Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z - Zoya

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Zoya applied the black eyeliner carefully, giving more precision to her already smoky eyes. Last year, this time, she had been a pathetic mess. Drowning in a pool of self-pity and random strangers with whom she had shared her bed with. The best way to mend a broken heart was to numb the pain, at least that was what she had felt like then. 

Though temporary measures such as seeking solace in men and alcohol, had no long term effects of lifting her spirits, she had turned to it. If anything, she would wake up feeling more depressed the next day. All that had changed the day he had walked into her life. 

With him by her side, she learnt that life was not all grey skies and looming clouds. That when the rays of sunshine would finally break through them, things would take on a magical sheen. And slowly, the days seemed bearable, the nights longer and filled with promise, the words she read in books and the musical lyrics she heard spoke  to her in a language that she hadn't understood before. 

And today, she was getting married to him. The one who had taught her that life was not all lows, that there were highs as well. The dreaded wedding attire suddenly seemed beautiful. Those gold ornaments that she had shied away from all her life glittered on her hands and neck as she moved, reminding her of a symphony that she had heard, and thought forgotten, long ago. 

With a final satisfied smile, Zoya turned and headed down to be with the one person who made the world, her world a better place to be in. 

Linking this post to the A to Z Challenge

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y - Yesterday

Image courtesy: Google

I have learnt from yesterday
Just like the challenges undertaken today
I have hope, faith and belief 
That we are going to emerge winners tomorrow

April has been a memorable month gone by us
One that I stepped into with uncertainties a lot
There have been friends who had my back 
And some new made along the path 

Today I'm a little sad
The journey comes to an end tomorrow
It doesn't have to be so 
We shall continue to walk hand in hand

So many lessons learned
Writing has been grueling on some days 
We never gave up, continued at our own stride
And tomorrow we shall hold victory in our hands...

P.S. Am I the only one feeling this way? The challenge shall surely come to an end tomorrow but our journey doesn't have to. 

Linking this post to the A to Z Challenge

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X - Xerox

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"Sasha!" their mother called out. 

"Yes, Mom?" one of the twins went and stood in front of her with a straight face.

As always, it was not easy to tell them apart, even for their parents. Sasha was a spitting image of Shayna and vice versa; one a xerox of the other. Two peas in a pod. 

Like most twins, growing up, they were always dressed identically by their Mom. They got into all sorts of mischief together and had each others' backs all the time. However upon reaching college, the twins were forced to go their separate ways. Sasha wanted to study the arts. She wanted to follow her passion to be a painter and artist. Shayna, on the other hand, was interested in the cut throat world of politics. 

Though they spoke to each other regularly, the physical distance soon turned into an emotional one. No matter how hard they tried to bridge the gap, it was always there, making its silent presence felt each time they came together at home for their vacations. 

Sixty years later, when the call came at midnight, it was certainly not what Sasha had expected. She knew that the choices she had made at a young age were not ones to be proud of. 

Hanging up the phone, Sasha wept for the sister she had and lost, for her other half, for the lost time that had flowed through her fingers like running water, for keeping things until it was too late to change any of it. 

As for Shayna, she had said goodbye to the world surrounded by her children and grandchildren. In those last moments, as she looked around at the familiar faces around her she realized that the one that she had wanted to see the most was missing in the crowd. 

As Shayna turned her head and looked into the mirror that someone had placed on her side table, she smiled seeing the wrinkled face looking back at her and closed her eyes for the last time. 

Linking this post to the A to Z Challenge

Monday, April 27, 2015

W - Wild

Wild was a movie that I had been looking forward to watching for quite sometime. There were so many good reviews going around and the story itself seemed interesting to me. So I finally sat down to watch it sometime last month. 

The film is based on Cheryl Strayed's memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Like all bibliophiles, I would have liked to read it first before watching. Unfortunately, I didn't have a copy with me. I plan on buying one soon though. Anyway, coming back to the story, Cheryl (played by Reese Witherspoon) is a twenty six year old who sets out to hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail alone in order to heal and find herself again. 

