“The sea returns whatever it takes from you “– that’s what people say. And that’s what Aman believed in the last days of his life.
Aman – 28 years old, a scholar from IIT and an MBA from IIM- A, had everything in life. He was smart, educated, rich, had a great job at a foreign bank, and was the most eligible bachelor in town. But above all, he had Avantika – his childhood love. For him, she was the most beautiful girl on the face of the universe. They were family friends and their relation dated back to almost more than a decade. It was the kind of love story which is written in Heaven.
“Avantika – short, plump and innocence personified.” Aman thought.
He sunk his feet deep into the sand and felt them escape through his toes as the waves retreated.
This was the very place where he saw her last, heard her voice for the last time, felt her warmth and smelled her tears. This was the place where he had promised her that they would meet again – in some other world …
The thoughts came gushing along with the waves. Each wave brought a fresh memory along with it, her contagious smile, her kohl eyes, her frizzy hair, her tantrums, her agony, her death.
“Huh!” Aman let out a deep sigh.
“How could I ever forgive myself?” he questioned himself.
Everything was the same. The sea, the coconut tress, the hotels, the star studded skies, the smell of dried fish – Everything but Avantika!
One mistake of his and things changed like day changes to night.
Aman was in USA for work. It was in the month of January, last year. He was almost freezing to death, with the mercury plumetting down to -13.
He picked up his cell phone and managed to dial a number with his numb fingers, which he felt had been cut off from his hands.
“Hey Aman!” answered a girl in an American accent.
Well, that was Christine, the only good friend cum guide, Aman made on his 3 months official tour.
“Hey yourself, Chrrr-istine” Aman stammered. “How do you guys survive here?” he asked.
“We drink silly, silly!” Christine jeered back.
“So, what are you waiting for? Come over to my apartment and don’t forget to bring the thing which keeps you guys warm” Aman stammered again.
That was it, a small private party, music, wine, popcorn, a movie and then - THE MISTAKE.
Next morning, Aman woke up with a heavy head but was still feeling warm. It was a clear morning. Christine was gone, but had left a note.
“Sorry Aman, it should never have happened.” The note almost shouted out the truth.
The entire night replayed itself clearly in his mind and Aman’s lungs filled with guilt. All of a sudden, he couldn’t breathe.
“Oh! Avantika” he gasped.
He picked up the phone and dialed her number.
“Hello” Avantika answered in her sleep.
“I love you baby” Aman said almost choking and fighting his tears back.
“Baby, its 2.00 am in India”
“Oh! Right, I just wanted to tell you that I love you”
“I love you too honey. I need to sleep, have an early morning presentation”
Aman tried to hold back his tears with all his might. He knew that Avantika had this magical ability to read his mind, even if he sat on some other planet in some other galaxy.
And under no circumstance, could he succumb.
“Good night, honey, see you soon” Aman switched off his cell phone.
That day, he decided that he would never mention this to Avantika. She would be shattered, and the thought of losing her was already shattering him to pieces.
“Ouch!” something pricked him.
A crab was biting his toe. May be even the crab was trying to bring him back to the present. Tears rolled down his cheeks.
“I have killer her” he shouted to the sea.
“I gave it to her, gave her the virus”
“Take me to her please”
He shouted at the top of his voice.
The sea seemed to respond back. The sizes of the waves doubled.
“Why did you take her away? She didn’t even know anything about it” Aman sobbed.
Aman clenched the sands in his fist with all his power. But, he was drained off all of it. The sand escaped from his hands, just like Avantika escaped from his life.
He was in the last stage fighting against the deadly virus. A year back he was detected HIV positive.
But he had already passed it to Avantika and pushed her towards death by then.
Aman plunged his hands inside his shirt, and slowly pulled it out - A picture frame.
Avantika was smiling through it as Aman was trying to make a funny face.
Her smile was infectious, he always thought. The smile which had swept him off his feet, which could make his heart stop beating, which became so difficult for her during her last days.
She loved the sea. She used to say that the sea had its special song for everyone and for every mood.
“Listen to the song of the sea” she would tell Aman during their happy days.
She wanted to die here – on this beach. That was her last wish
“Don’t let me die in a hospital room” she had pleaded to all.
“Please let me watch the waves, smell the salt, hear the song of the sea while I end my journey” she requested Aman, when he tried to protest.
And just before breathing out her last breath, she had shut all her pains in her eyes and just had one question written all over her face- distorted with lesions.
He bowed his head and looked into the picture. A tear dropped on her smile.
“I hope you have forgiven me by now” Aman spoke through his tears.
“I’m coming to get you my baby” he said firmly.
He rested the photo frame, face down on his chest and lied down on the sand.
The waves washed over him……. The sea sang its last song.