“I just called to say I love you” he said softly but clearly, and my heart skipped a beat.
I’d been hoping to hear those words for so long; and when he finally said them it felt so surreal!
I had first met Benny when I was in my final year of College as part of the same Youth Club. My best friend Cynthia and I had just become members of the Club and a few weeks later he and his best friend Peter signed up. Soon the four of us grew close. The Club members would meet up on weekends to plan and organize events, activities and outings and we looked forward to these meetings very much. It was a beautiful time for all of us.
One day while putting up posters for an upcoming event organised by our Club, Cynthia edged close to me and whispered, “He asked me….!”
It took me a moment to realize what she was saying and as I looked at her she said shyly “Benny…. I said Yes!!”
I was genuinely happy for her and instantly gave her a warm hug. When I went across to wish Benny, he smiled slowly and said “Thank you” in that quiet manner of his. Benny was like that. A man of few words, but those few words when spoken would crack us up because he had a wicked sense of humour.
I was of course Cynthia’s bridesmaid and they were one happy couple!
A month later my parents changed jobs and we moved out of the city. Six months later I flew abroad on a scholarship I’d been studying hard for. That’s where I met David and soon we were married.
Despite the distance we all stayed in touch and over the years we managed to spend some beautiful times together. And this was before mobile phones and social media!
Somewhere along the way however, we somehow lost contact as my husband fell terminally ill and I was busy taking care of him. Some time later when David passed away, I slipped into a period of intense loneliness as I grieved for him. I changed jobs and immersed myself in my work.
Then one day out of the blue I received an envelope with a newspaper cutting of a few months back and a brief note inside.
The words in the cutting stared at me in black and white. Cynthia had passed away in her sleep after a brief illness leaving behind her husband and two sons. She was 71. The note was from Peter. He thought I would want to know.
I held Cynthia’s photo in the obituary close to my heart and let the tears flow. I wept for my best friend, for her grieving husband and family, for my husband and for all the good times we’d all had together. It was as if a tap had burst open.
The next week I packed a bag and caught a plane to go meet Benny and his family. He seemed the same. Thinner maybe with lots of silver and grey but the same sense of humor. We joked about his receding hairline and my expanding waistline.
I came back home feeling more alive than I had felt in a long time.
We kept in touch over the phone. He visited me once with his sons and their families and we had a wonderful time.
After that the telephone calls grew longer and more frequent. I looked forward to his calls and I sensed he felt the same. I knew I was falling in love with Benny but I wasn’t sure just how he felt about me – and about us.
Then one day he called twice in a row. Once in the morning to wish me for my 74th birthday and then later again in the evening. He talked of this and that and then a bit more about that and this. I reminded him that it was an International call and he said it felt like we hadn’t spoken since a long time. I pointed out that he’d just called in the morning to wish me.
He said, “And I just called you now to say I love you.” Just like that!
After a moment’s silence I realised I’d been holding my breath and I let it out with a long whoosh as he continued, “I’m sorry my arthritis won’t let me go down on my knees but will you marry me?”
And that was that.
We got married a few weeks later on Benny’s 78th birthday. Peter gave me away and Benny’s 1st son was his best man.
I’m sure Cynthia and David are happy for us.
It’s nothing short of a miracle after all – To find love again in the sunset of our lives.
*The story is loosely based on real-life events as reported in a short newspaper item and completely inspired by the beautiful photograph of the SUNSET, courtesy : Arvind from Jaipur. This picture of the sunset (that I fell in love with) is just one of many other beautiful ones featuring in his blog (Jaipur through My lens)
*Thank you Arv for lending me this pic to use in my post!! 🙂