We all react to grief in different ways. When Cheryl, at twenty two years, loses her mother to cancer, she is devastated. As she says in the movie "She was the love of my life". In order to cope with the loss, she gets involved in drugs use, cheats on her husband with other men and eventually gets divorced. When there is a void in our life, we try to fill it with whatever things that we imagine will help us even in a small way. 

Finally, at twenty-six, after years of self destructive behavior, Strayed sets out alone on a hike seeking some sort of closure as a means of healing herself. The film alternates between the past and the present, showing us glimpses of her life as a child, teenager and young adult. The special relationship she shares with her mother is a central part of the story. 

We are also subject to some of the desperate measures that one is subject to while hiking alone on such a long journey. She breaks down, endures physical discomfort to a great level but holds on and comes out of it. Is this a light and entertaining movie? No. It will stay with you for a long time. Some of the images are quite graphic in nature. If you are up for it, do give it a watch. Wild is a movie that will make you introspect and think. 

This is a movie that shows us that we are not alone. It is possible to overcome grief. Even when it feels like you won't be able to make it to the next day. One step at a time and before you realize it, you shall be at the end of a reckless journey. Reese Witherspoon has done a very convincing job at portraying Strayed. If you are looking for a movie that makes you think, in ways more than one, give it a try. It may not be for everyone, but I sure liked it. In case you have watched it already, do let me know your thoughts below.


Linking this post to the A to Z Challenge

Saturday, April 25, 2015

V - Voyage

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Life is a voyage and we are all tiny vessels
Sailing against the wind called time 
The current may be rocky, sometimes smooth
But the trick is to maneuver, to remain steady

The journey is bound to be filled with adventure
We may have to sacrifice some in order to gain some
In the end all that matters is the journey 
Take in those sunsets and sunrises

Drink in all those sights along 
The sound of water lapping
Tiny fishes swimming afloat 
Never give up hope, have faith

There are unseen hands at play
Those dark and stormy nights
Won't last forever, they too shall pass
For the voyage must go on...

Linking this post to the A to Z Challenge

Friday, April 24, 2015

U - Umbrella

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I watch her walk in the rain, the blue umbrella in her hand threatening to fold backward any moment in the wind. She is dressed in an emerald green dress, but it's wet, clinging to her curvaceous body, the shade in the dark looks almost black. 

She waits at the bus stop. Whom is she waiting for? A flash of lightening illuminates her face. I'm not sure if it was the rain, but her face is dripping wet. Is she crying? Or is it my mind playing tricks on me like always?

I don't go and talk to her, though that is what I'm dying to do. She is my addiction, an elixir in my otherwise dry life. The fragrance of wet earth and rain surrounds us. The bus stop is deserted. There is no one but me and her. I want to push the wet hair from her face, I want to know what her skin would feel like beneath my fingers. Will her hands be rough from conducting daily chores? Or will they be soft and supple like the jasmine flowers that she sometimes used to adorn her hair?

I watch a car stop not far away and couple of men getting out and approaching her. I'm angry, yet I do nothing but watch them. There seems to be some sort of argument. After a few minutes, she gets into the car with them. She catches my eye before closing the car's door, a wistful look on her face. 

What does she see when she looks at me? My torn clothes, the broken umbrella that has failed to keep even a strand of hair on my head dry or my begging bowl? I bid her goodbye silently; I know she will be back tomorrow. Just like yesterday or the day before. Just like how I know she is going to be cursed for the rest of her life. Like me. We would make a great pair. Me and her. Only if she would realize that. 

Linking this post to the A to Z Challenge

Thursday, April 23, 2015

T - Twenty-six

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On August 9, 2014, I turned the number that I have been dreading. Twenty-six. Yes, I'm was one of those people who were terrified at the thought of growing old and wrinkly. Like I read somewhere, I was officially on the 'uncool' side of twenties. Till I reached my twenties, I was someone who looked forward to growing older. Ageing gracefully? What did that even mean? However, life had different plans for me. Here are some things that has made me embrace my twenty-six year old self. Things that I have learnt in the last year that I haven't in the previous twenty five years of my life. 

> Nothing lasts forever. Not even the bad times. You will get up, dust yourself and carry forward. 

> It is never too late to learn something new. Try your hand at something different, break some rules. Live life on your own terms. 

