Every stage in our lives ultimately ends, but don’t we have a role in how it actually ends? If we want a happy ending, we must have the courage to do something for it. Here’s a love story that is successful due to courage and love. Having a partner with a significant age difference is not an easy task to have a happy ending. What do you think? Is just love enough to make such couples one? We don’t think so! Let’s see how the courageous gift was forever roses.
Love Smitten brings you a story of one courageous gift that birthed a love story breathing even today, with love still being the presiding source of togetherness.
Courageous Gift was Forever Roses
A Love Story
Riya was only sixteen when she first met Raj. A delicate girl otherwise, that day she wore a long skirt with a braided hairdo, looking like a flawless schoolgirl. Riya and Raj were neighbors and nothing more. But Raj was also Kushal’s (Riya’s brother) playmate. The boys would often visit each other’s houses to play and their friendship grew as they bonded each day. The dudes met almost every day, welcoming one another into each other’s families too. Both sets of parents accepted the friends as one and as part of the family.
Kushal’s father also played chess with Raj on his off days since Kushal wasn’t much into playing the game with his father. Riya, who was in her teen years, would always look forward to having Raj at home because it meant she could spend time with him too. She did not realize when she developed a crush on her brother’s buddy. A shy girl, Riya did not have many friends with who she could share her feelings. Was it love? An infatuation? Or a crush that would not last? She did not know.
Not just was Riya alone but also lacked the maturity to understand what was happening to her. She was young and felt blood rush to her cheeks when she saw him each day. Riya’s elder brothers were protective of her, and her parents were strict and rigid. If they came to know about her feelings, it could have been the end of Kushal and Raj’s friendship too, and that was the last thing Riya wanted. All she needed to do was take a courageous step that would benefit her with a courageous gift she could hold on to for life!
One book is equal to a hundred friends, people say. Riya also believed in that. She was so much into reading books that it helped her solve her dilemma about understanding her true feelings towards Raj and also helped figure out what she could do next- to stay quiet about it. What else would a shy girl with no friends and strict parents do? She was also scared that Raj would tell Kushal, and matters would blow out of proportion. Much like several other Indian love stories of the 90s, Riya decided to remain a silent, one-sided lover!
A while later, when Riya started college, she finally made a friend she could trust, Charu. Riya shared her feelings with Charu, who was surprised at how Riya could carry on loving someone for such a long time without saying a word! Impressed by her courage, Charu supported her and motivated her to confess her feelings to Raj. Riya thought it was maybe time to talk to Raj as she was old enough to stop him from sharing anything with her brother. She called Raj to her college the next day.
Raj, unaware of Riya’s feelings for him and not having any feelings himself, casually visited her college, thinking she just wanted to hang out as they did at home. It was time that Riya gave herself a courageous gift, the gift of confessing her love! Or not? Riya blacked out when she saw Raj. Her heart raced and the fear of losing a friend of so many years haunted a nervous, shivering Riya. She couldn’t say a word to him and only hung out in the canteen and ended the meeting with, ” Okay then, see you later!”
Probably, Riya would never be able to give herself the courageous gift of spending her life with Raj. She was afraid of him judging her… judging the friendship they had. “What will my brother think? What if my parents know?” More than anything, Raj was ten years older than Riya and that would definitely come in the way of their relationship, and that’s if they ever had one! Plus, “What if he doesn’t like me back?”
Well, she was right about that! Raj looked at Riya as just Kushal’s sister. Someone he respected and should protect in Kushal’s absence because that’s how he has seen Kushal towards her. A couple of weeks later, Riya’s heart sank when she saw the love of her life, her first love standing with another girl. Not just any girl, but his girlfriend… his girlfriend for twenty-four hours. It was new for Raj and so he was all over his girl who wouldn’t stop blushing. Riya was red with jealousy.
Riya ran home, tears exploding out of her heart. The feeling of vacuum took over her senses. Her gut felt wrenched and heart felt cheated. Despite never having shared her feelings, Riya felt cheated because she always hoped Raj would be able to see through her. That he would also notice Riya blushing around him, calling him to hang out often, that he would also fall in love with her since he spent so much time at her place. That he would accept her courageous gift of love.
Feeling thoughtless and so lost in thoughts, Riya stepped outside for dinner, a couple of weeks after the incident. By then, Riya got used to seeing Raj around his girlfriend more and less at her home. When she entered the dining room, she found Raj also seated at the dining table, looking as washed out as her. Kushal and Raj whispered among themselves. She observed how Raj kept clutching his fist and grinding his teeth as they spoke. After dinner, Riya escaped the room and sat outside in the verandah. Raj also stepped out after a while to go home. Riya saw him but decided to avoid a conversation. As if her heart would listen to her mind’s decisions.
“Is everything okay?” She asked as Raj raised his hand to wave her goodbye. Filled with emotions of anger, Raj couldn’t stop himself from sharing his feelings with Riya. She learned that he broke up with his girlfriend because she lied to him. “I mean, how do people do that? She was already engaged to someone else and is getting married to him soon. Why would she tell me she loves me?”
“She said she loves you only in two weeks of knowing you?” ‘And here I am, contemplating about my courageous gift of confessing my feelings for you for years!’ She thought this to herself.
“Uhm… well, I said it in one week of knowing her. She responded much later.”
Riya couldn’t believe her ears. There she was, in love for so many years and still so lonely while people threw around the “L” word like a freaking joke. It took years for Riya herself to come to terms with the hidden truth that she loved Raj. The fact that she couldn’t be interested in someone else even after so many years further confirmed this feeling. Raj waited for Riya to respond, who was lost in the thoughts of people’s stupidity towards understanding love. When she caught him staring at her, she said, “I’m sorry this happened. Probably, it wasn’t love if you’re so angry at her.”
