“Kedarnath: a tale of travel and love”, Short Story 2 (Part II)

Disclaimer – “This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.”
“Kedarnath: a tale of travel and love” (Part II)
*part I available here
— Day 4 (recap) —
Today is a glorious day and I’ll live it at excellence, with boundless enthusiasm and limitless integrity, true to my visions and with a heart full of love.” (Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s guide to joy)
Being the early one to rise, at around 7 AM I texted in the WhatsApp group informing that I was going outside for a stroll to explore the place we were currently residing in; Ukhimath.
I wandered down the road in front of our hotel and after about half a kilometre, I noticed a trail diverting off from the road into the forest. The adventurous side to me kicked in and I decided to follow the untrodden path. “The road not taken” led deeper and deeper into the dark forest, and after some distance, I was feeling as if I were in the Amazon rainforest. It was so obscure that I wouldn’t know if the sun were overhead. But everything felt so fresh and new, especially after yesterday’s rainfall. Wild flowers of various colours and sizes, epiphytes climbing upon tree trunks, prop roots dropping on the ground from branches like the ones Tarzan used to swing upon. I was captivated.
I was startled when out of nowhere; somebody tapped on my shoulder from behind, giving out a loud scream.
— Day 4 (continued) —
I almost had a fall. Hah! Dear Lord, it was Ananya.
“What are you doing here?” We echoed and gave out a hearty laugh at the scared expression I had on my face.
“I got you scared”, grinned Ananya.
“Yes you did”, I replied.
“Do you want to go ahead?”
“Well, I was planning to. Now that you got me scared, I don’t think I want to”, I replied sceptically.
“Well, I will see you at the hotel then. I am going to dig deeper”, said Ananya.
…Oh, Ananya, Ananya! I hadn’t known this adventurous side to you…I wondered.
Just then, we saw two women carrying water-filled earthen pots on their heads. We enquired from them,
“Where does this trail lead?”
“About half a kilometre ahead, there is a natural waterfall; we villagers fetch water from there”.
I looked at Ananya, she looked at me and we sprinted into action at once as if to see who gets there first.
…Oh, Woman! Is there something you cannot accomplish? What are you? The wonder woman?… I pondered.
In a couple of hundred metres, there was a diversion. I realised that I had lost sight of Ananya in the thick bushes and zigzag trail. I was no Bear Grylls from Man vs Wildto look for signs of her track. Being competitive, I decided to take the trail to my left. When I had the first sight of the waterfall from within the bushes, I rejoiced.
“Yes! I am first”.
But this ‘Yes!’ seemed to have echoed from somewhere inside the forest. It was Ananya, appearing from the other trail leading to the waterfall.
“I reached first”, she argued.
“Oh no no no! I came first”, I rebutted.
“I saw the waterfall first.”
“No, I did.”
“I shouted ‘Yes!’ first.”
“No, I did.”
“I was……”
 “Okay wait”, I interrupted. “Shall we agree that we both reached together?”
“Okay!” She pouted with a sad face.
Man! She had this power of facial expression, the charm that can make you fall for her instantly. It worked on me at least.
“Okay I concede defeat, you reached first,” I said.
“No, I don’t need a pity-win”, resented Ananya.
“It’s not a pity-win. I lied when I said that I had seen the waterfall first.”
“See! I knew it. You could never win from me,” she cheered lightening up.
“Yeah, it seems like I can’t.”
The instant happiness that reflected on her face made the lie worthwhile. She went ahead to dip her hands into the water from the waterfall and there I was, gazing at her again while she bent to wash her face.
“Anukalp?” She called.
“What is it?” I turned my face away at once.
“This water is so warm. Why don’t you come and feel it?”
“Yeah, I’m coming.”
Ananya was right. As I sunk my hands into the water from the waterfall, I felt the warmth. I wasn’t expecting this when the atmosphere was at ten degrees Celsius. The water was fresh, sweet, and warm. Pointing to a rock, Ananya said,
“Let’s go sit there for a while.”
We sat there, enjoying the serenity of nature. There was a poise to the place. A tranquillity.
“Ananya, you know”, I professed, “life is to be lived in the moment. There is a beauty, bliss, energy, and vitality of the present moment. It is always available for those who can see it and experience it. For instance, at this very moment, you can reach out with your awareness and feel this miracle of communication that allows thoughts and ideas to pass between us. There is so much wonder and marvellous beauty right here that cannot be easily put into words and if you were to take in too much at once, you would be hopelessly overwhelmed. Life is about constantly exploring new territories, taking chances, and going places you haven’t been before. It is both easy and exhilarating. As you enjoy the present more and more, you will also find that unpleasant memories no longer affect you; concerns or even fears about future uncertainties no longer paralyse you. You will find that the present is literally a wonderful ‘present’. It is a miraculous gift filled with peace, contentment, energy, and excitement. You begin to realise that the only requirement to be deserving of such a gift is that you must accept it and enjoy it. Some do not even realise it is being offered to them.”
“Woah! I didn’t know you had this philosophical side too. So far I thought you were just some Mr. Pretty-face who only knows how to figure out solutions to practical problems”, said a surprised Ananya.
I giggled at the three straight compliments that I had just received from the woman I was falling for.
“Well, I read sometimes”, I said smiling.
Just when I was about to ask about her love life, she said,
“We should go back. The others must be looking for us.”
“Yeah, yeah, let’s go,” I said as if I wasn’t about to ask something.
We ambled back on the trail together, talking, laughing, teasing, and appreciating the beauty around us. I occasionally threw a cheesy compliment at her, to which she replied just “hmm”.
…..I am not making any progress…..I thought.
In about half an hour, we were back at our hotel. It was 9 AM and everybody was up.
“Where were you love-birds?” Adi teased.
I resented his use of the term ‘love-birds’, Ananya did not.
…….I am making progress……
Ananya and I had decided not to tell others about the waterfall for the time being, lest we should be late for our onward journey. All of us freshened up, had breakfast, and proceeded for the Omkareshwar temple. This temple is the winter seat of the Kedarnath deity. The deity is shifted here for six months during severe winters when the original shrine is covered in snow. Adi and I hadn’t known about this while making bookings for the hotel. It was only two kilometres away.