> There shall ALWAYS be people who criticize you no matter how hard you try. Quit trying to impress them. The only person that you need to make happy is yourself. Owe it to only yourself. 

> Follow your passion. There maybe days when you feel like giving up, frustration may set it. But when inspiration strikes, it shall always be worth the struggle. 

> There are only a handful of people in your life who want the best for you. Treasure them. 

> You never know when you will have to say goodbye to a loved one. So spend as much time with those people you can't dream of living without. 

> When you let go of some of the people in your life, you will always find other kindred souls in their place. 

> Age is just another number. What matters most is how many of those years you spent on living and not just surviving. 

> Read all those books that have been piling on your shelf. Stop feeling guilty in abandoning a book halfway if it's not your cup of tea. 

> And lastly, don't ever lose hope or faith. The two go hand in hand :) 

So now, I can confidently say, the twenty-sixth year of my life has been a turning point in ways more than one. I have a couple more months for remaining twenty-six in my hands and intend to enjoy each and every moment to the fullest, doing the things that I love and relishing the things makes me happy. As for ageing gracefully, I may not be there yet, but I'm certainly on the right path :)

Linking this post to the A to Z Challenge

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S - Secret

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It is the falling snow outside that I see through the window that reminds me of her that morning as I wake up. There is a nip in the air, my fingers are cold despite the blanket covering me. Knowing that I would have to get up and start my day soon, I linger back lazily in the warmth of my bed. Closing my eyes, I allow the memories to wash over me. 

It was exactly a year back that the call came saying that Ammachi passed away. I knew she would have hated the sterile surroundings in which she had to bid adieu to her world. She would have wanted to be at home rather than the hospital that was filled with the smell of disinfectants and sickness all around. 

Of course, these were just how I assumed it would have been. The last time I saw her was on my way to the airport on my way here, to a foreign country as a new bride. I was nervous and excited all the same time. Little did I know then that it would be the last time I saw her. 

Such worrisome thoughts were far from my mind as she held me close and kissed my forehead that day. There was the fragrance of sandalwood around her, always. That is the smell that I associated with home; with her. And just before waving me goodbye and wiping away the tears that had formed involuntarily at the corner of her eyes (Ammachi hated crying), she gave me a package that was carefully wrapped in brown paper. 

"Open it when you miss me. This is the only gift that I have to give you right now. Guard it with all your heart, when all else fails, it shall come to your rescue. And remember, I'm always with you," with that she held me one last time and smiled. And that is the image that I have of her with me, even now. 

It was only when I reached here and after beginning my life as a wife did I think about the package. I was too caught up in the excitement that this new country had to offer. Everything was all sparkly and shiny, like a Christmas bauble. It was only after a couple of months did I really start to get homesick. I started craving for home cooked food, delectable cuisines that seemed to be whipped up easily in a matter of few minutes by Ammachi

That was when I remembered the package that I had left in my suitcase. Opening the wrapping, I felt my eyes sting with the memories that came flooding in. In there were hundreds of hand written recipes, each one marked and with little additions of notes as the years progressed. My grandmother's recipe book. The book still held a whiff of sandalwood fragrance as I turned the tattered pages. 

For vacations many years back, I used to pester her till she made me paal payasam almost everyday. That was a dish that I could never tire of. That afternoon, however, I tried making it for the first time. All by myself. No small feat, considering the fact that I had absolutely little or no experience in the kitchen. 

Needless to say, it was a disaster. On the verge of tears, I called her up that night and told her of the pathetic milky mess that was adamantly stuck to the bottom of my pan. 

"Oh, Ammu! Stop crying, you silly girl! Paal payasam requires the right consistency of milk and sugar. No one gets it right the first time," her words, however, offered me little solace to my wounded ego. Yes, I felt like a failure when things didn't turn out the way I envisaged.

"Remember, the secret ingredient to all the dishes that you savored as a child was love!" I could hear the twinkle in her laugh despite being so many miles away from me. Her happiness was infectious and soon I found a small giggle breaking the frown on my face. 

I open my eyes and wipe away my wet cheeks. Thinking of her always has this effect on me. I force myself to get her recipe book and try out the paal payasam once again. I had not attempted to make it again after that last time. As Ammachi left from our lives, so did all my cravings for her food. 

