This post is a part of 24-day Marathon fiction called Yaariyan. To read from the beginning, click here.
Kanishka tries to walk through the door of the dining hall into the washroom. She strains her eyes to find the knob – everything is hazy. As she puts another leg forward, she falls down on the floor after loosing her balance; she cannot stop laughing. Pawan helps her get up and cross the door. Kanishka usually gets high with one pint of beer itself and Pawan has had their previous Roopkund trek experience to know that.
After calculating the total cost incurred and going dutch, everyone pays Sandesh their share and proceed towards their hotels where they’ll be spending their night and catching a flight next morning to their respective cities. After wishing each other final goodbyes, they catch whatever transportation is available to their hotels. Chris and Sara bid goodbye; they’ve decided to do Ladakh before moving towards Varanasi.
Ruhi takes Divyah to their room and puts her to bed. She quickly wears her jacket and navigates her way down the hall to find Arpit waiting for her downstairs. Arpit has already mentioned to the gang that he is going for a walk with Ruhi.
It is midnight and the only sound on the sleepy bylanes of Srinagar is that of barking dogs and maybe that of a car driving in full speed away from them. They see Tarun, Karthik and Shobana walking towards the ATM and decide to go on the other side.
Ruhi keeps her eyes on the reflection of the houseboats in Dal Lake as seen from the lit streets. The bright colours of lights and their reflection in calm water makes her smile. Arpit on the other hand is looking around, trying to be alert and protect Ruhi if anything comes by. As they walk ahead, he stares back at the beggars sleeping on the lane, trying to ensure they don’t get into any problem.
Realising Arpit will not be able to get in the right mood if his roving eyes keep searching for danger, Ruhi catches hold of his hand and looks at him straight in the eye. He looks back in her eyes and finds her pupils dilate – everything else around her is melting; all she can now see is his face and feel his hand grabbing hers tightly. Suddenly, all the background noises fade away and all she can hear are her deep breaths rising and falling in symphony with Arpit’s breathing.
Without breaking eye contact, Arpit bends down on his knee, ‘You’re the best friend I’ve always wanted and the lover I’ve always dreamt of being with. Will you spend your life with me?’ He looks at her with confidence; his eyes reflect integrity and his commitment towards her. Her heart melts on listening the genuine words, but she isn’t sure how will things end up as, given their demographic distance. She decides to take a leap of faith and opens her mouth to reconvey what the pearls of happiness falling from her eyes already did, ‘Yes!’
END OF PART EIGHT
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