The last mile was difficult to walk owing to the clear sky and a beaming sun which caused ice to thaw sooner than I expected. We had started early, before the break of the dawn and had covered most of the ten miles trek without any slip. But then the sky cleared and the sun came out turning the previously comfortable trek to a dangerous one.
The trek was stony and in the thawing ice, it turned slippery. Many times I could feel my shoes slipping on the stones, making me lose my balance. But every time I found the grip again. This made me careless. At the last turn, I slipped too much, my body already out of balance for there was a steep climb over the stone. Only a feeble branch saving me from a dangerous fall. I walked the remaining distance with extra caution.
I was panting by the time I reached the top. I stopped to catch my breath. With my hands on my knees and body bent by the back, I saw her at the far end of the ridge. She was smiling at me, a hint of mockery in her eyes.
How could you walk so fast, I grudged under my breath as I straightened up again and started walking towards her. Not many people had walked up there. So my boots crunched the fresh ice as I walked casually, trying my very best not to look tired. I knew she was looking at me, observing me. I could feel the warmth of her gaze upon my body.
I looked at her as she stood akimbo, a black skull cap partially covering her head. She was wearing a button-up black coat over black denim. A thick teal-colored scarf wrapped her neck, which matched the teal colored striped gloves she was wearing. Only her face was bare. And amidst the white snowy background and the dark colors of her clothes, she looked breathtaking.
“How much more time you’ll take to catch me, old boy,” she shouted out loud and then burst out laughing in her characteristic way. My heart skipped a beat.
Before I met Rhea I used to think that love being so beautiful and grand that its expression is found only in grand gestures. Trips, gifts, and all that they show on TV. But it is the other way round. The moments when I felt real love for her were in the little moments, very insignificant in an absolute sense perhaps, but for me, they marked the real emotions of love.
It was little things like the way she smiled whenever she thought she had said some smart thing. Or when she made a mistake and would hope I don’t catch her. The way she looked at me even in a crowd of hundred. It made me fall in love with her, a hundred times every day.
And the way, she hugged me. In her hug, I found how two people without saying a word or being any more intimate can feel the emotion of pure love. In her hug, I found what is like to surrender oneself to another. To say that I believe you, trust you, and no other person means to me anymore, but you. Only you.
I still remember the first time when she hugged me. I had gone to drop her and she had invited me over. We were standing in her balcony and after talking for some time, when I was about to leave, she just came over and wrapped her hands around me. No words were spoken. And my whole existence lit up as the night sky lights up with millions of stars.
I’m not going to be here forever….
Her words broke my reverie.
She was now standing with her arms wide open, inviting me to run fast and take her in my arms. Just looking at her I felt a sense of eternal peace within me. Feeling of having found the greatest treasure of my life. Feeling of being blessed with the best of the fortunes. I smiled, and walked towards her. And in that moment I realized, my whole life until I met her, the places I visited, the people I met, all of that was a walk towards her, towards finding the one, and now when I have found her, I need nothing, I long for nothing. But her, and only her, for the rest of my life.