20 December, 2011

The Park Bench

It was a dark night, darkest one in December yet. The icy wind made her teeth chatter as she stuffed her cold fingers into her sweater and picked up the pace.

A delicious steak dinner with home-made apple sauce had made Sandeep a happy man, he was already buried knee-deep in his papers, with the patch-work quilt she’d given him for last Christmas keeping him toasty warm. His midnight cocoa was already in the microwave.
She did her duties well and happily too; least she could do for the man she loved with her whole heart, for the man who was her husband.
For the man who was there for her when she needed him, who had centered his world around her and made her feel like his Queen.

He sometimes came with her on her nightly walks, but more often let her go alone for he understood long back how much she craved the solitude of the walk down an empty street. 

She loved the dim street lamps strewing erratic lights in her path, they cast dancing shadows as she moved… how she loved the half an hour on the park bench where she sat, arms crossed, eyes closed and breathing in the crisp scent of the night. The sounds fascinated her too, the chirp of the busy cricket, the croak of the frog that lost his way, the silent hoot of the owl just before it snapped up the mouse between its razor-sharp beak.

That half hour was Her Time. And nothing ever got in the way, not work, not exhaustion, not parties, not nothing. It was then that she made peace with the day gone by, however good or bad the Universe had been to her.

But today peace was not what she strove for.
A phone call had stirred up her life.

Silence. She struggled to collect her thoughts.
“Hi, Sabal. Long time, no hear?”
“Yeah, life happened... or something...” She heard the smile in his voice.
“Ah well, how is it going? What have you been upto?” 
She’d always tried to keep it cordial after they’d broken up. She had never wanted to be like one of those couples which had a happy, memorable run, broke up and then never stopped bitching about each other.
“Good, good… Nothing much. The usual. I have come back to India for good. True blue Indian, I am now.”
“Oh good, I was tired of you complaining about Muscat last time you called, actually. You’re in Bangalore?”
“Yes. Whitefields. Bought a house, mum is here with me.”
“Oh my, look at you all grown up!” she teased.
“Ah well… Listen, I called you because…”
“Yeah…?” she asked, almost tentatively. She hoped fervently that he wouldn’t start with the ‘come back to me’ routine. It had been so long, yet he never seemed to give up.

“I’m getting married.”
Her breath left her body in a surprising whoosh of relief. Relief, not at not having to refuse yet again, but relief that he was getting hitched. Finally.
“Wow. Who? What? When? How? Why?” she didn’t mask her delight. “And sorry, congratulations!” She added with a smile.
He seemed a little chagrined when he replied, maybe he had been hoping for a different reaction?
“Her name is Maithili. She’s from work. Mum liked her. It’ll be small. On the 29th. At the cathedral. No reception.”
“…. Wait a second… from work? Aunty liked her? As in this wasn’t arranged?”
“Erm… not really… ”
“Wow. I’m so happy for you, I really am,” she just could not keep the smile out of her voice.
“I know you are, which is why I wanted to tell you before you heard from the grapevine.”
“Thank you for that,” she said quietly.
“Chalo, I got to go see to some furniturewale who insist that I ordered a mammoth study that I have never seen in my life. You take care, alright? See you around.”
She giggled like a twelve-year old. 
“It’s funny to hear you’re being all grown-up. Anyway, congratulations once again. Buh-bye”

And the conversation played on loop in her head all day.

Now, as she sat alone on the cold, hard bench, one that had become her companion during her rendezvous with her own inner self, her mind filled with memories.

They had been so young, so innocent. That first bitter-sweet sting of Cupid’s unmerciful arrow, sneaking all over the place to spend a few minutes alone, lying at home about extra classes after school, hiding scraps of paper from the teacher, 14-rupee cards on Valentines' and the key chains they got made with the other’s initials. Being leg-pulled by friends who secretly envied them for the dreamy smiles they exchanged during class, first butterflies, first nerves, first dates and first and (till then) only true love.

They had taken it very seriously, planned their whole life together right down to the color they’d paint their house. She didn’t want anything more than to be married to him and he’d kill himself before he’d even look at another girl.

But, like always, things had started falling apart by their second year together. He wanted a ‘homely’ girl, like his mother, who’d not question him, not be ‘modern’ in ways she didn’t even understand and questioned her even on things she considered as basic freedom.

And she, on the other hand, was a wild spirit, untamed and free, who chose to believe in what she experienced and live the way her beliefs dictated rather that what the society did. But she tried to change for him, tried hard considering he was the love of her life. She gave up everything she believed in and tried her best to fit in the ‘homely’ mold. She tried to get him to meet her halfway but he was too set in his ways. She struggled occasionally only making him hold on tighter.

