Eternal Bond: Chapter IV

Updated: 3 days ago

Six months into the relationship:

Arjun and Aashritha planned to go on a trek to a spot sought by the adventure seekers. They prepared everything they might need during their tour by purchasing the necessary shoes, compass, map, and first aid kit while also preparing food alongside taking water with them.

After many days, this trek was their first outing, and both were excited to have a good time. Both met with the organisers, seeking their permission to trek alone and not with the group. Though they get an acceptance, they are informed of the safe passages and the necessary precautions before they leave the group in their pursuit of trying to figure out things in the adventure.

It was early in the morning, and they had reached the starting point well ahead of the rest of the group. They got into their trekking gear and left behind their usual attire. It was a 2.5 kilometres trip up to the hill, and the trek would have been easier had there been trails, but without them, the hike got challenging yet exciting at the same time.

They started their journey to the top of the hill with little to no experience climbing a hill or knowing its surroundings. Within no time, both of them started panting and were struggling to breathe, all thanks to no physical exercise in the day to day life. They both looked at each other, laughed at themselves, motivated themselves with gestures and continued their climb.

A few minutes later, when they couldn’t move forward anymore, they found a giant boulder and lay by its side for rest.

Glancing at Arjun, Aashritha remarked, “You’re too weak, Arjun. How would you take care of me after the wedding?”

Turning towards her, Arjun exclaimed, “From when are we talking about our wedding, ma’am?”

With a smile on her lovely face, Aashritha replied, “No, I was just kidding, but tell me, when is the right time to get married?”

Thinking about it for a moment while observing the grandness of their city, Arjun replied, “I guess after we settle in our respective fields and convince our parents. I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t marry.”

In agreement, Aashritha curiously questioned, “Oh... okay, I get it, but I would like to know why we never got intimate except for the kisses? For me, you seem to be so disinterested in me around those moments!”

A diffident Arjun replied, “I dislike premarital sex, Aashritha. Maybe due to my upbringing, I’m quick to judge people and wouldn’t want to participate.”

For a moment, Aashritha couldn’t believe what she had just heard while Arjun continued, “Honestly, don’t you think it is absurd to take part in sex without being declared for each other through marriage?”

Staring at Arjun, Aashritha couldn’t speak a word. She didn’t even know what to say. Both of them were silent for a moment until Arjun asked, “Tell me, what if you conceive? Isn’t that a shame for both our parents? And don’t get me started on abortion being the biggest sin!”

Convinced with himself, Arjun concluded, “To stay away from all these, I’d prefer to be just a roommate with you rather than a temporary husband.”

Aashritha was distraught to hear about Arjun, the boy she loved to her best. She never thought old-school ideas drove him and couldn’t help but wonder, “How is it possible for someone living in a modern world like this and think about sex and abortion along these lines?”

Unable to figure it out, she looked stern at Arjun, picked up her backpack and started climbing the mountain.

Arjun was surprised at her reaction. He said, “Aashritha? What’s wrong with you? Where are you going? Let me join you!”

Aashritha stomped off from the place, disgusted. As she walked away, she said, “Please leave me alone, Arjun. I need some space from all your bullshit theories and practices!”

Even though he wanted to go behind her, Arjun refrained from hurting her anymore with his words. He was saddened, placed his hands on his face and remembered the words his mother told him at the age of 12 when he asked her about sex, “Arjun, you shouldn’t be talking about these things. Sex is a word only to be used by people who are married. The others shouldn’t be talking about all these words, and it is a sin if you talk about it or try to do it without getting married.”

Recalling the past, Arjun thought, “What’s going on here? Why am I wrong when this is what my mother has taught me? Why does it disgust my girlfriend?”

He worries about his position in life, picks up his bag and starts looking for Aashritha. He finds her sitting on a mini boulder, situated a few metres beneath the hill’s peak. She is lost in her thoughts and notices Arjun walking up to her. Arjun goes up to her, smiles and offers his hand, and Aashritha reluctantly holds his hand and gets up from the rock.

“A few more steps, Ash, we’ll be there, and I guess this is a wonderful achievement considering that we are first-timers in trekking.”

Completing his sentence, he pulled her up and pushed her towards the peak. A little huffing and puffing later, they finally reached the top of the hill, and a sense of accomplishment adorned their faces. The sweat-stained t-shirts now stopped sticking to their backs, the hands spread out wide, and the faces towards the breeze; that was what finishing a trek felt like. They enjoyed the view from the top and then sat down.

Aashritha then turned her gaze toward Arjun, who was already looking at her. She then looked at the trees behind Arjun to avoid eye contact before saying, “Arjun listen, I know I was rude, but I am not going to apologise. I felt whatever views you had were utter nonsense. Just think about it once, we’re in the 21st century, and you’re still telling us that sex is taboo? No, I can’t accept that. Not that I want to always have intercourse with you, but it is still necessary, and you definitely can’t link it with something like marriage. Then it becomes ridiculous!”

“But Ash, that was what I was taught, and that was how I was raised. Premarital sex is against our values, and we can’t go on breaking the rules of our culture and become westernised.”

“Come on, Arjun. You’re not a kid anymore. Please come out of this shell. Yes, your parents have advised you based on their learning, but things have changed. You can’t just keep living in a world where people only see each other once before getting married and start having sex. In the world we are in today, people expect to know each other. Let it be physically or mentally. What is crazy about that?”

Arjun didn’t have an answer to Aashritha’s question, and Aashritha didn’t want to prolong the discussion. She got up from her place and offered her hand to Arjun, gesturing they should take a walk back down the hill.

He accepts the handshake and smiles at her. When they walked downhill, both wondered how their future might be if they were together. While one wants to stick to their roots, the other wants to adapt to the times.





This contribution is reviewed by Edlyn ​D’souza, edited by Tarun Chintam, proofread by R. S. Chintalapati & illustrated by Nandini Jalan.



This novelette is available in paperback & ebook.

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