I had been awaiting this moment in my relationship ever since he first asked me to be his girlfriend. And now, 3 years later, it was finally happening. We were embarking on our first trip together as a couple, and my joy knew no bounds.
I had taken painstaking measures to make sure that our vacation dates coincided - even going as far as begging my colleague at work to reschedule her dates so that my boyfriend and I could spend some much needed time by ourselves, away from the bustling city of Mumbai. Since Paris had always been on our bucket-list, and its reputation for being the most romantic destination was imprinted into my mind, we knew we had to take this trip.
On the day of our flight, I met him at the airport, and took our first steps to 7 days of uninhibited love. He had been feeling very sick for the last couple of days and even after suggesting it to him that we can always take the trip some other time, he insisted that we get to it and not wait for a better time.
As we were passing through security checks before our flight, the police officer asked him if he was carrying expensive jewellery in his bag. He blushed a deep red and muttered, ‘It’s a diamond ring’.
‘Oh my god!’ I thought to myself. ‘He is going to propose in Paris!’
I hid my gushing joy and showed no expression, pretending like I hadn’t heard him at all. But my mind was racing with unadulterated joy. Could there be a more beautiful love story than being asked to marry the man of your dreams while vacationing in Paris? I didn’t want to ruin his surprise so I quietly made my way to the plane, mentally giggling like a mushy, cupid-struck teenager.
Three days into our trip, we finally made our way to Champ de Mars and stood in the shadow of one of the most iconic man-made structures in the world - the Eiffel Tower. The weather was gorgeous - crystal blue skies, with fluffy, cotton-ball clouds floating by lazily in the gentle spring breeze. He held my hand and led me to a comfy patch of grass. Two minutes of silent contemplation masked his face, as he struggled to bring unspoken words to the surface.
I was calm and I let him take his time. I realize that proposals are hard for guys, with so many expectations on their shoulders and the fear of rejection looming around. But I knew, more than anything else in the world right then, that I wanted to marry him. And that he was my forever.
He finally broke his train of thought, held both my hands, and while staring right at them said, “I have to go, I am getting married.”
Confusion riddled my brain. I smiled. “That’s one way of proposing, I guess.”
“No”, he said. “I am getting married to Pooja. The date is fixed for the 26th of December. We’ll be engaged in 4 days.”
Shock, and raw anger coursed through my veins. Before I knew it, I was sobbing on to my beautiful dress, as Paris glistened in the soft evening light, indifferent to the torment my heart was going through.
“I am sorry,” he said, without a hint of regret in his eyes. “We’ve been family friends since we were kids, and her dad and mine have been business partners for years. Everything happened so soon, I didn’t get a chance to tell you about it. I didn’t want to ruin our trip and planned to tell you this after we got back. But I know you saw the ring and I couldn’t stand not telling you that...it wasn’t for you. I have to propose to Pooja once I get back...”
My blood boiled. “Didn’t you tell them we are in love and we want to get married?”
“No,” he said. “I didn’t want to marry you right now. I didn’t know if we were serious.”
His words made my heart drop and shatter into a million pieces. Three years of companionship lay tainted by one ‘business meeting’ that his parents decided was good for him. Of course, I had never pushed him to marry me because I am not the kind of girl who wants to pressurise her boyfriend to take such an important decision! But clearly, my lack of ‘seriousness’ made it easier for him to say yes to an arranged marriage set on lucrative financial terms.
Everything that came next happened in a blur. I remember crying as we made our way to the hotel and I watched him pack his bags in our suite. He left the room, without a word, and I collapsed into a heap on the floor, hugging myself to push the broken pieces of my heart together, hoping it would become whole again.
He left me alone, drowning in my misery. And just like that, the most romantic place in the world became a nightmare, for the rest of my life.
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