When greed meets love


101 min read

Title: When greed meets love

Description: In the fast-paced world of publishing,Aarav, a debut book author, is on a mission to weave a heart-wrenching tale into his latest bestseller. In a quest to include a dying girl in his manipulative marketing strategy, he crosses paths with Ananya, a spirited young cancer patient who possesses an indomitable spirit. But as he spends time with her, the line between fiction and reality blurs, and James finds himself entangled in a profound journey of self-discovery. In "When greed meets love," follow James as he learns that true happiness lies not in materialistic desires but in embracing genuine connections and the transformative power of compassion.

Language: English

Genre: Life-changing ,drama,comedy.

Book type: Fiction( Self-help)


I looked outside from the window behind me, and the sun was glistening. I was waiting for the editor of the literary agent. He had already made me wait for two hours. There were no other authors like me who were waiting for an editor. I was thrilled that my book was shortlisted for the literary agent, which was like a dream come true for me. I firmly believed that every successful book needs a great marketing plan to attract readers. No matter how great your book is, no one buys until you have a grand marketing plan. After a few minutes, I heard a sliding glass door open behind me. When I glanced towards that sound, I saw a tall, lean girl walking towards me with a smiling face.

“Mr. Aarav,” she said politely. I smiled “Yes.”

“Mr. Goutham wants to meet you.” “Thank you” I replied.

My hands reached for my laptop bag, and I dangled it on my shoulders. I followed her through a vast room. The floor was of mirror-like marble, where I could see myself. There were elegant side tables everywhere; she took me to the editor’s cabin.

“Yes, come in.”

“Good morning, Sir,” I said nonchalantly.

“Hi Aarav, please take your seat,” he said pointing towards the chair. I shook his hand and sat in front of him. He was wearing a blue suit and had silky white hair and a white beard.

I remained equanimous.

He was checking something on his laptop; by his expressions, I understood he must have been scanning my book and marketing plan. He looked in his computer for a moment longer, “Actually I am going through your marketing plan, and it’s quite impressive.”

“Yes sir, I am sure readers will be attracted to my strategy,” I assured him.

He leaned back on his chair and tapped his fingers on the table and seemed lost in thoughts. “The book is not my priority, but I believe in the marketing plan. That’s the reason I have shortlisted your book.” He then paused for a moment; “But are you sure that you will find a sick girl who is about to die and would agree to do your marketing promotion and co-author with you?”

I thought he was not sure about me.

My book was about a dying girl who was suffering from cancer and how she falls in love with a man.

“It’s tough, but I am sure I will find her,” I assured him. “But why can’t you try with a sick boy instead of a girl?”

I took my breath. “Sir, suppose you select a sick boy, no one will show concern or pity towards him. However, if you select a girl instead, I am sure the readers will be attracted and could be empathetic for the sickness of a girl.”

“OK,” he nodded. I understood that he was not still sure about the plan. I thought to explain to him again.

“Sir, believe me, people will buy my book, it will sell like a hot cake,” I said confidently. “Sir, people are emotional fools; all we need to do is fool them with our emotional marketing plans. Just imagine, Sir, how people would react after knowing that my co-author will die and the book is based on her life events. Just imagine—this would be her last book! Besides, we will promote the book with the tagline of ‘Last book of a debutant author.’ Even though I would only be a co-author of the book, people would recognize me. We will promote the book with her bizarre health conditions and we will make her talk about the book. So that people will be trapped in sympathy and that would create curiosity and that would lead them to buy the book. The promotions can also be escalated by word of mouth about the terminal disease,” I said without desisting.

He was staring at the walls of the room, lost in my conception, and nodded his head repeatedly. I could sense his intelligence, which made me afraid. He asked again, “Your plan is brilliant but are you sure that you can find a dying girl who will accept your plan?”

“Sir, please don’t worry about that. I will find a dying girl and I know how to convince her or her family members. I strongly believe there is a price for everything in this world.”

He tilted his head. He then tapped on the desk with his fingers.” OK, Aarav, I am convinced of your plan, and I have gone through your book. Are those feelings in the book true?” “No way, Sir,” I smiled. “All those feelings and emotions are fictional, even though the story revolves around the protagonist who has cancer. Nevertheless, as I said earlier,we will manipulate the readers with our marketing. I am sure people will get manipulated prior to reading the book, and they will become bait for our trap.”


“What would be the royalty for my book?” I asked.

I held his gaze. “Aarav, why are you in such a hurry? First, find a girl and then we will send both of your names and the work to the publishers; let’s see who accepts it. It is not as easy as you think. However, try to keep this marketing strategy confidential, OK?”

“Ok” I nodded reluctantly.

How could I explain to this man that I was in a hurry to earn as quickly as possible? Did he have the slightest idea of how much money and luxuries mean to me?

“I am sure, and even the publishers will agree. Then, what would be my royalty?” I persisted.

He turned his eyes towards my bony wrists. “That differs from every publisher; I think it would be 10 to 12%.”

“That’s all?”

He closed his eyes and puffed his cheeks as he exhaled, then looked up at the ceiling. “Yes, Aarav. That is the maximum royalty we give our debut authors,” he said, “Because even though it’s your plan and story, the publishers have to spend money on marketing and that will be at their expense, right?”

I wrinkled my nose, “OK, Sir” I replied reluctantly.

I was not happy with his offer because I had researched and worked more on writing my book. I thought the royalty he offered did not do any justice to my hard work.

“Are you working anywhere?”

“I used to, but I quit my job because I wanted to focus completely on promoting my book” I answered,

The real reason I left my job was that I was not content with the salary and I wanted more for my intelligence and knowledge. I felt like I was underrated.

He then stood up and went to the windows. I stood up too. He then walked up to me and shook my hand firmly, “I will discuss your marketing plan with other editors. In addition, I am convinced about your strategy. You should find a cancer-suffering girl in a short period so that I can convince others and we will send it to publishers. Let me remind you of one thing: We will not reveal to the publishers that you are deliberately using a cancer patient for the success of your book. Because no publishing house will agree to your gullible marketing strategy, we will reveal that a dying girl has co-authored your book and we will manipulate the publishers that this story is based on her life events.”

I was briefly lost for words.

“Sure, Sir.” I was delighted that he had liked my strategy and I decided to escalate to my next step for the quest of the sick girl, who would agree to my plan.

The air was sharp. The smell of smoke touched my nostrils and I rolled up my car windows. While heading home, I was thinking about my new, big luxurious home. I saw in my thoughts how it would be when I drive a Mercedes or a BMW. The scorching heat was irking me; even my second-hand car’s AC could not help. I halted my car at the signal when the light turned red. I turned around; there was a luxury car. I imagined myself in it. When I looked at my old car, I felt disgusted; I hated myself for being a middle-class person.

“Only a few days; after that, I am going to buy a big car and I shall throw you in the garbage,” I said to my car and felt embarrassed.

After parking my car in the cellar, I took the stairs to my 2 BHK apartment, flung my car keys on the couch, and changed my clothes. I even hated my apartment because I was not happy with the way it looked. My apartment was filled with old furniture and electronics. I browsed the internet for cancer hospitals in the city and shortlisted one of the hospitals, spoke to the Manager, and got an appointment.

The next morning, I bathed quickly and wore formal clothes—my usual whistle. I made bread toast with omelet and poured coffee into my cup from the coffee maker. Then, I had my breakfast while watching a few comedy shows. I was very sure that I would find a sick girl and I would convince her.

At 10:00 a.m., I visited one of the best cancer hospitals in the city; the hospital building was huge and it had many different blocks.

There were many ambulances in the parking slots. Numerous people were walking in and out; the medicines’ smell touched my nostrils, which irked me. I raised my head; the sky was blue and the clouds I had seen from the ground were wrapped around the building. When I stepped inside the hospital, it more looked like a star hotel; the ceiling was about a hundred feet in height. On my right, there was a receptionist who was talking to the customers; most of the receptionists were young girls. There was a big tree in the middle of the entrance room. I stood behind the help-desk and dialed the Manager of Administration.

He picked up after a few rings, “Hello.”

“Hi Sir, this is Aarav. I spoke to you last night.” “Oh, Mr. Aarav!”

“Sir, I am in the hospital right now, can we meet?” I asked. “Sure, you can wait in the first-floor waiting zone.”

“Thank you, Sir,” I said. I snapped my mobile shut and blew out my cheeks.

Even I knew that visiting every patient was quite impossible due to the hospital’s stringent rules. When I walked a little ahead, I saw that there was a coffee-shop on the other end. I kept walking until I reached the waiting zone.

I was waiting in the waiting zone, along with the patients and their relatives, to meet the Administration Manager. I felt terrible to sit behind them; I was apprehensive that I would be infected by the diseases of the patients. A few patients were sneezing, and a few others were coughing. The old person behind me was coughing on my face. I bore that torture for a while. The Manager showed up after a few minutes. We shook hands. He was of medium height with a prominent forehead, and probably around thirty years old. He was wearing a cream-colored shirt with blue cotton pants. His head was sunken into his shoulders and he seemed amicable.

“Hello, Mr. Pritam. It’s me, Aarav, who spoke to you yesterday,” I smiled.

“Hello, Mr. Aarav,” he gave a half-smile. “I didn’t understand what you were talking to me about last night. Could you please explain that again?”

“It’s simple; I am writing a book on cancer patients and about their inner feelings.”

The reason I lied to him was to hide my marketing plan so that he would not discuss it with others. My marketing plan was very confidential; I couldn’t take the risk of leaking that. I knew that if that happened, no one would believe me. Therefore, I explained to him that I was researching cancer patients for my upcoming book.

He swallowed and blinked at me. “But Mr. Aarav, it’s tough and challenging to make you meet every cancer patient. Because there are hundreds of patients in this hospital and most will be busy being treated and a few would even be in the last stages of their life.

“I can understand, Sir” I whispered, “I will not forget your help. I can give you a gift of one lakh rupees if you agree to this.” “One lakh rupees?” he said, with great surprise. Before offering him the price, I had calculated the expenses and thought one lakh would be fine—because I knew that one lakh would be nothing when my book was sold in lakhs or millions.

“Yes,” I whispered again.

“Initially, I shall give you fifty thousand, “I said. “Please tell me your account number so that I can transfer you the money.” “But, Mr. Aarav,” he mumbled. I understood that he was a little afraid to do my work. I then convinced him and handed him fifty thousand in cash, in an envelope. He was allured towards the money and kept in his pocket the moment I gave it to him. He then told me that he would bring me a list of patients. After a few minutes, he handed me a printed copy of the list. I glanced at the list, filtered the patients, and chose twenty patients who were in the age group of twenty-one to thirty-two.

I knew that anyone above thirty-two years would be irreverent towards my book’s protagonist’s behavior and feelings. It was hard to filter and took nearly two hours. I requested him to make another list of the selected patients. He went back to the Administration Department and brought the filtered list, which I accepted. I checked the list; it had names, followed by age, date of admission to the hospital, and the status of the patient. After reviewing it, I smiled and winked at Pritam.

I shortlisted around twenty girls’ names and was confident that at least one girl would accept my offer, out of the twenty hits.

“Sir, please be careful. Because some patients could be a little aggressive and sensitive. Please think twice before asking them questions.”

“OK, I will take care of that,” I smiled.

He then handed me the visiting pass and told me to show it to the security before entering into the patients’ zone. It was like an achievement for me and I was very confident that I would convince the patients too. In that span of a few seconds, I thought about the luxurious life, which I would get after the success of my book.

I showed the visiting pass to the security and entered the patients’ blocks. However, I took the stairs instead of the lift because according to me, stairs would be far better than being stuck in an elevator with the sick people and weeping relatives. I entered the first floor and checked around me. Many young female nurses wore a white uniform with white gloves and footwear. It was calm and clean; there was a smell of medication in the air, which was quite irking to my nostrils.

I went through my list and selected a girl named Pooja, who was 26 years old and was suffering from cervical cancer; her room number was 105. I glanced all over the place but couldn’t find the room and thought I should ask someone. I looked around me and went to a nurse

“Excuse me, could you please tell me how I can go to room no.105?” She lifted her finger and pointed, mutely, towards the room.

“Thank you.”

I walked again to her room, which was on the first floor. I knocked on the door of the room before I entered. A young girl was sitting on her bed, alone, and staring at the ceiling. I wondered what she was thinking about. She wore no makeup; her eyelashes appeared delicate and long. She wore a green hospital dress, and so, I assumed the girl was Pooja. Her hair was loose and covered her cheeks. She had dark circles with a plaster on her wrist. Even her face was sick in appearance— sleepless and oily. She looked more like a haunting spirit from horror movies.

“Hi Pooja,” I said with a fake smile.

She then glanced towards me and gave a blank look for a second. “Who are you? So, what do you want?” Her face was expressionless.

I took a few steps toward her bed. I pulled a chair up and sat down next to her. “My name is Aarav” I extended my hand.

She then gave the smallest shake; her hand was cold. “I have a very great proposal for you.”

“Proposal?” even her voice was expressionless too.

“Yes, the proposal” I smiled. I wanted to see how she reacted when I uttered the word proposal.

She turned away from me. “I don’t want to listen to any proposal.” She blinked; she stared down at her empty hand. Then turned around to me, confused.

I sighed loudly. “It’s a great opportunity for you.”

“Look, I am saying this to you for the last time; I am not interested in any opportunity.”

The girl’s expression didn’t change. “Try to understand.”

She didn’t say anything; I explained my strategy in a nutshell despite her disinterest. “You will get name, fame, and money. Even after your death, people will remember your name. You will get so much money, and with that, you can buy expensive stuff like perfumes, dresses, and everything that you have dreamt of until today. What do you say? “I glanced at her slyly. There was a short silence.

“What do you say?” I said and rubbed my two hands and raised my eyebrows with a broad smile.

Her jaw was tensed and the muscles in her face twitched as if in a spasm.

She then gave a dark smile with dimmed eyes. “Ok, I like your plan. I like your marketing plan. You are a genius.”

“Thank you. I know”

“Could you please close the door firmly, so that no one listens to our financial dealings?”

“Sure,” I said. I got up from my chair, rushed to the door, and closed it. Before turning towards her, I said, “Yes, I made it.”

When I turned towards her, she was standing on the bed, bent slightly at her knees, and stood in a posture of a football goalkeeper. Her unpredictable body movement surprised me. She groaned at me and jumped on my back. “How dare you?” she yelled, “How dare you take advantage of my disease?” She was holding my neck tightly and wrapped my hip with her legs. She was on my back and I tried to get rid of her. I spun around in the same spot, struggling to breathe.

“Please leave me; I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“How could you ask me? I hate all you men. You are selfish! Because of you men, I got this disease.” She yelled. She banged on my head repeatedly and twisted my arm backward.

“Somebody help me!” I shouted and spun around. I reached for the flowerpot, took it, and banged it on her head. She was relentless. I tried many ways to get rid of her, but I couldn’t do it myself. Luckily, someone opened the door. “Pooja, what are you doing?” some middle-aged person said. He stepped towards me.