Riya ended the conversation with a good night because there wasn’t much she could say to him. That night, she couldn’t stop thinking about how she was madly in love with someone who did not even understand love. “And he’s older than me? Silly!”
A fresh attempt and the ultimate ending!
A social media-less generation, people from the 90s still relied on letters. A while had passed since Raj broke up with his “so-called girlfriend.” Riya, fed up with keeping the feelings to herself, finally decided to give herself the courageous gift of at least lightening up her heart and expressing her feelings. She write a letter to Raj, sharing everything she’s felt in all these years. About the first crush, about him being her first love, about her one-sided love, about her heartbreak, and about her inability to move on from him. She handed the envelope to Raj and decided to let fate decide the result of this courageous gift.
Raj was astounded at reading the letter. While he felt amazing about being someone’s secret love, he also felt like Riya was too young to differentiate between love and infatuation. Like he knew better! Even the fact that Riya hadn’t looked at another guy in so many years couldn’t convince Raj of Riya’s love. Thinking he should be the mature one, Raj decided to take a trip so he could be far from Riya’s sight for a while. “Maybe, if she doesn’t see me for a while, she’ll come back to reality!” Raj didn’t return for over twenty-five days, and nothing changed for Riya. When they saw each other, he saw love gleaming from her eyes.
“I decided to give myself the courageous gift of being honest. It’s up to you now.”
Raj spoke to a friend about everything, confused about how he could take this further. He spent days thinking about her. The memories of all the time they’ve spent with her hit him. He could finally see how Riya was different around him. The moment he started thinking about her in a different way and not as Kushal’s sister, he felt the jitters too. Maybe, maybe he felt a little something for her too when he saw her as just a beautiful girl who’s loved him for years. Raj’s friend also suggested that there was nothing wrong in taking this forward.
Excited about feeling something new, Raj also started dreaming about Riya. But the question of age and caste differences jolted him back into reality. He asked RIya to meet him the next day. She was curious, anxious, and nervous, all at the same time!
Raj waited for her at the bus stop. When his eyes fell on a different Riya, one with who wasn’t his best friend’s sister, but a gorgeous girl in simple Indian wear and flying hair, he couldn’t take his eyes off her. He melted! When he finally mustered the strength to talk, he said, “Riya, is this serious?”
“How much more serious can one get? Two years into college and I don’t have a single male friend. I’m always in the room when you come home. I’ve seen you like someone else and then your heart break. Yet, I’m here… a girl madly in love who wants from you the courageous gift of lifelong love.”
Raj had never heard Riya speak that way. He finally realized she wasn’t as immature as he thought. She was a grown-up who knew what she finally wanted. He couldn’t help be impressed by her bravery and patience. Raj wanted to ensure her that he was also beginning to fall for her. He said, “Let’s walk to the park nearby.”
When they were finally seated on a bench in a lonely, afternoon park, he gently placed his hands on Riya’s. They both shuddered. Raj felt the electricity up his spine and Riya couldn’t help close her eyes. This is just how she imagined it would feel. The eye contact after this touch sealed the deal. Their faces were glowing and their eyes were shy. RiyaRaj were finally one with Raj accepting Riya’s courageous gift of unconditional love.
Commitments and more!
Two and a half years into their loving, happy, and secret relationship, and Raj was old enough to get married and he shared with Riya that his parents were desperate to get him married. Riya wanted to marry him too but she was scared of the outcome of everyone finding out about them. She knew her parents wouldn’t accept this relationship. But neither of them wanted to back up. They had been through their share of love, fights, experiences, the many “firsts”, arguments, and make-ups. They did not want to go through any of that with anyone else because the first time was so special.
Raj, a successful lawyer by then, shared his feelings for Riya with his mother. He felt like she would get him and would help convince the others for their relationship. But Riya was still in the last year of her college. So, there was no support from anywhere. Age, caste, and the fact that their children wanted to go in for a love marriage would become a big deal among all, and Raj’s mother suggested he married someone they chose for her.
When Riya saw everything falling apart, she thought it would be futile to speak to her parents. Scared and yet so in love, they made the decision to get married in court, without anyone’s knowledge or permission. They thought, there wasn’t much anyone could do once it was legal. They knew it wasn’t the right step to take and yet they took it. Riya made it to the courthouse in the saree, citing traditional day in college at home.
Raj fell more in love with her when he saw Riya in a saree for the first time. Their fears vanished and all they could think about was them becoming one in that moment. Raj and Riya were married that day.
It was a happy day for both of them. But as Raj walked Riya home, he could sense how she was guilty about hiding a reality as big as this from their families. After all, she was starting a new life without the consent of her parents. A courageous gift gave her forever roses but she was still not entirely happy somewhere. It took the young couple some time to finally confess, which as they anticipated led to quite some emotional outbursts. But in the end, both families accepted their love and marriage.
They also decided to hold a grand-scale wedding once Riya finished college. Raj and Riya couldn’t be happier. They would finally get to live under one roof as husband and wife.
Riya’s courage made her life easy. Not always, but many times true love meetings with happy endings. Her courageous gift was forever roses to them. Although, they still endorse to the younger generations that it is best they face the brunt of their parent’s disapproval for a while till they finally agree than getting married in secrecy. They often talk about the torment they felt when they had to hide a decision so huge and that they wished they had done it another way.
Talk it out with people you trust, and give your families the time to accept your love. Running away or secret marriages shouldn’t be an option. Of course, this is a story of the 90s when this was common. Today, things are much different with parents being much more open-minded than before. Choose the highway. It’s a whole different generation today. Don’t hide… talk!
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