Relationship | Fiction
A Memorable Street Proposal
I head towards a stage where hundreds of people had gathered to witness a wedding. I see the dais of my soon-to-be bride at the front of the hall. She would arrive there soon. As I slowly pave my way to the chair I am allotted, my heart kept beating faster than usual.
Is it a “deja vu” moment? I see the surrounding audience, they were familiar, yet everything looks so strange. After a few music and chores, my bride, the most beautiful face of the day, joins me.
I don’t know what wrong with me today is. Have I broken any promise? Is anything left behind? I was eagerly waiting for this big day for the last three years. She is the only one I have desired in the last five years.
I find void as the wedding proceeds. In no time, our parents brought a marriage ring we bought for each other. The congregation prays for the ring, and this is where I take myself back to the Tri-Chandra campus, Kathmandu, on my university days of 2009.
“We plan to play a 10 minutes street play in association with the Red Ribbon Club (RRC). Our theme is ‘HIV/AIDS Awareness,’ and our goal is to spread awareness about unprotected sex among college youth.” Our team leader briefed us about the event happening soon.
The day was 12th February, and the street play, a part of Social Awareness for Youth (SAY) by USAID, was scheduled two days later, on 14th February. We weren’t prepared, but neither could we afford to miss the vibes of Valentine’s day. Our team leader transferred that responsibility to me. Since it was a quick project, I had to do everything, including writing the script and choosing my team.
That night I wrote the script. On 13th February, our team practiced the play. But to the worst, Nikita, a narrator and central character of the street play, pulled away, citing her health reason. I requested Muna, my close friend, to fill these empty shoes. She had seen us practicing on the earlier day, and as we had no other option, Muna agreed to play Juliet and narrator on quick notice.
We went on the floor with no further practice. Around 500 people watched us on the street. I thought it would be not easy, but everything got simple, thanks to Muna.
I played the character of bad Romeo, who trapped Juliet in the fake love. To make sure Juliet accepts Romeo, Romeo proposed to Juliet by kneeling on the street and giving her a valuable gift. I had 11 roses and a diamond ring. Muna acted on the play and narrated it wonderfully as if she is sharing her own story.
The best man of the day, Bishal’s pat on my shoulder, brought my consciousness back to my wedding. “Mr. Madan, don’t be distracted with her beauty. She will be with you today and always”, said Pastor, who was there to give marriage vows. I looked at my bride. She is smiling. I know she is happy. She knows I am happy with her. But the moment is not only about happiness. It is about vows and proposals. It is about a commitment and a promise that is supposed to last a long time. So many memories running on my mind, and I wish she knew at least some of them.
As the pastor continued with vows, my memories took me back to valentine’s day of 2009, where we were demonstrating a street play.
Romeo fascinated Muna when he knelt in front of the crowd. He recited a poem for his Juliet.
I shall always love you
This heart of mine
that knows only you
that longs to be with you
It is in love with you.
No gift a man gives
last for the eternity,
Rose dies, diamond fades
but never shall my love
It is in love with you
I shall always love you
No matter what,
In rainy and during sunny
In good days, in bad days
I shall always love you.
Will you be my valentine?
A promise I take today;
To be with you today and forever,
to bind you in our memories,
to treasure you, to love you.
Will you be my valentine?
The costly love making
Juliet instantly accepted. Romeo gave her a diamond ring as a token of his love. On a valentine’s date itself, they went on their first date. An evening Valentine dinner in Hotel Yak and Yeti at Durbarmarg, followed by a cable car ride on the Chandragiri Hills. They went for another evening ride to see a beautiful sunset in Nagarkot. During a night out, they made love, an unprotected one.
Romeo’s love was fake. Juliet could never meet him after their first date. She conceived. She aborted. The unprotected sex on the valentine date had already infected her with HIV positive, which she couldn’t cure.
The pain Muna went through
Muna couldn’t have done it better. In fact, nobody would have narrated so well. I could see Juliet’s pain disturbing Muna.
