It was a pleasant winter evening in a bustling town of Mumbai. While people were enjoying their humdrum life amidst the sounds of rickshaws and horns, Shalmali and Rishabh sat in a not-so-busy but a lovely cafe for tea.

It was a cosy cafe with bamboo chairs and bamboo mats on the floor to sit on. The aroma of tea and coffee was in the air, there was a rack of books in the other corner of the cafe. After ordering peach iced tea for herself and a ginger tea for Rishabh, Shalmali and Rishabh sat in the corner table, looking at each other.

Rishabh winked at Shalmali. She blushed and became more aware of the surroundings now, Rishabh was staring at her and Shalmali broke the silence, “So it’s about time, lover boy!” She chuckled, "I had some of the best time of my life.” She said making a hand gesture.

Rishabh reached out and pressed her hand gently. It was clear that something was bothering him but he was happy to see the sparkle in Shalmali’s eyes.

“Yeah, time to go!” he said, with a sigh, looking down at his tea. He stirred it twice and spoke again, “How are you?”

Shalmali was a little surprised by the question but she said, "I had the best time of my life, baba! What did you expect?” she widened her eyes and said, "I am so happy right now.”

Rishabh looked at her with curiosity and asked her again, “What am I to you?”

Shalmali took a long sip from her iced tea and said “You are a dream! A real dream!”

Shalmali met Rishabh in Bangalore through a dating app when she went for her project work. They exchanged numbers and after quite long conversations over phone calls, they decided to meet up.

Rishabh was an adventurous and fun loving free spirit from Bangalore who had just started to live his life as it was. In spite of being raised by difficulties and hindrances, Rishabh was extremely compassionate and kind. Rishabh’s kindness often got him into a dilemma and troubles a lot of time. Lately, he had been off the track emotionally, which motivated him to travel far away from all the conundrums that had messed up his mind. He needed a break!

Shalmali was rather a matured girl with her own childlike nature. She was from Mumbai. Being raised by a stumbling past, she had a different approach towards life. Filled with her own kind of fire, Shalmali was evidently passionate towards life. She had her own view of living, which amazed people and she was often misunderstood. She had so much love inside her heart but she was afraid no one would understand.

Rishabh’s boyish charm lured her and she kind of grew to like towards him. After meeting Rishabh, she asked him upfront if he was available for a relationship but at that time Rishabh had just gotten out of a relationship and he needed a little peace from complications. He said no to Shalmali which had hurt her back then because she had really connected with this guy. Shalmali had tried to move on.

Since then, they have been talking to each other on and off over the phone. Shalmali came back to Mumbai after four months in Bangalore. Whenever they could, they would spare time to talk to each other about life, current events, their passions and open up about the problems they had. They felt at ease talking to each other, until recently when they started talking frequently and they decided to go on a 3 day trip to Goa.

Rishabh was excited about the idea and Shalmali was thrilled. It had been more than a year since they had met last. There were faded memories but they were rekindling it now. Both of them decide to meet at a commonplace in Goa, Shalmali would come from Mumbai and Rishabh from Bangalore. They had the most intimate time while they were on this trip. Compliments, flirting and stares; they couldn’t get hands off of each other.

It was all Shalmali had dreamt of when she was sixteen. No one had treated her the way Rishabh did. This trip was more of bonding for them. They knew more about each other’s roots and they melted into each other. Like two kindred souls revolving around each other and connecting between sparks. It was the last day of the trip and Rishabh was leaving in about two hours when they were having this conversation.

She pressed his hands and continued, “You know how dreams are! They are beautiful, they are just everything perfect and all that you ever want. Just like a beautiful memory that cannot be caged.” She paused for a while and closed her eyes, “Yes, you are a dream! You are perfect, you are everything I ever want but I do not want to bind you. I do not want to put barriers on you.”

Rishabh was taken aback. It was rather overwhelming for him because nobody had ever expressed themselves this beautifully to him.

He stared at Shalmali and asked her with concern, “Shalmali! Am I hurting you in any…”

“Shhhhhh! don’t speak a word, let me soak in this feeling a little longer.” She cut him abruptly.

After a while, she broke her silence, “Yes, it hurts but what we have here is amazing. It resonates and I am afraid it won’t feel the same if we put complications of expectations and wishes over it. Rishabh! We complain so much about how we don’t have love in our lives but what we had in the past few days was more love than I will ever need. See, love comes in our lives in different forms and this love that we had is the best kind. The love you gave me in the past few days is overwhelming. You have made me feel so special and it shows how much you care about me but I know the moment I would force my emotions on you, it will change. Believe me, baba! I want you in my life forever and I know you are a free bird. I know that you want things in life which are totally different from what I want so let’s just soak in the warmth that we had for a few days. The memories that we created in the past few days are priceless. They are intoxicating and I am still hungover.”

They did not speak for a while. Rishabh was about to board the train when Shalmali hugged him and she whispered, “You are a dream, a real dream!”

Image by Susan Cipriano from Pixabay 

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