“I will not leave him. I hate men.” She got down from my hip and bent my head down. She hit me repeatedly, on my shoulder. “Pooja, stop!” That man stepped towards her and held her shoulders firmly.

I was coughing outrageously; I felt like I had a wrestling match with her.

“You bloody witch, you spoiled my clothes and hairstyle,” I mumbled and adjusted my dress. She was staring at me with wide eyes. Her smell was all over my body and I felt like I might puke.

“Hey, please go out of the room. She is emotionally stressed,” said the man.

I ran towards the door without a second thought and closed the door firmly. I swallowed, feeling my face flaming up.

“Bloody dumb ass,” I heard her voice through the thick walls. I thought I had made a big mistake and regretted meeting such a horrible girl. I felt like I had lost five hundred calories after coming out of that room. I did not understand why she hated my proposal despite me offering her money. I had started to tremble convulsively. My feet felt watery, inside my shoes.

I washed my face and adjusted my hair and dress in the washroom. Then, I sprayed my favorite perfume on my body. I scanned the details of the second patient; her name was Nikita and she had lung cancer. I decided to change my strategy and talk to the parents of the patient initially. I visited room number 306 and hesitated a moment before opening the room door. When I opened the door, two old people were sitting beside her bed and holding the patient’s hand. I thought they must be the parents of Nikita because she was sleeping. I took a deep breath.

“Excuse me; are you the parents of Nikita?” “Yes,” they both said with a warm voice.

“Could you please come out for a moment?” I requested.

Her father, who was around sixty years old and gentle looking, wore a white half-sleeve shirt and was clean-shaven. He walked out of the room. His eyes were red-rimmed. “Yes, how can I help you?”

“Hi, Sir, my name is Aarav.” My voice, when it emerged, did not even sound like mine. I knew that the reason behind the change of my voice was Pooja, who squeezed my neck with her hands.

I lifted my hand towards him; he shook my hand lightly.

I then explained to him about my marketing plan and money. He then rubbed his eyes after removing his glasses. “Sorry, that’s not going to happen.”


“Because she is in the last stage and the doctor confirmed that she will die in a week.”

“That’s beautiful,” I said. “It’s OK, no problem. I will record her opinions and interviews prior to her death and we could market her after her death”, I winked at him with a smile. He opened his mouth to respond but then stopped himself.

“What are you thinking, Sir?”

He grumbled at me. “How dare you? How could you talk like that? Don’t you have any sympathy for a dying girl? She is just 24,” he pointed his hand towards the door. “How cruel are you!”

“Sir, listen; I am just trying to offer you a good deal of money. You must have invested so much money on her, and you could get returns for all those investments with my plan.”

His cheeks were aflame. “Investment?” his eyes widened, and jaw tightened. “She is my daughter, not a product or business. I will give my life to save her if that was possible,” he said. “I am in no mood to fight with you, or else I would have broken your mouth for saying that.”

“Please listen to me, Sir. You are behaving too emotionally. Just be practical; she is anyway going to die in a week, or 10 days at the most. Why don’t you think about you and your wife’s future? Money is essential for both of you, Sir. She isn’t going to be reborn to help you financially, right?”

“What are you? A monster? How could you talk like that?” he said. “Don’t talk to me, get out of my sight, you monstrous piece of shit. If this weren’t a hospital, I would have broken your bones,” he said with a warning glare.

I felt pity for him, for not understanding my plan and how cardinal money was in this world. I thought he must be stupid and an emotional fool for not understanding me.

He then went back into the room and banged the door on my face. I smirked, “People are emotional fools.”

I visited a few more patients and got even worse reactions. Some threw fruits at me, and a few even threw their urine bags. I thought again about those who behaved rudely towards me and felt that all those patients should have been in the zoo instead of the hospital. I regained my confidence after a quick break.

I tried until five-thirty in the evening.

I peeked back at the list; there was only one patient left, and she was a girl called Ananya.

Name: Ananya Diana. Age: 20.

Cancer type: Leukemia. Stage: Fourth.

She was my last hope, so I didn’t want to take a risk. I browsed her social network page to know her likes and dislikes. I even came to know that she was an avid reader because she had liked so many quotes of authors and had shared their book covers on her home page. She liked many romantic books. She was good-looking, too, and I saw hope in her. I thought she would be a flawless match; better than the other girls. I waited for a few seconds in front of her room and took a deep breath before opening the door.


I peered at my watch; it was at 6:00 p.m. When I opened the door of Ananya’s room, she was perusing a book. She was lean and didn’t appear like a dying girl. She wore spectacles. She had thin hair and it seemed like she had lost most of her hair due to chemotherapy. She leaned on the bed and was busy reading. She was not wearing any hospital clothes but had an Angry Birds T-shirt on her. Her room was a little different from others; it was big and had a wide LCD TV on the wall, and there was a couch in one corner of the room. It appeared more like a luxurious bedroom than a hospital room. Inside the room, the temperature was warm and the room was pleasant and calm. She glanced at me, over the book.

“Hi, my name is Aarav,” I said with a smile.

The reason I didn’t wish her with the name was that she shouldn’t know that I was a stalker and gone through her personal information.

“Hi,” she smiled, too, which gave me relief because she was the first patient who smiled at me.

She leaned back on the wall. I shook her hand; it was warm and soft.

“Yes, how can I help you?” she asked.

I had decided to change my strategy and thought I’d tell her that I was there for her review on my book. “I am a debut author, of a book.”

“Wow, that’s great,” she glanced at the book in her hand and closed it.

“Would you like to read it?” She smiled. “But why?”

Even though I was smiling, there was a deep fear of her suspicious behavior due to my experience. I felt a vein throbbing in my head and I stayed very still, clenching my fists

“My book is about a dying girl, who has cancer. I have written this book about how a dying girl feels about her love for a boy. I wanted to tell this world that even a dying girl could fall in love and about her deep feelings” I lied to her differently.

“Good,” she answered, seeming a little distracted.

“I have done so much handwork for completing this book. I met so many cancer patients and took inputs from them. My only wish is that the world should understand and give them a lot of love.” Not every word, which I explained to her, was true. The fact was that even though my book was about dying girl, I didn’t do much handwork on it. I just copied from a few medical websites, about a cancer patient’s feelings, and pasted it in my book.

I looked at her blankly.

Ananya puffed out her cheeks. “It’s very nice, Aarav, that you are writing a book based on people like me. I really appreciate your work.”

I was happy that she became bait; her eyes were fixed on me now.

“I am just requesting you to read the book and give your feedback on it. Because it’s a blessing for me to find a patient who reads books”. The reason I lied was that I intended to make her a friend. Later on, I would please her into accepting to be part of my marketing plan. I did this because I understood with my previous experiences that none of the cancer patients would agree to become a fake author. I stared at the books in the bookshelf, behind her bed; there were so many romantic novels, which were written by western authors.

She looked almost surprised. “Why do you want to request me? It’s just a book.” She smiled which gave me the hope that she would accept my strategy in the future.

I took out the book from my bag and handed it to her. She twisted her body and raised her eyebrow, “my first love,’ hmm… nice title.”

I was still wary of her behaviour; I was wondering how a dying girl could be so happy. She read the first chapter of my book quickly, “Good, not bad. Let’s see how the rest of the book is.”

She looked into my eyes and spoke slowly, “So, how much time do you need?”

“It’s a 300-page book, Aarav. Give me some time, and I will let you know about my review of the book.”

I handed her my business card. “This is my number. If you liked it, then call me or text me your review.”

“OK, cool,” she nodded, smiling. “OK, bye.”


I stood up from the chair, and it made a screeching sound. I wiped my mouth; I was still suspecting that something terrible could happen due to her mental state. I turned around and started walking towards the door.

“Aarav,” I heard her voice

I swallowed; I thought she might have stood on the bed just like Pooja. I thought that I needed to protect myself and turned around with a Kung Fu defending move with my hands and said “Hyyyyyy yaaaaaaa.” I waved my two hands sharply like a sword.

She laughed loudly, “What’s wrong with you?”

I exhaled with relief. “Nothing, I just did Kung Fu practice this morning, and I am still in that mode,” I tried to convince.

“Good for you,” she said, “I just called you to say that my name is Ananya Diana,” She said vaguely “Don’t worry I will let you know my review for sure.”

“Thanks,” I raised a weak smile.

After walking out of her room, I heard her laughing and felt like an imbecile.

I walked out of the hospital smoothly, without any hustle, and I was delighted that I could convince her for sure because I thought she was a little friendly with me. However, I would explain my strategy slowly, in pieces, instead of telling everything concisely, after becoming a friend.

For the next two days, I didn’t get any response from her. I was a little worried about her decision. I thought she might have changed her opinion and that she might have realized that I was using her for my benefit. I checked my mobile every hour for her call or message. On the fourth day, I got a call from Ananya. I picked it up after a few rings.

“Hello,” I said in a relaxed way as if I was not desperate for her call.

“Hi Aarav, I just called to talk about the book.” “I am listening.”

“I liked the story of your book, but you have to make many changes.”

I scratched my head. “Changes?” “Yes, changes.”

“Where?” “See, there are plenty of chapters so I can’t explain to you over the phone. If you want, you can come to the hospital and we can discuss it. Because I cannot come out due to my health condition right now,” she explained

“Sure, I will come.”

“That’s nice. OK, you can visit after two o'clock.” “Ok, see you at two o clock.”


“Bye,” I said.

I realized that the anxiety that had held me all day was abating. I was happy that she called me back and I thought I could act like a friend and slowly drag her into my plan. I went back to my house, had dinner, and brushed my teeth. While washing my face, I imagined how I would look driving a luxurious car and living in a big house. I was very desperate to fulfil my desires, but Ananya was taking it slow. She wasn’t offensive and arrogant like previous patients, but still, I didn’t trust her completely.

At 2:00 p.m. sharp, I visited her hospital and took the stairs instead of the lift, as usual. Then, I went to her room. Three doctors, wearing white coats, surrounded Ananya and they were checking her pulse, etc. There was also a man and a woman in their mid-fifties, in the corner of the room, watching the doctors. They were her parents, obviously.

“How do you feel, Ananya?” one of the doctors asked.

“I feel fine, doc,” she smiled. “That’s good,” the doctor replied.

The doctor glanced at her parents and said: “Mr. Sam, we will be continuing the same medicine and will start chemotherapy in the next few days.”

Her parents’ faces turned into sadness. I didn’t understand why they were very upset when they heard the doctor’s decision.

“Doc, can I skip my medicines for one day?” “No Ananya, you can’t.”

“The medicines are making me feel horrible,” she replied. “But you have to take them,” the doctor smiled at her. “OK” she replied.

I stood aside calmly and wondered for the umpteenth time how she could smile and be happy when she knew that she was about to die. Nevertheless, a little later, I thought that she could be an immature person and perhaps she was not aware of her approaching death.

When the three doctors left, a nurse walked up to her and gave her an injection on her arm. She then rubbed the spot with cotton. When my eyes met hers, she said, “Hey Aarav, when did you come here?”

“Just now “I replied. “Sorry, if I made you wait.” “It’s OK,” I said.

“Dad, Mom” she glanced at her parents.

“Yes dear,” they both said together, their voices low

She pointed her hand towards me. “He is Aarav, the author who came to me a few days ago and sought my help,” she briefed, concisely.

Her father’s chin descended to somewhere deep in his collar. I shook her parent’s hands and smiled at them reluctantly. Her parents seemed lost. Her dad was tall, wearing a tailored suit.

“Why are you still standing?” she said, “Have a seat.”

I took a few steps forward towards her bed and, pulling a chair, sat near her. “So, Aarav, I have gone through your book and I have few doubts.”

“What are they?”

“Why does a cancer patient have to die in every book or movie; can’t they be alive—at least in the fiction book?” Her parents stared at her, silently.

I didn’t have an answer, but I thought I should give her a convincing answer.

“It’s a fact that she will die; it’s not a movie where every story has a happy ending.”

The smile on her face vanished and she went into the sad mode. “Yes, you might be right.”

She seemed convinced. Yet, I was still worried.

“Look Aarav; we need to discuss this deeply. So, shall we sit somewhere else?”

“Ya, sure” I replied.

“No, Ananya. You are not supposed to go out” her father said, sharply.

“OK,” she said, “At least can I sit in hospital’s cafeteria?” Her father thought for a moment and said “OK.”

I was reluctant to spend time with her and felt more horrible when she said that we both would sit together in the cafeteria. I hated that moment with her but resisted and bore it for the sake of my desires.

The cafeteria was on the ground floor, in another block. We took the lift to reach the ground floor. We both stood in one corner of the elevator. A few nurses and doctors got in with us. She glanced at them, “Hi, Doctor Suhani! How are you?” she smiled.

“Hi Ananya, I am fine” she smiled back at her. She didn’t stop wishing and smiling with that doctor. Literally, she said ‘Hi’ to everyone who showed up. “Is everything fine?” she said, breaking the silence.

She was not walking like a healthy person; I recognized the sickness in her walk. She sauntered. So, for her sake, I restricted the speed of my walk. Her walking style reminded me of one funny animal and I smiled inside. We entered the cafeteria and there was a person behind the door, who was typing something on his computer.

“Hi, Pranab,” Ananya smiled at him, too.

Her friendly behavior with everyone was annoying me; how could anyone be friends with everyone? What’s the use of being friendly with everyone, when they are not lucrative?

She appeared like a loser to me, who was wasting her last few days in the hospital. Her parents seemed like rich people and I thought it must be her parents’ wish to keep her alive. If I were her parent, I wouldn’t be wasting money on a dying child; instead, I would have bought myself something useful.

“Hi Ananya, how are you?” “I am fine.”

We sat in one of the corners of the cafeteria. The cafeteria was decent; it had wooden furniture all over the place but didn’t have any styling theme. I could smell the coffee from our next table. There was a menu on the table.

“Would you like to have coffee?” she offered. “Yes, what about you?”

“I am not supposed to drink coffee or other things that are not on my diet list. But I would like to have a fruit salad.” She waved her hand at the person from the counter. He walked up to us, and she said: “Hi Suraj, how are you?”

“I am fine, Ma’am, how about you?” he was enthusiastic. “Yes, I am fine; we would like to have a cappuccino and a fruit salad” she ordered. There were a few coffee beans on the table. She took some of the beans into her hand and smelled them. “Wow, what an amazing fragrance. I love the smell of coffee and its taste; I used to drink coffee before my cancer diagnosis.”

My cappuccino arrived with her salad. I took a few sips of coffee and glanced at her. She was struggling to crunch and swallow; I thought she might have mouth sores due to the side effects of her chemotherapy.

After a moment, she said, “I love reading and writing books and also I love the fictional world of your imagination”

“Did you write any books so far?”

