Tuesday, 18 June 2019

OS: Baggage



"Armaan! We're not getting that one! It's too simple!"



"Tia, it's beautiful! I like that one better!" The guy named Armaan muttered, his voice tired. "Whatever, just choose one and let's get done with this!" He said after a pause. He probably saw that his opinion wasn't going to matter. "We still have the flowers and decors left!"



As a cake-maker, I had seen millions of couples in this state before their wedding. I had seen them argue over designs, only that flattered me - of course, who wouldn't be? They were having difficulty choosing one from many of my assortments!





"We'll have this in 3 tiers and then 3 cupcakes at the edge. That would look nice!" The bride-to-be finally smiled, but the groom did not.



"Uh hun, I know you really want this to be a grand affair, but right now, seeing both of us are working towards building our careers, its better if we take it a bit low'How about we take this one, you liked the design! And she could always change the icing right?" Armaan said in an under-tone, muttering the latter half of his statement loudly, directing it to me. I nodded.  "And besides, hun, I understand you want this to be special, but you've already spent on your wedding dress, and on Parkinson's venue. We probably have the world's best dress and venue now! Will the cake make a difference now?"



I sighed inwardly.  I could understand his stance, but at the same time, I felt bad for the bride. For a girl, her wedding is the most important day of her life, and be it a princess or a pauper, every girl dreamt of this special day. I did as well'



"Armaan! Its our wedding day! Parkinson's was both our decision, and fine I went a bit overboard on the dress, but it was perfect, just the one I had imagined since I was a child!" Tia argued.  I looked on, and the way her expressions were changing, I could just foresee an eruption. Boy, was the groom treading on troubled waters!



"I know that! But still we have to tone it down a little. Its not just the wedding, we have our entire life ahead of us!" He argued.



Having been in the business for 7 years, and being one of the most renowned cake-makers in town, I had witnessed this argument way too many times. And along with these arguments, I had witnessed either heart-warming make-up sessions, or heart-wrenching break-ups. I guess it was normally the pre-wedding days which made you realize that either you can't live without the person, or you can't stand to live an entire eternity with them'



"Armaan! If you were so conscious about the budget, you just shouldn't have proposed!" She said icily. I muttered a small 'Ouch!' under my breath and looked at Armaan who looked as if he had been slapped on his face.



"I should excuse you for a while'" I muttered and moved back busying myself in the concentric circles in which a series of cakes and cupcakes were placed.



"You don't mean that!" I could sense the hurt in his voice, and I felt bad for him. Seeing the way things were going, I had a bad feeling they were going to be those kinds of couples who probably thought they were meant for each other, but then got cold feet. What they obviously didn't think about was the mark they were going to create on each other's lives if they did so'



"I do! Sometimes I wish I had fallen in love with a millionaire!" She replied, her voice still rude. I felt like punching her. Who the hell would say that? Didn't she see all this before flirting with him during breaks at work and going out on dates in coffee shops with him?



I turned just in time to see her storm out after muttering a low 'Gotta get back to work!'. I looked at the groom who looked as if someone had just crushed his heart mercilessly. He did love her a lot.



"Don't worry, she'll come around! This always happens!" I said in a sympathetic tone and saw him nod.



"Wonder what the flowers are gonna be like!" He muttered with a smug smile. "You must be thinking 'Why the hell are they even getting married' isn't it?" He asked me and I smiled and shook my head.



"Uh, no'Actually I'm thinking about why you would want to fight your days into the wedding'Trust me, I've seen this so many times, it just keeps getting more and more adverse each time!" I chuckled and saw him give a light laugh.



"So this is normal?" He asked uncertainly, almost fearing the opposite.



"Yep! You have nothing to worry about!" I winked at him.



"Good! Because I really love her a lot!" He mumbled and my heart went 'Aww'' at his face. Now that I thought about it, I was sure every girl would just mumble an 'Aww'' when they saw him. In fact, probably much more than that! He was gorgeous!



"That's good! And don't take her words to heart'I was the same when-" I shut up as soon as I realized what I was saying. I saw his eyes turn curious and avoided his gaze. "Girls just have a habit of behaving like 'Bridezilla' when it comes to weddings. Because we've dreamt of this day for so long!" I smiled nervously, trying to divert his attention.  He probably got the hint.



"Every girl looks for a fairy-tale in every single thing they do init?" He asked skeptically and I nodded, smiling.



"Hey, haven't you heard,  that once in a while, right amidst our ordinary lives, love gives us a fairy-tale!" I winked at him while he smirked. "And yes, we do! For us, its like a big fairy-tale movie'And of course we like to be the Princess in it'Its our story after all!" I laughed and he joined me. "As little girls, we wear our mother's big dresses, so for us they come to length, we wear the table-cloth as our veil and hum the wedding tune with the flowers from our vase in our hands! And then we walk down the aisle to our mirror! That's what we do!" I said dreamily while he laughed in amusement. "It's the biggest day of our life'" I mumbled in a daze.



