Anjeni still sat alone at the dining table. By this time candles were stubbed out, leaving just the wax, spread out around on the table. The condition of her heart was somewhat similar, frozen after waiting so long for him. The dinner kept on the table was as it was, untouched. As she felt exhausted, she got up from the chair. Suddenly the wall piece rang, twelve strokes, as if it was the sound of somebody blowing on her heart. It was 12 O' Clock.
He left right at 8 O' clock...
Four hours were over..
Probably he must have been somewhere near the cottage..
She went to the window, peered outside. The road coming to the cottage was calm and quite. She waited in the window, staring at the road, waiting desperately for John. Suddenly she saw two flashlights moving forward on the road. Her face started glowing.
Must be John only...
Definitely it must be him...
She kept looking at the approaching headlights. As they came near, she felt her heart throbbing.
I should not have doubted him...
She felt odd about doubting him. The vehicle now reached the square.
Just a turn and the vehicle will reach the cottage...
But what's this?
The vehicle moved forward instead of turning towards the cottage.
The disappointment crept over her face. She started strolling in the room to come out of the disappointment, still could not stop to peer outside in between.
She glanced at the wall piece; it was 25 past 12. John had to come by this time. Now she was feeling lonely. Again she peered outside the window with anticipation, as again she saw two flashlights moving forward.
Now it must be him this time...
She waited at the window and stared at those headlights.
This could be John's vehicle... or may be some other vehicle. Both possibilities..
But hope is strange.. it keeps one alive..
Suddenly the headlights disappeared when it reached the square..
Did the vehicle stop there?...
Or it was just a hallucination..
She moved away from the window and again strolled in the room. She ran to the window and peered down as she heard horn from the downstairs. John was getting out of the car. Her gloomy face sparked. She darted to the door, opened it and ran outside. John saw her running towards him and he too ran towards her. She hugged him tight.
" Why did you take so long?" She playfully beat on his chest.
" I was so scared... I thought you are going to leave me here.." she continued staring in his eyes.
" Are you crazy... Is it possible that I ever leave you?" He took her to the cottage putting her hand around her shoulder.
Both climbed the steps putting hand around each other's waist.
" Now tell me ... Where were you?" She asked.
" Be patient...dear" He smiled.
When both of them entered the cottage, Anjeni slammed back the door and wavered around him to listen what he had to say. He went straight to the dining table, again lit the new candles on the table, putting off all house lights. Anjeni was just following him in confusion not knowing what he was upto. At last, John made her sit holding her shoulder in front of him across the dining table.
" Have a seat... I will tell you where I went" He said sitting across her.
For a while they were quite, John stared in her eyes and Anjeni stared back puzzled. John took her soft hand in his.
" Anjeni... will you marry me?" He proposed, looking right into her eyes.
Though Anjeni got puzzled with this unexpected question, but felt excited hearing it.
But then controlling her emotions she said, '' Is this some kind of joke?"
" No.. I am serious" He said.
" Look John, I missed you and felt lonely when you were not here... at least don't cut such useless jokes at this time" She said.
" No Anjee... I am damn serious" He tried to convince her.
John called her with a nickname 'Anjee', the first time. She peeped into his eyes, trying to read his emotions.
" You don't believe..'' He removed a red box from his pocket, '' look what I have brought for your"
" What is it?"
" Engagement ring... of course if you agree" He took her consent again, " Will you marry me please?''
Anjeni's eyes welled up.
" You went in the city for this?" She asked with chocked throat.
He nodded in agreement looking lovingly at her.
Both got up the chair and entered passionately into an embrace.
" Yes I will" the words erupted from her chocked throat.
His face started beaming with happiness. He held her up and kissed her passionately. Then he let her down and gently pushed the ring into her ring finger.
Original Novel by Sunil Doiphode
English Version by Mugdha Apte