Raj Khooblall

 It was a week that Dev had not turned up to the office, he seems to be badly affected by the refusal of Maya. Dev has always been a very cheerful guy and the past two months have been especially a very happy moment of his life and now suddenly everything appeared spoilt.

It’s hard to imagine anything more heart-breaking and humiliating than proposing someone in marriage and being rejected. This was a terrible moment in the life of Dev, his emotional problems had affected him a lot. He had lost appetite, avoided social activities and rarely met friends and family.

A year ago, Dev met Maya at a wedding celebration of one of their common cousins in the south of the island. She looked very different from the other young girls present that night, she was relaxed and smartly dressed in a beautiful shining salwar kameez suit. He dared to look at her secretly. They sat at same table for dinner. He found her lovely, gentle and simply gorgeous. After dinner, Dev managed to talk to her, they spoke easily and there was a softness in her voice. They talked about their works, the music they liked and their shared love for reading.

Maya had a kind of modest beauty, perhaps because of her simplicity and shyness, her aura would make everyone around her feel so easy. She had straight black hair, dark eyes and a perfect figure of a cheerful youth. Dev felt proud to be in her company that evening.

During their conversation, Dev looked into her eyes and felt attracted to the way she looked at him, the way she smiled; he was sure she liked him. It was a very strange moment for him. He had read in books about love at first sight, but he never believed that this would happen to him in real life.

Everything seemed as perfect as he always wanted to be. Over a short time, they became close friends and got the opportunity to meet a few times for lunch. They often talked long hours over the phone.

There was a lot of change in Dev, everything started to sound very romantic in his life and he started to think of a future together. He trusted her more than anyone and it was clear from his conversation how much he cared for her. Maya was also very at ease with him and they talked about everything and she even mentioned at a time that her parents like him a lot. Over a short time, they became the image of love’s young dream. It was in these circumstances that Dev felt like it was time to finally propose her for marriage. The timing was so perfect, it was the best day of his life when he planned to take her to a nice café for the awesome proposal.

They took a table at the far end of the café. After placing the order, Dev gently took her hands, looked into her eyes and said: « Maya, I have something very important that I wanted to ask you. »

« I know, but please Dev, don’t say anything » she begged.

Dev was convinced that marrying her would bring him lots of happiness. He knew that they loved each other, and he thought that there was no reason why he should not go ahead to propose her that moment.

« I should tell you. I can’t continue like this any longer Maya, I love you too much and you know it. Can you promise me that you will marry me someday? »

« No, I can’t promise you anything » said Maya miserably and continued « you have spoiled my day. »

Dev was not expecting that. After a long silence, his voice changed, and he asked, « You don’t love me at all? I wished to have you as my wife since the very moment I met you last year.”

Maya did not dare to look at him but said, « You never understood me. I do care about you as a friend, but I’m very confused about love, Dev. »

There was another long pause during which Maya did not look at Dev at all, while Dev’s face had turned red. His proposal had thus turned out to be a grotesque gesture which had hurt Maya.

« In this case, can you please give me some hope that you will at least think about it? » Dev pleaded.

« Ok, I don’t want to give any false hope to anyone but give me some days to think about it. » Maya abruptly terminated the conversation and left the place.

That night, none of them could sleep well. The next day, still in a shocked state, Maya told her mom about it.

“I’m glad you told me everything. Since some time, I have been expecting that Dev will propose you in marriage dear” said her mom.

“Tell him yes,” her mom advised. “Even if you are somehow confused now; otherwise if you say no, you will regret it tomorrow, you will be sorry all the rest of your life.”

Maya was still very confused, but her mom’s advice brought some comfort to her and she asked for some time to think over it. She asked for a few days and after a week she had made up her mind.

The days went by and she had not called him. Dev started getting frustrated, but he still had hope of a positive reply. Just a week later he received an envelope containing a piece of paper on which there was only one line handwritten in blue ink: “Sorry, my answer is NO and please don’t try to force me to change my mind.”

He put his head on his knees and let the tears fall out of his eyes.  His proposal to her had ended in a heartbreak, all his dreams, his hopes and his expectations have been ruined in one moment. The separation was bad, as Marcel Proust said : “Il est vraiment rare qu’on se quitte bien, car si on était bien, on ne se quitterait pas.

Many weeks had passed, Dev tried his best to forget her but without success as deep down in his heart he knew that all this was not supposed to end like that.  At some point, he thought of calling her, but he was not brave enough to speak to her. All his efforts were wasted and after all, there was no reason to meet her again. He cursed the very moment he had proposed her and promised that he will never ever talk to her or press her to give any explanation for her decision. He thought that they had such a perfect life ahead of them but she has ruined it. He came to the conclusion that she certainly had a boyfriend with whom she felt more at ease and that is why she had no feeling for him.

It was clear that Maya’s refusal had hurt Dev very badly, he cried a river of tears as he still loved her and wanted her to be happy anyway. He knew that Maya’s answer might have its own merit but still it was a difficult thing for him to accept, especially after all the frustration he had gone through. Alfred de Musset rightly said that “there is no worse sorrow than remembering happiness in the day of sorrow.” Although, he still loved her, he kept his promise not to maintain any friendship with her and also cut off completely from the common family social circle so that he would never come in contact with her which would make both of them uncomfortable. He surely felt embarrassed but there was no hard feeling at the end of the day, there was no communication between them and life went on. Certainly, it was not where he expected to be at that point in his life!

He feared that he might never love anybody as much as he loved her. He thought that even if he moved on with his career and family life, his love life will not be the same and since his heart is broken, he might never be able to trust another person again. In his darkest moments, he remembered a quote in particular:

“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.” – Leo Tolstoy.

Seven years have passed since that sad episode in the life of Dev, but he still had a clear recollection of that distant life. He still remembered the helpless humiliation of early adulthood where his emotional life came to such distress. He has, fortunately, overcome that incident, has got cured from the disease of love and rejection, and has surrendered himself to his fate with hope that he would also find somebody who would accept him as he was. He thought of Bill Russell’s writing: “To love someone is nothing, to be loved by someone is something, but to be loved by the one you love is everything.”  

He kept absolutely no contact with Maya. Even if she had treated him badly, he did not have any hatred against her. He even once said to his colleague “Why should I hate her? I have lost someone who didn’t love me. But she has lost someone who loved her.” He had heard that Maya had married a guy who was indeed financially well-established but that did not affect him at all.

He tried to stay far from all the past painful memories. Happiness had finally brought him a feeling of pleasure and positivity in his life where he felt good, proud and relieved from sorrows of life.  One could say that Dev was indeed a happy person in all its sense. When asked what made him happy after all his problems in life, Dev explained, “Everybody wants happiness in their lives, but life is never easy and certainly not a bed of roses. We must always be satisfied and happy with what we have. I cannot deny the bitter truth about my life but I, still, love my life with its moment of happiness and joys. Yes, life is full of joys and sorrows. My idea of a happy life is that we should never think too seriously about our bad moments and become upset.”

Everyone has their own unique way to feel happy by finding things that they love, likewise I find happiness in writing stories. I, therefore, would like to end this story by quoting an extract from Leo Tolstoy’s War & Peace: “When our lives are knocked off course we imagine everything in them is lost. It is only the start of something new and good. As long as there is life there is happiness. There is a great deal, a great deal still to come.”