“Yes, I have written one book but it’s tentative. I love every character and their feelings of my book. Especially the story of the book”

“You should release your book too” I suggested

“I never thought about it, I will leave it to my parents after my death”


“So, shall we discuss the book?” “Sure” I replied and put the coffee cup on the table; it made a rattling sound.

“Aarav, please don’t take me wrong. The feelings of a dying girl in your book are not right. It seems like the patients whom you spoke to have lied to you.”

“Really?” I thought about how that could happen because I had copied from medical websites.

“Yes, a dying girl doesn’t think in that way,” she said, chewing the food in her mouth.

“So, how does she think then?” I asked.

She exhaled. “Even though a person is dying, she would have the same feelings, just like everyone else. They want to make friends, hang out with them, and fall in love; even they dream about living happily with the person they love. They will have desires and interests, like a normal human being.”

“So, didn’t you like the story?”

“Of course, I liked the story. But, the feelings of the book’s protagonist ‘Shruthi’ are fake. You know, when readers read the book, they should know the real feelings of the dying person,” she said and gazed at the garden behind the café.

“Oh, I know it seems like all those people whom I interviewed lied to me,” I nodded my head and acted as if I was disappointed. “All my handwork is gone, then?”

The reality was I never did an interview with any dying patient; I just imagined and wrote it down.

“Don’t worry Aarav; I will help you with that.”

I raised my head. “Thank you,” I faked a smile again.

We discussed for the next hour about the books and she suggested some changes in my book. I didn’t offend her views about the book because my book was not a priority and I was concerned only about my marketing plan.

After two hours, she started feeling a little dull and told me that she couldn’t discuss it anymore. I knew that she liked the snake and ladders’ game very much and I thought that the game could make me a little closer to her.

“OK, Aarav we will contemplate it a little later.”

“OK Ananya,” I said and took out the snake and ladders’ game from my bag. She halted for a moment and glanced at the kit in my hands, “Snakes and ladders?”

She blinked a couple of times. “Yes, it’s my

favorite game” I lied.

She said excitingly “Mine, too.”

“Shall we play?” I asked.

She became confused and thought for a few seconds, “Let’s play quickly, OK.”

I kept the board on our table and kept the dice on it. “I will play first,” she said and nodded her head. We then played for the next hour and then her father interfered; he told her that she needed to take her medication and rest for a while. She was antipathetic to end the game and told me to come the next day for the sake of discussing the book.

My plan worked out because I knew that snakes and ladders was her favourite game—which I learned from a post of hers on her social networking site.

Our meetings in the cafeteria of the hospital continued for the next ten days. We played snakes and ladders every day, for an hour. Every day was a nightmare for me and I was not interested in talking to her or even playing. Not only her but also the hospital environment itself made me sick, and I felt like I was an ill

Patient, like the others. I acted as if everything was normal and told myself that I had to do it for the sake of my desires.


That Monday night, Ananya called me at 12 midnight, and I was in deep sleep. I picked up her phone with a lot of hesitation.

“Hi Aarav, are you still up?”

I thought of saying that I wasn’t a patient like her to be awake till midnight but said “Hi Ananya. I am just trying to sleep.”

“Sorry, if I disturbed you.”

“It’s OK, go on,” I said, closing my eyes and leaning on the bed.

“I don’t even have friends; you are the only friend I have.”

I felt happy when she said I was her only friend because it would be very easy to convince her for my marketing plan. I opened my eyes, rubbed them quickly, and came out of my dizziness, “What happened, Ananya?”

“I can’t share anything with my parents because they are already depressed due to my disease,” she said. “I don’t want to die, Aarav. I want to live, like everyone, and want to have desires and dreams in life. It’s sad that my only dream is to live. Tell me Aarav, is there anything—a miracle or a wish I can ask God for, to stop this?”

I paused for a moment and became worried about what would happen if she recovered. I did not want to give her hope of living. I thought that instead, I should tell her that she was born for dying. I thought for a while for reasons for her death and remained silent for a few seconds.

“Hello? Aarav, are you there?”

“Ya, Ananya I am here,” I said. “I was just lost for a moment. Wait a second.” I didn’t know what to say and how to answer her question. I reached for my laptop and browsed about the shortest life span of all living beings and the result was ‘mayflies,’ which live for just a few hours.

“Ananya, have you heard about mayflies?”

“No” she replied.

I started reading from the website. Mayflies are aquatic insects; they spend a year awaiting their birth, and then die after living just one day.”

“Just one day?” she interrupted.

“Yes, just one day. Their sole purpose is to pass on their genes, and they don’t even have mouths to eat. You know mayflies spend an entire year in freshwater in a stage called ‘nymph,’ in which the insects already look much like adult forms but don’t do anything. After a year, the insects fly off to find a mate, lay some eggs, and die. Just imagine—their freedom literally is for twenty-four hours only. The sad part is that they do not have the option of living a long life. Mayflies live like it’s their last day.

“It’s unfortunate that they live for only a day.”

“And look, at least you have a few months to live. So, live like it’s the last day, Ananya.”

She took a pause, and I heard her breathing on the phone. “Thank you, Aarav, for talking all about this.”

“It’s OK. Promise me that from now you will not feel bad that you are going to die.”

“I promise.”

I yawned. “OK Ananya, I am sleepy.” “OK, Aarav, goodnight.”

After hanging up the phone, I was afraid that she might create hope for living. It could be a threat to me; her death was mandatory for my bright future. I told myself that I had to remind her repeatedly that she would die in a few days. I knew no one would buy my book if she survived; only her death could fulfill my desires.


It was Friday morning. I was fed up with our regular meetings and decided that I would explain my marketing strategy to Ananya. I stepped into her room.

“Hey,” I said.

She was watching some news on the television and having her breakfast; her sandwich stood still on her lips. “Hi, Aarav. Would you like to have breakfast?”

“No, I just had mine” I replied, after sitting on the couch.

I sat a little away from her due to fear of her reaction to my marketing strategy.

She took five minutes to complete her sandwich and had her medications. I was waiting patiently and recalling the things which I had to say. She was wearing a white Donald Duck T-shirt, and no makeup.

She wiped her mouth with the tissues. “I think we are done with the changes, Aarav” she smiled. “Could you come to me at least twice a week so we could play snakes and ladders?”

I was reluctant to say yes. “Yes, sure,” I said with a fake smile.

“Really?” she was very excited when I said yes. “Thank God,at least I got one friend who will visit me. You know I have had this cancer thing for four years. I discontinued my schooling; now I am nineteen years old and I do not have any friends to talk to or to play with. Even though I have my childhood friends on social networking sites, they are away. Aarav, will you be my friend?’

“Yes, sure. I will be your friend and I will visit you twice a week,” I lied to her again. I had no intention to become a real friend because I knew she would probably die after my book was released and I didn’t want to keep any emotional bond with her. She felt I was a friend. However, in fact, I wasn’t. I wondered why I should make friends with a dying girl. I thought that moment would be perfect for explaining to her about the marketing strategy I intended to apply, but yet, I wasn’t daring enough to tell her.

“That’s wonderful,” she said. “You know when you talked about mayflies; I did some research on them and felt very bad for them because all they have is twenty-four hours to live. Look at me, at least I have a few days to live and could do so much in that time. You were right about my life span. I think, compared to mayflies, I have a bigger lifespan. You know, Aarav, actually, I am planning to make a list.

“List?” I asked, dubiously.

“Yes, a list where I will write down all the desires I wish to fulfil. Will you help me with that?”

“Oh boy!” I muttered.

I felt like I had become bait for the trap of my ‘mayfly’ lecture. I regretted giving her the idea about the mayflies. I was trying very hard to not spend much time with her, but my destiny was pushing me hard to be with her. I couldn’t say no to her because I knew she would feel bad and then it would impact my career and later on, my desires.

I reluctantly said, “Say it.”

“Certainly, but promise me that you will keep this as top secret,” she smiled and sat on her knees on the bed.


Her dad walked in with some papers in his hand. He was looking sad, and I wondered about the reason.

“Hi, Sir.”

He glanced at me, raised a weak smile, and said “Hi.” Then Ananya made a ‘T’ shape with her both hands and whispered, “Top secret.”

I understood that she wanted to hide her desires from her parents due to their stringent rules for her, not allowing her to the outside world due to her health issues. Her parents believed the weather outside might affect her health.

On Thursday, I told Ananya regarding my marketing strategy. I realized that I had very little time and my agent was forcing me to convince her quickly.

“I am sure your book will become a bestseller,” she declared. “Yes, but only if you have a good marketing plan,” finally I said and thought that would be the right time to answer. “Why?”

“Because we have to attract readers with a brilliant marketing strategy. I am a debutant author; why would anyone buy my book?”

“That’s true” she blinked and crossed her hands against her chest. “I know so many good authors who have written very nice ones, but still those authors are not bestsellers.”

I thought that it was the right time to explain the plan and convince her. I looked around her for things that could be a threat to me if she became angry with me. I reached to the table behind her and threw all the used injection needles and cartridges in the dustbin.

“What are you doing, Aarav?” she asked. “Just wait for a moment, please.”

I then kept some medicines in the cupboard behind her bed. “Why are you hiding them?” she asked again.

I sat a little away from her. “I wanted to explain about my marketing plan.”

“So, do it; who is stopping you?”

I kept all those things away from her deliberately so that I could save myself if she turned vicious like other patients in the past.

“OK,” I said and explained about my marketing plan and how we would fool people that we both wrote the book together.

For a moment, her expressions changed. I thought something bad was going to happen. I kept my bag in front of my face like a shield.


“Yes,” I said from behind my bag. “Why are you hiding your face?” “For my protection,” I continued. “But why are you afraid?”

Then, almost from nowhere, panic rose within me like bile. My heart rate began to rise, and I could hear the sound of my blood pumping. I was still afraid that she might behave like Pooja.

“Afraid that you would throw something at me.”

She then took my bag away from me and said, “I wouldn’t do such things; we are friends, right?”

I stared at her in surprise, “Really?” “Yes,” but she shook her head like ‘no.’

I thought she was joking and I hid under her bed with a bit of suspicion. “Aarav, please come out. I was kidding you, dude. I promise I will not hit you; just come out,” she burst out laughing, “We are friends and why would I do that?”

“Really?” I said from beneath her bed.

“Yes, now please come back from there,” she said in a pleasing tone.

I sat back behind her with relief. “I liked your marketing plan. Even though it’s your book, I have modified it a lot. So, I feel like I should get some credit for your work.”

“Are you sure?”

She gazed at me silently half-smilingly. “Yes; could you please explain to me again in detail?”

I moved my hair from my forehead. “Ya sure. First, we will register the book in both our names. We will make videos together, and in them, you will explain how you have suffered from your disease and will say that the book is inspired by your real story.”

“I am listening,” she said, looking into my eyes.

“People would get attracted to our promotions and start showing sympathy towards you because everyone will become curious about what the story of a dying girl would be like. After the book is released, everyone will become curious about what a dying girl would have written and we will write a tagline on the book’s cover— ‘Last book of a dying author.”

She turned away from me, stared at the wall, and seemed lost in her thoughts for a moment; but I continued with my plan.

“Imagine—even after your death people would buy the book and talk about you. You will be famous even after your death. Being the co-author, you will get fifty percent of royalty when you are alive and after your death. “I smiled.

For the first time, her smile vanished. “Why do we have to lie to people that my real story inspired the book?”

“People will become curious about the book and they would be more interested. Else, it will be hard to attract them,” I explained.

“My parents will not be concerned about the money, Aarav, because they have a plethora of funds,” she said. “I will agree to your proposal if you transfer my royalty to orphan homes and to the people who can’t afford to treat their diseases.”

I didn’t take much time to think about her proposal.

“Ya sure, we could do that.” I was very excited that she had accepted my plan to co-author with me.

“What kind of happiness would you achieve with this, Aarav?”

I shook my head. “Are you mad? I will get so much money; with that, I could by a luxury car, a big house and so much more. That is my aim, Ananya. For my second book, I will be a solo author and people will continue buying my books due to the popularity of my first book with you”.

She looked at me as if she were about to say something and then closed her mouth. I shook both my legs with excitement and locked my fingers. Ananya stared at me for a while, without a smile. I raised my eyebrows.

“OK, Aarav. I will convince my parents regarding this, and I will text you about the status.”

I stood up, shook her hand, and told her to text me about her parents’ decision. After leaving, the hospital, I danced with joy in front of the hospital on the road. Then, I called my literary agent and explained to him that I had found a patient who agreed to co-author with me. He instructed me to make her talk to them once for confirmation and further documentation. My joy was indescribable at that moment; I started dreaming about my dream car and luxurious life. I thought about how it would be when I drove a luxury car


I used to talk to Ananya for hours together, even past midnight. Talking to her became a part of my routine; that helped me discover that she was a funny person and that her sarcasm was on point. We used to talk about many things that included superheroes we believed in, romantic novels, hilarious videos, and a lot more. Gradually, I started liking her. We had a lot in common, including a book that we wrote together. We had to start its pre-promotion since I had found a publisher for the book.

It was a Sunday morning. As usual, I visited Ananya at the hospital. She was seated on the bed. “Aarav!” she called. While setting my camera on the tripod, I replied, “Yes?” All this while she had her eyes on me and my camera’s eye was on her.

“How would I look after I die?” asked Ananya.

“How would I know, Ananya?” I replied with a hesitant tone. “Of course! How would you know! Will you attend my funeral?”

Exhaling loudly, I asked her to let me do my work. “I wonder what I will look like after I die. Maybe like this...” and she started to make faces with her lips a little tilted, resembling a paralyzed human.

Not taking her childish gestures seriously, I recollected and said, “I was told that a deceased person’s eyes look up.” Then, I accidentally zoomed into her face. Just then she said, “You mean like this?” sliding her eyeballs to the corner of the eyelids, scaring me to death.

“Ananya!” I said, raising both my hands.

“Sorry!” she said with a straight face, a bit embarrassed.

I asked Ananya to talk about something while I set the camera to start recording, finally. She nodded.

“Welcome to today’s headlines. Aarav, a debutant author, who had fooled his readers with a fake story, is now having stones pelted at him. One of the readers even ripped his tee apart, leaving him semi-nude,” she giggled.

Though her childish behavior was annoying me, I could not get mad at her.

“Ananya, people are emotional fools. Until you tell them, they will not know the facts.” She was quiet. I went back to her. Just when I leaned forward to sit behind her, our eyes met and her shoulders touched mine.

“Please tell me about yourself, Ananya.” She turned towards the camera. With a smile, she started, “Hi! I am Ananya and I have been diagnosed with stage four Leukemia.”

“You aren’t supposed to smile, Ananya!” “But why?”

“You should show what’s inside you—how emotionally weak you are.”


“Look at me,” I said, making an anguished face. “Make people empathize with you.”

She chuckled. “What are you giggling at?” I asked. “Nothing. Just your expressions”, she revealed.