Finally, the day came when love was just not enough. The sun rise saw her failing miserably at pretending to be what she was not. Pretending to be Miss Goody-Two-Shoes when all she wanted to do was do three shots of tequila and ride the fake bull at the bar. Pretending every day that her swollen eyes had nothing to do with tear-soaked pillows.

She broke free. And she broke them too. 
The most successful couple from school bit the dust.
He fought long and hard to get her back for once she was gone he realized what she’d meant to him. He swore to change for her, every time she chanced to pick up his calls, but she knew that people were born a certain way and if they tried to change, they’d only be miserable.

She told him it was over. That she’d moved on.
He said he’ll wait.

And he’d waited ten long years, saw her become successful at a profession he’d hated, saw her fall in love with another man who accepted the wild mare and never tried to hold her tight. He saw her walk with him down the aisle and have his child, never…. not once letting go of hope than she’d come back to him.

The guilt had eaten her alive every day, just a little bit. She felt that she’d been the cause for all the ill-luck in his life. She wished that he hadn’t fallen for her. She prayed every day that he’d meet somebody.

Because she was happy and he was not.

Now, she sighed as a small tear escaped the crinkle of her eye and dripped down to her now dormant dimple. A tear shed not for grief or pain. Not for a relationship lost nor for her failed first love. 

The tear was for peace. For closure.
For he’d finally gotten his happy ending.


  1. This is one of my favourite posts of yours.. i totally loved it ..

    When he said he is getting married, it felt like as though a heavy burden has been taken off from her .. beautiful story, beautifully weaved, loved the choice of words, and pictures ....

  2. auucch. That aches. :(
    SO beautifully put peevee! Re-readin it again and again.

  3. :)

    I remember feeling like that when I fell in love first. How it felt like we're gonna end up together forever. How we planned out future together. How even though we were still in school, we had already decided to get married.

    I remember how it all came undone... But I don't regret it even a bit. Because whatever I felt at that time, it was magical. That guy said he'll wait for me forever. I told him I will never go back to him. I blamed myself for all the ill-luck he had in his life, and still has. He too blamed me for a long time.

    The day I came to know that he has a girlfriend, I was so happy. Happy that he has finally moved on. When we spoke about it too, I told him that I'm genuinely happy for him. He was going through a rough patch, but he's picking up the pieces and trying to build a life so that he can settle down with that girl.

    But ya, it somehow bothers me, for some reason, that the name of his girlfriend, the girl he wants to settle down with, is Divya...

  4. WONDERFUL POST :) Right from the Post title and pictures you added are just impeccable.
    Conversation l liked the best, any personal experience :P(J4f)

  5. Brilliantly written... initially when you were narrating the girl being alone in the park and husband busy at home, I thought something bad was going to happen to the girl but then the story took a whole different turn :) :)
    so i guess I got what I simply didn't expect and i think that is a great story telling :)

  6. First comment on your blog:-)

    Absolutely engrossing tale written beautifully,your words capture the nuances of emotion very well:-)

  7. PeeVee it's not the first time that I read ur blog and then think but this time around I know the entire feeling
    behind this story. I know because I have gone through this. Thank you very much for putting into words I couldnt for soooo many years. Simply classy

  8. So many people say love changes you. Love makes you better. I think love brings out your hidden side. sometimes your evil side. :) Love this post. :) like other fiction, it is gripping. :)

  9. The LAST line. What immaculateness :O
    You have to do fiction more often, Peevs .. you make me envious :S

  10. wish i could write and express emotions like this.life happens....always!

  11. I loved the way you ended it.

    I thought he brought the bad luck upon himself cos of his rigid ways..
    But I loved the last part!
    //For closure.
    For he’d finally gotten his happy ending.


  12. Sadly beautiful. Beautifully penned, nice thoughts. lovely! :)

  13. Hey! Just found you through another blogger. And I've read all your posts since the beginning. You just keep getting better. This story has all the good elements in it. Love,sorrow,magic,regrets,guilt,happines. All woven perfectly into a wonderful tale.
    Keep writing.

  14. @ Menachery, thank you:)

    @ T, it does:)

    @ D, it WAS magical.
    And coincidence much or just creepy?

    @ Deepak, thank you.
    Sometimes imagination far outlives experience.

    @ Purvi, thank you Madame:)

    @ Arumugam, welcome here:)
    And thank you!