"So I guess I have to get her favorite cake then?" He whispered breaking me out of my thoughts of nostalgia. I smiled and nodded.



"That would be ideal!" I said and he nodded.



"So, 2 weeks, and design 24 please!" He smiled and I smiled happily. So they were different after all. At least he was! "And, umm, Tia wanted that couple dancing on top, so if you could have that as well?" He asked.



"Design 24 it is! And of course, the couple dancing! That's my favorite too!" I jotted it down and he got up to leave, paying me the advance. "And with a 5% discount, it is-"



"No, don't go on my talks'I'll just have to cut down on my tux now!" He laughed when I stopped him.



"No, I normally do give cut-backs'Its always 5% on the house from me! But since I find you and, Tia, if I'm not wrong, special than the rest, I give you a special 7%! On the house!" I smiled and he raised his eyebrows amused. "Weddings are special! But sometimes, it's the couple which is its glory!" I said.



"Thanks, Ms. uh'?" He whispered, and I mumbled a soft 'Riddhima!' in return of his question.  "And, um, just because the couple didn't turn out to be special, doesn't mean the person isn't either!" He said meaningfully and I looked at him shocked. I saw his dimples flash, and felt my heartbeat rise. Smiling softly, I waved at him as he left the shop.



And after that I didn't stop thinking about him...













It was a raging day at the bakery, and for the first time, I wasn't happy about all the fame and name I had! 7 orders to go, out of which 5 were of weddings. Now, if I didn't get it all ready in time, I sure would have a lot of brides running behind me with cake-knives!



"Martha, enough with the baking, I need to get them de-frozen as well! Step on it please!" I yelled across the bakery, sighing as I looked at the half-baked cake in front of me. I smiled as I remembered who that particular cake belonged to. The special couple. I wondered how they must be feeling at the moment, after all, it was their special day.  I wondered how the bride was feeling'



Anxious, excited, teary, happy, over-the-moon, a little sad, nostalgic of the memories, and looking forward to making new ones'How, you ask, I knew this? Because I had been there at one point of time. I clutched the ring hidden in my apron pocket tight, trying to release myself by holding on.



"Bake's up!" I heard Martha call out. Sighing, I got back to doing the finishing touches on the cake. I carefully placed the dancing couple on top and smiled. I didn't know why, but this wedding was closer to me than any other. Probably because I hadn't stopped thinking about the groom ever since I met him. Now, don't get me wrong'It was a pure feeling, probably infatuation, and if anything, I was happy he was about to spend his life with the one he loved. Not everyone have that luck!



"Cake's up!" I yelled as I neatly taped a small envelope on the head of the box. It was a small note to wish him and his to-be-wife all the luck and happiness in the world. I had never done this before, I had never paid that much attention to any other couple. But as I said, this one pulled me.



"For?" Neil, the delivery boy asked me, and I scribbled down the address on a rough paper. "To A Mr. Armaan Mallik and Ms. Tia Chopra. Parkinson's City Hall!" He read out and I nodded in confirmation.



"That won't be necessary!" I heard a voice behind me and turned to find the person who had been invading my thoughts right in front of me, in his wedding tux.



"You didn't have to come! We would have delivered it to the venue!" I smiled at him, amused that he had planned on picking up the cake all by himself.



"I'm not here to pick up the cake!" He said quietly. From his voice, I could make out something was wrong. He made his way to the counter and held up an envelope. "The rest of your payment. And'" He cleared his throat. "'Umm, I know it's too late to cancel my order, its already made. But I can't take it. I, uh'" He murmured while I stood there shocked.



"You're paying the amount, but you're not taking the cake? Why?" I asked confused.



"Because it was supposed to be for a wedding which isn't going to take place anymore!" He said blankly. I remained silent, too stunned to say anything.



I beckoned the staff to busy themselves and spare him the stares, to which they reluctantly obliged.



"I'm sorry, but may I ask why?" I asked softly. He held up a piece of paper from his pocket and handed it to me. Intrigued, I took it from his hand and pulled it out.





"Armaan'



I'm sorry! I know what I'm about to do may be the worst thing anyone will ever do to you, but its probably for the best. It might be the best decision of our lives, because in these past few days, I've realized we aren't meant for each other'



Let's face it, we have just known each other for 9 months! Maybe it was impulsive of me to have said yes! But now, its more important to amend the decision rather than repenting it all my life...



I'm sorry it took me so long to tell you this'I never meant to hurt you, and I know its cowardly of me to pen this down and not tell you all this in person, but I am sure I'll never be able to look you in the eyes again'



Please know, this is something I have to do'I'm sorry baby! I hope someday, you find it in yourself to forgive me'



I'm sorry'

Tia'"





I stood rooted to my spot, and felt tears prick my eyes. I looked at Armaan who's face didn't immediately suggest his shattered state, but if you looked into his forlorn eyes, you could see his heart breaking.



