Chapter 10

Written by: Tulika Saha

The moment stood suspended in the hot summer evening unrelieved by even a whisper of a wind. A million thoughts rushed through Saumya's mind. His continuous, unfaltering efforts towards hiding his feelings for Gaurav's sake flashed before his eyes. His unequivocal persistence in keeping up with Mahak when he realised that she did not love him, followed. It was like a movie. Oh, how he had planned and waited for this moment! But now he was stunned and speechless. All his well-rehearsed words, refused to come back to him. Instead, funnily it recalled every formula for calculating the amount of load a pillar could take!!

"Go ahead, Saumya," a voice cut through the thick slab of the moment like a saw.

Mahak turned around, her eyes flashing angrily. "I told you not to follow me!"

Saumya looked at her. "What are you afraid of, Mahak? You have loved him for a long time, haven't you? I never did stand a chance. Even without his legs, it will always be Gaurav for you. Yes, I wanted to win you over. But I have no wish to play second fiddle to someone else, not even my best friend.”  He paused, pain clouding his eyes.

“This is your last chance, Mahak to be with the rich and successful Gaurav.”

He gave Gaurav his break on the ski fields and now, although Gaurav could not walk he could still design tourist resorts. He turned to Mahak.

“He can give you all you will ever want.” His banter was tinged with sadness which his friends did not miss.

"Here," he said, holding out the velvet box. "It may not be me who puts it on her finger but the ring is certainly hers!"

"Are you certain, Saumya? I never wanted to get in your way.” Gaurav had known how much Mahak meant to Saumya and couldn't believe his competitive friend was just giving her away.

"Yes, I am. She loves you Gaurav and that’s all there is to it.” He took a deep breath. “I don't want to lose the two of my best friends too!" He held out his arms as they hugged.

"Oh Saumya! I am so sorry!" Mahak said with tears running down her face.

"Now take it before I change my mind! You don’t even have to kneel!"

Gaurav laughed and took the ring from the box held out by Saumya and looked into his eyes one last time. Gaurav smiled. Gaurav turned to Mahak and still in his wheelchair said in the gentlest of tones, "Mahak, will you marry me?"

Mahak nodded ‘yes’ through her tears and holding out her hand.

A gentle wind blew the scent of the juhi into the balcony, encompassing their lives in the same way that Mahak had theirs, throwing out the oppressive air of a few minutes ago. The sound of a speeding bike was drowned out by the cheeping of a tiny baby sparrow in the corner of the balcony.