The next morning, as planned, both Barkha and Sakshar met at the parking lot to commence their tour of the nearby villages. Sakshar looked a bit worried, even though he tried his best to conceal it beneath random conversations.
Barkha : Is everything alright Sakshar? You do not resemble your usual self today.
Sakshar : Yes, yes, I am perfectly fine. It is just few work related matter. You know how these hotel businesses work.
Barkha : Okay, but cheer up for now at least!
Sakshar could see Barkha’s developing closeness, which was even though initiated by him, now seemed like a distant dream since the call he had received few days ago.
Sakshar : Barkha, shall we stop by somewhere and talk?
Barkha : I told you I could sense something is not right. What is it?
Sakshar told the driver to stop at the side. They both could sense each other’s growing tension but preferred to stay quiet. After walking for a while, they stopped at a wooden bench and sat there.
Sakshar : Barkha, I will try to be as transparent as possible and as straightforward as I can.
It seemed to Barkha that he was going to ask her for marriage, which she was truly not prepared for.
Sakshar : I have been hopelessly attracted to you since the very first day I saw you. If you can recall, it was this very place where we both met for the first time after your long solitary morning walk. Do you remember?
Barkha looked around and was surprised at her absence of mind, on not having noticed the place, where she had come while walking in the snow that morning.
Sakshar : There’s something I want to tell you. I have loved someone devotedly and truly since past seven years. But midst some cruel circumstances and life’s unwanted surprises, she left me a year ago. It took me a great deal of efforts to forget all that we had. But it rings true that one never really forgets the first love and emotions do not die that easy.
Barkha : (lost in her thoughts and teary eyed) No, they don’t, they never die.
Sakshar : After I met you, my willingness to move on in life, seemed to have brightened up. Yet, I knew that a part of me still lingered somewhere in the lost hope. Her name is Shonali. Two days ago, she contacted me out of the blue. All these past months, I kept on detesting her thoughts, felt angry on her, yet, when I heard the sound of her voice, everything vanished. She had left me under family’s pressure. But now wants to leave everything and come back to me. I can’t leave her I think. I want to be with her Barkha.
Barkha : I understand. Let’s go back to the hotel please. I need to leave.
Sakshar didn’t find it right to stop her from leaving. But every part of him felt like being torn on two different sides.
They reached at the hotel and Barkha made few calls while in the car, to make the flight bookings. As soon as the car stopped, Barkha stormed out and left for her room before Sakshar could say anything.
As always Raghaven and Anjum were occupied making snow igloos with Kabir.
Barkha walked towards them and said in a hurried tone, “Come on let’s pack our things. We have a flight to catch at 9 pm back to Delhi.”
Anjum : What happened suddenly Barkha? Is everything alright?
Barkha : Yes ma, just got a call from Barcelona. I need to visit the embassy once tomorrow. Therefore, we must leave now.
Raghaven could sense an unrest in her voice, and so could Anjum. They looked at each other and preferred to just move along instead of questioning her.
Sakshar saw them leave from the window of his room. His absence from seeing them off was enough to exhibit the reason for Barkha’s strange unrest.
They reached Delhi around midnight. Kabir was fast asleep in Barkha’s lap. The nights were now colder as the winter marked its onset.
Barkha : Ma, papa, I am sorry, there’s no embassy visit scheduled for tomorrow. I was just in a restless need to leave. I have valid reasons, but I am truly sorry for all that furor.
Anjum : We understand dear. Don’t worry, we are with you, and we are not seeking any answers. Just know that we are here whenever you need us.
They drove home in quietude. Barkha couldn’t wait any longer to fly away from all the chaos she had been a part of since past years until few hours ago.