“Hey,” I asserted, “Focus on the video, Ananya. Else, I shall leave.” Brushing my jawline, she apologized. “Okay! Serious. Let’s do it, Aarav!” She paused for a moment, gathered all the equanimity needed, and started. “Greetings! I am Ananya and I have been diagnosed with stage four Leukemia. He is my co-author, Aarav. He has helped me write this book. To give you an insight into what the book is about, it is a love story. My love story. It talks about how I fell in love. I am sure you will love the book.”

“Hi! I am Aarav, a very good friend of Ananya’s. One fine day, she told me that she wanted to write a book on her life and love life. She wasn’t well-versed with the art of writing a novel, so she sought my help and that is how I became her co-author.” “That was good,” she smiled, and without a she thought turned to face me in a hustle, because of which her nose touched mine. Her reflexes pulled her back. “Sorry!” she exclaimed. I went back to the camera to check the recording. To our satisfaction, it came out well.



“Do you believe in love?” “Nah, I do not.”

Astonished, she said, “It is strange how you are good at writing love stories but do not believe in them.”

Neither did I believe in love nor had I ever fallen in love. I believed there is no love between human beings; it’s a merely fatal attraction. “Okay, have you ever fallen in love, at least?” she asked. By now, I had started to get annoyed by her questions on love. How could I explain to her that love, for me, was a waste of time? For me, love was a fool’s paradise. “No,” I said patiently. “All we need to talk and focus upon is the marketing and promotion of your product.”


“I meant the book.”

“Hey! Books come with many emotions; you cannot call it a product just like that. The only reason why people write books is that they want readers to connect with them—which happens through books. If there are no emotions in the book, how would it touch a million hearts?”

“I was talking in marketing terminology, Ananya. I am sure people will buy our book like crazy after we upload these videos as part of our promotion.”

“Hmm. Aarav, let’s go out, can we?”

I frowned. “But your parents insist on you staying in the hospital and not leaving the premises, don’t they?”

“Yeah I know, but they don’t realize that staying in the hospital all the time isn’t going to help me get better. I will anyway die, soon. It gets terrible for me to stick to the same place all day. Moreover, it is Christmas tomorrow and I have to distribute gifts.

“Gifts?” I asked.

“Yes, gifts,” she prompted. “Do I have to buy them?” I questioned, expecting her to burn a hole in my pocket.

“Oh, don’t you worry. I have bought them all. Bestowing things upon people makes me happy, so... Would you be a Santa Claus for all the children in the hospital? But you’ll have to make sure the gifts reach them before they wake up.”

“You mean disguised as a Santa Clause with the costume and grey

beard?” I questioned.

“Dude! Obviously. As if your beard is naturally grey”, she cackled.

“What about you?” I asked. “

“I will be in a Santa Clause’s disguise too,” she replied.

I bought all the things needed—costume, beard, and postiche—from City Mall, though it was a time-consuming task. Along with these items, I also bought a golden bell and a huge carry-bag for the gifts. I’d never celebrated Christmas before. It was only because Ananya demanded that I agreed to become a Santa Claus.

At 12 in the night, when I entered Ananya’s room, I saw her parents dressing her up in the attire. Her mom was helping with the costume and dad, with the beard. She looked at me, all startled. Her dad picked up a health magazine and sat next to her, on the couch.

“Hi, Aarav!” came a voice and I knew it was Ananya trying to mime an old man’s voice. I acknowledged. Then came another “Hi” from both her parents. I greeted them back. “So, where has the book reached? Are you guys done with it?” asked her dad. I replied, very positively, “Yes, Sir. We are done with it. Only the promotion is due.”

Her mom said, “I still can’t believe Ananya helped you write half the book.”

Getting mischievous, Ananya winked at me and said, “Major contribution is Aarav’s. I was just an advisor.”

She continued, “All right! I think we need to leave to distribute the gifts. We are running late, Aarav. Where’s the bag of gifts, Dad?” Her dad handed over the bag to her. She held the bell in her left hand and dangled the bag over her right shoulder. “C’mon my boy! We’re already late” she said, slapping my forehead. I followed her and we walked to the children’s floor. That was when I asked her for the plan. She told me about the children suffering from cancer. She disclosed the plan to me—to distribute the gifts without being caught or seen by the children. The whole idea behind doing so was to make them believe in Santa Claus.

We began with ten-year-old Shreya—another Leukemia patient, just like Ananya. Ananya placed the gift behind her and brushed her forehead, adoring the little angel. We continued leaving the gifts around the children. All the while that we were emptying the bag full of gifts, the only constant thing I saw was Ananya’s happy face. Once done with a few, we headed to the parking lot for a while where we sat on my car stretching our legs over the car’s hood.

A while later, we separated and went our ways to accomplish the mission–‘Joy of giving’. I went to a couple of children that included Sam, another cancer patient. I walked in like a cat, making sure I made no noise. I left the gift and was walking out when he woke up. He saw me there, got off his bed, and hugged me tightly. The feeling was indescribable. He thanked me for coming and said that he was hoping for me to come. I rubbed his head, smiled, and left.

My next patient was Rhea. It felt like she was awaiting my arrival (laughs). “Hi, Santa!” she exclaimed.

“Hello, my child!” I replied, caricaturing an old man’s voice and shook the bell in my hand.

“What have you brought for me?”

Handing over the gift to her, I said, “Here! Find out yourself, child.”

Filled with curiosity, she took a few seconds to unwrap the gift and another nanosecond to bring a content-filled-smile on her face. “Wow! A teddy bear. I love it,” she proclaimed “Thank you, Santa—but I have another wish”

Ringing the bell, I asked for the wish to which she replied, “I want to go out, play with other children, eat outside food and do everything that a normal child does but my parents and the doctor stop me from it all.” It was for the first time that I felt helpless and sad. I held her hand and said, “Okay my child; your wish shall soon be fulfilled.”

After distributing the gifts, I went back to the parking lot. I was lost in multiple thoughts; thoughts of these little children who may leave the world anytime. Especially Rhea. Thoughts of how ‘giving’ can result in ‘inevitable happiness.’ During this session of introspection, I learned something new about myself—that ‘giving’ to the needy did ‘wonders’ and gave me a lot of bliss.

Breaking the silence, I heard Ananya say “Hello, my child!” She walked up to me, stretched her arm at me, expecting me to tug at her hand and so I did. She sat beside me and asked about how my distribution went. I happily told her about it all as though I was ready for this moment to come and had everything prepared in my head already. She endorsed and continued, “Know what, Aarav! In India, nearly forty thousand children suffer from cancer every year and surrender to it because of either late detection or poverty. It is disheartening to see these kids take their last breath in their parents’ hands. I want to help such people and that is why I have agreed to lie even though I don’t believe in lying. However, everything in the book is true. I am doing it only because, one—helping is my golden rule and two—for you. I’d be glad to be able to help needy people even after my death.”

Although I did not get her reason behind stating all this to me, I nodded. “So, when were you diagnosed with cancer and how did you discover it?” I asked, in an attempt to change the topic.

“It was too late by the time

I was diagnosed with cancer. Nobody gave up, the doctors tried and I underwent chemotherapy for six months. Nothing changed; the tumor kept growing. For another six months, I again underwent chemotherapy. Doctors declared that nothing was helping and that I just had a few months left. Fortunately, they came up with some sort of medical experiment that their research team wanted to try on me but warned me to keep nil hopes.

. At times, I have mental breakdowns feeling sorry for my parents. They have done so much for me and yet, I’m unable to pay them back. My dad spends most of his leisure time with me despite busy schedules. He invested around twenty million dollars in a fraud firm. This loss hampers him even today. I wish my parents had another child who could take care of them after I departed. Unfortunately, they’ll be left to live alone after my death.”

I did not understand whether to console her, give fake hopes, or get the practical point in the picture. The silence was my resort.

“When are the doctors planning to start the experiment?” I asked.

“Oh good, you reminded me of it. Request the publishers to initiate the book launch since I do not want to record promotional videos looking ugly with no hair on the head— which answers your question that the doctors are going to start the experiment soon, after a week, I guess.”

“Everything is sorted out. The printing has started and the launch will be scheduled within the next three days. Hey! Would you like to see your fan page?” I asked.

“You’ve made a fan page for me?” she asked with teary eyes. I showed her the fan page just then. She asked me where I got the pictures. I told her that I took them from the videos I recorded. “My First Love,” she read it aloud and scrolled down the page. “I look miserable in these pictures. Imagine how much more miserable I will look after I lose my hair!” and she frowned.

“You and I are going to become pretty famous, soon. Publishers have claimed to start promoting in newspapers and magazines by tomorrow.”

Drawing herself closer to me, she said, “I am not running after fame or money, Aarav! They are materialistic and intemperate things that don’t matter when one leaves the world. I am happy with what I have.” She tilted her body and that made her shoulders touch mine. I wondered why she did that. I didn’t move either. We felt the cool breeze brushing our skin, leaving behind chills running down our spine. It was excessively dim around, with just one lamp on, dark skies, and her chocolate flavored fragrance drew all my attention.

“How come you’re happy with what you have, Ananya?” “Which car do you own, Aarav?”

“Hyundai, but why?”

“And which car do you want to own?” “Mercedes!” I prompted.

“I am sure there will be a day when you will want to own a Ferrari or Lamborghini, for that matter. It is so because our desire has no end. As humans, we never look at what we have; instead, we pay more attention to what we do not have— meaning we are always worried about the things that are out of our reach. In the quest to achieve it or them, we might end up hurting others, resulting in becoming greedy and selfish beings. ‘More’ is infinity, and in order to fulfil it, we often get trapped in a loop called ‘want.’ I believe the real happiness lies within and in the things that one already has. One just has to look for it.”

I hmm-ed. “By the way, why did you leave your job, Aarav?” She questioned.

“Simply because they weren’t paying me enough for my efforts,” I replied without a thought.

“Aarav! Learn the art of being satisfied with how much ever and whatever you have. Do not feel that only if you have more, you will be happy. It is all in your head. Look at people around you—there are poor yet happy people and rich yet sad people. Happiness should be a product of elements within you and not around you. Do you want to know what my desires are?” she lectured.

“You’re immature, Ananya. You talk illogical stuff at times. Whatever. Chuck it!” I did not take any of it seriously and ignored it.

“One day, everything shall fade away, everybody will die and sins and hate shall vanish; only love shall remain forever.”

I ignored her words yet again; I did not mean to debate over this again.

Waiving her thoughts, I said, “I am not interested in your philosophy, girl. I want to achieve my desires because I know it is going to make me happy if I do. Somehow, I have a feeling that you are trying to change me and my thoughts and forcing me to become like you, aren’t you?”

“I never asked you to stop desiring. All I meant was to have a limit to everything, even your desires. Rest it is all up to you, Aarav—whether you want to believe in this or not.”

After a brief moment of silence, she initiated, “Aarav! I have a desire. Will you fulfill it?

“Go ahead. Tell me!”

“Don’t you worry; it isn’t going to be anything like yours.” She giggled, throwing a tantrum.

Surprisingly I wasn’t annoyed or agitated—for a change. “Tell me!”

“I want to dance with you.” She blushed and I could see her cheeks turn pink. “Next desire?” I asked.

“I want to go to an island full of Arctic birds.”

Just for, say, a fraction of a second, Rhea’s face flashed in front of

my eyes and I couldn’t say no to Ananya.



I nodded.

She stretched her hands towards the sky, out of joy. She warned me to keep these desires a secret from her parents. Out of curiosity, I asked her how she would manage her parents. Very confidently, she assured me that she will do it since it would only be a matter of a few hours. “We’ll say we were at the terrace,” she added.

“I have another desire, but I will not tell you that since I know, it’s not one that’s possible.”

I sat there wondering what the third desire could be. It left me stranded and curious, with many questions popping in my head.


The late evening was beautiful with its borderless flow of clarity: the vast, seemingly empty sky stretched out to infinity; it had a smattering of flat clouds that were spread out to the horizon. The sky’s hue darkened as the sun slowly settled into a magnificent ribbon-like fire that signified the end of the day. Ananya had asked me to report at the auditorium on the top floor, which was right behind her room in the D-block. The moment I stepped into the elevator, I saw a team of doctors who were discussing some surgery, I suppose. They got off on the fourth floor and I was waiting for the display screen to show 25—the top floor.

The elevator stopped on the 25th floor. The doors opened and I stepped out. There was redundant silence around, to a level that I could hear each step of mine echo. I saw a massive door at a distance. I walked up to the door and pushed it open. The door opened to reveal Ananya standing, admiring the picturesque sunset through the translucent glass walls, with her back to the door. The auditorium seemed to be a part of the sky with bright, white, reflective tiles, walking upon which my footsteps echoed.

Ananya turned around because of the echoing. I constantly kept looking at her; dressed in all shades of pink—baby pink evening dress, peach lipstick, rosy pink pumps. She had her soon-to-be-gone wavy hair left open to breathe. The painting of her face by the rays of the setting sun was the cherry on the cake. I did not realize that I had come so close; another step and I would’ve bumped into her. Her face shone bright like a diamond.

“Can we dance?” asked Ananya.

Not taking my eyes off her I replied, “Sure! Why not!”

She played an instrumental track on her phone and put it aside, on the floor. She stood right in front of me, expecting me to initiate. I, coming from a boys’ school and never having interacted much with girls, had no clue of how to even dance with a chick. I gathered all my guts and held her… but not the right way. I held both of her arms. I had chills run all the way up my spine.

The reason for all the chills was her baby-soft skin.

Giggling, she asked, “You don’t know how to dance with a girl?”

My ego jumped into the picture, and I lied to her saying I knew how to dance when I didn’t. I held her hand and spun right where I was standing. She pulled her hand away and frowned, “You are not supposed to spin; you are supposed to make me spin,” she giggled and continued, “… Wait; let me guide you.”

She grasped my hand and directed it towards her waistline. She asked me to grip her waistline, took the other hand, and held it very firmly. Doing so made me come closer to her. I could feel the coarseness of her evening dress along her waistline; the scent of her erotic perfume was hitting me deep inside. There was something about her skin… her touch…

We started to dance; she was an amazing guide. I should have led her, but she led me— effortlessly, not making it awkward. Every inch of her skin smelled of cocoa butter and her breath, of strawberries.

Breaking the silence, I enquired, “Do your parents know about this?”

“Nah! They do not. I told you that I have kept my wishes away from them; did I not?”

“Oh yeah,” I said smiling. “Why do you smile?”

“I was wondering about how my parents never let me interact with any girl.”

“What! How come?” she asked, curiously.

“I did my schooling from an all-boys’ school.” “And college?”


She chuckled and her head tilted forward, her hair brushed my face. I immediately recognized it was a fruity fragrance.

“Thank God you never fell in love with a guy,” she joked, and I

continued to have an amused face.

The music was still playing in the background; we kept talking and moving, almost dancing. That’s when she added, “Looks like our fates are on the same track, or parallel to each other. I could never find anybody to date since most of my time went into the hospitals and you never found anybody because of your school and college. Looks like we were a couple in our last birth and that is why we are here today, dancing with each other and trying to act like a romantic couple.”

