Prerna was now in deep thoughts. She was angry, sad and confused at the same time. Days went by and she had not arrived at a decision. There was no problem with Piyush; he was a good guy and she would be comfortable spending her life with him. But she wondered if she would be happy with him or not, as clearly they had different thoughts and perspectives on life in general. Yet, he had changed his views and came forward and proposed to her. Why? Maybe he really had started liking what she did; but the question was did he want to do the work lifelong along with her? The answer to that question was a probable no and Prerna knew that it meant a lot to her. Her thoughts were interrupted by her father who was beaming at her.
“Piyush had called me yesterday, Prerna” he said, “he told me everything. I am so happy for you two!”
“Did he tell you that I haven’t responded to him as yet?”
“Yes, he did. But I know that you liked him the first time he had come. I like him and know him and his family very well. You wouldn’t say no, I know that!”
He was really happy and looked energetic; something which had not happened since he had had the stroke. Prerna got up and hugged her father and without a second thought she told him to contact Piyush and tell him that she was ready.
Prerna had said yes only looking at her father’s happiness, but she was not happy and this clearly showed on her face. Everyone at the orphanage noticed that too but only Abhiram came forward and talked to her. She told him everything and was relieved to share her problems with someone.
“Why are you doing this?” he asked her.
“Because I want my father to be happy and not worry about me anymore and if getting married gives him that satisfaction and happiness then I am willing to do it. I had almost lost him once; I cannot afford to do so again.”
“I’m sure that your happiness means more to him that you getting married. Have you talked to him about this clearly?”
“Then you should. Trust me he will understand.”
“I know he will understand but if I don’t get settled then he will always be tensed and worried about me.”
“Will he be happy to see you unhappy?”
Prerna remained silent as she knew that Abhiram was telling the truth.
Following evening saw Prerna and Piyush at a café. After a long, silent, coffee-sipping session Prerna finally broke the silence.
“Piyush, I don’t want to get married to you.”
“Wow! That was brutal. What happened?”
“I’m sorry to blurt out things like this, but that took a lot of courage. See, I know you like me and even I like you; but I do not see a future with you. You had clearly told me that I will have to give up my passion in order to be your wife. I respect that you were so frank in telling me that. Then you met me once again, saw me in my full elements and liked how I did the things. You liked my energy and the way I pursued my passion; but you still don’t share my passion. Working for these underprivileged kids is not just my passion but my life itself. I was very young when I became a widow. These kids have saved me from going into oblivion. I wanted to escape from life and turned to them and they in turn helped me to face life.
I want to be with someone who shares the same vision as I do. Unfortunately, you and I don’t have that in common. If we get married (for whatever reasons) neither of us would be happy.”
Piyush did not say anything but stared at the empty coffee cups on the table. He finally opened his mouth and said, “Then why did you say yes?”
“For my father’s sake, but I have realized that it would be a wrong decision eventually. Getting married is not the goal of my life, Piyush but doing what I love is. I may never get married but I will always serve the society, always.
This is the goal of my life. I know I had wavered from it for some time but not anymore.”
Piyush only nodded this time and looked away from her. Prerna got up, wished him luck and went away.
She straight away went to meet Abhiram. She was beaming with happiness and he knew that she had told everything to Piyush.
“I did it. I told him that I cannot get married.”
“Great! Now only your dad needs to know.” He reminded her.
“One step at a time.” She said.
They were now walking on the footpath. He looked at Prerna who was looking ahead of her. There was a sense of satisfaction on her face.
“You are not averse to getting married, are you?”
“No, why?” she looked at him confused.
“I just wanted to see if I had any chance, that’s all!” he said smiling sheepishly.
“You always make me laugh, Abhiram.”
“What makes you think I am not serious?”
Now this made Prerna stop. She looked at him inquiringly but said nothing and he just smiled again.
“I’m kidding. Now go and talk to your dad. He needs to know this from you and not anyone else.”
Prerna took his leave but something made her think. She just walked in silence and turned to look at him. He was still looking at her, she smiled and waved at him and then went away running.
Abhiram kept looking at her go and sighed. “Maybe some other time” he said aloud.
Prerna was about to meet her father and her heart was pounding; but she knew that this was the right thing. Now she prayed that the right words should come to her at the right time.
“I have to tell you something. I don’t want to get married to Piyush.” She said.
Before she could open her mouth again, her father spoke.
“I knew this was coming” he said slowly, “I am not blind my dear. I could see that you were not happy. I just did not have the courage to talk to you directly. I am very apprehensive about you after I am gone. Who will look after you?”
“I will. You have raised me correctly dad. You have made me capable of looking after myself.”
These words made her father cry and he embraced Prerna.
“You know that I am proud of you, right?”
Prerna just nodded.
She finally said, “And you know, it is not that I am against marriages. I will get married, but only to someone who is right for me.”
Her father said, “I know darling. I know that you can very well find your way to the shore even in the storm. I was just too afraid of admitting it I guess.”
Both of them laughed and Prerna thanked for the life.
“I have named you correctly my daughter. You really are an inspiration.”