We checked out at about 11 AM. The owner at “Hotel Dev Darshan” was such a warm and welcoming person. After checking out, we clicked photographs with him and then proceeded towards the temple. Just when we entered the temple, Ananya filled us in on some mythology.

Omkareshwar Temple
“Did you know, the wedding of Usha, daughter of Vanasur, and Anirudh, grandson of Lord Krishna, was solemnised at this temple? It is five thousand years old.”
……There she goes again, wonder woman, beautiful, smart, adventurous and now, knowledgeable……
“What? Five thousand years!” all except me spoke in unison.
“Yes”, came a voice from up ahead.
A man clad in saffron clothes, hair neatly tied into a bun on the top his head, a Rudraksha necklace hanging around his neck, a Karmandaland a stick in his hand, had responded. He began to narrate the story of the temple. Apologetically, I can’t tell you the story. Not because I don’t remember, but because I wasn’t listening to the Sadhu. I was staring at Ananya all this time. By the time he finished the story, Adi caught me looking at her, again.
“Stop it! For God’s sake.”
“What?” I protested in innocence.
“This is a sacred place and look where all your concentration is,” Adi whispered into my ear.
“You know what the problem is; right from childhood, an inflexible system of morality is imposed on our minds. My apologies if it hurts your religious sentiments, but I don’t believe in your logic. Yes, this place is sacred and such places are supposed to be free of evil thoughts. But my thoughts for her are not evil. These emotions, these feelings are just another rational faculty given to humans to be utilised like other faculties. This is not just animal lust we are talking about here.”
“I shall ever try to keep all untruths out from my thoughts, knowing that thou art that truth which has kindled the light of reason in my mind.” (Gitanjali)
“Let’s go inside the temple”, called Deepika from a distance.
“Coming”, I replied.
“You and your logics”, said Adi as we started walking towards the temple.
We paid obeisance to the deities inside the temple, came out in about fifteen minutes, and got to clicking photos. We, humans, have this tendency to save good memories in our mobiles and the bad ones in our minds. Would it not be better if we did the reverse? You might ask me if I didn’t get photos clicked. Of course, I did. I’m a human too!
By now, it was 1 PM and we left for our next destination, Rudraprayag. This is the place where the river Mandakini merges into the river Alaknanda. After reaching there, we climbed down a steep slope, where stairs had been cut into the hill to make way to the point of confluence of the two rivers. What a view it was! Two mighty rivers, both having different coloured water, at different temperatures, now merging to form an even bigger Alaknanda. The pace and volume of the flowing water was a scary sight. It could get the best of any good swimmer.
Ananya’s sense of adventure was contagious; by this time it was all over me. Stairs were leading into the water at the edge where the two rivers confluence. I took off my shirt, folded up my pants up to my knees, and got down into the water, one step at a time. By the third step, the water was touching my folded pants. I remember others shouting at me. But I was too lost, too transfixed, to listen to them. I continued.

