He sat there with legs dipped not in the sea but on the stones. They looked so differrent like 'starfish' and he loved the coolness they were offering to his tired body. It was a long day full of fuss. He hates his boss for making his life hell but it already had been so since Parampara, a girl he loved truly and honestly, deserted him. He sometimes sits here and wonder what turns his life would have taken had she been still there. He keeps imagining how it would have felt to come back home to her everyday but she is gone. She never gave a reason or even said a word ..just left.. and he had never forgiven her for that. And for some reason his thoughts are wandering to her today no matter how hard he tried not to think about her she was on his mind all day. Suddenly a ball hit him at the back of his head, annoyed, he turned to look for the one who is making his already bad day, worse. He stopped dead with his breath held as he saw a kid of 5 standing right behind him with his big beautiful eyes drenched in fear and concern. He looked oddly familiar like a shade of his own reflection, "I am hallucinating", he thought.
"May I have the ball please?"
He smiled, how Parampara would always correct him in the use of can and may. As he handed away the ball to him he tried to strike a conversation but the child shies away.
Damn he would recognize this voice even in his death and the way she used to call his name. Is she here??...for him?? No can’t be, he had not seen her in 5 years. The last he knew of her was when she walked out on him. He could see her faint outline at a distance. He held his breath as she walked closer to him.
"Mom", the child sucked in his breath, and that shook him off back to reality.
He felt disappointed she wasn't here for him. He saw in awe as the child ran back to her, held her hand and literally dragged her back to him. She was so obviously surprised. They kept looking at each other like they both have seen ghosts.
"Mom, may I please make castles on the beach", the kid pleaded.
"Okay but don't you dare mess up your clothes".
"Okay mom", he smiled and she ruffled his hair.
"Mom", he said in a mocking annoyed tone as he ran his fingers into his hairs to comb them back.
This gesture again oddly reminded him of himself. She kept looking at the child as he ran away off her vision and he kept looking at her trying to ascertain he ain't daydreaming. She was a bit uncomfortable. She knew he has questions to ask. He was feeling different sort of discomfort. He felt a tug at his heart like someone is squeezing breath out of his air tunnel. He felt a deep something inside and wasn’t sure if it is hate or love.
"How are you?" Her voice was still as husky as he remembered.
"Alive" he said hoarsely.
An odd silence spread between them.
"Why don’t you visit my home day over coffee?", so she still remembers he is a coffee lover.
"Okay, how about coming saturday?".
"okay, I must get back to my son, siddharth, you have met, she pointed in the direction he went few minutes ago".
He inquired about her discreetly just out of curiosity. He was guilty pleased to find she is a single mother, ’looks like the man she left him for deserted her too’ he thought.
Saturday came crawling. He was told to wait for a while, as she is out with her son for a walk. He took his time going around in the aesthetically decorated home, the hall downstairs and 3 rooms upstairs, her bedroom, her son’s bedroom and a room that was locked. He wondered what’s in there. He heard some noises and hurriedly came back down. She looked flushed and her son was getting doubled laughing over something. They made a lovely sight to see. She abruptly stopped as she spotted him. She sent the kid upstairs as she asked me to wait till she makes the coffee. He had always loved her coffee. He strayed into kitchen after a while. They talked about their lives...caught up on past...never once she mentioned any other man in her life.
“Parampara”, he said in hushed voice. She knew what was coming, "Why did you leave me? and where is the father of your child?"
"I thought you must have figured out by now".
He gasped as the realization struck him.
"Oh My God! How dumb I have been. No wonder he reminded me of myself in so many ways. He is my son."
"Why then?" he asked almost suffocated with pleasure.
"Because you were not ready".
She had asked me playfully how do I feel about being a father. I went into a rage at her question ink and had asked her not to think about it even in jokes. She had gone absolutely still and no conversation took place anytime later till he went to office. And by the time he came back she was gone.
"But I had limited resources then...I wasn't ready to run a family...I wasn't ready to marry you let alone have a child".
“I know, she said in a subdued understanding tone, "I didn’t want to be a burden on you, and I wanted to keep our child so I decided to walk out on you I...", she turned back only to see him sitting on his knees, holding in hands a ring he had been wearing.
"I have one more question, Will you marry me?"
She couldn't have said no.