Santhosh was taking his usual evening stroll with his better half. The breeze greeted his slightly greying hair and the hold on his hand got tighter. May be she felt cold or may be she just felt like squeezing his hand that always conveys the same message ‘I love you’.
The man in his early forties looked at his wife. Fifteen years into the marriage and their love was getting deeper every day. With his son studying in a convent, they had the house to themselves and never failed to express their affection openly. Their son who was turning 13 in a few months found it amusing to see his parents still acting like a love struck college couple whenever he was home for holidays.
He looked at his hand to see that hers fit so perfect like a lock and a key. A smile adorned his face as he went down memory lane and found the particular memory from where everything started.
“What are you smiling about?” Neena asked him with her ever so innocent voice.
His smile turned into a full pledged laughter.
“That was the exact question you had asked me 20 years ago!”
20 years ago:
Santhosh and his friends were out on a camping trip for their semester holidays. There was fun and frolic everywhere. That too with the combination of five girls and ten guys, there was endless teasing, endless laughter, endless songs, and endless chats. For a moment Santhosh felt like he was inside a college themed movie where the friends group goes out on a trip and have so much fun within a single song in the background.
But then just one song is not enough for them to express their feelings now.
It was the last day of their camping trip. They will be going back to the harsh reality the next day. Sitting around the camp fire, they were all making small talks. Every single mind sitting around that fire had the same or a similar thought. ‘Do we really have to go back?’
“Hey, I know! Lets play Truth or Dare!” a girl wearing pig tails exclaimed breaking the dark cloud of silence.
Once everyone settled into a small and nice circle, she spins the bottle and it lands between a girl named Sita and Shiva. Sita dares Shiva to dance like a drunken monkey and then the circle goes this way.
At last the bottle mouth settles between Santhosh and the same girl in pig tails.
“Truth or Dare?” she asked him in an almost menacing tone.
“Truth” he says thinking that he could escape from all the embarrassment of the peculiar dares. Little did he know he is going to regret his decision for a long time.
She almost had stars in her eyes as she asked “Who is the unlucky girl that you are crushing on?”
For a moment he felt his throat go dry. His dark secret was going to come out. Shiva was the only one in the group who knows the truth and if he is going to lie, then Shiva will surely blabber it out.
Taking a deep breath he uttered her name ever so lightly “Malar!”
He doubted whether the others were able to hear his name. He saw that the said girl’s eyes had turned into the size of huge saucers. The girl with the pig tails had a big grin on her face and that was the last moment of silence he had in his entire college life.
Every body started teasing these two as Malar ran into the tent and out of the awkward situation.
Soon people started retiring for the night and Santhosh was still sitting there smiling like an idiot. He never noticed a figure coming to sit next to him.
“What are you smiling about?” the chatterbox of the group asked. She asked in such a subtle tone that he was taken aback for a moment.
“Nothing Neena, nothing!” he said still smiling.