“No, Ananya! Don’t be silly. There are no rebirths or reincarnations. There is just one life. And in my opinion, one should always fulfill his or her desires.”

“Hmm! Maybe.” She remained mum for a few minutes and asked me about my parents. I chose not to reply.

“You never told me about them. Where are they?” She asked yet again, and I chose not to reply. She understood my silence and tried to change the topic; that was when I replied, taking a deep breath, “There is nothing to hide or to be ashamed about.

My parents broke their marriage when I was 12 and decided to marry their beloved ones. They sent me to a residential educational institution where I studied until my graduation. They used to call me once a month to keep track of me.”

“Holy Christ! I am so sorry!”

“No, that is all right. You don’t have to be sorry for something you weren’t even a part of.”

She was the first person I spoke to about my past. I wondered, why ‘Ananya’ out of all the people in my life.

My gesture made her open up to me. “A few years ago, I rejected a guy’s proposal thinking it was just infatuation and that love wasn’t the right thing to get into at that point in life. I was back then, chubby and cute. I thought he fell for my looks and not for the person I was. Love is a special bond that happens on an emotional level and not superficial things.”

“And then?” I asked.

“I am this fairy-tale girl who believes in love; who believes her beloved will love her with all his heart and treat her like a princess, get married, and start a family. You know the happily-ever-after sort.”

“Oh, let me guess! Are you doing all this with me just to live a fairytale life—just to fulfill your desires?” I asked. “Don’t you ever think I will fall in this trap of love, ever?”

“No, Aarav!” she said and asked to swap.

“I told you, love is a mere waste of time. I don’t believe in it. All it does is make a person emotionally weak. It’s a hindrance on one’s way to success,” I added.

We swapped positions. This time, I had both my hands snuggled up around her waist and her hands locking the nape of my neck, making us come even closer to each other. She laid her head on my shoulder and I followed. The touch carried a different fervor, one that was never felt before. I was already cherishing the moment—‘our’ moment.

“So, you mean every successful person in this world is not in love? Or has never fallen in love?”

“No, Ananya! That is not what I meant. Love is simply an infatuation or a physical attraction between two people. Once the physical attraction dies or the desire is fulfilled, the relationship perishes. That is what happened in the case of my parents. They claimed to be in love with each other. Their love started in college; got married against their parents’ consent and eventually, lost interest in each other. Look where they ended up today!”

She sighed ambiguously.

“That is the reason I don’t believe in love; a few of my friends, too. I’ve developed hatred towards love seeing people fall out of love. I advise people that it’s better to just not fall in love,” I stated, grimacing.

“I cannot force or convince you, Aarav! It is all left up to you and your experiences and observations but look at the other side; there are people married for fifty or sixty years and are still in love. I fathom your viewpoint but there are true lovers in this world who have been separated by destiny. Aarav, every coin has two sides. It is on us as to which one to choose.,” she explained.

I adjusted my face, sniffed her hair, and brushed my hands around her waist, loosening the grip. She pulled herself back, maybe interpreting my gesture to have some kind of hidden message. She blushed and shied away when I took a dip and lifted her. The smile on her face that followed was priceless. She changed the genre of music and started to freestyle.

She summoned and I started dancing too; throwing my hands in the air. I shifted to gambolling like a robot. She laughed her head off!

This was the new me that I was completely unaware of, even I didn’t know why I behaving like this. All I knew was that I liked it.

“Ananya! C’mon!” I motivated her.

I could see her enthusiasm fading away; even though she wanted to dance, her body was not supporting her. I went mad; shaking my booty, synchronizing the movements of my hands and legs, twirling, breakdancing, and what not. She laughed. I was amazed to discover a trait of mine; the ability to make people laugh.

“Oh my God! You are funny, Aarav!” she exclaimed.

I’d never seen Ananya laugh so hard. Maybe, I was actually hilarious. It was my first-time dancing with Ananya. Fortunately, or unfortunately, it was awful. But I wasn’t embarrassed; in fact, I enjoyed it.

The sun had almost set; we had to leave before it got too dark and Ananya’s parents started looking for her. We left the auditorium and entered the elevator when suddenly, I heard Ananya say that she wanted us to play a game. She whispered, “Hold me!”

“Ananya, I know where this is going. I want to keep away from love—don’t you get it?”

She giggled and knocked my head softly, “Dude! I know that. I am not trying to do that either. Just hold me for once—around my waist,” she said, tucking her hair strands behind her ears.

I had to obey. She then asked me to lift my right arm upward and I followed.

She touched the icon that read ‘2’ on the display of the lift and said, “You are Superman! Ta-da!” as soon as the lift went down. I face-palmed.

“Woohoo! We landed. Thank you for saving my life, Superman!” she said, like a six-year-old as if I was Superman and had rescued her.

“You are my hero,” she said, with teary eyes. Of course, she was faking those tears. Such a drama queen, I tell you.

However, deep down I realized that behind everything she said there was always a hidden meaning. Like, for instance, when she called me her superhero, she really wanted one in her life who could save her from dying.

All I did was smile. Even though the session lasted for a very short duration, I had a ball and what I discovered about myself was so surprising. Not even once, was I annoyed by Ananya; it happened very rarely.

Ananya’s parents were in the room when we entered. They tried to find out where in the world we were, to which Ananya instantaneously replied, “Café! We were at the café next door.” She smirked and kept looking at me. I stared back at her. She raised her brows and blinked quickly, like a kid. I had a natural smile.

It was eight in the evening when I went back home. Thinking about the session we had together, gave me goosebumps. I did not want to think about it, so I walked into my closet to change. I hit the bed with multiple thoughts running inside my head— but all were about Ananya. Suddenly, my phone buzzed and a name popped up—‘Ananya’.

“Reacheddddddddd?” read the text; I started blushing, looking at the screen.

“Yupppperrrrss!” I replied.

“Had dinner?” she asked.


“It’s 8!”

“There is nobody to coooooooooooookkk!”

“I wish I could give you the pills I take. They would’ve killed your hunger like they kill mine, ha ha!”

“Ha ha! Silly you!”

“IJK! Eat well and sleeeeeeeppp tighttttt!” “Okaaaaaayyyyyyy, ma’am!”

This was my last text. For some unknown reason, I liked whatever was happening; all the texting, care, and concern from her end. No one had ever texted me the way Ananya did that day. I tried to retain my calm, set an alarm for 7’o clock in the morning, and tried to sleep. Sadly, the next few hours went in vain.


I was not hesitant about fulfilling Ananya’s wishes. It was 7:00 a.m. and the day was nice and bright with the beautiful sun rising at its own pace right in front of us, cool breeze surrounding us and birds chirping all around. The sky was yellowish. The only colour missing was green which was taken care of by the trees by the beach. We stood at the beach, waiting for the boat to arrive. It would take us to an island that was quite far from Mumbai–the city of dreams. It was an hour’s journey to that beautiful place. I was excited as I was going to spend some quality time with her. At the same time, I was startled to see how she managed to come out from her parent’s protective zone. We were planning to go to an isolated island, which had a bay of mountains on one side and ocean on the other.

“How come I don’t know about this island?”

“You don’t know a lot of things. Plus, there is always a first time for everything,” she replied with a smile.

“How did you manage your parents?” I enquired.

“Jenny, one of the nurses who watches and takes care of me, told me that she will take care of it.”

“Smart! How long is the wait?” I asked.

She checked her watch and replied, “Wait for another five minutes; I want to reach on time.”

“Have you ever been to that island before?”

“No” she replied and took out a huge map of Mumbai and its surroundings. She spread the map on the ground, on the sand, and pointed with her index finger at a spot, “This is where we are,” and dragged her index finger till another point on the map, “And this is where we will be in a while” she said smiling. “What’d happen if we got stuck in the middle of the sea?” I asked, gazing at the sea and got lost in thoughts.

“We would die of hunger,” she said amusingly. I was freaking out by all the things she told me. One is surely never ready to die, especially of hunger. The same was the case with me—for me, my life was very important. So, I started having second thoughts.

“I don’t want to die, Ananya. I have so much to look forward to and many desires to fulfill,” I said in my favor. I started to worry about the island and was very frantic about the consequences which I would have to face after reaching the island.

“I can’t risk my life, Ananya” I argued.

“Don’t worry; I’m carrying a satellite phone for any emergency that may occur. The rescue team will be here in just one call” she said, comforting me.

“Also, we have guests visiting us there.” “Who?” I asked wondering.

“Alligators” she whispered with a naughty smile. Jaw-dropped, I exclaimed, “What!”

I nearly jumped out of my skin when I started to picture alligators, their skin, size, and every possible thing about them. I was able to envision myself being an alligator’s feast; how the alligator would attack me, drag me inside the water while I would be calling out for help. Lastly, how he’d eat me away; crunching me like hot chips.

“I am not coming with you. I’d rather prefer going back,” I said. Ananya didn’t seem scared at all—a woman with nerves of steel. I made plans for returning because I did not want to dig my own grave.

“I was just playing around with you. I am sure there won’t be any alligators or snakes. It is a safe island with lots of greenery,” she laughed out, loud.

“Is it really important to go to that island?”

“Yes! I have been waiting eagerly to experience looking at Arctic birds at least once in my lifetime, usually; they arrive once every three years. They will be there around 1 in the noon according to this international magazine,” she said and continued, “They would be flying to that island now and I don’t want to miss witnessing it. We should reach before they do.”

I wasn’t convinced enough to join her but I was stuck. I had no other option but for accompanying her since I wanted to fulfil all her wishes, I recollected. I brushed my hair as it was obstructing my vision.

“But how we are going to reach that island?” I asked “We are going to swim all the way” she replied “What? But I do not know about swimming.”

“Just kidding,” she chuckled. “Do you see the wooden skiff boat over there” she pointed her hand.

I motioned towards the wooden boat. “Do you know how to operate it?”

“Yes, it’s very easy. I will teach you.” “OK then,” I said, nodding.

She swung her body towards me and raised her brows as if she was asking me for my approval.

I winked and smiled. “Let’s go!” she said, cheerfully. I had never seen her this happy; happy to a level that her skin started glowing. Maybe it was her connection with that particular island that did all the magic. I didn’t think much and started the engine.

“Let’s play my book story” she insisted. “What story?” I asked.

"This story is part of my book, and I would like to experience it “she said “I will be your queen and you’ll be my protector.”

I was excited about the story. I gazed at her, wondering where she always got these ideas from.” “…and? I am listening.” “Let’s assume, hypothetically, that our soldiers were captured by our enemies and we have to defeat the them,” she further explained.

“What about the swords?”

“Of course, I have them too. I am always prepared,” she reached out for her bag and pulled out two wooden swords. She handed the taller one to me and kept the smaller one with herself. To get the feel of it, I swung it around and directly jumped onto the boat.

“My dear queen,” I said and kneeled, bowed down in her honour, and raised my hand as if to assist her to get onto the boat. She held my hand and hopped in with joy.

“My protector, we need to fight the enemies on that island and save our soldiers,” she added.

“As you say, my lady,” I replied and turned on the engine to leave for the island.

While the speed was at 50 km per hour, the ocean’s water splashed on us. It felt like the water was trying to connect with us and play with us. Because we could see, hear and smell the ocean water; as if we were guests to the ocean and were visiting it. We were approximately halfway to the island. I wasn’t able to see anything other than the ocean.

After a while,an eagle arrived above us,Ananya stood excitingly and said “its Adhira,my dragon”

“but its an eagle” I said

“Just pretend it as a dragon.”

“My dear Protector!” she called. “Yes, queen?”

“Your queen is hungry.”

“What am I supposed to say?” I whispered, getting out of my character.

“You are supposed to tell me to eat sandwiches from the box,” whispered Ananya, not the Princess.

“Of course, my Lady. You can have sandwiches from the box.”

She reached out for her bag, took out the box, grabbed a sandwich, and tasted it.


“I am hungry too, my queen.”

“Oh, sorry. You can have my sandwich, Protector,” replied Ananya while handing over the sandwich to me. Shifting myself to handle the steering with my right hand, I held the sandwich in my left and took a bite.

With nothing else to do, she took out the map and acted all tensed.

“My dear Protector?” “Yes, my Lady?”

“I think we are stranded,” she said with a descending pace.

“What!” I roared, fearfully coming out of my character. My eyes were wide open.

“Well, your queen was kidding,” she replied chuckling.

I cupped my face in my palms and released a sigh of relief. I was enjoying the game and was going crazy over her madness. I liked the way she enjoyed every moment.

Later, I turned the boat on the right, as per her instructions. I was able to see an island filled with greenery. “That’s our kingdom,” she shouted out of happiness. Soon after, I escalated the speed.

She took out her sword, pointed towards the island, and shouted, “To our land,” and I joined her too.

We reached the island and stepped out of the boat. I dragged the boat towards the island and tied it to a huge rock. My feet felt the hardness of the sand since it was drenched in the water.

“Where are our enemies?” I asked, dubiously.

She walked towards the bay and pointed towards the crabs. She put them back into the sea with the help of the sword. I assisted my queen and pushed them into the sea. “They gobble the birds and their eggs; we have to protect our homeland.”

“Good job, Protector” she appreciated.

The island was small yet beautiful, peaceful, and raw. Minutes later, we spotted the Arctic birds flying towards the island. Ananya pointed towards the sky and shouted with joy, “Our soldiers have arrived!”

She was a happy camper. She jumped with joy. I liked the view as well. Thousands of birds flew towards us in alignment—to be precise, in the shape of a ‘V.’ It was wonderful to experience such a delightful view; a treat for the eyes.

“Let us buck up, our friends are almost here,” I said.

We increased the speed of our work. We threw out almost all the crabs. I was totally into the game; it didn’t feel like it, though. I felt like a real Protector–I was that engrossed.

“For our land” she raised her voice.

“We won the battle! Yayee!” Ananya cheered, raising both her hands towards the sky. I joined her.

The birds arrived a few feet above our heads. Their arrival led to an artificial breeze around us. The birds shed their feathers. The feathers fell on us, and it was as if we were being showered for our victory; it acted like confetti. We all celebrated it together.

“We did it,” she appreciated our team. “Yes!”

“There is one more task for you,” she said. “Tell me, my queen,” I said inquisitively.

“I command you to marry your princess,” she said, with a straight serious face.

“What?” I mumbled. “Can’t you?”

“Am I good enough? Am I eligible enough?”

“Of course, yes. You did fight as a warrior and I have chosen you,” she replied.

I knelt down, with the point of my sword thrust into the sand right in front of me, “Anything for you, my princess” I said. She passed on a ring made of the shell to me. I proposed to her with the same ring and slid it on her finger. She imitated the gesture.

“I now declare that you shall be the King of our land,” she said, looking like the host of the heavens. She appeared like an angel to me, with a million-dollar smile—a smile that could compete with the twinkling of the stars.