The human mind comes equipped with a sixth sense for death-inducing situations. A certain tension was thus digging into my body. My back stiffened and skin rippled. I became hyper-conscious of every detail of my movement. My feet felt as though they were being pulled by an invisible magnet, back to safety. But I fought the magnet. I dragged my feet deeper into the water. When I was about chest-deep in water, my brain started inducing all sorts of unwanted visualisations of tripping and drowning to a choking death. Look at the pace and volume of water, my mind reminded me. Dude, what are you doing? Stop moving. Stop it. I told my mind to shut up and keep inching forward. At neck-deep, my body was into full-scale red alert. My hand and legs shook. As did my voice. The thrill was inducing a heady sense of vertigo and threatened to regurgitate my last meal.

I took a dip into the water. Against the magnet. Against my mind. Against all my better instincts for survival. I felt a sudden urge to cry. I stayed down there for a moment, holding my breath, collecting my thoughts. My body shuddered, the fear became euphoric and blinding. I focused my mind and cleared my thoughts in a kind of meditation.
“Nothing makes you present and mindful like being mere inches away from your own death…….Confronting the reality of our own mortality is important because it obliterates all the crappy, fragile, superficial values in life.” (The subtle art of not giving a f*ck)
The feeling was exhilarating. I could feel the adrenaline pumping through my body. Being so still, so conscious, never felt so thrilling. Then I started coming out of the water, slowly, small steps. My feet became lighter, my muscles eased up a little, and I let life’s magnet draw me in. I was now in ankle-deep water. Filled with ecstasy, my eyes must have been gleaming. It was an experience of a lifetime. Dangerous, thrilling, scary, exciting, adventurous, all at once.
As you can imagine, people were furious at me.
“Are you mad?”
“What were you thinking?”
“Here, take your shirt”, Ananya said chuckling.
But these were side effects of a deeper, more primary lesson. And the primary lesson was this: there is nothing to be afraid of. Ever.
When I had dried up, we left the place to take a small detour to Karnaprayag, a two-hour ride. This is the place where the river Pindar merges into the river Alaknanda. The journey to Karnaprayag was probably the most peaceful leg of our journey. We attended the evening Aarti there.
“More life, my lord, yet more, to quench my thirst and fill me. More space, my lord, yet more, freely to unfurl my being.” (Gitanjali)
The Seven

Later in the evening, we had some fast food and panipuri, preparing ourselves for a four-hour journey to our next hotel. Yes, you read it right! Fast food and panipuri.