    @ madouthere, :) 'classy' is something nobody has ever called my work. Thank you:)

    @ Srinidhi, yes, a side that is not-so-pink but very necessary for balance in life:)

    @ Cяystal, this sounds like Shakespeare saying he's envious of Chetan Bhagat, really :)

    @ maniac.hunter, :)

    @ Happy Go Lucky, thank you!

    @ Shreya, thank you.

    @ Nihareekaa, I have always had a crush on the name 'Niharika', but the way you spell it makes it sound exotic:)

    Thank you so much for having gone into all that trouble. Hope I didn't disappoint:)

  15. that was absolutely beautiful.

  16. After a long time read something so honest.Actually i can relate to everything u write...feels like i've been there..felt that. Also used to blog with the name 'stupid fool'..Gone through half of your musings wil come back :) good going..

  17. That was really well done :) It kinda got to me though because I can and do see myself as that guy that never moved on, that guy still waiting for his own happy ending. One that may or may not come. I'm just glad I don't see anything of the girl I never let go.

  18. Beautiful.... Never had a chance to feel such a situation in real life, but your post told me how it would be.. Really nice..

  19. Aaaaaaaaaaaaawww!!! Is what I said after I read the whole thing. What a lovely story. Love...ah. Complicated thing ah! :P

  20. Really enjoyed this story :)


  21. I love the way you've narrated this...And I absolutely love the story.. Yes I hope it is HIS happy ending..

    It's sad how people cannot face break-ups anymore.. 10 years was such a long time.. but waiting post marriage and kid was foolishness.. but people in love can be foolish at times, hai na? :)

  22. Had been waiting for another story for too long..and it's beautiful, as always :)

  23. This isn't fiction. This is the truth. And you've manage to convey it in a really beautiful way. Wonderfully written, Priyanka!

    P.S.: I check your blog everyday in the hope that you;ll post something and.. FINALLY! :)

  24. @ ChickLitGirl, thank you:)

    @ April, coming from the person who wrote that piece of spooky fiction, I'll take that as a huge compliment. Thank you:)

    @ Mark, thank you:) And everyone WILL have their happy endings. They most certainly will.

    @ Keia, thank you:)

    @ Sonshu, it is, very:)

    @ Tayla, glad you did:)

    @ Shreya Z, it is:) at least for her it is.
    It's called optimism and believing that one person is your true soulmate. People would do anything for that you know.

    @ Dee, thanks girl:)

    @ Zarine, when I see bloggers who I personally admire comment on my pieces and say such wonderful things, I feel that maybe I got some little thing right:)
    Thank you, it means a lot.

  25. You know am still in the 'feeling guilty' phase.. although I don't have to be. I suffered a lot, was totally abused by my ex but I sometimes feel guilty that I moved on and he dint. Like Spiff said, I dont regret it at all. It made me sensible and strong.
    I am happy now.. very happy, and I just hope he realizes he needs to change and finds happiness.

    Loved the story Peevee. Love. Its so simple yet complicated. It makes you want to run away, it makes you want to wait forever. It heals. It breaks.
    Okay am rambling! I'll stop!

  26. Has the name of his fiance changed :D I see its me now! :D
    Well I always wonder how two people who once loved can just let go of the relation and be just friends.. It requires lot of integrity like this girl showed when the guy was unable to let go. Unusual story once again..

  27. This was such a lovely read of a unique happy ending. loved it!

  28. Beautifully painful :') <3 @ the way you expressed the feelings!

  29. Beautiful narration, Pee Vee! Peace is what we normally feel on such occasions. It really hurts to see our old flame waiting and wasting a life when we are blissfully happy...I happy, you happy;)

  30. Beautifully penned PeeVee! I loved the description of the scene as well as the emotions...you've captured it all so well!!

  31. I stumbled across your blog & I'm glad I did.

    This is some beautiful writing.

    Beautiful on so many levels.

    You have no clue how many people will be able to identify with this story & that's a great quality.


  32. A fantastic post...

    On the face of it...this story may appear to be sad...but I don't think so..

    It is a story of hope and friendship...of beautiful moments shared between people who were once in love and even though they didn't end up together...the flame of friendship still glows...and each wants the other to be happy...


  33. Nice! :)

    I liked it started slow, and paced up and gave us the past and the present state of mind a fall a rise.

    Good read.

  34. I like it, though somehow I was waiting for some surprise in the end :)

    Btw I would like to know what happens next, things can always rebound...esp because he doesn't sound all that excited about the marriage...is thr something hidden somewhere, yet to be revealed? A ploy?