When we were on the way home, I thanked Muna for being part of the project. She not only performed it but also gave life to the play. She smiled. Sadly, she said no words further.
I asked her what is wrong. Initially, she declined and said nothing, but later she spoke one sentence, which changed the phase of my life. “What if you ever leave me someday?” I was astonished. I didn’t know what to say. She knew I love her, and I knew she loved me, but none of us had ever expressed our love for each other through words. Her one-sentence not only explained to me about her love but also her fear of losing me.
She continued, “When Romeo betrayed Juliet in the play, it stroke me as if it was not Romeo but Madan who betrayed his Muna. I can never imagine you going away from my life. I may never breathe again if you betray me.” Shedding tears and shivering, on the low tone, she said, “I wish it never happens again. I wish it never happens in any of the Muna-Madan stories you write. Neither in the play, we perform, nor in dreams we imagine. I wish no one separates Madan and Muna again.
I didn’t know how to react. I got my love without ever proposing to her, and the same girl was crying with the fear of separation. “I will never and ever leave you. Never again.” I consoled her and hugged her.
It is a time to take vows. My pastor asks me to share my marriage vows by following his words.
“I, Madan, take you, Monica, to be my wedded Wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance”
Monica took her vows. As we exchanged our rings, the pastor officially declared us husband and wife and a soul of two bodies. I hold her hands while she was supporting me. I see the ring on her finger. She notices and smiles. As a confirmation and as assurance, I hold her hand tighter. The pastor, elders, and our parents gathered to pray for us. The congregation stood to bless us. While I close my eyes to surrender my life, a part within me asks, What if I can’t maintain this commitment again?
Muna and I were holding each other hand. She wasn’t the perfect one from my fantasy, but she understood me more than anyone. I would have asked nothing more. She said while showing me a (fake) diamond ring that was on her finger. “When you read your stanza of jumbled words…”
Wait, wait, what do you mean by jumbled words stanza? That was a poem.” I interrupted.
“No. It wasn’t a poem. It was just a few paragraphs of jumbled words which Madan wrote in a hurry, and obviously, it wasn’t for his Muna.”
“So true. Had I known you would be there and not Nikita, I would have missed no feelings. Please, continue…”
When you knelt and put this ring on my finger in front of the crowd, I was literally so happy that I couldn’t resist it. Did you not see the joy within my heart?
“I felt it. But I didn’t see all this happening so soon.”
“But you leaving me in the play devastated me. I knew it was just a play; still, a part of me wanted to cry because you left me.” Pulling her ring finger towards herself, she said, “I will keep it as our engagement ring and preserve it till the end of my life.”
“What if Nikita wasn’t sick, and she was performing Juliet in the play today?”
“I would make sure it wouldn’t happen. When you asked Nikita to play Juliet, she was uncomfortable because she knew my love for you. But she couldn’t say No to you either. So she took an excuse of being sick for the day.”
Unknowingly, I recited a poem for Muna in front of the crowd on Valentine’s day; I proposed, and I am unofficially engaged. She made me retake those vows.
“Promise me you will always be with me.” — I promise.
“Promise me you will always take care of me.” — I promise.
“Promise me you will always love me.” — Till death separates us.
“Now you can kiss me,” She winked. Before I could think further, our lips got locked, feeling each other with every sense of instinct other but closed eyes.
Two years later, we got apart, physically and emotionally. While both of us couldn’t fulfill our promises, I keep regretting my decision to let her go. I wish I had held Muna for some more time.
Five years after the breakup with Muna, I found Monica in my life. She changed my life for good. Today is our wedding day.
But the memory of a proposal among the crowd and an unofficial engagement kept me hunting for years, even today on our wedding day. Today I can feel Monica’s warmth and fragrance. I can feel her thirst for me; I understand that our love may also change with time, but I am afraid. What if I wouldn’t be able to hold her till my last breath? What if I can’t maintain those vows again? What If…?
The most beautiful memories were not so beautiful for the obvious reason. It had happened before, too, unknowingly.