The early morning was bitter sweet moments for Josna, as Alex left, his last hug and kiss ripped her heart open. She saw drops of moisture in his eyes, and he kissed her forehead whispering, “I will call you soon as I can. Love you to the moon and back.” That was their way of saying I love you. Next few days were tough on Josna…. Days passed and turned into weeks. A little monster of worry was growing in her head. She did not receive any message from Alex. One day, on her way to her classes Josna suddenly felt a fit of dizziness. She blacked out. She woke up to find Ronda was sitting there in the vehicle. She held her hand and kept talking to her in soothing tones. The doctor’s verdict was a shock. She read the paper given to her; it said how to take care during the first trimester. She was pregnant! Anumita tells us how Alex had come into Josna’s life. Was he truly missing? Would Josna meet him ever? What was the Valentine’s Day gift that Alex had given to her? Discover shades and hues of love, in this enchanting story, that we present, as a Special Feature, on the V-Day, exclusively in Different Truths.
Josna turned the steering wheel and let her fingers slide along the leather surface and her fingers remembered the touch of a leather belt. She felt the surge of warmth infuse her and a sense of longing fill her. She mentally shook herself out of the enveloping sensation to concentrate on her drive. The roads were familiar ones, yet today she had taken two wrong turns. What was wrong with her?
The phone beeped, and she touched the screen on her dashboard to let the Bluetooth catch the call. It was Ma. “Josna, where are darling? You should have been here hours ago. Are you tied up at work? Will you be coming today? Is everything alright? Mohana is already here, she is asking about you……”
Ma can go on for some time before she gives opportunity for the other person to answer her. Josna’s lips curved into a smile, picturising her ma’s face, while she throws barrage of questions. She giggled out aloud and that made her ma stop. “Am on my way ma, just had few errands to run, that is why am running late. See you soon. Love you all. Tell Mohana to save some of those sweets you made. I will not forgive her if she gorges all of those before I reached.”
Josna disconnected the call and voiced her next call to Ronda. Ronda was her friend and confidant for many years. She was practically her soul sister. Ronda was taking care of Bristi.
Bristi, the name brought solace, she is her reason to live. Bristi means rain in Bengali – she was conceived the day love had rained on her. Now five, her hair is soft as silk and falls in curls around her face. The colour of bright ember with streaks of fire, very different from most of the people she knows. Only one person had that colour, and he is no more.
“Ronda am almost there, get Bristi ready. Will leave immediately,” was the short voice message Josna sent Ronda.
One more turn and Josna pulled up at Ronda’s driveway. She was barely out of the car, when Bristi came running out of the door pulling a small suitcase behind her. Ronda walked with the backpack and smiled. Josna got down on her knees, as Bristi enveloped her mother and kissed her smack on the right cheek. Josna would trade anything in the world for such love. Ronda hugged Josna and said, “Next time for sure I am driving down to your ma’s place to stuff myself with all her delicious treats.” Josna smiled and lamented that she was not going this time due to Ronda’s knee problem.
Once in her booster seat, Bristi got buckled up and Josna bade her dear friend goodbye and set off for the three-hour drive to her ma’s place. Josna and her daughter kept chatting for half an hour before the little girl drifted off. Once on the highway, Josna looked into the rear view mirror to see the sweet face of her girl sleeping. Her lashes were fanned on her chubby cheeks. A lock of hair fell on her face. The sun rays caught the bronze streaks and flamed up the strand.
That colour. It always turned so many emotions in her. She was driving now more than two hours, since she started from home and after such and hectic day at the court. She felt tiredness creep into her bones. Pulling up at the next exit, she bought a coffee from the Tim Horton’s. She decided to park the car and have the coffee and then drive. Holding the hot coffee she shifted to the backseat, and held the hand of her sleeping daughter. Her thoughts drifted into time…
The feel of his skin, his smell, his smile and the sound of his voice was so true, so good, and so right. He had held her gently, and murmured her name like no one ever did. Alex, a whisper escaped Josna’s lips. Alex was her rock. He was her anchor in the storm, and her wind in the doldrums. He held her when she was in turmoil and propelled her to do more. He was a senior research fellow in Nano-technology, while she had just joined law school. Josna always had a prolific brain and her argumentative power was excellent too.
They had met at a common friend’s house over dinner. They struck up a beautiful friendship. Although they were from very different fields, their friendship blossomed. Soon love became a part of the tapestry of their relationship. The only problem was they lived in two different cities. Their hectic schedule kept them physically apart.
Josna could not believe how in six months time, they had become inseparable. Alex called up one day to inform Josna about the submission of his thesis. Once that was done, he would have some time off, and he could come over and spend time together and plan their future. Josna was on Cloud Nine. She had set up her schedule to do whatever was required to be able to spend as much time as she could with her Alex.
The day before his arrival, Alex called. He said that he had a surprise for her. The only bad news was that he would not be able to stay the whole week, as he had planned. Alex had an offer from the Federal government for a project on his expertise. Josna could not hide the pang of disappointment, but was happy for Alex.
The next day, she drove to the airport and waited anxiously at the arrival terminal. She could not restrain herself as Alex walked out of the door; she ran and wrapped herself around him. He held her and kissed her. After their amorous outburst and some cheers from the people around them, they both got into the car, grinning from ear to ear.