    I am sorry, I am such a cynic :)

  35. i cried..from the part when she could sense the peace in her on knowing about the beautiful change in the life of her ex..
    i never realised the stream of tears silently falling down my eyes..
    cos i could feel my life spinning in front of them..
    the efforts to try to fit in that mould..the pain of seeing the pain of trying to somehow change or fit in..with his world..
    trying to break free..
    handling the tag of being the most perfect couple..
    and somehow getting the courage to break the mould..and then moving on..

    life teaches you so many things na peevee..
    we feel that we might not be able to go through something..or take a certain step..
    but we do get brave enough to take that one step to change things..
    for ourselves..and for the other one..

    beautiful..just beautiful..
    one of the most soulful..calming posts i have read in a long longgg time..

    you are just brilliant sweetheart..


    cheers !!

  36. @ Chandana, it's amazing how strong y'all are, I wonder if I'm even half as much.
    Thank you <3

    @ Em, hee, hee, it just came with the flow and I didn't want to change it, you don't mind na?:)

    There comes a point of time when holding on to each other for only love is just not enough. It's different with your soul mate, then it'll never happen but when you have made the wrong choice, you suffer in love. Literally.

    And you have had good times, first love always does na. It's difficult, atleast for me, to be bitchy to that person.

    Thank you:)

    @ PB, Aliza, Live2cherish, thank you:)

    @ NL, exactly:) thank you!

    @ Vidhi, I'm glad you stumbled along too, Madame:) Welcome here...

    Thank you so much, new comers' comments always make my day:)

    @ Kunal, hope, yes. Friendship was only on her part for he always wanted more. Thank you:)

    @ Sam, thank you:)

    @ Siddhartha Joshi, I originally intended a surprise but I gave in to my own feelings:)

    What happens next? Maybe a sequel, but I don't know how effective it will be for I have never tried:) Maybe I'll start now..

    Not at all, cynics are the best critics:)

    @ meoww, aww love, you make so much sense. Aren't you the sweetest? <3
    Life does, darling, and we have to learn from the bad choices we made.

    YES! The courage to cut it off when you don't have a lifeline:)

  37. Simple yet deep, beautiful yet painful, yet so relateable. Loved this post!

  38. beautiful story and ur vocab is great. N for that february memory na my post name is awaro ka adda- 1 and 2

  39. You inevitably come up with amazingly different love stories! and they are NEVER cliche! :) You got the talent girl...your choice of words make me wanna plunge into a nearby pool! so intimidating! :)

  40. Love should never end up with the feeling of being caged.

    Freedom is the priceless possession we have & you said it beautifully through the gals character.

    That 'fit in syndrome' we suffer many a times in life, and where the time comes of spending life with that someone & trying to be the one which we are not, is very difficult.

    The end in your story is rather a beginning of lives.

  41. Ouch! That was painful. Beautifully worded though.

  42. @ Shreya, thank you:)

    @ Adi, *tips hat* thanks:)

    @ Akila, hahaha, don't! I don't want to be the cause of your death :P I knoe, PJ :P

    @ Beyond Horizon, and that comment by itself inspires me to write a post:) What a poignant thought:)
    Thank you so much..

    @ Ria, thank you:)

  43. my throat choked as i read this one. had tears in my eyes...cant say anything more Pevee..

  44. Got to this one rather late.but amazing writing as always.And every one really needs that park bench time.Realizing that can itself make the relationship a lot easier.And you can never fit into anyone's role model.You will just be plain unhappy.there is possessive love and then there is the love that trusts you enough to let you go for your dreams in the full knowledge that you will always come back to them.

  45. This was just so sad :/
    You have a way with words, I love it.

  46. PeeVee, You have overwhelmed me by saying that...Its your post that made me think.
    Humbled & honored, if it inspired you to write something. Eagerly waiting for it :)

  47. You know it has all the elements which I look for in a story. I loved the beginning and the way you played emotions high was great.

    For me the ending was the winner all the way...

    Keep penning, would be a treat to read such posts:)

  48. And, Happy blog anniversary in advance...:)

  49. Brilliant post, this one. I read it twice. Touched :)

    Love your fiction. Keep writing!