“And the story ends on a happy note,” she whispered, breaking my heart.

I liked the story very much. It was so magical and impactful that I felt like I had married a princess. “I want to play more.”

She giggled as if she was enjoying my restlessness. “That’s the end of the story, Aarav. Protector marries the Princess.”

I looked at her, and she looked at me; our eyes met. I did not take my eyes off this time because she was a treat to my eyes; she appeared like a real princess in all ways. Even after the story ended, I was still engrossed in it.

She waved her hand across my face and brought me back to reality.

“What happens after that?” I enquired.

“They make children and live happily ever after.”

I jumped with joy and realized how a small story could gift me so much happiness. I liked the role-play, characters, plot, and the end. I liked it all because this was yet another ‘first’ in my life.

After an hour, we had lunch together. We went for a walk and then we lay by the beach, with our backs facing the sky. The sky was very clear and our feet enjoyed the timeless dance of the tides. The birds added to the serenity of the island–the green island had turned into a blue-white Island.

Now, I was curious to know about the third wish.

“What is your third wish?” I finally asked her, sounding desperate.

“Are you sure you want to know?” “Ahaan!” I nodded.

“I want to marry my dream boy— one who cares for me. It does not matter to me if he is well-heeled or not if he owns a mansion or not. I want him to take me out for movies, bike rides to Marine Drive, and enjoy street food with me. I want to wait every day for him to come home, welcome him with a warm hug, and cook for him. While I am cooking, I want him to surprise me by hugging me from behind, to discuss the day over dinner, face vicissitudes together, and make love to him. I want to be loved, to be called using nicknames,” she said, without a pause.

“That’s it?” I asked.

She blushed and nodded.

“I know I won’t be able to fulfill these wishes in this life but I am sure I will fulfill them in my next birth.”

Her wishes fascinated me; the life she believed in was very simple. For a second, I imagined myself in it and felt mesmerized. I wondered how an affluent girl had these kinds of desires, ones that belonged to someone from a middle-class background.

“I shall pray to God for a problem-less day. Like people celebrate days, there should be a day with no problems in anybody’s life,” she said and continued, “I wish I had some more time.”

She had tears in her eyes. I didn’t know how to console her. I was right next to her to support her. I wanted to hold her and comfort her. I also wanted to look into her eyes, but couldn’t. I managed to hold her hand as a gesture of support that said ‘I Am Always Here.’

While heading back, I understood that not only a loved one could give me happiness with whatever I had. I learned that I could be also happy with simple and cheap things like playing games, dancing, and watching birds.


After a few days, we both attended the launch of our book in a bookstore. We both sat in front of the hoarding of our book. The lights surrounded us; media people kept many mikes in front of us.

“So Ananya, is this book the true story of your life?” asked one of the journalists.

Ananya leaned her head towards the mike. “Yes, it is inspired by events in my life. But I am sure that without the help of Aarav, my co-author, I couldn’t have completed the book.”

“Sorry to ask you Ananya; how much time do you still have?” asked a young female journalist. After listening to that question, I was afraid and felt like I was losing something precious. A small knot of panic arose in my chest.

“Enough to be happy,” Ananya smiled.

“How was your journey with Ananya while writing the book?” a male journalist asked me.

I looked at her, “It was beautiful!” She giggled.

She appeared like the most gorgeous girl on this planet. Our eyes locked for a few seconds. Suddenly, her death was hurting me; I didn’t want her to die. I liked everything about her.

How could an amazing person like her die? How could I stop her death?

“Are you sure that readers will like this book?” asked another young journalist. I came back to consciousness and said: “Yes, I am sure.”

The flashes were irking my eyes. Ananya and I sat facing the journalists; behind us, there was a big hoarding of our book. It had the title of my book, “My first love.”

Behind the title, there was a bright moon.

I wasn’t happy regardless of what I had achieved; I forgot everything, even about my desires. I could think only of her death. I was not enjoying what I had become. There was only one thing which was going in my mind constantly and that was her death. After our interview, I took her back to her hospital. After entering the parking floor, she walked out of the car and seemed a little weak. I walked up to her and held her hand. “Are you all right?”

She took out a book from her bag and handed to me.

“A love story of the warrior queen” I read aloud glancing at the back.

“This is my life, my passion and my world,” she said with a weak tone.

“You want me to publish it?”

“No, I am giving this for you. This is my last gift to you Aarav, this is my everything.”

“Please don’t talk like that Ananya, nothing would happen for you”.

She half smiled.

“I feel so weak, Aarav,” she hugged me. “Aarav, I feel like I will leave this world today. I don’t have much time, Aarav; so, I am telling you that I love you and I want to die in your arms.” Her head touched my jaw and then she became unconscious.

My heart warped for a moment, “Doctor!” I yelled. I lifted her in my arms and took her inside the hospital. Nurses ran up to us with the stretcher. I kept her on the stretcher, held her hand, and ran behind her stretcher to the emergency room.

“What happened?” her dad and mom asked apprehensively. “She collapsed” I replied.

The doctors walked inside the emergency; her parents and I waited for the next three hours outside the ICU. Tears rolled on my cheeks. Her mom and dad were crying too. Until that day, I never cried for someone; she was the first person whom I liked. I was shattered. I asked my heart the reason for my tears and it said that I was in love with her.6 I was very worried about her. I couldn’t realize her value when she was with me.

“Please doctor, help my baby,” her mother said, with tears, and kept her shoulder on Ananya’s dads.

“We will try our best! We will give a call to the research team and let’s see what they can do; but she could die even while treatment is on,” the doctor replied.

Her parents remained silent after the doctor’s acknowledgment.

Ananya was unconscious for the next two days. Suddenly, I realized what a precious thing I was going to lose—indeed, it was Ananya and not my desires. I became panicky at the thought of losing her forever. I realized how happy I was with her and thought she was right about the happiness in small things. I recollected the moments of our experiences, which, unfortunately, were small things. I realized how happy I was while dancing with her, how happy I was when I was playing games with her,and when we visited the island. However, nothing could replace those moments, not even the desire to lead a luxurious lifestyle. I didn’t want her to die. I felt like I was losing my world. I checked my phone around a hundred times a day for her funny and caring texts. I thought about our conversations at night. I called her, but the phone just rang. When I dialed again, it went to her voice mail.

“Hi please leave the message after the beeeeeeeeeeep,” she said laughingly. Her bewitching laughter was echoing my ears. I couldn’t resist my pain. “Hi, Ananya. Please wake up, because, without you, the world seems like nothing for me. I don’t want any luxurious life; I just want you. Please wake up; don’t leave me...” I said and hung up the phone. I cried for a while and then sat on my bed, staring at the mobile for her call back. I understood that I was in profound love with her.

I couldn’t stay in my house anymore. I went back to her hospital that Friday evening. The doctor informed us when she came back to consciousness. Her parents went inside the ICU and talked with her for a few minutes. When they walked out, her father touched my shoulder and said: “Aarav, she wants to talk to you.”

I was not daring enough to see her like that; I was petrified that I would lose her forever. I took a deep breath and stepped inside her room. My tears rolled down my cheek after seeing her; even she cried after seeing me. I walked up to her, leaned over her, and kissed her dry lips; our tears merged.

“I love you Ananya,” I said, finally.

“I love you too,” she said in a low voice. “How long was I unconscious?”

“Two days” I replied.

She looked at me sharply and I couldn’t take my eyes off her. “How do I look?”


“My skin has become a little pale and I have lost more weight. How could I be beautiful, Aarav?’

How could I tell her how much I loved her? How could I tell her that I didn’t want her to die?

“No matter how you look to yourself and the rest of the world, for me, you will always look like an angel.”

She half-smiled. “That’s touching; when did Aarav become so romantic?”

She seemed happy, which I could see in her eyes.

“I am not joking, Ananya; I missed you very much when you were unconscious and realized that I was in love with you. I didn’t even know that I was in love with you, because I never loved anyone,” I confessed.

“Even I had many dreams about you. We both were very happy in every dream of mine.”

I couldn’t resist the burden of my past behavior with her; I decided to confess my mistakes to her.

“Ananya, I am sorry. I have used you and thought I could become successful by using your sickness. I manipulated you for my selfish reasons and I am a monster. I always thought that only luxuries could give me happiness, but I was wrong. You have taught me that happiness can be achieved even with small and cheap things. You have taught me that I can be happy even with a simple dance or those Arctic birds on that island. I was a fool to have thought that real happiness resides in luxuries.” She blinked her eyes; I still could see the love in her eyes instead of anger or hate. She lifted her hand and lightly moved a strand of my hair from my face.

“It’s OK Aarav, don’t feel bad. It’s not your fault that you became what you are; the circumstances around you made you like this. I can understand that.”

She appeared like an angel to me. I realized God had sent her into my life to teach me a lesson.

She was right; if people had treated me the way Ananya had, then I would not have become a greedy person.

I took a deep breath. “I am no more the old Aarav; I have changed and I promise you that I will never cheat or manipulate anyone for the sake of my desires,” I said. “I will start working for a mediocre salary and we can be happy together in our small home.”

I lost some burden at the moment and I confessed my mistakes to her.

“It’s good that you have realized your mistake,” she said. “I wish I had more time.” Her voice had become fragile.

“Please don’t say that,” I implored her. I thought about her third desire, which she had mentioned earlier.

“Ananya, I want to fulfil your third wish,” I said, holding her hand.

“I will be dying soon, Aarav. I am a mayfly,” her words faltered.

I silenced her mouth with my fingers. “Please Ananya, don’t say that again and again” I replied.

“But why do you want to marry a dying girl?” she asked. A small tic had begun in her jaw.

“Because I love you, Ananya; all my life, I thought only a luxurious life would give me happiness, but I was wrong. I want to live with you for the rest of my life and I will be loving and happy with small things. I am ready to lead the life you desired and I found happiness in small things. You made me realize what I am losing,” I said. “Yes, Ananya. I am wasting my present beautiful life for the sake of luxurious desires. I will join my old job back again; we would go to the movies every week; we would go to Marine Drive, and we will have peanuts watching the dancing ocean. You made me realize that real happiness comes from inside, not from the outside world. You taught me that I can be happy with what I have. I don’t want to lose you; you are my happiness, Ananya”.

I wanted to fulfill her last desire and I knew she would feel very happy after listening to my proposal. In addition, I knew I couldn’t give her anything more precious than the proposal of marriage.

She waited for a moment and took a deep breath, without blinking her eyes.

“Yes,” she nodded and grinned. I found myself smiling back. “But promise me that you will not become a broken person after my death and you will fall in love and marry again.”

“OK,” I said. I wanted to ask her how I could be happy after her death and how I could fall in love with another girl. I thought even I would leave this world after her demise but remained silent because I knew she would feel hurt.

I then glanced at her parents—they both smiled and nodded. Her mother’s face had become pleased.

I understood by their nod that they didn’t have any objection regarding our marriage. I was not fulfilling her desire for marrying me just because she was about to die. I agreed to fulfil it just to make her realize that she was a normal human being and she could live happily, as she thought.


My heart was ponderous. Yet, I visited one of the bride-and-groom shops near the hospital. The shop had many grooms and brides’ dresses on the mannequins. All male mannequins had suits on them and female mannequins had beautiful gowns. I envisioned Ananya in every beautiful bridal gown and thought she would appear stunning in all those dresses. The floor had brown shining marbles and a few executives stared at me.

One of the young male executives walked up to me, “Yes sir, how can I help you?” he said, locking his hands, with a smile on his face.

I didn’t know what to ask him because I had never shopped for suits, and I was unaware of them.

“I am getting married. Could you please suggest a suit or tuxedo for me?”

“Of course, sir, you have come to the right place, at the right time. We do have many brides’ and grooms’ dresses.” He then took me to the section where there were plenty of colourful suites, arranged in arrays. The executive took out a few suites from the wooden cupboards and arranged them on the table in front of me. I picked up one of the black suits and put it on, over my shirt.

I was perplexed and clueless. Therefore, I called Ananya in a video call from my mobile.

“Hey. What happened?” her face was sleepy

“I am baffled, Ananya. And I have no clue what to shop for—how does this look?” I said, showing the suit on me and gave a small fake smile. The reason I faked my smile was that I didn’t want her to see that I was in agony inside.

“It looks like something my dad would wear,” she said, flatly.

“Could you please help me with the selection?

“It’s just simple, Aarav. You need to select a black tuxedo or suit because I will be wearing a white gown. The difference between a suit and a tuxedo is the presence of satin. Usually, tuxedos have satin facing the lapels, on buttons, pocket trims and a satin side stripe down the leg of the trousers. Suits don’t have any satin. It’s up to you,” her voice was gentle.

“OK, I will go with tuxedos,” I said, finally exhaling my breath.

“That’s nice; if you are going with a tuxedo then you will need to wear a bow tie and a vest,” she said, “ask the salesman about your size.”

I turned towards the executive, “Could you please check my size and find out whether you have my size or not?”

“Yeah, sure sir,” his hand reached into his pocket and took out a tape. He measured my shoulders, hip, and arms. “Sir, please give me five minutes and I will let you if we have any readymade tuxedo of your size.”

She kept the phone above her head; I could only see her face now. She leaned back, supporting herself on the pillow. “I am excited about our wedding, Aarav.”

I thought of saying that I would be happier if she were healthy. The executive showed up with three different colors of tuxedos; I panned my mobile towards them and showed them to her.

She scanned them and thought for a second. She blinked, glancing around the tuxedos, “The black one is dapper for you—try it on.”

I didn’t feel like protesting because even I preferred the black one, in my mind. I felt like I had woken up from a dream and had Ananya in my life. I never thought I would fall in love or that I would believe in love.

“OK.” I took the black tuxedo, wore it, and showed it to her. “Are you comfortable?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said. “Then OK; that’s it.” “What about the rings?” I asked.

“It’s up to you. Or else, I will tell dad to buy them.”

“No, don’t do that. It wouldn’t be appropriate. I will shop for them.” She didn’t look convinced.

“Aarav, why do I feel like being with you all the time?” “Even I feel the same.”

“Every day, I have dreams about you, Aarav,” she added. “Even I think about you every day, Ananya,” I said, “What should I do now?”

“Shop for matching shoes now and then shop for the rings. Come before 12 noon and our wedding will be at 12.30 sharp.”

“What about your costume?” I asked.

“Don’t worry. Dad called one a designer to my room and they said that they had a white gown of my size” she said. “You just focus on yourself, my huggy bear.”

I felt mesmerized when she called me a pet name. “OK, Ananya. Sure.” She hung up the phone.

I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel; whether I should be happy for our marriage or be sad that she had cancer and will die. Every step of mine was hard due to the pain in my heart for Ananya. Later, I walked to the jewelry shop and bought rings for both of us, for the sake of her happiness. I started feeling guilty and ashamed for cheating readers in the name of marketing. I felt like I was heinous. Despite the successful outcome, I felt like I had betrayed everyone for my selfish desires. I thought I didn’t need such kind of money and decided that I would honestly earn money from then on.