Today, however, is different. I feel an energy in my life that had been missing for so long. As I gather the ingredients for the paal payasam, I'm filled with a sense of purpose, a determination to master the art of making the king of payasams

I measure the exact amounts as she had written down many years back. I stir the milk till it's the right consistency and starts to change color. I crush the cardamom just before stirring it into the mixture, to pack the flavor, as she had written. I even measure the ghee for frying the cashew nuts and raisins in, exactly according to her instructions. 

With a satisfied sigh, I get a whiff of the payasam that has now started bubbling merrily on my stove. Switching off the stove with a happy smile, I pour the boiling hot payasam into a glass and blow on it lightly before bringing it to my lips. I close my eyes and savor the taste. It tastes like one I had never before. Or maybe, it is a taste that lay forgotten in the nooks of my mind till now, wrapped up in layers of nostalgia. I drink a whole glass of it and help myself to a second serving, scalding my tongue in greediness. 

"Ammu, you impatient girl! How many times do I have to tell you to let the payasam cool before helping yourself?" Ammachi's voice had a hint of a secret smile, one that I could still see if I closed my eyes and concentrated enough. I finally got what she had told me all those years back. There was no secret. No secret ingredient that she had kept hidden from me. It was love. It always was.  

The cold outside, all of a sudden, seems bearable right now. Wrapping my fingers around the hot glass, I feel the warmth spread all over, right down to my toes; along with the fragrance of sandalwood that seems to embrace the air all around me. 

*Ammachi - Grandmother
** Paayasam - A sweet dish made usually with milk and sugar that is mostly served as dessert. 

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Linking this post to the A to Z Challenge

P.S. Though this story is mostly fiction, it has a lot of me and my Ammachi in it. Ammu is my pet name :)
P.P.S. I didn't find any picture online that did the paal payasam actual justice. I have provided the picture that I liked the most amongst it. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R - Regret

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Do I regret the time 
we spent together? 
What once made me smile
Now carry remnants of hurt in them

Memories tainted by guilt
Yours or mine? 
All those nights spent in your arms
Seems so distant now

Riding on your bike 
Holding you tight 
Makes me reminiscent 
Of a time that was solely ours

Were you a mistake?
One that I willfully made?
All I know is that regrets I have none
You were a part of me and continue to be

Linking this post to the A to Z Challenge

Monday, April 20, 2015

Q - Quintessential

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He was the quintessential guy of my dreams. Sexy with chiseled jaws, wealthy enough to own a chain of companies all over the world, masculine in a way that I found rare in the guys who had wooed me till now. In short, I had lost my heart to him. Yeah, the kind of love that makes your insides quiver and makes you go weak in the knees.

It was love at first sight for me. I was however, a nobody in his perfect, sparkling life. A struggling model trying to find her way to the top. All I had were good looks and a dwindling bank balance that would hardly get me through a couple months unless I landed a contract with one of the top modelling agencies.  

"You are blessed with good looks, but do you know how to use them?" my agent had asked me. I knew that the subtle tone he had used was far from innocent. In life, you have to lose some to win some. I had learnt it the hard way. 

I knew that it wasn't easy to get noticed in a crowd of pretty faces. With the right amount of contact and pressure, I cracked my way into his life. Though I felt guilty in taking advantage of him, I had no other choice. If only he would recommend me. I needed a much needed break; my tension had begun bordering on desperation. 

He had taken me in his arms and made me his with an ease that I failed to comprehend initially. I was the convenient arm candy. Love had never entered the equation, for him anyway. The arrangement was convenient. For both of us. 

That night, I wrapped my body seductively around his for the crowd all throughout dinner. I knew that we made a handsome couple. The classic couple, one that was the darling of the paparazzi. 

As he dropped me off at my apartment, he leaned in close and kissed my cheek. One so light that it was barely noticeable. Despite knowing everything, I felt my heart give a tiny flutter in my rib cage. Affection, and nothing more, I reminded myself. 

