English LiteratureShort Stories

Fragrance of Happiness

“I do not think much, I do not think often, but when I think, I think of you!”

Shivangi couldn’t stop smiling and was still in daze after reading the message five times. It had come with a bouquet of white lilies and she couldn’t believe Mithilesh had sent her flowers and that too with a romantic note. He was the last person she expected to do anything related to love.

Of course they were a couple now. It was going to be an arranged marriage and her parents had selected him for her. But they were yet to be engaged and the wedding was planned for next year. Howbeit, after knowing Mithilesh for just a month, Shivangi had understood that he was a very serious person and had huge responsibilities on his head, retired, aging parents and education of his younger siblings.

Not that Shivangi had any complaints. Although Mithilesh was nine years older to her, he was extremely patient and down to earth. She would have been elated if he was a little romantic as well. That’s exactly why these flowers and the message on it, was a pleasant surprise to her.

After arranging the lilies in a vase, she picked up her mobile to thank him. She knew he would be busy, but Shivangi was too happy and didn’t want to delay the gratitude. He answered on the third ring,

“Hello Shivangi.”
He never said ‘hi’, always very formal.
“Hi, Mithilesh. Am I disturbing you?”

He raised his brows but smiled in the phone. She was young, fun loving and avidly romantic; everything that he wasn’t. Sometimes he wondered if they were a  mismatch. But she was definitely a breath of fresh air in his grave world. He replied carefully,

“Yes Shivangi, I’m at work, but it’s alright, you can talk. Tell me, what is it?”

“Sorry. I only called up to say thanks for the flowers and the message. I was surprised, but I loved them anyways.”

His smile broadened and he was glad that he listened to his intuition. On an impulse he had entered the flower shop, however he didn’t know what to pick. The florist helped him out and even wrote the message for him. But he dare confess to her that they were not his thoughts. And since he was running late for work, the florist offered to deliver the bouquet to her.

This went on. Almost every other day, flowers were delivered to her doorstep with the most amazing romantic messages she’d ever heard of.

“I don’t want to set the world on fire, I just want to start a flame in your heart.”

 “Sorry for embarrassing you at work. I bet your face is as red as these roses!”

 “When I’ll be with you, the only place I’d want to be is, closer.”

Nevertheless, something was weird. Something didn’t fit right. Because whenever she and Mithilesh were together, he was his same old boring, serious and a man of few words. He didn’t even hold her hand. They would talk about all the practical issues and nothing about themselves. All this compelled Shivangi to wonder, why this discrepancy? Now she had become suspicious and doubted if those messages were really his feelings.

One morning a lovely bouquet of pink and peach roses was delivered to her, with a note which read,

“Somewhere there is someone who dreams of your smile and finds in life your presence worthwhile. So when you are lonely, remember it’s true, I will always be that someone, thinking of you.”

 These words triggered a spark in Shivangi but she was certain it was not from Mithilesh. His real life demeanor didn’t match the love notes at all. She had to do something about it. By now she had actually fallen in love with all the messages and the pretty arrangements that were sent to her.

She flipped the card, seeked out the florist’s address and decided to pay a visit.

When she entered the flower shop, her eyes soaked in stupendous colourful posies all around and her nostrils were filled with a variety of fragrances. Whilst she moved her eyes, looking for someone to talk to, Shivangi caught a glimpse of a man staring at her in awe.

She couldn’t take her eyes off him and was totally mesmerized by his handsome looks. The man started walking and stopped only when he was right in front of her. A faint smile cracked on his face and he whispered,

“Shivangi!”
She gasped and was shocked, wondering how the stranger knew her name. She cleared her throat and asked,
“How do you know me?”
He didn’t reply to her question, but said what was on his mind,
“You are more beautiful than your photograph.”

For a few seconds Shivangi was dumbfounded and couldn’t process what the stranger was saying. She schooled herself and concentrated on what she’d come to find out.

“I’d like to meet the owner of this shop.”
He grinned and stuffed his hands in his pockets.
“That’s me, Rajeev Nair.”
She fished out the message cards from her purse and showed them to him.
“My fiance has been buying flowers for me from here. I want to know who has written these messages, because I know, it’s not his work.”
Rajeev smirked and skimmed through the notes knowingly,
“I have written these messages. And I was hoping that someday, they’ll bring you here. Thanks to the Lord for hearing my prayer so soon.”

Shivangi was wonder struck and couldn’t believe her ears.
“What do you mean?”
“I saw your picture in his wallet and haven’t stopped thinking of you since then. He had come to pick flowers for you, only once. The rest was my doing.”

She was tongue tied and everything he said was springing new emotions in her. Wordlessly, she turned around and left. Every bit of rationality deserted her. Rajeev had stirred an array of sentiments inside her, and for days at stretch, his words kept bringing an absurd amount of joy to her foolish heart, a happiness which she had never felt with Mithilesh.

Her dilemma knew no bounds. She was stuck between her heart and obligation. How can she break ties with Mithilesh? What will she tell her parents?

One morning, she received a bouquet of white roses. Her heart did a somersault and her hands shivered as she peered in the card to read his message.

“My thoughts are free to go anywhere, but it’s surprising how often they head in your direction. Shivangi, I want to be your favorite hello, and your hardest goodbye.”

Shivangi melted. Although she knew nothing about Rajeev, but now she possibly couldn’t continue with Mithilesh. She’d talk to him later, for now, she followed her heart and went to meet Rajeev.

When she entered his shop, Rajeev was crouched on the floor, offering a red rose to a little girl. As if he had sensed her presence, instantly he turned, stood up and came towards her with a satisfied smile on his face.

“Hi Shivangi! I knew you’d come. I was waiting for you.”

A thrill ran through her just looking at him, but she didn’t want him to know that. Maintaining a poker semblance, she said,

“We know nothing about one another. But all the flowers and your messages have changed me and my life. No promises. But I’m willing to take this risk. I’d like to know you.”

His lips stretched from ear to ear and he literally blushed.

“That’s great! But I for sure have already promised myself. I won’t disappoint you Shivangi.”

She couldn’t keep the smile from curling up on her lips. Stretching her hand out, she said,

“Let’s begin with introductions. Hi! I’m Shivangi Joshi.”

 

Shamim Merchant

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