Our hotel was booked at Devprayag, the holy site where the rivers Bhagirathi and Alaknanda merge to form the mighty Ganges. Enroute, we were planning a bachelorette for Deepika who was to get married in a month. We were planning to purchase some booze and cake from Srinagar enroute while listening and swaying to the song ‘Jaadu Teri Nazar’ running in the background. As soon as the chorus hit, Thinles, the quietest and coy guy in our group, sprang from the back seat to almost reach the windshield and sang along loudly;
“Tu hai meriiiiii Kiran…!”
He startled us and we burst into laughter.
Well. You know my Kiran.
By the time we reached Srinagar, most shops had closed. It was past 10 PM. The bachelorette plan was a failure. We barely found a restaurant where we could have dinner and then left for our hotel that was still two hours away.
On finally reaching our hotel, at around midnight, we found it closed. Adi and I jumped over the external locked gate and reached the glass door at the reception that had been bolted from the inside. We saw some people sleeping in the hotel lobby and knocked on the door. Nobody responded. After about five minutes of knocking and calling out, I was losing patience. Adi and I were now banging the glass door with loud thuds. We had already paid for the hotel and they were supposed to provide us the service. After another five minutes of loud thumping, a giant bald man came up to the door swearing and told us that they had no rooms available. We told him that we had already made the payment. This is when he calmed down a bit and opened the door. We were finally relaxed, one, that we got a place to stay and two, that we didn’t break the glass with our thudding.
After checking in, however, we found the hotel to be a nightmare. We had booked all previous hotels online and they had turned out to be good. But this one was in a bad shape. Dirty bathrooms, seeping walls, torn quilts, and on the top of it all, mosquitoes. At this hour, we had no option but to stay. We were also tired and wanted to get some sleep.
By 1 AM we dozed off.
— Day 5 —
Out of habit, I was up by 7 AM. Adi was still sleeping, so must have been others. It was dawn; we were in a valley-like space. The sun must have been up, but was not visible from behind the hills. When I stepped into the balcony, what a stunning view it was. Our hotel was on a terrace that had been cut into a hillside. The Ganges was flowing by. One could look at the point of confluence of the rivers Alaknanda and Bhagirathi through the pine trees in the front. Wind was shaking the branches of the trees and one moment, the confluence was visible, the other it was hidden behind the leaves. The aerial distance would not have been more than two hundred metres.
Devprayag from our hotel

The adolescence in me was at an all-time high, inciting me to venture into the wild hillside. I called Ananya and she picked my call, grudgingly, however. I asked her if she wanted to join me down the trek, and adventurous that she was, she readily agreed.