"I'm sorry'" I said softly, while he smiled and looked up. I saw his misty eyes, and instantly felt my heart twist.



"So, umm'Here's your payment. I'm sorry for the waste'Uh.." He choked, and kept the envelope on the counter. He stood up to leave when I held his hand which was on the counter. I had no idea what made me do it.



I beckoned towards the door while he nodded.



Grabbing my coat, I gave instructions to Martha to carry out the days' tasks. I would probably be inviting my own doom by doing so, but I had other concerns. Unknown and unfathomable concerns.



A few minutes later, we found ourselves sitting on a rock, staring out into the sea.



"Silly question, but are you okay?" I asked, after 23 minutes of pure silence.



"Stupid answer, but yes, I will be okay'" He murmured softly. I at least saw no signs of tears, and nor did his eyes speak to me this time. They were as blank as their face.



"More than will, you might have to be okay'You don't get another option!" I murmured softly and saw him nod.



"Easy to say!" He muttered.



"Difficult to go through!" I said in the same tone.



"How many people do you know were left at the altar?" He asked me. I smiled sardonically.



"None." I replied.



"You know, throughout my life, I've been very choosy of who to be with. I never dated anyone with a past, with any sort of scar. I just thought they had very complicated lives already, and I wouldn't be able to deal with them if they come in my way'" He muttered. I was not impressed by his blunt admission, but nonetheless, impressed by his honesty. "Now I'm one of them! Now, I have my own baggage!" He laughed bitterly.



"How many people do you know that lost their fianc on the day of their wedding?" I asked, so casually, as if I was asking him about the weather. I pulled out my engagement ring from my pocket , and stared at it until I felt my eyes tear up. "Its been 3 years. Its been a year since I removed it from my finger'.Still haven't been able to remove it from my life'." I murmured. The tears disappeared as easily as they had come. I was used to this. I dealt with weddings everyday, and somewhere, that had made me stronger.



I saw his face contort expressions of confusion, and then guilt.



"Is that why'" He asked and I nodded, knowing well what his question was.



"He was on his way with his parents. They died instantly." I said blankly. I smiled when I saw him frowning, thinking of what to say. "You don't have to say anything'Its just that everyone has their own baggage'But don't let that get to you'If anything, help the person lift it!" I smiled earnestly and saw him look at me questioningly.



"You're talking as if it's the most normal thing to do!" He said. "You must be really strong to actually have managed to smile while telling me this!" He frowned.



"You want me to cry?" I asked, puzzled. He shook his head vigorously. I laughed. "I know what you're talking about'Many people ask me the same thing'But this is life, and since I have to live it anyway, anyhow, I don't want to spend my time crying!" I shrugged. "It took a while to adopt this outlook towards life. At first, I stopped believing in love, stopped believing in God, and took every breath as a burden. But then I realized, that by doing that, I was making myself a burden on others, and just started afresh! It wasn't easy'But I got through!" I smiled back at him when I saw him look at me in awe.



"You're one wonder-woman you know that?" He grinned, and my heart did flip-flops at those dimples again.



"I know!" I said. "You'll get there too! Sooner than you think!" I smiled.



"I do feel better right now itself! Does that account for something?" He asked.



"Yep, it definitely does!" I winked at him, and got up, subtlely gesturing him the end of our rendezvous.



"Thanks!" He lent forward his hand, and smiling, I shook mine with his.



"Don't mention it!"



"No, seriously! You barely know me, but you still did this!" He said earnestly.



"I barely know you, but I know how bad love can hurt! But know that, if it didn't happen, it wasn't meant to be! And she couldn't have been the one, if you had to see this day!" I said softly.



"Does this apply to you as well?" He asked me, his eyes curious.



"I don't know! If he would have been here today, then yes, he definitely would've been the one! But he never got the chance! And now, I have no idea, if the one is exists or not! He could be standing in front of me and I wouldn't know!" I murmured, eyeing him with deep meaning.



"Thanks!" He smiled genuinely. I knew he didn't understand what I meant, I didn't expect him to, but just the fact he didn't question me further was appreciated. "And I really do hope one day you find someone who will help you lift your baggage along with his!" He kissed my cheek before waving and walking back. There was nothing romantic about the kiss, it was more of a grateful gesture, but it still managed to give me the shivers. I hadn't felt that way in three years, but I knew exactly what that feeling was...



I didn't know if I would see him again. I didn't even know if my love would have a story. But I did know that just his mere existence in this world, knowing he was somewhere out there, living his life, hopefully happily, would be enough to keep me going for the rest of mine.



1 year, 4 months and 17 days later, I got a mail at my shop'.



"Hey!



I don't know if you remember me! I was a customer at your shop over a year ago'I just wanted to let you know, that I helped someone lift their baggage'



Its too early to say where we're going to go, if she's the one or not, but I am giving it a shot!



But after so long, I can say you were right'I did get 'there' after all! I owe you one! And I'll keep you updated!



Thanks!



Armaan!"

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shrutika

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