It was drizzling outside. I drove the car through the occasional mist, climbing the winding roads up the high ranges. She didn’t say anything. We knew it was our last journey together. The last time I would be taking her to her workplace.
I remembered all the moments we had together from the moment I first met her. How happy we both were together! The great Indian wedding cliché just spoiled our relationship. She belonged to a different religion and our parents denied our insatiable love and desire to be together. My rage and grief reflected on the speedometer of the car.
“Please, go slow”, she said at last.
When I had a sideways glance, I saw her rummaging in her bag.
“Can you please pull over?”, she asked.
She looked sick. I stopped the car under a Gulmohar tree which stood magnanimously by the road side, shedding flowers all over the place, bathing the ground under it in blood red. I looked at her.
“Why did you want me to stop?”
She took out a bottle of imported perfume from her bag. Her favorite brand.
“You may take this. Please don’t forget me, I beg.”
I could see her eyes welling up. I didn’t know what to say. I felt my heart drowning in icy water.
“No,”. I said, “I can’t take this dear. This fragrance will remind me of you every day. I can’t have that pain all days with you gone forever from my life”.
Her eyes started to spill even before I finished my words. That was the first time I ever saw her crying since I met her. I couldn’t hold back my tears either which found their way down silently. I took her hand in mine.
“Please don’t cry, darling”.
My words were broken. I held her hand tight, like I never ever wanted to let her go. And I kissed the back of her palm. My tears kissed her even before my lips could do. The drizzle and the fog that adhered on the windshields curtained us from the rest of the world.
A few hours later I was back at the same place, alone, after dropping her off at her workplace and leaving her forever. I had the perfume bottle clenched in my hand and her fragrance all around me. The best gift she ever gave me.