“Splendid! What a view!” She said after coming out.
In about ten minutes, we were trekking down the hill to the banks of the Ganges on a broken trail, having forgotten to wear shoes in excitement, mesmerised by the view.
The temperature must have been around ten degrees Celsius. We were climbing down, one behind the other, and given the broken uncanny trail, we were holding hands, supporting each other. She was leading, of course. I was excited, happy, and amorous. In about fifteen minutes, we were at the banks of Ganges, at a point where we could see the rivers Bhagirathi and Alaknanda merging. We sat on a rock that had been sculptured into a smooth surface by waves rocking the bank for years, still holding hands. From over the rock, we could dip our feet into the water. I was staring into the abyss when I realised Ananya was looking at me. I turned to look at her, and she said smiling sheepishly,
“Do you usually get lost when you are in touch with nature?”
“Yeah, most of the times, yes. Wouldn’t anybody? Nature has this power to attract us. We are a part of it. We just don’t realise that sometimes.” I continued to stare into the oblivion.
After a couple of minutes, she spoke again,
“Relationships aren’t supposed to be a struggle, are they? At least loving someone shouldn’t be a struggle.”
I could see melancholy emerging on Ananya’s face.
“I don’t know, maybe. Maybe not. Maybe relationships are just the right kind of struggles, the struggles we are willing to fight for. But why do you ask?”
“Nothing. I think we should head back”, she replied reluctantly.
Sadness was now almost overwhelming her. I could see it in her gaze.
“Look if you don’t want to tell me what it is about, fine. I won’t ask you again. Just tell me this, do you believe in the afterlife?”
“Okay, at least one reason not to be sad.”
“See, death is very uncertain. One moment we are very much alive, talking; and the other moment when we least expect, we are gone. We might just as well slip into the Ganges and drown as we talk.”
“I know how to swim.”
I chuckled. “Yeah of course you do. My point being, if you are sad, and death cometh, you would die sad.”
“How true!”
“You don’t want to die sad, do you?”
“At least you don’t want to regret dying sad, in your afterlife”, I said tucking a tuft of hair that kept coming to her face behind her ear.
She turned her eyes away. I smiled. She looked back at me and we gazed into each other’s eyes. In the company of morning birds chirping, wind whizzing by the smooth rock beneath us, the Ganges flowing ever so silently in the background, we were lost, our bodies getting closer, eyes closed, still holding hands. My face must have been an inch away from hers when splash! A stone was thrown into the river. We were startled. A bunch of children called out to us. We turned our faces away at once, blushing.
“Hello, brother! Where have you come from?” One of the kids asked.
“Chandigarh. Have you been there?” We joined their group.
“He has not even crossed the Ganges, sir”, said another one.
We all had a hearty laugh. Then the children shared with us some plum-sized yellowish wild berries. They even gave us some to take along. We thanked them and left on the trek uphill, this time in awkward silence. When the silence became unbearable. I asked her,
“Are you okay?”
“Yes, let’s keep going.”
“Is she embarrassed?” I ask myself. “What happened? Did I overstep? I don’t think I did.” So I started singing.
“Ik pyar ka nagma hai,
maujon ki ravaani hai,
zindagi aur kuchh b nhi,
teri meri kahaani hai.”
In another fifteen minutes, we were back at the hotel and everybody was up by now, standing in the balcony, sipping tea.
“Good morning!” Ananya forced a smile.
“Here, have some tea.” Rohini offered.
The problem is that I was finding romantic love as kind of like cocaine. Like, frighteningly similar to cocaine. Like, stimulates the exact same parts of your brain as cocaine. Like, gets you high and makes you feel good for a while but also creates as many problems as it solves, as does cocaine.
“We slept peacefully,” Thinles said.
“Yeah, we couldn’t differentiate the bed sheet from the blanket,” Farhan said.
“Pathetic hotel”, whined Rohini. “I could catch some sleep only by 5 AM, and now we have to leave.”
Yeah, today is the last day and we better get home by dusk. Devprayag to Chandigarh is about an eight-hour journey, give and take, and we had decided the previous night that we would leave latest by 10 AM. So we freshened up, had breakfast, and departed.
A view near Devprayag

One our journey to Kedarnath, we had crossed this place at dusk and had thus failed to appreciate its beauty. But now, nature around was enthralling us. The profound and spooky, yet alluring canyon, running along mountains of differential heights; some lush green and some bare, the river Ganges gliding downhill beside zigzag roads. We were floating in high spirits as the clouds hovered around us.

I was stealing glances at Ananya through the rear-view mirror, again. She was gazing out of the open window, transfixed. There was something about her that kept me pulling towards her. She reminds me of Leonardo Da Vinci’s biographer Giorgio Vasari who once wrote:
“Sometimes in supernatural fashion, a single person is marvellously endowed by heaven with beauty, grace, and talent in such abundance that his every act is divine and everything he does comes from God rather than from human art.”
An hour into the journey, we were savouring the moment with singing and laughter in the car, when we noticed a roadside community kitchen (Langar)set up by the Sikh community. Though we were not hungry, Rohini and Adi craved Langar food. They shouted,
“Langar! Langar!”
We stopped, took our shoes off, washed our hands and feet under the tap outside the Langar, tied a piece of cloth each to our heads (as is the tradition at Langars) and paid obeisance to  Shri Guru Granth Sahib placed at the centre of a small makeshift shrine with a turban sporting man waving the ceremonial fan.
Then we sat down on the mats to have food. We were surprised by what we were served. Tea and potato fritters. We felt famished all of a sudden, and were gobbling like we hadn’t had food in days. We were, however, a little embarrassed too, that we were not stopping on the fritters. Noticing our flustered faces, the man serving us said,
“Eat as much as you can. There are no restrictions on food in Guru’shome.”
That is the beauty of the Sikh community. They give and share unconditionally. The fritters and tea were only starters. We were also served the famous Daland Roti of Langars. We ate to our contentment. After we were done, we washed our plates, thanked the people working there, and took off for the next leg of our journey.
Ram Jhula

