“Can I ask you something?” he said with a look in his eyes she couldn’t decipher.
“Of course. Go ahead,” she replied shyly, twirling a strand of hair carelessly with her fingers.
They were seated on the grass by a lake of clear, blue water. It was one of the many treasures they had discovered on one of their evening walks in the outskirts of Mumbai. The sun was a fiery orange ball hanging low in the sky, its reflection setting the water of the lake on fire.
His hand inched closer till it rested on her palm. His fingers curled around her hand as he turned to look at her. “Is it wrong if I sometimes feel sad that I am not your first love the way you are mine?”
She looked at him for a moment and then smiled. It was one of those carefree smiles that made his heart fill with love and warmth. “Varun, you are an idiot,” she said, turning her hand over in his palm so he could feel his engagement ring on her finger. “If it weren’t for all those men I dated in the past, maybe I wouldn’t have valued you as much.”
“What do you mean, Sonali?” he asked, a look of confusion on his dimpled face.
“It is because I have had my heart broken in the past, that I know how rare and precious it is to have a partner who genuinely cares for your needs. It is because I have had men dismiss my opinion before that I know how important it is to have a partner who values your point of view and considers you an equal. It is because men have called me ‘fat’ and ‘unattractive’ in the past, that I know now how trivial the shape of my body is in front of someone who loves me truly for who I am and not what I look like.”
The light of the setting sun reflected in Varun’s eyes, making them twinkle like the brightest stars she had seen. His smile was radiant and he gave her hand a little squeeze. “Tell me more. I am loving it.”
“You narcissist! You’re always fishing for compliments,” she joked and ruffled his hair. He closed his eyes at the comfort of her familiar touch. “It is because of the standards you have set, Varun, that if I got the chance of dating my exes again, I wouldn’t even give them a second thought.”
“You really mean that?” he asked, his eyes filled with hope.
“Of course. I wouldn’t be impressed with the effort they put into the relationship, with what they brought to the table and what they were prepared to give up to keep me in their lives. In fact, Varun, now that I have known you, I can’t ever date anyone who is any less than you.”
“But what if someday you find someone as good as or better than me?”
“There is already someone as good as you, Varun,” Sonali said in a serious voice.
Varun felt his heart sinking, suddenly filled with fear. “What are you talking about, Sonu?” he asked, using the name he called her during their most intimate moments.
“Yes, see? Isn’t he almost as good as you?” she said, pulling out her phone and showing him the camera.
And in that sun-kissed selfie she clicked right then, Varun’s blush and the look of happiness on his face was captured for eternity.
Author’s note: If you liked what I write, you can give my book a read. It is called “What did Tashi do?” and is a spine-chilling suspense thriller focussing on cybercrime in the Indian context. The initial reviews have been awesome and almost everyone who has read it has said they couldn’t keep the book down once they started reading. And to top it all, it is rated 4.9/5 on Amazon India.