Happy at having reached a decision she went and joined her parents in their room; wanting to spend a few moments with them while she still had the time. She found them poring over her childhood albums and were passing comments on and laughing at many of the photographs. She stood outside their room and kept watching them – how comfortable they were with each other, how every moment spent together they cherished, hoping every day of their life she and Milan could share the same camaraderie, she walked into the room.
She could make out from the warm expression on her parentsâ€™ face that they were already missing her; and she had come to announce her decision to them. How would they react when she told them everything, it was beyond doubt that they would be happy for her, but they would hide their pain of being separated from her beneath the layer of happiness that she had chosen her own path.
As soon as they saw her standing by the door, they lovingly called her in and asked her to sit in between them; this was her favourite place in the whole world â€“ her mom caressing her hair and her dad holding her hand while listening to her nonstop talking. In a way for her parents she still was a child; her mom loved to do her hair, cook and feed her while her dad used to show his love in ways that was special to him. When walking on the road, Mr. Menon would always hold his daughterâ€™s hand, afraid that she might trip over a stone or run away onto the road on seeing some shiny new vehicle. Asha loved it when her parents showed their care in such manners even though she was now going to be a wife herself. Like her mom always told her, she would always be their baby no matter how old she was.
Looking at all the pictures in the album brought about such a wave of nostalgia that all three of them tried very hard to put on a brave face and hide their tears, but failed miserably at it. They shed silent tears, no words could describe what each of them was feeling. Such was the mix of emotions â€“ happiness, fear, grief and pain â€“of separation, of growing up, of dreams that were broken and fulfilled â€“ that it could not elicit even one word from the family that was known so much for their constant chattering. Â They knew, this day would come ever since her birth, yet it was such a painful truth that they decided on the best way to tackle it, silently swallow the pain each one was going through and be the pillar of support for the other one.
It was Milan again. She had been expecting his call. She moved out to the balcony and sat down amidst her potted plants. He, as was his habit, began the call by asking her how she was. There was a certain pattern to his phone calls, he began by asking how she was and the last bit of conversation before she hung up would be whether she was happy, every time. It was weird, but sweet too.
She told him that he would have to start looking for a good apartment at Michigan, and told him about the offer she had from Bharat Jagaran. Milan sounded excited at this. She, coyly said, that she had always wanted to go for a honeymoonâ€¦before she could finish the sentence, he replied â€œat Venice!â€
What!! How? She had never told him; then how come he had guessed; Asha was surprised. As if sensing her amazement, he continued, â€œThe essay that got you the first prize for in the inter school fest, the one about Venice and the gondolas and canals, Iâ€™d read it when it was published in the school magazine.â€
â€œIs there anything that you do not know about me?â€
â€œActually yes, but very little. Donâ€™t you worry sweetheart, I will learn that too in no time.â€
â€œAnd here I am, I do not know what colour you like, what food you love, what you are allergic to and what..â€
â€œFor that, you have the entire lifetime dearâ€ Milan interrupted her again.
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