We reached Rishikesh at around 1 PM, an hour earlier than planned. The sky had become clearer and the temperature was picking up. Given some surplus time, we took a small detour to the Ram Jhula (the iconic suspension bridge on the Ganges at Rishikesh). Scanning the bridge one can see it swaying from left to right, and up and down as well. Apart from pedestrians, only two-wheelers and cycles are allowed on the bridge. Walking on the bridge feels like capering. If you stand still for a moment, you realise the undulations being caused by the people as well as by the wind. The Ganges flows violently beneath and you can even see some rapids at a distance. We stood there, amidst the chants of “Jai Shree Ram”, clicked some photos and then left.

By this time, it had gotten pretty hot. Air Conditioner had to be turned on. Thinles at the back seat kept pontificating repeatedly.
“For God’s sake, turn off the rear AC vent; it’s freezing like Shimla back here.”
We all had a hearty laugh. Thinles had really become a different person than who he came as. He now expressed his opinions with a sharp sense of humour.
We continued our journey reminiscing, singing, playing song games. (Antakshari) We stopped for having some coconut water enroute Dehradun and then continued. By 3 PM, we were in Dehradun.
“Let’s have lunch at some good place”, suggested Rohini.
Our XUV 500

We had not had a proper lunch in the past five days, so we all nodded. We googled some good restaurants enroute and then stopped at one. Our XUV had been covered in dirt, given the road conditions, so we put it up for washing at a nearby shop. We had Veg. Manchurian, and Fried rice, and Kadhai paneer,  and plain rice, and butter Naan, accompanied by Dal makhani. We didn’t just eat, we attacked and devoured all of it. By the time we had our fill, our flushed XUV was waiting for us. The tasty food and a clean car got us delighted.

