Anish handed me an artificial velvet rose. I accepted. He then gave me a box of chocolates. I accepted those too. He bent down on his right knee. I waited. He took my left hand in his right hand and whispered “I love You Neetu. Will you marry me?” I smiled. This perhaps was the most beautiful moment of my life. I was jubilated but at the same time I became a little sad too. A drop of tear fell from my left eye and left a watery line on my cheek. I wiped it from my right hand and shook my head. “Neetu…are you refusing?” He asked. I could not look at him anymore. I turned my head and nodded. “But why?” He asked. “Don’t you love me?”
‘I do Anish… More than anything in this world…I do’ my mind screamed. It was just that my mouth could not. Even if I tried, my words would never come out. The reason was very obvious. I cannot speak. I have to communicate though signs. I did not want Anish to waste his life over me. How would we communicate? How could I possibly tell him what I felt. I am not deaf. I can hear everything loud and clear, but it will be so unfair to Anish. He will have to spend his life with a disabled. He will be mocked. No No…! I am not that selfish. Anish may get angry now but I know over the years he will understand.
Anish was still looking at me waiting for a reaction. I looked at him and shook my head again. Anish let go of my hand. He looked down and stayed in that position for some seconds. I extended my hand to touch him but suddenly Anish got up and dusted his knee. He looked at me without saying a single word. I avoided his gaze and signaled him to take me back home. He nodded. Anish started descending the steps of the monument and I stood there totally transfixed. I was surprised at his demeanour.He was so calm and composed. I expected him to question me. I expected him to get angry. I expected that he will hold me or hug me and promise me that he will take care of me. Nothing!! He had simply started walking. Did He really love me or did he just staged the whole thing? My mind started firing one question after the other.
I saw him stopping. He turned and looked at me. I guess he must have descended atleast seven to eight steps. I was still looking at him and had not moved an inch. He started coming back. With every step that he climbed, I was elated. My mind shouted…’yeyyyy Neetu…he is coming back for you! He loves you. He will now tell you that he will take good care of you and that he will become your voice. Yes Anish! Give me that assurance. I need it….please Anish, don’t let me go.” By the time Anish reached near me, I was really excited. He looked at me and made some signals. I was totally taken aback. Anish wanted his rose and chocolates back. Seeing me so perplexed Anish questioned me “I had purchased this for a girl who I know loves me. I was so sure that she will also accept my proposal of marriage. Since you are not interested, I want them back so I can give it to someone who loves me and will want to settle down with me.” I did not know how to react. I gave him the box back and placed the rose on top of it. Anish picked up the rose and put it in his pocket. He started descending the steps again without any word.
I felt numb and humiliated. How could he do this? Did he even love me or did he just play a cruel joke on me? Did my disability fueled his chauvinism? I had no clue. I had no answers. I wiped my tears and began descending the steps too. When I reached the parking lot, I saw that Anish had already sat in the car and was adjusting the radio frequency.Looking at his care free attitude, I got angry. I wanted to hit him. He did not even open the door for me but signaled me to sit down. I was crushed. I slowly opened the door sat in the car, and closed the door. My eyes had started watering and I somehow managed to control my sobs. I was blank without a single clue as to what was happening.
I looked at Anish. He was looking at me too. I looked at the steering wheel. Anish had keyed in the car key but had not started the ignition. I signaled him to drive. He kept staring at me. I felt awkward. “I know what you are thinking Neetu” I heard him say. I looked at him. “You want me to pacify you… don’t you? You consider yourself as a disabled and want to gain sympathy from every nook and corner… Right?” His words stung me. I looked deep into his eyes. He continued. “Neetu, I love you, but I also love the fact that you are a very strong woman. You have crossed all odds and have mastered the sign language which you teach mute people. You run your father’s shop. You are so capable and you need validation from me? You feel that my life will be ruined? Neetu, do not allow anyone to have so much power over your emotions. Be strong. At times, I remember, you have referred to yourself as a disabled. You are not. You are my inspiration. Dear girl, I will consider myself privileged if you are with me. Whenever needed I will be your voice and you be my motivation. Together we can beat all odds. I want to have a good life…but I know that I will have a beautiful life if you are with me. Are you?” He asked.
I nodded. Anish removed a tissue from the holder and wiped my cheeks. “I love you my strong babe. So I ask you again….will you marry me?”
I communicated in sign language as to how much I love him and that I will marry him. Anish laughed. He removed the rose from his pocket and opened it. Inside it was a diamond studded ring. I raised my left hand and he moved the ring on my finger.
I no longer felt disabled. My heart was singing so loud that I felt the whole universe could hear me…..
Afterall….all that matters is LOVE! isn’t it?