After shopping for the wedding rings, I went to my house and wore black tuxedos. Even though it was a readymade one, I didn’t have any trouble wearing it. Indeed, it was a perfect match for me. I looked at myself in the mirror and I saw Ananya in me. Her diseases were hurting me deeply. I was afraid that I would lose her at any moment. The fear of losing her had engulfed my mind. The thoughts of her funeral were making me frantic.

I received a call from the manager of the publishing house of my book. I picked up after a few rings. I wondered what the reason could be.

“Hello,” I said. “Hello, Aarav.”

“Hi sir” I replied, politely.

“There is an excellent response from the readers; we are also planning to translate the book into other languages.”

“That’s nice. Have you transferred Ananya’s royalty to the ‘Dreams of Children’ organization?”

‘Dreams of Children’ is an NGO, which helps children with diseases who can’t afford treatment for their deadly diseases.

“Yes, of course. We did that. Her manager showed up last week and got the details of every penny she earned. And also, we have given him details of the transaction,” he explained.

“Can you do me a favor, sir?” “Yes, go on.”

“From now on, transfer my royalty also to that same NGO, Sir.” I didn’t know where it came from, and why I was telling him to transfer my money for the benefit of the poor. When I thought about it for the next few seconds, I realized that I had changed and I was not the old Aarav, who was selfish and gullible. I understood that her love had changed me and I knew that when I tell her what I had done, she would feel happy.

“For that, there is a process, Aarav. First, you need to talk to that NGO’s management. Then, you must submit a NOC and other documents to us, so that we can transfer the money directly to them.”

I felt guilty for cheating my readers and Ananya for my selfish desires.

I wanted to say that I didn’t want money or fame, and I only wanted Ananya. I wanted to hold her hand until my last breath, but said, “OK sir, please let me know the process for transferring my royalty to the NGO.”

“Yeah, sure,” he said and hung up the phone.

Despite the editor’s version of convincing, I was not satisfied with his answer. I still felt like a cheater. However, when I thought about the NGO, I told myself that even though I had cheated people, that money had been transferred to helpless children.

After selecting the tuxedo, I bought two rings. There were not very expensive, but they appeared attractive. I informed my friends about my marriage–everyone was shocked and surprised. However, no one was available in the city due to their work and short notice. I reached the hospital at the time of our wedding. When I stepped into her room, a few of her relatives and friends looked at me. I looked for Ananya among them. She turned towards her parents and said something to them. Her mother whispered something in her ear and she turned towards me. She wore a white lace-wedding gown with bell sleeves. Her hair covered her left cheek. She was stunning in that dress and she appeared like an angel who had come from heaven just for me. She smiled at me; her eyes were glowing. I smiled back at her.

Her eyes travelled from top to bottom of my dress.” Someone is looking captivating today!”

“Someone is looking gorgeous,” I smiled, glancing at her dress. Even her dad and mom wore new dresses. Her dad held her hand and brought her near me. The priest came to us and stood behind us. Ananya smiled at me again, and she was more ravishing than before. After saying the vows of husband and wife, we both exchanged the rings. Her family, relatives, and friends around us clapped and took pictures of us.

It was a hospital room, but I felt like I was on earth’s most beautiful place.

“Thank you, Aarav, for consenting to this marriage,” she said, looking into my eyes.

“No Ananya. You have honored me by marrying me. It’s a miracle in my life to be married to you.”

Her parents were crying silently with much happiness. Her father kept a chocolate cake in front of us, on the wooden table. There was a quote on it— “Forever together.”

We both held the knife and cut a piece from the cake. I gave a part of it to Ananya. She then kept the same piece in my mouth, and then rubbed it on my face. I smiled, and even our guests smiled at me. After a while, everyone left us alone.

We both could have married in any nice place instead of a hospital room, but her parents and I thought the hospital room would be appropriate in case of an emergency.

She held my hand firmly and said, “I just want to die in your arms, Aarav.”

I took her into my arms; her head touched my mouth.” Please don’t say that Ananya, I can’t bear it.”

“But it’s a fact Aarav. Sooner or later, I will leave this world.” “If that happens, even I will leave along with you.” “Promise me that you would never do that after my death,”

She said and raised her hand. I reluctantly kept my hand on her palm and promised her.

“That’s my Aarav,” she said, “I feel like going out. Let’s run away for our honeymoon; what do you say?”

“No Ananya, you are not supposed to go out,” I said. “Please, Aarav!”

“No Ananya. Even I want to take you out, but your treatment will be interrupted. That’s what the doctors said.”

“OK, my dear husband” she half-smiled. She rubbed her nose and looked deeply into my eyes, “Aarav” she whispered, and her voice was husky.

“Yes,” I said, without a blink. “Kiss me.”

I smiled and kissed her red lips; all my five senses were rejuvenated while kissing her. I felt like I’d reached heaven. After the kiss, our heads and noses touched.

“Our love story might end in this world, but it will continue in heaven,” she said.

I didn’t know how to convince her and make her forget about her death. Though doctors said that the chances of surviving were less, I still had hope.

“Ananya, how did you fall in love with me?” I questioned. “Even I don’t know when and how I fell in love with you.Nevertheless, I’m sure I became very close to you when we both danced together. It just happened in a flash.”

“Wow, I am flattered.”

“You are the biggest gift in my life,” I rubbed her nose with my nose.

“No, I don’t agree. You are the biggest gift for me.” “Ok, your wish” I half-smiled.

“I brought a gift for you.”

“Where is it?” She searched my pockets. “It’s not in my pockets” I replied.

“Then where is it?

“I have decided to give my royalty to the same NGO, to which you have transferred your money.”

“Yes, from now on, for everything—for every copy of our book.”

“That’s amazing, Aarav. You are my best boyfriend and husband. This gift is much more precious than expensive jewellery.”

I knew she would feel happy. “I know,” I said.

I helped her sit on the bed. Then, we both leaned back against the pillows and turned off the lights. I turned on the TV, and we watched her favourite romantic movie. We both sat there in the darkness. There was no space between us. Her hand was holding mine tightly, and I could feel the warmth of her body. By the time the credits were rolling, she was sleeping on my shoulders. I turned off the TV, made her lean on the bed, and tucked the bed sheet around her. I lay down on the couch. I was staring at her and sank into a dreamless sleep.


The research team was performing experimental chemo on her, which was very expensive and new for cancer patients. I used to visit Ananya every day. She lost most of her hair. There was only a tiny portion of her hair on her head, and it appeared short. Still, she was the most amazing girl for me.

Ananya underwent chemotherapy for the next few months. Surprisingly, she recovered from cancer but unfortunately, she slipped into a coma. She would open her eyes occasionally but used to stare at the ceiling, without moving her eyelids. Doctors tried to bring her back from the coma, but they failed. I was helpless; all I could do was pray for her. I visited every temple, prayed to every god in the city, and wished for her recovery.

I would sleep beside her in the nights and recite everything about my day to her; I never treated her as if she was in the coma. The doctors tried every way to bring her back from the coma but failed in every way. After my work, I used to go to the hospital, open her door, and say “Honey, I am home.”

She used to open her eyes and shed tears. That was not the first time Ananya was shedding tears, as she often shed tears from her eyes. Initially, I thought it might be hurting her, but later I understood that those tears were part of her expressions.

That Friday night, I wanted to give her a surprise. It was midnight; there were only a few people in the hospital. When I walked into her room, it was dark and her mom was sleeping on the couch. I reached her ears, “Hey Ananya, today I have a surprise for you but don’t make any noise, OK?” I whispered. “I shall be taking you to a special place.”

At 1:30 a.m. I lifted her in my arms; she was very light in weight. I took her with me to the next block, which was interconnected from that place and visited the auditorium where we had danced together.

“Ananya, wake up; today, there is a big surprise for you. I am sure it will blow your mind.”

She opened her eyes but was not looking at me; she was glancing at the ceiling. I lifted her into my arms. Her ear was touching my chest, and her legs were on my right hand. I could see her scalp through her short hair. We reached the lift and I pressed the top floor button on the display.

“Hey Ananya, I am Superman. And I am taking you into the skies. We are about to leave this earth in the next few minutes”, I said, looking into her eyes.

She didn’t blink, but her eyes were still open.

I opened the door of the auditorium by pushing the door with my foot. The room was still lit. I made her lie down on the black carpet, which I arranged for her. I walked out of the place, turned off the lights of the room, and walked back to her.

“I made this space this for you, Ananya. With a radium painting of stars and the Milky Way, it took two days to make this. Do you like it?” I smiled.

I sat beside her and made her sit on my lap. I pointed to the shining artificial Milky Way, which I’d made for her. “Ananya do you see that? It is the Milky Way. We are in space right now.”

Even though I made it, I was sure that it would give the effect of real space. It was calm. Her face was shining in the reflection of the artificial stars. “Don’t worry Ananya, you will recover soon; I am sure you will. You don’t say anything to anyone, OK? It’s our top secret.”

Her eyes where pricking with tears; I wiped them with my fingers.

“I know you can listen but can’t do anything. Don’t worry, you will recover soon as you recovered from cancer. Wake up as quickly as soon as possible Ananya; I am feeling bored. When you come out of the coma, we will shift to our new house and we will make every day memorable. We will watch a movie every week, and we will go to Marine Drive after watching the movie. We shall do many small things, amazingly.”

She didn’t reply, but her eyes said that she would recover soon.

She gave a ‘thank-you; I-understood-through-your-eyes’ expression. I smiled.

Did you see the Milky Way?” I pointed my hand towards the Milky Way, which was shining like the real Milky Way, due to the radium effect. “Let us fly in space,” I raised my eyebrows. I lifted her back into my arms, ambled, and covered every corner of the auditorium. Even though it was artificial, it gave us a feel of flying in space because of her. I took her back to her room when she closed her eyes. I was sure that she was very joyful inside and knew she might have enjoyed my trip to artificial space.

It was June. Everyone had suffered a hot summer and everyone was waiting for the rains. News weather reports had said that we could have a shower at any moment, on that day. We both were watching TV in her room; I inclined her bed so that she could watch TV.

“Did you see this news Ananya? We could have rain at any moment.” She was leaning on her bed behind me; our shoulders were touching each other.

“First rain, Ananya” I whispered, “Would you like to watch?” She didn’t say anything and was glancing at the TV. I walked near the room’s window and opened it; the fresh rain’s fragrance touched my nose “Do you smell this amazing fragrance

Ananya—which is way more amazing than expensive scents?” “Do you want to go?” I bent in front of her and looked into her eyes. Now she was face to face to me. She was glancing at me, “What do you say?” I whispered with a smile.

Her tears flowed again; I understood it meant that she wanted to go. The doctor walked in and said, “No, Mr. Aarav. You can’t take her out, it’s not good for her health.

“He said, “I understood that he had heard our conversation. Her tears are not a sign of her emotions; it’s side effects of her medication. I can understand that you are madly in love with her but you are confused. Of course, she might be listening and watching like everyone. But I don’t think that her tears are a way of communication.”

He walked near her and checked her pulse and blood pleasure. “It seems like there is no improvement for the past one year.”

I shrugged.

I knew that those tears were her way of communicating. Only loved ones can understand. I knew she was recovering fast. When he left the room, “Don’t care about his words Ananya, you are recovering fast and you will,” I said. “Now, let’s go to the rooftop and watch and feel the first rain of the season.”

The best part was, her room was on the top floor and it would take only ten steps to reach the rooftop. I went out of her room, glanced at everyone, and waited for the time when there was no one around. I lifted her in my arms and took her to the rooftop. We both sat down on the hard floor and still, she was in my lap. Her head was above my left arm. I made sure that she could see the sky. It was breezy and thundering, and the rain’s aroma was in the air. I stroked her hair with my palm, but she was glancing at the sky. Even though she didn’t speak anything, I understood that she was enjoying the delightful clouds.

I took a deep breath, “Ananya, do you smell it? It’s stunning, right?” She was gazing at the cloudy sky. The clouds where thundering–they were bitter grey and black.

“First rain,” I said.

I saw the thundering clouds’ reflection in her eyes; she started shedding tears again. “I know you like it very much.”

The wind was blowing on us. My left hand was under her head; I kissed her forehead. Suddenly the wind stopped and raindrops fell on us. A few drops landed on her hands and face, which I could see.

“Did you feel it?” “It’s amazing right?”

I wondered why she was unable to blink her eyes.

I took her back to the room when the rain strengthened. I knew that it might make her sick I made her sleep on the bed and wiped the tiny rain droplets on her body with a fresh cloth. I then tucked her in with a bedsheet. Her mom and dad arrived.

“Did you take her out?” Her dad asked.

“No chance. How can I take her outside?” I lied and winked at Ananya, and showed her the ‘top secret’ sign with my hands, as she did earlier to me. I knew she would be smiling inside when I was mimicking her by signaling ‘top secret.’

After a while, the physiotherapy people arrived and did some exercises on her body. They were doing that because she was inactive physically.


Ananya was dozing and we walked out of her room. Her mom and dad were looking sad. It had been two years since she went into a coma and there were no signs of recovery, apart from the tears in her eyes. I tried everything to bring her back, but none worked out. I knew she could sense, watch, and listen to the things around her, but she couldn’t convert her thoughts into physical activity. However, I didn’t lose faith, and always told her that she would come back from the coma.

Her doctor called us to his cabin and made us wait for a few minutes. I could see the pain in her parents’ face. We sat behind the table, in front of him.

“Why does she have to suffer like this?” her dad asked, breaking the silence.

“She will recover for sure” I assured.

“For the past seven years, she has been suffering from all kinds of pain, emotionally and physically. She has been taking medications with the lips that she was supposed to apply lipstick on. She has lost the hair with which she was supposed to make curls or braids. She was supposed to wear beautiful dresses like the girls of her age do. Instead, here she is, in her hospital gown. Why her? She always thought about others. She never hurt anyone, and yet, she has to suffer so much pain. She cries often. God knows how much suffering she must be going through now. She can’t express the pain,” her mom said.

Her dad kept his hands on her mother’s shoulders, “Control yourself. Maybe, she was born to suffer and die.”

I told them that she was crying inside and it was her way of communication, but they didn’t believe me. Because no one could understand her the way I did, I could sense her emotions even though she was in a coma.

“Sorry sir, I was in surgery,” the doctor entered the room.

He sat in his chair in front of us.

“You wanted to see us, doc?” her dad asked. “Yes, I wanted to talk to you regarding Ananya.” “Yes, please go on,” her mom said.

“We are happy that she showed progress in the treatment of her cancer. However, it’s unfortunate that she slipped into a coma—we never thought that this would happen”.

“It’s not your fault,” her dad said.

“What I wanted to suggest is that you better take the culmination step,” the doctor said keeping his spectacles on the table.

“Culmination?” I asked.