By about 4:30 PM, we were in our car, for the last leg of our journey, heading back to Chandigarh. It is not more than a four-hour drive. A realisation had started transpiring within us. This time, amidst the hills, this time of adventure, of friendship and spirituality, was coming to an end in the next few hours.  It was a quiet cabin, like the one we had at the beginning of our journey. This time, for a different reason though. Dusk had fallen, we were all melancholic, the music had been turned off, and I drove on. Someone occasionally brought up a funny incident and we all laughed for a while, but then back to that sinking feeling in our hearts. Some of us shared our feelings about the trip.
“As this trip is coming to an end, I am grateful to each one of you who helped me, who kept me going throughout the journey despite all the quibbles. I feel ecstatic to have visited a place I could never dream of, not even in the wildest of my imaginations”, said Rohini.
“I am feeling anxious, for this trip is coming to an end. Five days now feel like five moments. I want to travel more, farther from the cities into the real India; villages. I want to keep reliving these moments with all of you. The best part, I am now starting to question this chasm between rationality and spirituality.” Farhan said.
“You know, when we started this journey we hardly knew each other beyond names. There was this excitement running high to visit Kedarnath. But now I realise that the journey was as beautiful as the destination. I went with one friend and am coming back with six. I have never had this opportunity to know five people so well in just five days. I am already thinking about the places that we could go together in the future. Well, for one, I won’t have to post fliers again. Plus I got competition from Thinles’s sense of humour now”, quipped Adi.
I, honestly, was still lingering over Ananya. We weren’t very far from Panchkula, so I knew she would be gone soon.
“Let’s dance by the roadside,” Deepika suggested.
“Yesss!” Came a loud reply from Thinles.
This was about half an hour from Chandigarh. We put up Punjabi songs in the car stereo, opened all the windows, and got off the car. We danced like never before. Thinles climbed up on the bonnet to dance. We were not dancers, of course, but some of us were worse than others. This, I realised only after watching the videos that we had recorded. We danced for about half an hour and then got back into the car. The volume of the stereo didn’t come down though. We were playing songs about friendship like “Tere jaisa yaar kahan” and “Yaaro dosti badi hi haseen hai” and singing in chorus.
Ananya called her father to pick her up from University. I was delighted that I could spend some more time with her. I didn’t want the trip to end. By 9 PM, we were at Chandigarh railway station, the place where we were supposed to return the XUV. While I was completing the formalities for return, Adi came up to me and said,
“Have you lost all guts? Are you even going to ask her out?”
“I don’t know man. I really don’t know. One moment she seems interested, other she doesn’t. I think it would be a bad idea.”
“You are a fattu. Everyone has asked to tell you to ask her out, and I will tell you to do the same. Rest is your choice.”
“Yeah, I will see,” I said looking at Ananya.
We booked an Uber for university and everyone was now suddenly excited about my love story. They were singing in chorus,
“Do dil mil rahe hain,
magar, chupke chupke,
sabko, ho rahi hai,
haan sabko, ho rahi hai,
khabar, chupke chupke.”
Ananya was singing too. I was not.
We reached the campus at 10 PM. We unloaded our luggage. Our eyes welled up when we hugged each other. We knew we would keep meeting, but those five days that were etched in our hearts were coming to an end. Ananya’s father had already arrived. Deepika booked an Uber to go to her place. The rest of us were hostellers.
We all hugged Ananya to bid her goodbye. I hugged her too. It was not a friendly hug, rather a warm and tight one, like lovers must do. She turned away and started walking towards her father.
I was sinking inside. I deserve a chance. I ought to try, I owe it to myself. I called her from behind,
She turned back. “Yes?”
I went running to her and asked mustering up courage,
“Would you like to go on a date with me?”
“This ‘Anukalp’ isn’t good”, I said to myself.
“You need to know this. I have a boyfriend.”
“Oh! Okay.”
“And I am so sorry if at any point I had suggested otherwise.”
“No, you didn’t. It’s alright.”
“But a cup of coffee wouldn’t hurt, right?”
“Yeah, of course!”
I knew it would hurt. It was hurting already. It was not supposed to go this way.
I turned back towards others and started picking up my luggage.
Rohini said quoting from DDLJ, “If she loves you, she will look back for sure.”
And everyone uttered in chorus. “Palat! Palat!….”
But I was gone. I was already on my way to my hostel, singing to myself… 
“Paas aaye…..Dooriyan phir bi kam na huyi,
ik adhuri…..si hmaari kahani rahi,
aasman ko zameen, yeh zaruri nhi,
ja mile…..ja mile,
ishq sacha wahi….jisko milti nahin,

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Sourav Kumar Sharma

About the author

Sourav Kumar Sharma

Hey there! I'm a PhD scholar by day and an author by the night. This website is my mind spill. I live in Chandigarh, India and I like to read and travel, big time. In my writings, I like to mix romance with genres like travel, self-help, social issues, and life-writing.

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  • LOL! Very exciting end…..May be not for Mr Anukalp but defintely for readers ( atleast for me) and the last song seems to be perfect with the situation of Mr Anukalp
    And again its your writing skills that gives a mood lifting and mind refreshing effect to your story…..

  • It was refreshing experience reading the story. The way you have written it, is quite awesome…
    The addition of songs and quotations enhances it and make more interesting to read going with the flow…
    You guys enjoyed and lived the moments to the fullest by embracing the wonderful beauties of nature and friendships..and of love too only you😝
    And your initiative of penning it down has given the opportunity to many readers to live the experience.
    Thankyou for bringing it out.
    All the best for many more…

  • I must say, you've hit the right chords, much better ! I was actually waiting to see how you bounce back from Part 1 of this series.
    No doubts ! You've done amazingly well. And, I wish to see more of this coming soon in near future.
    I pray and wish for, that your art of writing, edifies, improves and sharpens further. Keep chiseling, you'll keep discovering more within you ! Best wishes !

  • Threading the fibres of love , travel and religious sentiments into a vivid & heart touching image description is stunning…above all , your story is ours now…a big round of applause… keep on

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