I held him in a tight embrace before stepping out of the chauffeur driven car. He had given me so much in the past few months, the priceless of all being hope. This would be the last night that he would need me. Tomorrow, he's flying away to Paris, a city where a man loving another man is not condemned. Tomorrow, he would start a new life. As for me, tomorrow was going to be a new beginning. 

Thanks to him, I had finally found a footing in the modelling world. More importantly, he had shown me that it was okay to have your heart broken, but not your dreams. That with the right person, love can be magical. As I turned I climbed the stairs to my apartment, I realized with a smile on my face that he was anything but quintessential. 

Linking this post to the A to Z Challenge

Saturday, April 18, 2015

P - Poetry

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Poetry, food for my soul
Words tumbling out at random
Sometimes it may rhyme 
And at times it may not

Poetry helps me jot down 
Thoughts scattered 
In an order that looks 
So good on paper 

Spilled ink in the form of words
Creating a rhythm all of their own
You nurture me in ways 
I cannot describe 

Ruffling of feathers,
Scratch of pencil against paper,
Dew drops on my face
Poetry, food for my soul...

Linking this post to the A to Z Challenge

Friday, April 17, 2015

O - Onward

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I was absolutely clueless as to what my O should be for. And that's when I thought of Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat Pray Love) and how she signs off on all her posts with onward. Yeah, not goodbye, not cheers, but onward. Life is a journey and it means that we have to keep moving forward, no matter what. 

Onward. Isn't it such a beautiful word? It holds so much of promise and excitement for the future, all contained within our self. It reminds us of the things that we are capable of. Whenever you get stuck in a situation that compromises your happiness, remind yourself that this too shall pass. The trick is to go forward. Without stumbling. 

The bad times in your life is not going to last forever. Tomorrow is a brand new day. So, onward, dear friends :) Make all those dreams yours. 

Linking this post to the A to Z Challenge

Thursday, April 16, 2015

N - Never

Image courtesy: Google

Read the previous part here.


I watch the bride enter the hall. She looks resplendent in the purple bridal saree. Eyes downcast, the bangles on her hand tinkling against each other as she walked. The big bindi  on her forehead, brings out her eyes. One that was filled with hope. 

I see Hari look at her. As their eyes lock, there seems to be a fleeting look on his face. But it vanishes in an instant. Or had I imagined it? It didn't matter. The wedding took place as scheduled. It felt strange seeing him next to her; as bride and groom, two sides of the same coin. With the weight of the garland weighing his neck, I can see him wipe the sweat off his face. 

Hari, Hari.. What have you gotten yourself into? Wasn't this what you wanted? A lifelong commitment? Were you so obsessed on securing your future that you failed to evaluate if you could actually be compatible with the person you wanted to spend the rest of your life with?

I don't go up on stage to congratulate the couple, nor do I intend to. I don't know if he's seen me, but strangely, I'm not bothered even if he has. I came here for one thing; closure. And I think have got it. I get up and head outside; my hand cupping my belly. I'm not far along, just a couple of months and the bump is barely noticeable. Like a secret, I hold it close to me. 


It is just after the wedding that I spot her. Natasha. The girl who was once mine. Walking away, a smile on her face. Do I regret losing her? I don't know. The last time we had met, we had parted ways bitter. I had said a lot of things that I didn't mean to. I had wanted to hurt her. And I did. In the most painful way. Through my words. 

She bit back whatever she had meant to say to me. I was impatient and angry. I knew I had hurt her badly. I wish I could go back in time and wipe away her tears and hold her hands. Like we used to. 

Why she refused to commit to anyone was beyond me. That's just the way she is, I guess. I had wanted to make her mine and that was my big mistake. Deep in my heart I knew that she shall always be one of the best things that had happened to me. 

I sigh and turn to look at my bride. Her cheeks seems to be frozen in a permanent smile as she poses for the camera. She is shy, demure and everything Natasha is not. I stand close to her, our shoulders brushing against each other. And for her sake and mine, I can only hope for it to work out. Hope against hope. Just like how some things are never meant to be. 

The End. 

Linking this post to the A to Z Challenge

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

M - Marriage

Image courtesy: Google
Read the first part here. 


My mind is in an inner turmoil as I get ready for my wedding. Have I made the right decision? The person that I chose to spend the rest of my life with; will she be a life long regret later on? 