  50. I love the way you bring 'that' feeling to your stories. Don't ask me what 'that' is. All I can say is, it is beautful. :)

  51. WOW. I'm speechless right now. Seriously.
    Wow PeeVeeeeeeeeeeee.
    That was magical. I loved it. LOVED it!!!!!!!!!!!!
    It's beautifully brillaint. I loved how it went on, I love their story, soo cute. I loved how you described her not being able to pretend to be someone else. I loved how she finally stopped and broke free. I loved how she found the man who accepted and loved her for all that she is. And the end <3 Fabulous!
    PeeeVeeeeee, this is MAGICAL <3
    I love it. SO MUCH MUCH!
    *tiiiight hugs*

  52. @ Aakriti, I'll take it that my story-telling was effective:) Thank you:)

    @ Sunitha, space is very very underrated in Indian relationships, hence the need for the park bench:)
    Thank you:)

    @ Uruj,why is it? Everyone's happy in the end:) Thank you:)

    @ Beyond Horizon,:):):) oh you have, insightful as you were... soon:)

    @ Saru, thank you so much...

    @ Adi Crazy, thank you:)

    @ Destiny's child, I'm glad you feel 'that' way:D thank you so much <3

    @ Nirati, thanks love:)

  53. Gradually people have to move on.. That is how life is!
    And people realise a person's value only after the person has left.

    I was hooked on to your words. There are some things which are so easy to relate to. I loved your work. It's lovely :) You bring out emotions very well!

    Take Care :)

  54. You have amazing wordplay.
    It was engrossing! Loved it

    "She loved the dim street lamps strewing erratic lights in her path, they cast dancing shadows as she moved" brought the vividest images in a long time

  55. I can relate dis story exactly to my 1st love when i was in school :-) Everything really looked magical at dat time and even i had dreams of d marriage. But as time passed I realized it was not love but it was just the impact of romantic movies i watched den :-P LOL

  56. WOW!! Its just wow!! Your writing style makes me want to try hand at fiction.I am totally inspired!! Your posts are such a treat to read!

  57. Aww! PeeVee ist was super! Loved it!
    You write fiction sooo well! I pick on my friends' brains to read your fictions! :D
    It was so cute! And those last lines, so touchy! You're the queen of mush, darling! :D

  58. @ Philo, thank you so much..

    @ Prehistoric Developments, welcome to my space and so glad you like it:)

    @ My Never Ending Thoughts, welcome:)it doesn't always happen the way we want to na.. We all were 'heroines' at some point :D

    @ Upasana, please do, would love to read what you come up with:)
    December 23, 2011 10:26 PM

    @KW, then you're prolly reason for half my traffic eh? Thank you so much girl:)

  59. A+...sorry, make that AA+ :)

    You know what I loved about this story? The author's point of view. ;)

  60. Every line penetrated my heart.
    It was so beautiful.
    You narrated it so well that I could picture every bit of the situations.
    Every tear, every smile was before my eyes.
    Peevee, hats off.

  61. Do not think I'm a hater. But only if you could make your sweet posts a little less lengthy, I would be the happiest. They're awfully long. The font is just too big. Your blog is not readable (literally). I love the content but the presentation is not correct. You may have seen less no. of readers lately. If I'm not wrong, it might be because of this.

  62. @ phatichar, oh my, AA+?! Like for real? :))
    We'll talk about the author's POV but not here :P

    @ Nia, thank you so much:)

    @ Anonymous, first of all, thank you for being so nice with a negative comment.

    Agreed this post is horribly long for a blog but what can I do, it's a story, it's fiction and justice has to be done. And I try to balance the length against the other posts, the next two are as short as I possibly could make them...
    I do value your time but some just have to be long, though I promise to write as few as possible.

    I have changed the font size, the problem is blogs look different in every browser and it looked fine in mine. So sorry for the inconvenience, do let me know if this is fine.

    As for less number of readers, ironically, I was celebrating crossing 300 followers yesterday and this post has the highest number of comments ever on my blog.

    But thanks again for taking the time out, not many people do. And you really didn't have to be Anon:)

  63. Wow , what a grand closure.
    Such a different perspective ( not entirely alien though ) .
    beautifully put .
    Kudos :-)

  64. PeeVee ! :)

    Fiction, really? I saw every one of these unfolding in front of my eyes. And seriously, no exaggerating.
    I loved every post. every story. every reflection. And the wonderful dynamics of words here.

    Don't forget to keep writing.


  65. i can so much relate with this post.. going through the same phase..
    feeling guilty..
    i had moved on but he hadn't.. i am still waiting for him to understand the situation.. after all life goes on no matter how serious you were.. how much you have planned..

  66. Poignant and written so beautifully. I can easily identify with the characters. You write very well Peeves>>:D


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