The next three days were a punctuated with love making and talking about themselves. Alex was going to be working in nanotechnology in the war prone zones. He could not tell her the details as the information was classified. He promised her that he will be in contact from time to time. He was very interested in working in this particular field, his eyes lit up as he talked about it.
Josna could only think of his absence and all the days she would not be able to communicate with him. But the dancing fire in his eyes, when he talked about his work, made her feel proud of him. Her Alex, she thought. She loved him with every pore of her being. He would be leaving the next morning.
She cooked with him that evening, all his favourite dishes. She took care to dress up and they danced. After dinner, they sat on the couch with their wine glass. She sighed and leaned her head on his shoulder. He nuzzled his face into her hair and took a deep breath. His voice was like timber, and he said this scent will keep him smiling during his lonely days. Josna turned her face to him and their lips met.
Alex held her. Time and place lost its value. All that was there were them. Josna and Alex in an embrace, her fingers traced his tee-shirt till it reached his belt. His favourite belt. An engraved leather with the ridges frazzled. His fingers stroked her skin into a raging fire. They made love like the world did not exist around them. They fell asleep in each other’s arms.
The early morning was bitter sweet moments for Josna, as Alex left, his last hug and kiss ripped her heart open. She saw drops of moisture in his eyes, and he kissed her forehead whispering, “I will call you soon as I can. Love you to the moon and back.” That was their way of saying I love you.
Next few days were tough on Josna, not being able to concentrate and work. But soon she got into her routine. Days passed and turned into weeks. A little monster of worry was growing in her head. She did not receive any message from Alex.
One day, on her way to her classes Josna suddenly felt a fit of dizziness. She blacked out. She woke up to find herself on an ambulance taking her to the hospital. She protested that she was fine. Her friend Ronda was sitting there in the vehicle. She held her hand and kept talking to her in soothing tones.
Alex, she needed to call him. Tell him. He needs to know. But, how? Who should she call? She looked at Ronda, who knew all about her and Alex. She would be able to help her.
Once they were back home, Ronda and Josna called up every possible number they knew, which might connect to Alex. All seem to either not know anything or not enough to give them a lead to how to contact him. Josna cried her heart out. Ronda called up Josna’s ma. She told her about what the situation was. Josna had told her mother about Alex, and about their future plans. Her ma, decided to come over and help.
Josna was missing classes and her professor was worried. He made arrangements with her university to give her a semester off. She was a brilliant student, who was going through difficult times.
Then one day her phone rang, a strange number popped. She touched talk, and a very official voice asked to talk with Ms. Josna. She confirmed her identity and heard the voice speak. “Ms. Josna, I will get to the point. Alex was employed by us to be a part of a much classified work. I cannot give you details of it. He had put your number and name to be notified if any emergency arises. Unfortunately, since last few days, Alex is missing. He cannot be traced. I am sorry for your loss.”
The line disconnected and Josna kept looking at the screen. What was that and how can this happen. One moment that person is there and the next he does not exist. This is a nightmare; she needs to wake up from it. Ronda heard the phone ring and had watched Josna’s reaction. She hurried over to her and held her till Josna exploded into an animal-like cry. She was angry, sad and was delirious. All Ronda could do was hold on to her. She did not want any harm to come to her. It seemed like hours. Josna’s rage and wails subsided. She fell asleep. Ronda called the doctor and for the next few weeks kept a strong vigil on her.
Josna’s belly grew. She knew the life in her was growing, but she felt nothing. All she knew was her Alex was gone. One early morning, she walked down the hall to answer the door. There stood a messenger, with a big bouquet of flowers and a parcel. His smile was warm, and he said, “Delivery for Ms. Josna.”
Josna, thanked the delivery guy and took the roses and the box indoors. She opened the card and her eyes teared up. In his neat handwriting, Alex had written to her:
Be my Valentine for today and forever. I may not be in town for this beautiful day, so had booked a bunch of roses and a gift to be delivered to you. I know, one day I will be with you and we will be celebrating our Valentine’s every day of our lives.
Love you to the moon and back.
Josna clutched the card to her heart and tears rolled down her cheeks. A slight movement happened in her belly. Instinctively, Josna touched it. And felt the first kick of her baby inside her. Alex and hers. A slow curve started at the corner of her lips. She felt a strange kind of love surge through her. Holding her belly, she stood up to put the roses in a vase and opened the little box. There in a bed of black velvet was a silver sterling pendant, with beautifully engraved words: ‘Love You to the Moon and Back’. She opened the side drawer of her dresser to keep the card and her finger tips touched something. She pulled the drawer further. There, coiled neatly was Alex’s belt. He had kept it for the night and now it was the only thing of his other than the baby that she had of him.
“Mommy, why are you crying?” A little voice broke her reverie and brought her back to the present. She looked into the face of her love, her baby. Kissed her forehead, and smiled. “Was reminding myself of the beautiful gift of Valentine your daddy gave me,” Josna said. Bristi pulled out her pendant around her neck, and smiled.
Josna moved to the front seat to drive, thanking the Universe for the beautiful and lively gift of Valentine that was hers now.
©Anumita Chatterjee Roy
Photos from the internet.
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