A Promise, Rashmi Thapa – Wordism Runner Up, Chaitra

A PROMISE

Their eyes locked for the first time, as she tried to untangle the long strands of her hair, stuck on the button of his coat. He smiled gently taking in all her beauty. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever laid eyes on. And that very moment, he knew she was the one for him; his soul mate; his wonder woman!
”You have the most gorgeous hair,” he said, never more assured about anything before.
”Thank you,” she replied blushing, as she gathered her hair, putting it into a ponytail and got up to leave for her station.
”Just let it be, suits you better.”
She let her hair loose, flashed a soft smile and left.
He couldn’t take the risk of not going after her, knowing she was the one. He got up from his seat, stampeded out of the train and looked around for her, but she was right there, eagerly waiting for him, as sure about him as he was about her. Their eyes locked again and both smiled. And the rest was history. They were teenagers then, and now they had been together for more than fifteen years.
If he could go and live that moment again and again, he happily would, because life was going to be very different from now on. She had developed cancer in her right breast, after discovering hard sharp edged lumps. The doctor suggested her to have a double mastectomy immediately. And both her breasts were removed. She was very fragile and low on life, as she went through the operation. He was pretending to be strong and rigid, but inside, his heart was ripping apart, but nevertheless didn’t let it hinder his determination to make it as easy as he could for her.
”You’re thinking about the first time we met. Aren’t you?”, she asked him, waking up and pressing her lips against his, shifting uncomfortably on the hospital bed. ”You know I so wanted to do this to you that moment when our eyes locked.”
”No, you didn’t!”
”Oh yeah, I did.”
”I will always, always love you my wonder woman.”
”I will always and always love you too! She said, speaking through her tears. But I don’t understand why you always call me a ‘wonder woman’? ”
”Because you have brought wonders to my life! ”
After the mastectomy, came the chemotherapy. She was heartbroken with the idea of losing all her hair, and after her head was shaved, she was petrified to face him, and looked away avoiding eye contact with him, choking up and crying. Losing her hair shattered her even more than losing her breasts, because that was what made him start a conversation with her, the first time they had met, and he always complimented her hair; her long beautiful, soft hair was what he fell in love with before anything else. And now it was all gone. He held her chin, leaving her no choice but to face him. She slowly looked him straight in the eye, as tears rolled down her face. His eyes had always been her mirror, and nothing had changed. In his eyes, she was still the most beautiful woman in the entire world!
”But you loved my hair,” she said sobbing.
”But I love you even more!”
”How can you love me so much, when I have a hard time even accepting myself?”
”Because I don’t know any other way to be. I exist, because I love you, and I will die, if I don’t!”
The disease was snatching everything away from her that made her feel like a woman. First her breasts, and then her hair. She had gained massive weight, had terrible mood swings and cramps. And sometimes it was just too painful, just too overwhelming to go through the day. But having a man by her side, who was crazily, madly and passionately in love with her, gave her immense strength to go through those dark periods. The baldness, the disfigured body, the disease, nothing could make his love for her any lesser. Instead of sinking into the dark alleys of depression and identity crisis, his love and courage gave her new appreciation for life and the wonderful things around her, that otherwise had always seemed mundane and ordinary. The rains, the glittering stars, the bright moon, the deep blue sea became more precious to her now, and she discovered the magic and poetry wrapped in them. Instead of letting the disease define her, she chose to celebrate her life and the love of her life more. His unwavering love also spurred new determination in her to defeat the disease quickly. No matter how much the chemotherapy was sucking the life out of her, he was always putting life back into her body with his silly jokes, warm hugs, and tender kisses.
He stared out of the window, observing the soft rains spitting on the city. On the inside, the hospital was a macabre, ugly, gloomy place, but the view it provided was still pristine and filled with pulchritude. It had rained the day he had asked her to marry him too. It was a beautiful evening at the beach, the sun slowly setting down, splashing orange hues all over the sky, the clouds threatening rain, the waves thrashing at the shore. When a big wave hit them, he would hide her inside his coat, protecting her, because she was petrified of water.
”I will always save you,” he had whispered into her ears.
‘’Promise?’’
‘’Promise!’’
And then it started raining, slowly, softly. They had their very own ballroom dance. And finally! He went down on one knee, and proposed her to marry him with a diamond ring. She was stunned, and froze, unable to give a response back. But soon, tears began falling down her eyes, and she replied in the only way she could! And he understood. He put the ring on her finger, and it fitted her perfectly! Both were drenched when they kissed, passionately, feeling the warmth of each other’s bodies, and madly in love. They hugged so tight, that even the air between them suffocated. It was perfect in every way possible.
That was a different day, and this day was a different one. That day she had kissed him saying yes to his proposal, and today she kissed him before taking her final breath. Few months after defeating breast cancer, she was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer. And it was terminal.
”I’m so sorry I can’t save you,” he had cried collapsing into her arms.
”You saved me enough,” she replied, embracing him tight.
She unbuttoned his coat as her hands trembled, putting her head inside. This is the only place she felt safe, because she knew deep down inside, that he will save her no matter what. And those were her last words. She died very much loving life, loving her husband, and loving what she remained after all the ordeal; she remained a woman!

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