“Her birth took her mother’s life,
and now her smile is the reason I’m still alive”.

As the day went off, I boarded the city bus to get me as soon as possible to the nearest subway station. I was in a deep hurry to get in touch with my lost love.

It had been almost eleven hours when I left the home. And in these toiling hours at work, the sounds of the wall clock with every single second, reminded me of my relationship. Somewhere, I felt I had been cheating, but how can I make my partner understand that how much I need her. I just don’t want to leave her, but it’s the routine I chose that forces me every morning to leave my love, my warm and cozy bed that offers me every comfort without even me asking for them.

But been exhausted by the industrious and futile mechanical work, I preferred to skip a few of the trains in order to grab a seat for my forty-five minutes journey.

A subway is a place where every day thousands of people travel. Thousands of people with millions of dreams and billions of stories.

As I saw an empty seat, I jumped at it. I was relieved. I opened my bag, took out the ear plugs, zipped the chain and plugged them in.

I was just about to close my eyes, I saw the man, sitting just right to me, noting something down in his smartphone. Out of curiosity and without any control on my eagerness, I turned my eyes at the screen. I purposely sneaked at his personal life.

And that’s when I found out the shocking statement written above.

Then I turned my eyes at the girl. She was indeed a real pretty and cute and charming and the loveliest girl I saw. She was reminiscent to ‘Darla’, the girl character in the movie, “The Little Rascals (1994)”. I just couldn’t take my eyes off her.

And without resisting my interest, I approached the man. I was a bit terrified to start the conversation.

“What’s her name”, I asked with an eerie.

“Which her are you asking?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry at all, I was just a bit curious and ..”

“It’s okay. I can understand”, he said softly.

“Thankyou”, I smiled and took a breath of relief. I never expected this reaction.

“What you do”, he asked me.

“Sir, I’m a journalism student and I really like to interact with people”, I uttered, “and I find your daughter cute”.

“Just her face is cute. She is a freaking nut. I don’t know how come she’s quiet till now”.

“How old is she?”

“About to get six by the next month”.

And meanwhile, she was busy playing with her hair clip. The pink clip was covered with tiny stars made of mirrors. She was looking into the stars and was making strange faces as she moved to the next star. I guess, that’s why her naughty mode was off.

“So, is she aware of her mother’s?”

“Well, yeah. She is. It was her mother’s last request to me. That not to keep her in dark at any cost.”

“I must say your wife was really brave to say that”, I said with a belief.

“You got it right”, he said, “as a matter of fact that was the best quality I always liked about her. No matter what is going on, she would always stick to the truth.”

“Wasn’t this hard to be able to get to know the truth every time?”

“Of course, it was. You know, sometimes, it is very painful when the truth is revealed to you at some of the most sensitive moments.”

“How did your wife die?” I was in doubt whether to put that question or not?

“Cancer took her away from me”, he spoke with full emotions.

“And I guess it wasn’t at the right time when she told you about her illness?”

“It is never a right time when a person you love approaches you with the news of leaving you.”

I nodded in affirmation.

“But it wasn’t like that”, he continued, “I knew about her illness even before our marriage”.

“Now, I get it. It was a love marriage and you didn’t want to leave her because of this cancer?”

“We had an arranged marriage”, he commented.

I was baffled to hear it. It was like a setback to me. Like someone hit me with a hammer. I had nothing to say at that point of conversation.

“Let me share it with you”, I could feel a bit of excitement in his words, “when I first when to see her for the marriage, I didn’t like her at all. It was because of my mother’s plea.

But I had the chance to talk to her, I somehow was attracted to her.

The meeting was meant to be short, but when we started to talk, the meeting of few minutes turned into a four hours chit chat conversation. We ended up eating a lot of stuff. And the funniest part was when the restaurant owners had to request us to leave their place. And when at night I dropped her off at her house, I got the chance to meet with her parents and her love, her pet, her little pug, whom she loved like hell.”

“That’s a very cute story”, I added.

“Indeed, it is. And within two months of our first meeting, we ended up marrying each other.”

“Don’t you think it was a fast decision?”

“Initially, I too felt the same. But I guess, we took a lot of time in fixing the date.”

“Sounds like you fell in love after that meeting.”

“Indeed, I was in love. We both were. I still am.”

“And when did she tell you about it”, I asked it without any hesitation. He was really opened up about it. And I was getting really interested in the story.

“She told me about her cancer on that very date. And that’s the reason we both were able to create that bond.”

“And at what stage she was at that time?”

“It was Cancer Stage three”, he uttered, “and she wasn’t taking any treatments”.

“And still you took the chances?”

“Everyone has to die one day. No one has the power to live forever. ‘I just couldn’t let the death to influence my life’, she often used to say that.

And moreover, after knowing the news about her cancer, no one else would marry her. And I guess that was the reason I married her.”

“I’m sorry to interrupt”, I said, “but you married her out of pity?”

He burst into laughter. “I never thought, you would think like this”, he giggled.

“I didn’t get you”, I said.

“By marrying her, I felt I’m the special one for her. And she too felt that she was special for me. We both were special for one another.”

“I’m speechless”, I uttered.

“We all want the other person to love us, the other one to make us feel special. But we ourselves don’t try to give the same feelings to others. She made me feel that I’m the special one because, before me every guy didn’t even stop to talk to her as soon as she told them about her cancer. And I liked that.”

“I think I’m getting your point here”.

“Good to hear”, he uttered.

“You told me everything, except the name”, I said with a laugh.

“Except her mother’s eyes, smile, and freakiness, she happens to share her name too.”

“And that is?”

“Khushi (SMILE)”, he said and stood up.

One doesn’t need to be super rich or a muscle man to do something extraordinary. It’s the courage, that empowers love and makes all the differences in the world.

— raman thukral


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