he said looking into her eyes tentatively.
“Having undone my life,” she said with a sense of rejection, “what opportunity can I possibly have now?”
“Marriage, for one.”
“Are you joking or what?”
“Why,” he said, “won’t you like to put this all behind and get on with your life?”
“But even then I need this abortion, won’t I?”
“You could abort the child,” he said as his tone drew all the empathy his heart felt for her, “but would you be able to get rid of your guilt?”
“Aren’t you scaring me even more?”
“Oh no,” he said taking her hand, “you know I wish you well. Why not see what the options are and their likely impact upon your life.”
“Thank God, at least, I’ve chosen a friend well,” she said in admiration. “Please be my friend, philosopher and guide.”
“Thanks for the offer and know it's accepted,” he said in all happiness.
“Wonder how you make me feel relaxed!” she said. “Now tell me what the solution could be.”
“Well, we'll go through the options for you to arrive at the solution,” he said. “For one, you can get aborted and marry someone on the sly.”
“Right or wrong,” she said bowing her head, “that’s what girls in my situation do, don’t they?”
“Well, that’s the only option available for the most of them,” he said endearingly. “But it’s not the case with you.”
“How is it different with me?”
“Before we come to that,” he said in the manner of counselling her, “why not visualize the pitfalls of marriage on the sly? Won’t your conscience prick you if you marry by hiding your past?”
“I haven’t thought about it so far,” she said and paused for a while. “Oh, I'll surely suffer from qualms all my life.”
“What's worse, what if Vasu blackmails you?” he said as softly as he could so as not to raise her fears. “If you give in, won't it tell upon your conscience, and if not, what if he makes your man privy to your past? Wouldn't it be like between the devil and the deep sea?”
“Oh, God!” she cried. “Looks like I’ve made myself vulnerable forever. What am I to do now?”
Shaken to the core, she looked at him for support.
“What if you reveal all to the prospective groom?” he said sounding as detached as possible from the proposal. “Won’t you clear your conscience and block the blackmail as well?”
“You know the premium you men put on wife's virginity,” she said as though she was discounting the idea. “And that being the case, who would want to marry me?”
“Maybe,” he said, “but widowers and divorcees could be less fussy about virgin brides.”
“But how am I to explain my unusual preference to my parents?” she said, “Well, even if someone marries me still, he might put me under probation till I’m fifty, if not longer. Also, my confession to all and sundry might scandalize me by word of mouth. Oh it’s no less risky.”
“Well,” he said, “it's a possibility.”
“Oh, am I destined to remain unwed all my life,” she said with a sigh, “for just a misstep in youth? How cruel has life become for me!”
“I see a way out my friend,” he said as he readied to bare his heart.
“Me marrying a eunuch!” she said with a weary smile in spite of her situation as her sense of humour ensured it.
“Well, the next best,” he said and laughed in half jest.
“Jokes apart…,” she began eagerly.
“I’m not joking.”
“Oh, come on.”
“Why not marry me?”
“But why should you” she said a little taken aback, “after all that?”
“I’ve my own reasons,” he said seeing hope, “love being the foremost.”
“I think it’s absurd.”
“Is it because you don’t fancy my looks?” he said and looked disappointed.
“Oh, no!” she said taking his hand, “what my looks have brought me but misery!”
“If you can turn blind to my looks,” he said nevertheless, “you would find me charming in every way.”
“You’re only compounding my confusion.”
“Don't think that I’m taking advantage of your situation,” he said in an outpour. “I love you with all my heart and soul. I don’t want to stress upon that because it may not mean much to you now, and for all that you could’ve lost faith in love itself.”
“That’s my tragedy.”
“Don’t worry,” he said confidently, “I’ll make you believe in love all again.”
“You infuse hope,” she said vacantly, “and puzzle me too. Is it not pity at work?”
“On the contrary,” he said spiritedly, “I love your spiritedness. I’ve loved you at first sight and now I’m beginning to admire you. I shall feel lucky if you agree.”
“Looks like I’ve lost my capacity to think,” she said thoughtfully. “Now help me put the thorn away and then give me time to think it over.”
“Why not,” he said mysteriously, “I've the rose with the thorn as well?”
“What do you mean?”
“You know what I mean,” he said with apparent conviction. “I would take you with the child.”
“Oh, but why?”
“Life is a combination of circumstances as Tolstoy put it,” he said as she stared at him in wonderment. “Why not we face the facts, if not for the unwanted child in your womb, you wouldn't have had a second look at me, and but for your handicap, I couldn't have dared of proposing to you.”
“Maybe, but unfortunately, looks do matter in choosing mates.” she said apologetically. “But then, as the saying goes, handsome is as handsome does. I suppose you're well-read.”
“I did savor a few drops of the ocean of ideas, that is, the novel,” he said. “And if only you hear my tale, you would know why I want your child in tow.”
“Of course, I'm curious.”
The story of his life, that he narrated to the last detail, filled every recess of her heart inducing empathy for him.
“What a soul I've met!” she said empathically, taking his hand. “Oh, you've chosen to forego your right to father out of consideration for the unborn! Won't that show your innate capacity for loving?”
“Well,” he said his eyes welling with tears, “I haven't seen it that way.”
“That's the beauty of your soul,” she said touchingly. “I take it as my fortune to become your wife and mother your child. I promise you to give you many lovely children, as many as you want. Go in for the corrective as I get aborted?”
“Oh, how I allowed myself to be mired in the mirage of ugliness,” he said excitedly, pressing her hand. “Know you've led me to the oasis of beauty.”
“In a way, it is the case with me too,” she said holding his hand as though not to lose it ever. “But for you, I would’ve chased the mirage of disaffection all my life. In helping me cross it, you've enabled me to trace the treasure of my life in you.”
“Aren’t we blessed really?” he said and kissed her hand while she felt she had a newborn purpose in her life.
“Oh, what a fortune!” she said in ecstasy.
“It’s my word that you would forever feel loved by me.”
“It’s my promise,” she said in all gratitude. “I shall love you soon enough and value you all my life.”
“I cherish you, Nithya,” he caressed her hand as one would a find.
“I’m proud of you,” she said, kissing his hand.
“Now perhaps,” he said, “it’s my turn to ask you whether sentiment has overwhelmed your judgment.”
“You may check up at the morrow,” she said joyously. “I too have read a little of Shakespeare.”
“A blue stocking of a wife then!” he said with a smile. “And I haven’t bargained for one.”
“When you’re destined to get one,” she said, turning mirthful, “what can be done?”
“Let’s wait till the morrow.”
“No way,” she said naughtily, “if you want to get rid of me.”
By the time they had to part for the day, they turned so close that he insisted he would drop her at her place.
“Goodbye till tomorrow,” she dismissed him as they reached that street corner.
“At three then,” he waved her goodbye.
“Won't I make it on the dot,” she waved back at him.
As he stood rooted with a heavy heart, she reached home in relief. Overwhelmed with joy, that night, they both waited for the fresh dawn with hope.
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