Ayush laughed. He just could not stop himself as he laughed hard.
He looked at the girl chuckling, as he shook his head. "Somehow you really look like that type of girl." Ayush said shaking his head.
"What type of girl?" She asked.
"'A girl for whom a guy would give his ice cream', type of girl," Ayush said rapidly.
The girl said nothing as Ayush looked excited. "So then, what happened?"
The girl then looked at Ayush a little strangely as Ayush blinked.
"I am sorry, I have asked you so many questions and I do not even know your name," Ayush said sheepishly. He realized that the girl really did not need to tell him anything. They had met exactly twenty minutes back. And by his own admission he was a journalist and he was behaving like a damned nosy reporter.
"Kritika," She said giving Ayush a small smile. If she was aware of Ayush's embarrassment, she gave no indication of it.
"Well Kritika, what happened?" Ayush asked after Kritika closed her laptop and looked at him.
"I brought him the shirt." She nodded to herself. "And that would have been the end of that too."
"Come on lady, you cannot end up becoming someone's girlfriend with that," Ayush told her.
"While buying the shirt, during the small talk, we both realized that we had a passion for traveling," Kritika said with a small smile.
"Traveling?" Ayush asked confused.
"He was a wild life photographer." She said with slight laughter.
Ayush was deflated. A photographer's girl and he had to go and brag to her about his camera. That was impossibly stupid.
"And I loved the road less traveled. I write blogs based on the travels I make." She said.
Ayush nodded as he could almost feel the chemistry between them. It was almost natural for two such people to have met in a bus stand. The ice cream was probably an added bonus.
He then looked at Kritika with twinkling eyes. "Then what happened?"
"Just on the spur of the moment we decided to combine our work. We first went to a temple in South India during Dussehra there." Ayush thought he saw a glassy look in her eyes as she spoke quietly, "I have never seen a more beautiful sight. The temple is dark in the evening and the entire place is lit by lamps. That sight is something which is even more beautiful, when you see it through his lens."
There was a silence as both were lost in their thoughts.
Ayush did not need to be clairvoyant to know what she was thinking. But he could really imagine the girl in the temple. The way she narrated it. He had to admit it would have been a beautiful sight - something that could not be expressed by words.
"Just to the temple alone?" Ayush asked clearing his throat.
"We went to a national park nearby, the next day." She said slowly. "The national park was thirty kilometers from the place where we were staying." Ayush saw a small smile in her face. "I thought he would enjoy going there."
He blinked and frowned as he looked enquiringly at the girl, "He didn't like it?"
"That national park trip was a disaster," Kritika said in an emotionless voice.
"What?" Ayush asked as his dreams were suddenly broken. "What happened?" he asked almost anxiously.
"Suddenly he was not interested in taking pictures of the wild animals or the forests," Kritika said in a low voice. "He seemed to be preoccupied with something else. It took him the entire three day trip in the national park to know what his problem was."
Ayush said nothing as he looked at Kritika.
"My blog hits also went slightly low." She admitted in the same voice.
"What?" Ayush prodded as she fell silent again.
"On the last day of the trip, the matter was resolved. He asked me to marry him." She said abruptly.
"What?" Ayush asked faintly, not sure of what he had heard.
"His own words were that after a very long time, the world on the other side of the lens actually seemed beautiful to him and he wanted to keep it that way." She said.
"We are going to reach Horlin Road in ten minutes, Kritika," Ayush said almost worried. "Please tell me the rest of the story."
"I said yes," she said giving a small chuckle.
"Then what?" Ayush asked impatiently. Obviously she said yes. What else was she going to say?
"The usual," she said with a shrug.
"Oh please," Ayush sighed almost exasperated. "You met him after pouring ice cream on him. He proposed in a national park. What can be usual in these circumstances?"
"Love stories are boring without some obstacles," was the only comment that Kritika made.
"Parents?" Ayush asked glumly.
Kritika nodded. "My parents were against our marriage," She said sighing.
"Then?" Ayush asked a little hesitatingly not sure of what the girl was going to say next.
Kritika sighed, "For a guy with such an exciting profession, he was very traditional in some ways. He wanted our parents to accept our relationship."
"Seriously?" Ayush asked flabbergasted. He could not even imagine such a thing happening in today's times.
"Whenever he was in town, he used to come to Metten to talk to my father," Kritika said in a hoarse voice.
"I am guessing they did not accept?" Ayush said in a dispirited tone.
Ayush looked up so suddenly and this time he was sure he had heard something very wrong. "What?" He demanded.
"A year back, my parents were more than willing to bless our marriage." She said getting up. "They told me what I already knew – that no other man could keep me as happy as he could."
Ayush felt the train lurch to a sudden stop and was disoriented.
"Oh," was all, Ayush could manage, feeling a little weak. Then he smiled to himself.
"He called me up to tell me the happy news and he was coming back." Kritika said as she pulled her bag from the luggage compartment and put her laptop inside the bag. It was after that, that she picked up the bouquet of roses.
"That is for him?" Ayush asked pointing at the roses.
"Yes," Kritika said walking in front of him, slinging her bag in the back.
"He likes roses?" Ayushed asked coming behind her, as the other passengers were getting down from the train slowly.
Kritika said nothing as both of them got down the train. But Ayush did not expect her to answer. That was honestly none of his business.
Both walked outside the station as Kritika spotted an auto coming towards them.
"The new Memorial," Kritika told the auto driver.
The auto driver nodded.
Ayush frowned as he realized that that was where he was supposed to go. Wondering whether she had caught the auto for him, he looked at Kritika. "I do not need the auto..."
"The bus in which he was coming back, never made it home." Kritika told Ayush, as the auto started.