He nodded, “I mean,” he took a pause and tilted his head “terminating her.”

“What do you mean by that?” I questioned.

“Maybe it’s time to give her peace,” the doctor explained.

I stood up. “No, that’s not going to happen. She is still alive there, and she can listen, smell and sense like all of us”.

“But what’s the use? Her brain is not supporting her actions. It has been two years, Aarav. She is still on that bed, and there is no recovery. It is better to give her rest”.

My heart pounded with fear.

“No, I won’t agree with this. I can’t.”

Ananya’s mother shot me a look. “Aarav, please listen to him once; he is right; she is suffering from inside. Even she doesn’t want to live her life like this,” her dad supported her mom.

“Please don’t talk like this. I am sure she will recover soon,” I tried to convince them.

I wiped my sobbing face with my shirt’s sleeve.

“When would that be, Aarav? Can you tell us the time of her recovery?” the doctor asked.

I felt the blood drain out of me and I wasn’t prepared for that.

“I don’t know, but she will recover. All she needs is the time to heal.”

Her mother turned towards me, “No Aarav, she is not going to recover. I can sense her pain, being her mother. She does not want to live like this, let her die happily”. Her voice was thick with grief.

“Die happily?” I asked. “How can she die happily? Not only her, no one will want to die happily. It’s her life; how can you judge on her behalf?” My voice had become fragile. I looked down at my hand and it was quivering.

“Aarav, please understand the situation. I know you love her, but don’t forget that we are her parents and we love her more than you. You tried everything and are still trying to bring her back. You have been trying for two years; tell me, did your love make her recover? It doesn’t happen that way. This is life and not a movie. There isn’t going to be a miracle to wake her up!” her dad said. His voice was broken.

How could I explain to them that she wouldn’t accept their madness! How could I tell them that I can’t live without her? How could I convince them that none of those tears were of pain? Those were her way of expression.

“Please don’t take this decision.” I closed my fingers and begged them not to decide to kill her. “She is still alive, breathing and listening, like all of us.” I could feel the heat rising in my cheeks.

I hated the fact that no one was considering my view on Ananya. I hated everyone including the doctor and her parents for making the decision on behalf of her. I thought that those people had no right to kill her.

“But what’s the use, Aarav? Try to understand the situation. If this continues for another few months, her body parts will start decaying. Because we can’t stretch her to live; she is not a healthy human being like us. After her death, she could keep many people alive by donating her organs to the needy,” the doctor said.

Ananya’s dad put his hand over mine.

“You have no right to kill her,” I said finally. The doctor looked away from my stare.

“He is right Aarav; she always thought about others. If she could talk, then I am sure she would do the same,” her mother said and cried.

She didn’t seem to listen to me. Not only her, nobody did. “Please don’t kill her, please, please!” The blood thumped so loudly in my ears that I didn’t hear anyone else’s conversation for a moment.

Her father took a deep breath. “She has been dead for long, Aarav. Nobody wants to live life like her.” The doctor handed them a no objection document to end her life and to donate her organs. Her parents went through it, signed it, and then passed it to me.

I didn’t know how to convince them and how to stop them from killing her. I looked at the doctor and he nodded his head. I became tense, and sweat rolled down my forehead.

“Sign it,” Ananya’s dad said.

I shook my head to mean it as NO.

“Please Aarav, don’t behave like a child; just sign it.”

“No, I can’t do this. If I sign it then it’s like I will be killing her with my own hands. I can’t sign it.”

“You just met her a few years ago. We are her parents, and we know what she wants more than you do. She is suffering every second, and she has suffered a lot in her life. Being her parents, we never gave her happiness. Right now, we have an opportunity. Please give us the opportunity to give her a peaceful death.” His face was strained.

I shrugged my shoulders and didn’t know what to do. But of course, I had hoped for her recovery despite two years elapsing. Her parents were pressurizing me to sign the documents, which I didn’t want to. My tears fell on to the documents and the pen trembled between my fingers. I loathingly signed the papers and handed them to her parents.

I went back to her room; she was sleeping. I held her hand. I gazed at her and for a few seconds and then, remembered that she was going to die. I empathized with her and about the consequences, which she was going through.

“Ananya, wake up. Please. Your parents are giving you up— please wake up, for my sake. I can’t live without you; I don’t want this life without you. Please, Ananya. Wake up; please. I beg you.

You don’t have enough time.” I kissed her hand and kept it on my tear-stained cheek. “Please, Ananya. I am not asking you anything. I am just asking you to talk so that I can convince everyone that you are normal, like everyone. Please, Ananya wake up!”

Tears came out from her closed eyes. “I know that you are listening to me. Please, make some movement—at least try to move your hand. I promise you, Ananya, that I will give everything that you dreamt of. We will lead a happy life together; I will give you lots of love. Please, Ananya, wake up. I can’t live without you. You are not a mayfly,” I cried.

“Aarav,” her dad said, and kept his hand my shoulder, waiting until he could be sure that I would be silent.

However, I couldn’t stop weeping. How could I, when did I know that my loved one would be dying and leaving me forever?

“Uncle, please don’t kill her. She is the only one I have in my life. I would be an orphan without her. Please don’t kill her,” I implored.

Her dad looked at me with red eyes. “We can understand that you love her very much, but this is life; you need to accept the fact that she can’t live.”

I turned towards Ananya’s dad.

“No uncle, please don’t kill her; I can’t live without her. Ananya, wake up, please; open your eyes and tell everyone that you are all right” I said and kissed her hand repeatedly.

“Aarav, control yourself,” her mom said.

“Please Ananya, wake up. We will go to that island; we will play with birds and we will build a small house on that island and will live happily. Wake up, Ananya—you are not a mayfly.” I tried to bring her back. I kissed her lips, and my lips rested against hers.

Despite my efforts, she didn’t open her eyes. I thought her parents were right and even she wanted to die and leave me alone in this world.

I was helpless but still wanted her to live. I had no problem in her living that way, for my whole life. But neither her parents nor the doctors were worried about her life.


Ananya’s parents had decided to give up on her life, and the doctors were about to give her a palliative drug to end her life. Surprisingly, it was not only her last day but also our wedding anniversary. I had requested everyone to dress her up as a bride, and her parents accepted my wish. When I stepped inside her room, she was surrounded by doctors. I looked for her parents; they were not there. She was dressed up as a bride. In a white gown, she appeared like an angel.

Everyone glanced at me. “Could you all give us privacy for a few minutes, please?” I said.

“OK” everyone mumbled and left us alone.

I took out her book from my bag and sat behind her.

“This book is my last hope Ananya.”

I read that earlier and thought maybe that book could bring her back from a coma.

The book was about a queen who falls in love with her protector who was also her Army chief. They both fight courageously and win many battles around the world. I read the book for the next two hours.

The queen was about to get married to her protector. The whole marriage ceremony was lavishly decorated. All the guests were from different kingdoms. Everyone was waiting for the queen's arrival. When the queen entered the ceremony hall, all eyes diverted on her. Her stunning beauty amazed all the visitors and well-wishers. Her glowing skin was sunshine, everyone engulfed in her stunning beauty. Even her protector could not blink his eyes while glancing her.

She caught his stare and said,

“Why are you staring me like that?” the queen asked

“I couldn’t believe that I am getting married to you”

“I feel the same and I am the luckiest girl in this world”

Her brown gown overshadowed the brightness of a thousand candles in the hall.

They were about to get married in minutes but unexpectedly the messenger arrived and shouted” My queen”

She came back from that occasion quickly and said “Yes messenger, what happen?”

There was a lot of curiousness on her face.

“My queen, I apologize for interrupting your marriage.” He bent down and kneeled.

“It's ok, go ahead with the message”

“Our soldiers are stuck on the island, where we sent our troops. Now they are seeking our help”

“Then rescue them” the queen replied without any thought.

“But our rivals are also trying to conquer that island and they are half their way. If we don’t reach before them, we will lose our soldiers”

“Yes, the messenger is right” the queen replied worriedly.

“I will go now my princess and we can postpone our wedding, “the protector said.

“I will come too”

“But, my princess, that rout is very dangerous. We could face many cyclones right now”

“No, those are my people too”

The protector tried to convince her but she didn’t listen.

They took more than a lakh soldiers and started their journey in their ships towards that island. The queen was the strength and weakness of the soldiers. She was a people’s queen, who was admired and loved by the citizens of her kingdom. But unfortunately, that journey made her sick, her body caught some deadly fever. She couldn’t move her body and was losing her health day after day.

All her soldiers were losing faith in winning the battle due to her dwindling health condition. Protector used to be behind her all the time and take care of her.

Protector walked out of her cabin and stood on the deck, he glanced at the hundreds of ships behind him, which were struggling in the ocean waves. The protector saw the low self-esteem of the soldiers, he knew the reason behind it. He knew that without the queen's health recovery they couldn’t win the battle.

I halted reading the book, her eyes were still closed. She hadn’t opened them but yet I knew she would be listening to her story. I was sure that it would create some impact on her mind because she was in a subconscious state and my words would create the imagination of her story in her dream world.

I had some plans to rescue her on that day.

“Mr.Aarav” the doctor interrupted.


“It’s time”

“Could you please give just five minutes more please,” I requested

“Ok,” the doctor nodded.

I locked the room door when he left and took out a blanquette from the cupboard and wrapped her, and then unlocked it.

I lifted her in my arms and said “I am not going to let you die Ananya until I am alive”

I took her out of the room and saw all the doctors were discussing something. I was taking her to the lift; the doctor’s shouted my name. I didn’t halt and been into the lift and touched the cellar button on the display. My heart was pounding. I drove her to the place where we both took the small boat. It was the same day of arctic birds’ arrival to that island.

I made her sleep in the boat. I knew it was my last chance to bring her back.

“My queen, “I said aloud, “we are heading to help our soldiers. Wake up”

That was the one of the dialogues from her book. I turned on the engine and we started our journey towards the island.

In the middle of our journey, I halted and took out her book and started reading the rest of the story.



When I opened my eyes, I looked around me. I felt like I was in a wooden ship. I could hear ocean sounds,I wondered why I was wearing a queen's gown, it had all sorts of colored thread and decorated with diamonds, rubies, and all kind of jewels.

Why was I on the ship? Why was I wearing this dress? I was feeling fragile. I walked few steps towards the door and then stepped out of my room. I saw a few hundreds of ships, which were sailing along with us.

“What is this situation? Why I am in a ship, am I dreaming? I was in a hospital and Aarav talking to me when I opened my eyes,” I said

A six-foot man with heavy armour on his body was standing on the deck facing against me. He had a stainless steel sword in his hand. He turned around and smiled at me. It was Aarav, he appeared like a different person.

“Aarav,” I said and smiled

“My queen,” he said and walked up to me.

“Aarav, where am I right now? Why are we on the ship?

“My queen, what are you talking? I am your protector and we are sailing towards the Island, to save our soldiers.

I was still confused.

“You were sick; you woke up after many days”

“Yes I am feeling sick,” I said

Few soldiers walked up to me and kneeled in front of me “My queen we are approaching the island and we should prepare our soldiers for the battle. We received a message from our spies that the enemies were ten times more than us and it is highly impossible to fight them”, said one of the soldiers.

“These were the dialogues from my book, what's going on?”I said to myself.

I decided to forget about my confusion and started to act like a queen.

I could see the low self-esteem in soldiers, I couldn’t resist that.

“We might be less in numbers but we are stronger than them,” I said glancing at soldiers.

“Give me the shankha” I said to my protector.

He handed it to me very quickly, before blowing it; I recollected all my will power and determination and finally blew with my mouth. That sound echoed all around us, rest of my soldiers shouted and said, “Our Queen is back”

Their voices gave me a thousand horses energy, which I never felt before and it was uncontrollable.

“To our soldiers” I yelled.

“To our soldiers” they yelled back.

“We might less but stronger than their determination, today we are going to teach them a lesson that what happens if they come near us. This war would be remembered even after hundred years. I raised my sword and said “To our soldiers”

This time I shouted with great confidence. I looked at my protector, he was smiling at me. I heard a dragon scream; I turned around and saw towards the sky. A black giant dragon was approaching us.

“Dragon,” I said

“Your dragon,” my protector said

“Adhira?”, I recalled.

“Yes,” he said, “he was away from you many days in search of a female dragon. It seems he identified your location with your Shankha sound.

Adhira screamed repeatedly, when it was flying above us, his wings speed created a great wind blow on us. I saw confidence in my soldiers; they all said together” We will win this battle”.

I transformed from weak to strong. I changed my dress quickly by wearing an armoured suit.

Our enemies threw powerful explosives on us, but they fell near us without damaging our ships.

“We have to win this battle for any cost,” I said to my protector.

He nodded and handed me the shield. Adhira approached the island prior us and was destroying their explosive weapons with his fiery flames from his throat. In seconds, our ships touched the islands bay. My protector brought my horse, I sat on it quickly” stay beside me”

“I will my queen” he replied

Our soldiers attacked our enemies; I jumped on the ground on my horse and fought with them. The battle lasted for hours and our soldiers were taking back our island by killing the enemies. Finally, we killed our enemies after a great battle and then took back our captivated soldiers. My protector captivated the enemy’s king and pushed him on the ground in front of me.

“Finish him now,” the protector said

The king was in profound fear, he stood and kneeled In front of me and said “Mercy my queen, I made a big mistake by captivating your soldiers, mercy, mercy”

He was alone without armour and wounded. I thought it wouldn’t be appropriate to kill him.

However, I kept my sword on his neck and said, “You will recite to the rest of my enemies that this would happen if you try to destroy me”

“Yes, my queen, yes I will”, he said with a fearful voice.

“To our queen” my protector shouted and along with the soldiers.

I raised my sword towards the sky and shouted, “I am the queen of this world”

Adhira screamed on the top edge of the mountain of the island. I won the battle with the great fight, which gave me immense strength to my body.Adhira flew towards me and stood in front of me, I touched him. His body was hard as iron. I climbed on his neck and said again, "I am the queen of this world".

I felt like I was top of this world.


We both were on the ground of the bay on that island. She was on my lap. I didn't know what was happening in her mind, I finished reading her book and kept it aside. I was curiously waiting for her response.

She opened her eyes slowly and said, “I am the queen of this world."

Her voice was low and vocals were not supporting her words

“Say it again my queen, “ I said with a lot of happy tears in my eyes.

“ I am the queen of this world”, this time her voice was little aloud.

“Yes, you are,” I said and kissed her forehead.

It took Ananya another six months to become a normal person. We were going for a marine drive on our new bike, she was holding me tightly, I could feel her heartbeat on my shoulders. The sky was cloudy. I felt like I had everything in my life and achieved what I dreamt of. Winds were whispering in my ears. I found my real happiness in Ananya and thanked God for giving back her to me. After reaching the beach, we both sat on the edge of the ocean and eat peanuts staring into each other's eyes. She smiled at me, that smile made me realize that I was the luckiest person on this planet.