The Following is a Short Story of a person who realizes what a Testament really means. Short, sweet and crisp.
In the stillness of the night, a single candle stood flickering on the table, with a parchment on its side. The candle burned slowly, its wax collecting on the table top, a few drops of it falling at the end of the parchment, blissfully unaware of the tedious passage of time….
I woke up with a start, beads of perspiration glistening on my forehead and I anxiously waited for my eyes to accommodate to the darkness. Relief coursed through my veins as I witnessed her peaceful form sleeping. I stretched forth my hands to feel her heaving bare back to make sure of her presence. If only I could relive all of those moments, the first meeting, Ananya’s “come hail or high water attitude”, her million dollar smile, her decisive mind, her persuasive look that makes my heart melt, the hurried, hesitant first kiss that I stole from her on a rainy day in an inconspicuous shack…
I sat up in bed looking straight into the wall in front of me. It is so much easier to break down obstacles that physically prevent you from reaching your aim than having shackles that mentally hold you back. The calmness of the night did not comfort me, instead the eerie silence unsettled my mind as though it was forcing me to set my focus to the very things I was trying to shake off.
I slid off the bed, put on my tracks and made my way to the other room for a glass of water. It seemed to be a little after midnight. Various questions, possibilities perhaps even wishful thinking played their way into my imagination which I consciously put a stop to after a luxurious moment of fancy. As I started heading back, I noticed the candle along with the letter, sitting on the table, its grim, sprawling handwriting looking back at me as if it was an old wise man preaching to the world of troubles, only he could foretell..
Now I take up the letter again slowly, unwillingly as though it would vanish into thin air if I gave it enough time. A humourless smile came to my lips as I considered the idea of casting the letter to the winds. Yes, perhaps I could destroy the letter and as liberating as it would be, it wouldn’t change the contents of the letter, nor would it change the thinking behind it. It had to be done tonight. The decision had to be made. I lit a cigarette from the pack and after taking a long puff, sat down to execute the task at hand.
I remember when you were a small child, you always wanted to go out to the most concealed spaces and sit there trying to bang music out of anything that was available. Today, those times have paid off. Your dedication at the music school has opened up many avenues for you…”
Music School. That was where I had met her. She was falling over one of the student’s instruments. God, she always knew how to make an entrance. Those jet black locks falling over her eyes that she continually tucked behind her ears with her finger. Her expressive eyes immediately captivated me and I stood there listening to her enthusiastic self, not knowing what to say.
“…Your Ma and I have so many dreams for you. Remember when you sat in the swing tied from that Banyan tree? You would stand on the swing and laugh your lungs out until you saw your ma’s mehendi covered hands and ran off to her. I never quite understood your obsession with its aroma…”
A memory from the night before flashes across my mind. Your beautiful mehendi adorned fingers tracing the nape of your neck..you standing with your back towards me. I go over to you and put my arms around that irresistible curve of your waist while planting a soft kiss on your shoulder. I wish I could forever rest my chin there and cast my worries into the oblivion.
“..With every passing day you are moving closer to your dream but your recklessness is pulling you away from it. Don’t throw away your life over decisions that you will regret later on. You need to make your mark on the world and for that you need capital. My millions of dollars, all my property and all my estates, they all belong to you. For the sake of all those memories we spent together, think it over, I will bequeath all my wealth in your name and you know just how much a struggling artist needs it. You will have my support at every step. All you have to do is forsake this futile whim of yours. You have until tomorrow. All this could be yours if only you would..”
If. That was the word that hung in the balance. That is the ultimatum my father had given me. Even in his death he had not relinquished the hold he had had on me, fighting to dictate my actions with the last remnant of agency that he had. I had not seen him in the past five years. The differences were becoming too much to bear and I had to leave. I had presumed that matters would get better with time but my father clung to his obstinacy and I refused to choose.
But now, the vulnerability of my position disturbs my mind. My last vestige of hope died with his refusal to understand my love for her. Since the day he turned down the look of utter supplication on my face, I knew that the events would lead to a moment like this when I would have to set my priorities straight. I smiled at the very ironic choice of words. I needed the financial back up but more than that I needed someone to stand by me and be ready to go with me through it all. Something that despite all his power, he had not been able to give me ever since I confessed to him. Confessed? No, not confessed. When I revealed my love for Ananya to him.
He failed to understand that my love for Ananya was not a flight of fancy or a reckless decision nursed as a hobby. I cherish the memories I have had with my family but now she is the one who can hold my hand as I take my precarious steps into the world of music. We can be each other’s pillar of strength and pave the way for our futures in accompaniment. But if I stay with her I lose my father’s property and possibly get a reputation that, in India, will be difficult to overrule.
I look at the candle, it is almost finished, about to become level with the table…
I look across to the bed where Ananya rests calmly. A gentle breeze plays wistfully at her black hair..her sleepy eyes open lazily and as they focus on mine she gives that million dollar smile. Those deep pools of mystery captivate me yet again but just then a golden ray hits me in the eye reflecting off a crystal in the room. The dawn has arrived and just before the candle burns out I can swear I see the flicker going steady.
Difficult to overrule yes. But not impossible.
I make up mind regarding the problem that I was pondering over the previous night. It was then that I realised that it was never really a choice. One was a luxury. And the other, a necessity. I then smiled at Ananya who had gotten up and was getting the breakfast table ready, and before I left to help her, I scribbled down a letter to the lawyer in my firm hand.
Respected Mr. Gupta,
I have come to understand through my father’s letter, that you are the lawyer whom I am to inform of my decision. I have resolved to continue my life with my partner Ananya. I am aware of the financial implications of this decision and wish to reassure you that, given time, wealth might knock twice at your door, but love doesn’t.
(Daughter of Mr.Kailash Upadhyay)
Oindrila Gupta is a student of Delhi University with a passion for Literature and her hobbies include music and dance. Apart from this, she is also a voracious reader and hopes to establish a career as an editor some day. Meanwhile she finds joy in little things and strives to make an impact through her writings in order to touch whatever lives she can.