Pratima gazed out over the Indian Ocean, feeling the faint breeze against her face - eyes shut, the white sand warm between her bare toes. The place was beautiful beyond belief, but it was still unable to ease the grief she felt as she remembered the last time she had been here.
She was in a relationship with Aviral right here on this spot two years ago to the day. Dressed in a simple white shift dress, miniature white roses attempting to tame her long dark curls, Pratima had been happier than she had ever thought possible. Aviral was even less formal but utterly irresistible in creased summer trousers and a loose white cotton shirt. His dark hair slightly ruffled and his eyes full of adoration as his looked at his girl. The justice of the peace had read their vows as they held hands and laughed at the sheer joy of being young, in love and staying in a five star resort on the Indian Ocean of the Republic of India. They had seen the years blissfully stretching ahead of them, together forever. They planned their children, two she said, he said four so they compromised on three (two girls and a boy of course); where they would live, the travelling they would do together - it was all certain, so they had thought then.
But that seemed such a long time ago now. A lot can change in just a few years - a lot of heartache can change a person and drive a wedge through the strongest ties, break even the deepest love. Two years to the day and they had returned, though this time not for the beach side fun the beach was famous for but for one of its equally popular quickie break up.
Pratima let out a sigh that was filled with pain and regret. What could she do but move on, find a new life and new dreams? - the old one was beyond repair. How could this beautiful place, with its lush green coastline, eternity of azure blue sea and endless sands be a place for the agony she felt now?
The man stood watching from the edge of the palm trees. He couldn't take his eyes of the dark-straight-haired girl he saw standing at the water's edge, gazing out to sea as though she was waiting for something - or someone. She was beautiful, with her slim figure dressed in a loose flowing cotton dress, her crazy hair and bright dark eyes not far off the deepness of the sea itself. It wasn't her looks that attracted him though; he came across many beautiful women in his work as a writer. It was her loneliness and intensity that lured him. Even at some distance he was aware that she was different from any other girl he could meet.
Pratima sensed the man approaching even before she turned around. She had been aware of him standing there staring at her and had felt strangely calm about being observed. She looked at him and felt the instant spark of connection she had only experienced once before. He walked slowly towards her and they held each other's gaze. It felt like meeting a long lost friend - not a stranger on a strange beach.
Later, sitting at one of the many restaurant on the resort, sipping the local cocktails they began to talk. First pleasantries, their hotels, the quality of the food and friendliness of the locals. Their conversation was strangely hesitant considering the naturalness and confidence of their earlier meeting. Onlookers, however, would have detected the subtle flirtation as they mirrored each other's actions and spoke directly into each other's eyes. Only later, after the alcohol had had its loosening effect, did the conversation deepen. They talked of why they were here and finally, against her judgement, Pratima opened up about her heartache of the past year and how events had led her back to the place where she had in a relationship with the only man she believed she could ever love. She told him of things that had been locked deep inside her, able to tell no one. She told him how she had felt after she had lost her relationship.
It was six months and the happiest she had ever been when the love had started. She was staying with her mother as Aviral was working out in another city. He hadn't made it back in time. Her friend had said it was just one of those things, that they could work upon. But how could she when she couldn't even look Aviral in the eye. She hated him then, for not being there. All through the following months she had withdrawn from her friends, family, office. Not wanting to recover form the pain she felt - that would have been a betrayal of her man.
Looking up, Pratima could see her pain reflected in the man's eyes. For the first time in months she didn't feel alone, she felt the unbearable burden begin to lift from her, only a bit but it was a start. She began to believe that maybe she had a future after all and maybe it could be with this man, with his kind true eyes, wet with their shared tears.
They had come here to dissolve their relationship but maybe there was hope. Pratima stood up and took Aviral by the hand and led him away from the bar towards the beech where they had made their vows to each other two years ago. Tomorrow she would cancel the apart; tonight they would work on renewing their promises.
Referenced- Eliza Riley, Return to Paradise