The dense forests seem to limit their boundaries abruptly and refused to inch further. A perennial
waterfall cascaded in slow motion. Her hand felt ice-cold at the spray of waterdrops. Her body
shivered. Nikhil handing a warm shrug to her, cautioned ,“ it will be cool and moist inside”.
“ He knows this place so well”, she said to no-one in particular.
They entered the rough stony entrance hand-in-hand.
Nikhil sprung surprises and kept her adrenaline juices flowing. She had always reciprocated his
antics with open arms and whispered romantic words in his ears. This was her third surprise in the
last month and the thrill increased with each frequency.
She had worn rubber gumboots on his insistence. The pink and blue flip-flops was her choice but
Nikhil had struck it down. Her feet felt water running and the gentle roar of the waterfall seemed
fainter. She had no idea how long they had walked into the tunnel. She forcibly blinked her eyes to
avoid the blackness getting into her. The slight palpitations worried her. Her thighs ached at the force
of the water dragging her. Claustrophobia surrounded her. She had never been greeted by fear.
Involuntarily, she rubbed her palms and found solace in the friction and cupped her chin. The rising
warmth renewed her energy.
“Nikhhhhhhhil” , she yelled loudly extending the last part of his name with urgency.
“Where is he?”, was the obvious question to his sudden absence.
Had he slipped and fallen down? Nay. She would have felt his grip slip away.
Should she turn around to go towards the entrance of the tunnel? She had travelled that dark path.
She remembered her Appa’s words. The erudite astrologer could never go wrong. People from
distant lands flocked for his advice. And his own daughter refused to believe his prognosis.
“Nikhil will lead you into the dark dungeon with no light at the end.”
How prophetic were Appa’s utterances. But she had refused to hear them let alone believe the
wisdom of the prophecy.
She dragged herself deeper into the tunnel. There was nothing but more darkness welcoming her.
She could feel her eyes swell into tears.
Appa had asked her to look beneath the veneer of his suave and polished personality. She had
dived deep into the pool of his heart and was bathed in his courting finesse.
“His planetary alignments spell doom to you”, pleaded and thundered Appa in the same breath.
Helpless and lonely in the abyss, each word of her father resonated and drilled sense in the
labyrinthine maze of her grey cells.
“He will desert you”, concluded Appa and they had tied the knot without the blessings of the senior
She had never felt so lonely even when her mother had succumbed to the dreaded disease. The
feeling of being lost and betrayal exacerbated and she wondered how she would face Appa.
She took a deep breath and inhaled the musty air. There should be light at the end of the tunnel , the
adventurer in her consoled herself.
Her cloudy dark pupils saw creepers hanging down. Lo behold the tunnel had ended .
She dragged her weary feet to the incoming diffused light.
With yellow tulips in his hand, he smiled and spread his arms at her.
She was a bag of mixed emotions. The 'dark' thoughts which she had harbored sometime ago
"No more surprises ", she begged and she filled herself in his masculine embrace.
She looked up . The Sun was shinning brightly. The stars were asleep .The planetary
configurations are far away. What mattered was Nikhil .
She would work to build a bridge between Appa and Nikhil.
written for Sue Vincent's Thursday Photo Prompt
Appa means father in Kannada( an Indian language).