It was the final year of college. Whenever our group had some free time (which was quite a lot, BTW) the talk would invariably move on to marriage and probable honeymoon destinations.
In those days, it was the custom in my family to get the daughters married soon after under graduation.
I must have watched “Sound of Music” a 100 times, so I was obsessed with the idea of a Honeymoon in the Alps. Being over-confident of its possibility I asked my friends what gifts I could get them.
Talk of counting chickens before they are hatched!
The simple girl in our group asked for the best Swiss chocolates, the two beauty conscious lasses, wanted cosmetics while the jolly one laughingly settled on sexy, black lingerie.
Man proposes and God disposes!
I came to know the verity of the statement first-hand. Early pregnancy, financial loss, children’s education, daughter’s marriage, everything came one after another in quick succession. I was sucked into the quagmire of mundane domesticity.
The Alps remained too high and too distant for me.
Time and tide wait for no man. Time flew and twenty-five years later, my son was studying in London and we decided to visit him. My husband casually suggested that we go on an European tour too. You could have knocked me down with a feather. My dream honeymoon after 25 years!
The long wait made the trip sweeter. Travelling across the Alps was more breathtaking than I had ever imagined. What made my cup of joy overflow was the inclusion of nine European cities in the trip.
When the tour operator asked for our choice of music to play in the vehicle, I promptly replied “Sound of Music,” imagining myself as Julie Andrews, prancing along the grassy slopes, as I had dreamt countless times before.
The songs began: Do Re Me, Raindrops on Roses, Edelweiss and finally the tender sweet:
“Nothing comes from nothing,
Nothing ever could.
Somewhere in my youth or childhood,
I must have done something good.”
And I believed that the song was sung just for me. My tears of happiness started flowing freely.
But reality struck me like a ton of bricks!
The friend who had wished for Swiss chocolates had met with an unfortunate end. The two girls who had wanted cosmetics had settled abroad, having access to the latest brands, while my friend, who had desired lacy lingerie, had just lost her husband!
I cried again.
I cried for the friend who had died and I cried for the friend who had lost her husband.
And this time, the tears which flowed had a different taste!
Story Contribution: Fahmida Irfan. Chennai.
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