Updated: Sep 9
Three weeks after moving together:
Aashritha shouted way above her voice, “Arjun! What’s taking you so long?”
As he stepped out of the house, Arjun explained, “I am on my way, babe. I just wanted to carry the umbrella just in case it rains.”
Noticing the grey clouds, Aashritha asked, “You know, we’re getting late to the church, right?”
Arjun held his ears as an apology while saying, “Yes, I do know.”
Unable to bear his cuteness, Aashritha hugged him & he embraces her. As they start walking, Arjun asks, “But, aren’t we going to church on our way back from the ride?”
Breaking free from the hug, Aashritha replied, “Yes, we’re only going there on our way back from the ride; and for that to happen, we should have left our place a good fifteen minutes by now!”
As she completed her sentence, she got into the passenger seat of their rented car. Arjun boarded the car with a glum face and stared at Aashritha for a good ten seconds. By then, the finicky Aashritha had melted down, realised her behaviour and gave him a casual hug from across the seat.
A tiny smile crept onto Arjun’s face, and he looked back at Aashritha as he said, “I will not be sorry for being late, but I will make up for the lost time. We will eventually visit the church, okay?”
Aashritha resonated with a beaming smile and replied, “Okay.”
And so their long drive started.
Halfway into the ride:
The path for their ride was covered with trees on both sides of the road and a cloudy morning ensured that the weather was neither too hot nor too cold. It was just perfect with some great music.
Observing the empty roads on a cloudy morning, they let their windows slide down, allowing the cool breeze to enter. Aashritha felt that as she welcomed a greater source of energy called Nature which helped in breathing her impure thoughts out. So placing her hand on Arjun’s shoulder, she asked, “Tell me, Pandaboo, are you spiritual?”
With his eyes on the road, Arjun hesitantly replied, “Yes?”
Excited, Aashritha asked, “Then tell me, who is your favourite God from the innumerable Gods you have been offered?”
Without a moment of hesitation, Arjun instantly replied, “The destroyer of evil... Lord Shiva.”
For a moment, silence prevailed until Arjun continued, “Worshiping him offers a sense of calmness that is irreplaceable.”
As Aashritha changed the song in the playlist, Arjun asked, “Why do you ask so?”
With Illaiyaraaja’s Thalapathi theme playing, Aashritha replied, “I just wanted to know which God you like the most… I guess I also wanted to know how spiritual you are.”
Increasing the pace of their journey, Arjun replied, “I’m a practising Hindu, but I’m not overly spiritual. I believe in things told in the epics, scriptures and folklore from around our country & acknowledge their presence. However, I do what I should do in life and don’t depend on God all the time.”
Leaning back in her chair, Aashritha said, “That’s nice to hear. You should take me to a Hindu temple once, and I would love to know how the atmosphere is and how people find peace and solace in the presence of their God.”
Arjun turned to look at her for a moment and said, “Definitely. That won’t be a problem. Let’s go some time.”
They both smiled and continued their journey with their favourite playlists playing. Being closest to Nature, they felt rejuvenated and just started to express their true self as one-another; even though they had been together until now, they had their own mind-boggling experiences in life.
At the Church:
As Aashritha stepped out of the car, she could feel the invisible drizzling. Noticing Arjun unlocking his seat belt, Aashritha suggested, “You can wait inside here if you don’t want to come to the church.”
Continuing his action, Arjun even removed his shoes inside the car before saying, “Who said I didn’t want to join you?”
Chuckling, Aashritha mentioned, “You need not remove your footwear to enter a church. It’s fine to go in wearing your shoes.”
As he stepped out of the car, Arjun replied, “No, it’s okay. I’m used to praying to God this way. So let me come inside barefoot.”
Both of them stepped into the church, and Arjun started imitating her by first drawing an imaginary cross on himself using the holy water. Then he knelt right in front of the cross and started praying in his way. He stood up, walked out of the church and rested on a bench. He noticed that the drizzling stopped, thereby helping him to notice his surroundings.
Meanwhile, Aashritha finished her prayer and started looking for Arjun. She couldn’t find him inside the church, so she exited and found him sitting on a bench outside the church.
As she approached him, Aashritha asked, “You didn’t like it inside?”
Gesturing for her to sit beside him, Arjun replied as he smiled, “No, it was good. Very pleasant atmosphere indeed.”
Feeling the cold winds and relishing the beauty of the church, they talked about Christianity for a decent amount of time before Aashritha nudged Arjun to point at the car, indicating it was time to leave.
Drive back Home:
The return trip was quiet, with Arjun and Aashritha engulfed in their thoughts about how their life would be ahead.
After a long silence, a doubtful Aashritha popped the question, “Arjun, would you have a problem accompanying me to the church now and then?”
Arjun assured calmly, “Sure, why not? I don’t have a problem. But please don’t make it very frequent. That’s my only request.”
A beaming Aashritha hugged Arjun’s right hand as she said, “Don’t worry, sweetheart. I just wanted to hear that from you. I’m not devotional, and I know that there is a greater force looking upon all of us. I’m fine with that, and I don’t need a church to convey my prayers to God.”
Trying to connect the dots, Arjun replied, “Woah! Was all of this a test to see if I was okay with your religion? Hahaha. Not cool, bro.”
Before Aashritha even replied, Arjun continued, “I’m kidding, Ash. I’m glad we could connect on this. I’m fine with whatever you want to do. I have no problem at all.”
A furious Aashritha, however, shouted, “Arjunnn? I told you not to call me Ash, Arjun! Get lost!”
This novelette is available in paperback & ebook.