Author’s Note: Catch Part 1 Here
Seema had a new spring in her step when she accosted the two little brats to the park the next morning. She was trying her best to ignore the glaring reason why. Embarrassed at her own reactions, she fought her natural impulse to glow and be happy. On their own accord that morning, her hands had picked a particularly beautiful saree. Her hair, which was normally tossed into a bun was arranged with more care that morning. She was aware of the few stares she received from family, overinquisitive neighbours and friends alike.
Ajay had one tot holding each of his hands and found himself wanting to skip and trot just like they did. The city looked different today. More welcoming, more loving. The bitterness was receeding and he wasn’t sure that was a good thing at all. What of Antara? And yet, a small voice inside him was saying this is what even Antara would have wanted. For him to find a way to be happy even without her. She certainly had not meant to leave him sorrowful for the rest of his life. As the kids ran towards the sandbox, Ajay settled on his favourite bench with his book. His eyes yearned not for the rest of the story in the book, but for the new story forming in his life. Like a fragrant rosebud that was blooming very slowly to turn into a beautiful rose, his life was slowly unfolding new possibilities. Would he even have the courage to take that first step? Just then, he gasped. His eyes and breath made the connection well before he did.
Seema strolled into the park with the kids practically pulling her arms off their sockets. She gently calmed them down and they ran off to join the other kids playing. From the corner of her eye, she spotted Ajay sitting in his usual place. She almost laughed aloud at the absolutely comical look on his face. He looked stunned as soon as their eyes met. She abandoned her park bench and resolutely walked towards him just as he drew himself up to walk towards her. They both smiled at each other and laughed knowingly. Seema sat herself a full seat’s distance away from Ajay. As they watched the tiny tots play, the two strangers took small steps to get to know each other.
A Week Later…
Ajay and Seema had settled into a comfortable routine now, one that Ajay found to be the highlight of his day. He knew it was Seema’s too, although neither had yet found the courage to delve any deeper into this very pleasant and unexpected phase in their lives. Today, he intended to change their lives for the better.
Seema interrupted a very pensive Ajay’s thoughts, “Hi Ajay, is everything ok? You look very tense.” Ajay looked up from his reverie and realised he was so busy planning a future with Seema that he didn’t even notice she had arrived!
“Seema, you might want to sit down first. I really need to talk to you…” Ajay began
Seema laughed, and Ajay heard chimes going off, his heart missed a beat, “Ajay, isn’t that what we’ve been doing this past week. Talking away! Why would I need to sit down for that? I must say I’ve enjoyed your company this past week. I never know where the time went and it’s time to take the kids back home.”
“Seema, what if I said I want to keep you company for the rest of my life? And you know that I am not talking about an hour in the park.” Ajay inched closer to Seema as he said this, his body seeking the warmth and comfort that he now knew he yearned for. The distance of a seat separating them slowly vanished. Ajay longed to take Seema’s hand in his and assure her of his commitment and resolve. But he was aware of the public nature of the park and the kids playing just a short distance away. He had to settle for proximity instead.
Seema looked down at her nervous, fidgety fingers. Slowly, she raised her head and looked into Ajay’s eyes. Her own eyes were misted and she was fighting away tears of joy. Ajay read her consent, her fondness for him, her own need for the same comfort and warmth that he sought. Words failed Seema but her eyes said it all.
“Seema, this might sound old-fashioned, but I need to hear it from you. Do you feel the same way too? Is this really happening?” Ajay’s words fluttered in the air like many birds taking flight all at once.
Seema nodded her head, slowly at first but then quite firmly. Ajay could no longer help himself. His hand sought Seema’s and they fiercely held hands, not willing to let go, now or ever.
Just then both sets of kids came running from the sandbox for their snack break.
“Grandmaaaaa, Grandpaaaa” they yelled
Ajay looked over at Seema, his wise and gentle eyes twinkling, even at this age a tad embarrased to be called a grandfather in front of his girlfriend. Wow, girlfriend! Well, time for a date old boy… he thought.
“Hi kids! Did you have a good time? What do you say we all go out for icecream today?” He included Seema’s grandkids as he said this and all four tiny tots jumped up and down.
“Who can say no to icrecream?” laughed Seema.
“Our first date” whispered Ajay.
Neither voiced the next thought in their head.
Author’s Note: Catch the conclusion of Seema and Ajay’s love story on Valentine’s Day!