Wedding jitters, I tell myself. But if these were just jitters, why do I have an impending sense of doom shrouding me? I push these thoughts aside try to and smile and joke with my friends and relatives as they fussed around me. Yet, the thoughts linger around refusing to leave, like a bad aftertaste. 

As I arrive at the wedding venue, I knew that it was almost done. There was no backing away now. I take marriage very seriously. Besides, it is only in movies that you see weddings breaking off at the last minute. Miracles like that simply don't happen in real life. I feel a pang in my chest when I realize that this was exactly what I had wanted, not long ago. 

Life had changed drastically since then. I'm no longer the shy guy who got tongue tied and couldn't string along two sentences even if his life depended upon it, while talking to women. I'm more confident, comfortable in my own skin. She had changed me. 

It was her that I fell in love with. At first sight. The red gown that she wore that fateful night remains a vivid memory in my mind even now. With her smoky eyes and luscious locks, she awakened something deep in me that it was almost an yearning. When she decided to make me the center of her attention, I was on cloud nine. 

The songs blaring out from the wedding hall bring me back sharply to the present. The hall is decorated beautifully. It looks like a scene straight out of a movie. Weddings have always captivated me. However, as opposed to a wedding which lasts just for a day, marriage was a sacred institution, one that I believed should be forever. 

As I watch my bride walk into the hall, I feel a tightness in my chest. If this was what I had wanted all along, why do I feel so guilty? 

To be continued ... 

Linking this post to the A to Z Challenge

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

L - Love or Lust?

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I sip my coffee slowly. The Coffee Club is my favorite hangout place in town. Not only do they make coffee the way I love, their brownies are to die for. Today, however, I can hardly taste it. My scalding tongue reminds me that I'm probably drinking my coffee too hot. But I'm too numb to actually feel any of it. 

If someone had told me in the morning that my life would come crashing down today, I wouldn't have thought in my wildest dreams that it would come true. My life was perfect. Until a few hours ago. Till Hari had decided to bring up the dreaded question about our future - where were we going?

When we had embarked on this relationship, neither of us had any expectations. We had lived in the now, shutting away our past and the looming question of future. We were happy in each other's company. When a person you are with has zero expectations from you, you feel strangely liberated. At least, I did. 

Hari brought out a carefree side of me. All my worries would be firmly tucked away the moment I was with him. He brought me red wine on Friday nights, watched countless reruns of Friends with me, whipped me up crispy omelettes just the way I liked it and later at night, made love to me. For me, life was perfect. I loved way he loved me. Fragile, tender love. Or was it simply lust?

I still remember the night I met him. Couple of months back, at a friend's place. It was a housewarming party. A broody, shy guy who wiped his reading glasses with the edge of the T-shirt that he was wearing. As for me, I had broken up with Michael, an on off boyfriend of two years. 

I knew that he could hardly resist my charms. I was looking for something casual, on the rebound. And he was there. That night was the first of many more to follow. Something had drawn me to him after that. He was new in town and I spent all my free time with him, exploring my hometown with him. 

It was couple of weeks back that he had told me that he loved me for the first time. 

No! my heart screamed. I wasn't ready. Will I ever be?

To be continued (For sure, this time)... 

Linking this post to the A to Z Challenge

Monday, April 13, 2015

K - Kiss

Image courtesy: Google

Hold me close and kiss me 
Like there's no tomorrow
Fingers intertwined
Your breath on my cheeks

Waves caressing our feet
Sweeping the sand beneath 
Golden rays of the setting sun
All mesmerize me 

But none as much as your kiss
Lost in ecstasy
In your warm embrace
Kiss me one last time

Kiss me so that I can remember
When tomorrow is no more
What it feels like 
To be loved like this... 

Linking this post to the A to Z Challenge

P.S. I would like to thank all of you for the amazing response on Gouri :) When I had started penning it, I had no idea where it would go. However, now that I dwell more on Gouri and the story that she wants to be told, I have a feeling that it would be better compiled as a novella rather than blog posts. I have never written one and I have no idea what I'm getting into. But once I figure out the details, I shall share the link. Wish me luck! And, please don't hate me :) You all shall be the first to read it. Promise. 

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