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Naina supported Aviral in his career. But will Aviral support Naina, at the onset of their marriage, when her dream career is in her reach?
Naina paced the length of her room from end to end. She was anxious, and how couldn’t she be? After all, her wedding was just two weeks away and her fiancé, Aviral had no clue about one of her biggest secrets.
But, not anymore! She was determined to disclose everything to him today. He would understand – every fiber of her being convinced her that he would.
With that thought, her mind suddenly transported her to the initial days of their relationship.
Naina and Aviral had met at college. Polar opposites in nature, they took everyone by surprise when they announced their relationship publicly for the first time.
Naina, a loner, hated being in the limelight. She would always choose a quiet, secluded spot in the classroom, away from the prying eyes of people.
Aviral, on the other hand, was one of the most popular kids at college. He was actively involved in all co-curricular activities besides being extraordinarily bright at studies. An aspiring journalist with powerful oratory skills, he could mesmerize anyone with mere words.
While Naina would always be visibly uncomfortable in the presence of people or when showered with unwanted attention, Aviral basked in the afterglow of the adulation he invariably received.
Whenever he took to the stage, an unusual confidence lit up his face, his body taut and firm, almost as though the people in front of him were his conquests, and he the emperor.
People’s attention fueled him further and drove him to seek more. But, all Naina ever craved for was the comfort of her room where she could be herself without putting up any false pretenses of enjoying people’s company.
Besides that, cooking different recipes everyday was her sanctuary – an activity out of which she derived immense joy.
How two people, with such wildly contrasting ideals about life and people in general, found common ground is a question that bewildered many.
But strange are the ways of the world and stranger the way love merges two hearts into one.
It began with a class discussion when one professor called out Naina’s name to counter Aviral in the discussion. Although reluctant initially, Naina very eloquently refuted all the points brought up by Aviral, surprising everyone, including herself, in the process.
Aviral couldn’t stop thinking about her ever since. He had seen a raging fire in her eyes that day and knew instantly that he had to get to know her better.
But, knowing her nature, he decided to tread lightly and establish a friendship first. Naina was apprehensive in the beginning. But, with Aviral’s persistent efforts, a friendship blossomed which eventually culminated into a relationship.
People initially wrote it off saying it wouldn’t last for more than a month. But, yet again, they surprised everyone when all through graduation and then again masters, their relationship thrived and became stronger.
Through good days and bad, through achievements and upheavals, their faith in each other never wavered.
The only hurdle they had foreseen or expected was convincing their parents for their marriage, thinking it would require herculean effort from both of them.
But, both sets of parents welcomed their decision, having known them and their friendship for years together. Further, by then Aviral had carved a niche for himself in a major publishing house.
And Naina was content being a homemaker… or so everyone thought!
Naina broke out of her reverie as she looked at the laptop screen again. She had been accepted into Culinary Arts Academy, Switzerland for a diploma in Pastry and Chocolate Arts.
For some inexplicable reason, she hadn’t told anyone when she had applied, not even Aviral. She didn’t think she would be accepted in the first place.
Also, it felt weirdly personal, as if it was only hers to share. Aviral had such a vibrant personality with such magnanimous dreams that hers felt much smaller in comparison.
Without undermining the enormity of the situation, she tiptoed into her parents’ room to break the news to them. Her parents exchanged worried glances as she excitedly detailed the sequence of events as they transpired.
After she was done, her mother quietly enquired, “How long is this course? And what does Aviral have to say about this?”
Just when she was about to respond, she saw her phone ringing. It was Aviral.
“Hello, honey! What are you doing?”, Aviral’s jolly voice quipped. In a somber tone, Naina said, “Hi, Avi. Good that you called. I have some news.” “But, don’t worry. It is good news,” she continued.
“What is it? Anything serious?”. The urgency in Aviral’s voice was evident now.
“I got accepted into Culinary Arts Academy, Switzerland for a diploma in Pastry and Chocolate Arts. I have to join 2 weeks after our wedding and I’ll be gone for close to a year,” Naina said, her tone giving away the chaos in her mind.
Her words were followed by an eerie pause, which was suddenly broken by Aviral’s loud laughter. He guffawed for nearly a minute before pausing for a few seconds and continuing again.
“What is it, Aviral? What is so funny?”, Naina continued, trying her best to restrain herself from giving Aviral a piece of her mind.
“You are kidding, right? I mean you cannot go away for a year. That is insane.” Aviral tried to control his laughter as he spoke.
“And why is it insane, exactly?”, Naina was livid by now.
“Oh come on, honey! You know yourself. You cannot survive with so many people. You hate people in general. And who pursues a course in cooking?”
Naina’s parents looked on as her face turned crimson. The more Aviral spoke, the quieter she became.
She finally said, “It is over, Aviral. I was skeptical about being away from you for a whole year. But, I thought you would support my decision as I have always done yours.
“I cannot get married to a person who makes fun of my aspirations. I still cannot believe that it is you I am talking to.” Without further ado, she disconnected the call.
Behind her, her parents stood ashen-faced. Her mother gestured to her father to talk to her. Her father murmured, “Beta, think through your decision carefully. This is a life-altering decision. You might be making a mistake.”
There was a quiet fortitude in her words as she said, “Papa, there are no mistakes, only opportunities.” She looked hopefully into the distance and whispered, “It is finally my time to shine…!”
This short story had been shortlisted from among many, for the September 2020 Muse of the Month contest.
Image source: a still from the film Gunjan Saxena (YouTube)
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HR by profession, but a writer by choice, I find creative respite through writing.
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