I feel the sand squish slowly through my toes as I walk down the pristine beach in Bali, I slide my fingers between hers. The fingers fit effortlessly as if these are meant to be together, forever and always. I met this wonderful woman barely a month ago, now we are in love. She is the love of my life, Samhita.
“I want the lanterns. It’s Diwali after all”, she insists, “I want to buy all the sky lanterns I can, Rohit”, her enthusiasm matching a child’s.
“Really? What would you do with all the lanterns?”, I ask.
Her eyes glisten and she says, “Let me show you something’. She opens her red wallet and pulls out an old picture. It’s a picture of a man with a baby in his arm, sleeping peacefully. I guess that the baby in the pic is Samhita and the man, her father.
“This is my favorite picture. I don’t look fat in it. Do I?”, Samhita chuckles, referring to my joke of calling her chubby, not because she’s fat- she is far from it. I like calling her chubby, out of affection.
“That’s my first pic with my dad. My mom clicked this picture. It was our first picture together, and probably my first picture ever”, Samhita says, her chuckles drown in her tears. “My dad used to tell this story every time we talked about my mother. I don’t remember her face. However, I remember her eyes. She had the most beautiful eyes. When I was 5 years old I used to call her eyes ‘sunflower eyes’. I always complained why I didn’t get her eyes. My dad thought I resented him for giving me his eyes. He always called me ‘Hitu’. I reminded him of my mom- Hetal. Once he used a vacuum cleaner to make my hair. He didn’t know how to make hair or use the vacuum cleaner for that matter. All the dust from the vacuum cleaner got in my hair. I sneezed for the longest time”, her musical chuckle reverberate through my soul again.
“Once I woke up in the middle of the night. My body was hot as if on fire but my feet were ice cold. As I opened my eyes, he was rubbing my feet to keep them warm. He had the most endearing smile on face, saying ‘I’m here, love. You sleep’. He loved me as a father and as a mother. With him around, I can’t say I never missed my mom, I missed her terribly. But I can’t complain that she wasn’t around. We lit the sky lanterns every Diwali. We sent them into the sky. He always maintained it would reach her. He passed away six month ago. Today I want to send the lanterns for both of them. They will together receive my prayers and love for the first time”.
We buy all the lanterns we can. We write messages on each of them, light them one by one, and let them go into the sky. As the lanterns rise together, they add colors to the dark sky and become one with the starstudded canvas. We once again hold each other’s hand praying that the two souls bless us with the kind of love they share, forever and always.
(c)2018 Priya U Bajpai
I’m participating in the Write Tribe Festival of Words – June 2018