They were standing on the terrace. It was 10:45pm. It was Diwali. They were staring at the bright firecrackers lighting up the night sky. Blue, red, green, pink, much like the Northern Lights or the aurora borealis. Somewhere in the house a song played on the laptop.
“Oceans apart, day after day. And I slowly go insane…”
She broke the awkward silence between them.
“Look at the sky. It looks….beautiful.”
“Yeah. Just like you.”
“…If I see you next to never, how can we say forever?,” sang the laptop.
She was the first to speak once more.
“So, how do you find the schools in USA?”
“Fine. They are actually very good. All up-to-date techniques of teaching and learning. Sessions are very interactive. One drawback though,” he said with a frown.
“You. You aren’t there.”
“…I will be right here waiting for you.”
“We could have been together.”
“I know…it was my mistake.”
“Not only you. It was both of us. We refused to look beyond the little worlds of our own. You thought that India was dying and staying here would be useless. And-”
“And you thought that India was rich. Rich with culture, rich with heritage.”
“I still have the same idea.”
“Who said that my idea has changed?”
A tear rolled down her cheek. He wiped it away.
“…I taste the tears. But I can’t get near you now.”
The children below were creating a huge commotion.
“You! You will never change. You and your stupid ideas. India has always been my place. It will always remain my place.”
“I will never change? I was the one to change. I managed to leave this claustrophobic country with all its narrow mindedness…unlike YOU.”
“You’re hopelessly stubborn. You’ve always been.”
“I have been hopelessly stubborn in loving you, all these years.”
“…But in the end if I am with you, I’ll take the chance.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
“…Whatever it takes. Or how my heart breaks…”
“Let us go down now and have our dinner.”
“Yeah, sure. Let us go.”
As soon as they went down, two guilty faces came out from behind a huge box. The girl said,
“We shouldn’t have listened to Mummy’s conversation with Uncle. I always thought they were just best friends, nothing more.”
The neighbour’s son was with her. He said,
“I know. It is very sad. But…”
“Yes, I know what you are going to say. I still won’t go to USA with you. You go and make your career. Leave me over here to be like Mummy. Just, go.”
“I wasn’t going to say that. I…I reconsidered my decision while listening to them. I’m not going. I’ll make my career here, in India, with you. He made a wrong choice. I won’t. Every man for his country! If all the Indians go and settle down there, it is going to get damn overpopulated. So, I have decided that I am gonna stay here and increase the population of India with you helping me.”
Her face was radiant with happiness. She said,
“You mean it! I’ll only be too happy to oblige!”