by Ritu Gulabani
When we believe in our dreams and have faith, life start taking it’s own beautiful twists and turns.
Here is another story , written by me. It was published in Love and War Anthology.

The Call of His Eternal Love:

“Niti!” he called and hoped his smile and wave did not look over enthusiastic. She flashed what was clearly a fake smile – she looked rather upset. She wasn’t perhaps as excited as Nitesh had thought she would be. But they were both part of their college alumni group on whatsapp where they had received an invitation to a common friend’s wedding. Nitesh had definitely expected to see her, although not at the start of the journey. He was sure, she too was aware that she might bump into him. Just then his eyes took him to a pretty little girl with one hand wrapped around Niti’s finger and the other holding a soft bunny.
“May be she is with her husband,” he thought and a wave of jealousy filled his heart. After all it seemed that just yesterday they had walked on the green carpets of the deer park on Dehradoon Mussoorie highway, under those colourful trees with their fingers intertwined. The breeze from the lake would be their perfect companion on Sunday evenings, for almost four years. Every meeting, there, with the lovey dovey elderly couple, Colonel Mehra and his wife, had given them lessons on unconditional love and motivated them to visualize their old age together, just like them. In fact this dream became Nitesh’s favorite past time.
“How are you doing Nitesh?” she asked with a tone that betrayed her lack of enthusiasm, as they moved ahead with the queue. “Are you posted in Mumbai?”
“Yup!” he replied and noticed her mother, just ahead of her. The elderly lady turned back and her eyes opened wide in surprise.
“Nitesh!” she said with much more excitement than her daughter and opening her arms. “Where have you been?”
“I have been around Aunty, but now in Mumbai for the last one year.” he replied with a forceful smile and returned the embrace. She looked almost the same, tall, thin and elegantly dressed in a handloom saree with a simple yet appealing pearl necklace, although he could see considerably more grey hairs and deep crow’s feet at the corner of her eyes.
Nitesh knew that she had been fond of him and had supported his relationship with Niti, her daughter but she was the one who had seethed when Nitesh had declared that he was joining defense. Joining Indian Army had however been the cornerstone of Nitesh’s life which hemmed many other dreams and his affair with Niti was one of them, although major. After the break-up, for quite some time he had become inert and frigid, and as a result he barely noticed the pain endured during the worst days of training at the academy. He had thus become one of the most decorated officers in the army.
But he could understand the pain of Niti’s mother too. She had lost her husband, in a terrorist attack in Punjab. Although he was awarded posthumously, she was scared of getting her only daughter married to defense personnel.
Nitesh’s father had also lost his life in Kargil War but his mother had always taken pride in telling the world and she was on the top of the world when Nitesh joined the fleet.
Soon Niti was on the counter and after a few minutes Nitesh checked-in too.
The little girl Khushboo became Nitesh’s friend soon and they played, doodled, rhymed and chatted, munching on her huge pack of wafers, which she graciously shared with Nitesh.
Niti and her mother also sat nearby.
“Hey! Where is your daddy?” Nitesh asked her as she fiddled with his iPad.
“I don’t have a daddy.” She replied without any hesitation or pain.
“I live with mommy and granny. While mommy works in the day, granny feeds me and plays with me,” she replied with her eyes and hands still busy with the iPad.
Nitesh was taken aback. He looked at Niti and then at her mother, who was sitting next to him. She seemed to have sensed the questions in Nitesh’s eyes, for she said, pointing towards the sky “Destiny is written up there.” Her eyes brimmed with tears. “God has taken his vengeance, if you didn’t, for going against your love.” Tears rolled down her cheeks while she continued, “Just after graduation, I got her married, against her wishes, and within a year, her husband met a road accident and died -making her a widow, exactly like me. She had received the news of her pregnancy that very day. Consequently, her in-laws considered the baby unlucky and I brought her back. After the birth of khushboo, she got a job in Mumbai and we shifted here.”
Niti frowned her mother into silence, “Mom please!” She picked Khushboo and placed her on her lap to clean her face and fingers.
Nitesh’s heart churned as he heard the painful experience of the beautiful, ever enthusiastic bubbly girl – he had loved. He could see the change – from a star in the college she had transformed into a responsible daughter and caring mother.
He patted on the old lady’s shoulders and consoled her, “We cannot fight with destiny. It’s good that you brought her back with you”.
There was a complete silence then except for Khushboo who kept talking to one or the other till they boarded the flight. Nitesh kept helping them but didn’t dare to utter another word.
Yet he couldn’t stop his mind from thinking about Niti. A series of thoughts raced through his wistful mind.
“She is alone, in pain, needs a loving partner and father for her daughter. I must talk to her.”
“But what if she is not yet ready? She appears different, might take me otherwise.”
“And what if she doesn’t respond properly. She might insult me – here in public?”
He was intimidated and so preferred to keep mum till they reached their destination.
There, amidst celebrations and happiness, Nitesh called his mom to inform of his safe arrival at Dehradun and also told her how he had bumped into Niti at the airport and her heartbreaking story.
“So there you are!” she said from the other end. “Go ahead and propose her. You both were destined to meet.”
Somehow, his mom’s voice gave him the courage and during the mehendi night, when some were busy dancing, some in victuals, and some in meeting old friends, he got down on his knees and surrounded by most of their old batch mates, he proposed her, exactly the way he had done in the college.
She looked upset but not angry. Collecting all his strength, Nitesh took her hands into his and reminded her of the old couple they had admired.
He was conscious that many eyes had turned from the bride and groom to them, Niti and Nitesh, but yet he was busy; listening to his heart, staring at her and waiting for a smile to appear on her lips. Soon Niti’s mother also joined in to cheer. When Niti smiled they realized that all their friends, including the bride and the groom, had joined in to applaud and congratulate them.
The college reunion had announced their splice too. Nitesh suddenly found himself alive – with the brashness of youth.
A few months later they tied the knot. Their love discovered new depths and within a year they were blessed with a baby boy Khush- their bundle of joy. Khushboo was thrilled to have a brother.
They kept thanking Colonel Mehra for creating unconditional love in their life too.
Time flied and kept filling their life with love. After a few years, Nitesh went to Kashmir for an errand. Within a fortnight he found himself in a fierce fire fight with the terrorists. He received a bullet in the lower abdomen where he felt a raw shock but continued fighting till his buddy ordered to evacuate and send him to the hospital. There was no pain but a feeling of numbness with his thoughts tumbling. After some time, the nausea started and the pain rolled in waves with the blood pumping out of the hole.
Scared, he only remembered his love and their beautiful moments.
The doctors took him to the operation theatre, where he dreamt about the dusk of his life, walking into the park, holding her hand, their eyes still full of love for each other and the musings rolled like a movie in front of his eyes. He was sure he would be safe.
He was then given the anesthesia and underwent a surgery.
Doctors said that had he been brought in half-an-hour late he would have lost his life. While according to his mother, good deeds and blessings saved him. Niti’s mother could say nothing but was filled with gratitude.  Niti kissed Nitesh and said, “Nitesh was destined to be in her life – Niti and Nitesh, had to be together.” Whereas for Nitesh, it was his eternal love for Niti and the dream- to be with her – called him back.

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