He sat in the lecture hall even after everyone had left as he recollected word by word, all that she had told about herself during the introduction session. It was the first day of college, the first year of university studies and for Arjun, love at first sight. Her beautiful face, decent personality and simplicity had left him spell bound.
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Too shy to initiate the friendship Arjun preferred to be just a silent admirer giving himself time to understand her as a person. Bhoomi belonged to the lower middle class as Arjun but her family was self sufficient unlike his. His family had been living in penury in the wake of his father’s illness. He had been paddling his own canoe since a long time. In a semester’s time he managed make friends with her.
It was V-Day and there was an unusual zing in the campus of the reputed Greenfield College. The screams of successful Romeos cheered up those who were turned down with a sorry. Girls were no way behind in expressing love by taking the initiative. Proposing on this day was now no more a guy’s prerogative. Arjun somehow gathered courage and prepared himself for the day. He saw Bhoomi walking towards the canteen. He prayed hard and approached her. Standing in front of her, he handed over a cute red rose to her with his shaky and nervous hands and said… “Bhoomi, I really like your simplicity and dedication to whatever you do. I fell in love with you the very first day I met you. Will you be my valentine?” He also handed over a letter to her explaining that he was a simple minded, God fearing person who had gone through a lot of hard ships in life and would do anything to make her happy.” At the end he wrote “Though this rose is all that I can gift you, I am sure it will tell you how much I love you”.
Bhoomi did not wait a second. “Arjun, please wait. I really respect your feelings and do not want to hurt you. But it is important that I tell you that I don’t love you and I don’t want to fool you. I am a very ambitious person. I have huge dreams. Dreams of becoming rich and famous. You already know that I have suffered because of my middle class background and I do not want to suffer in future.” she said. Arjun tried to hold back his feelings and took it in good part. “You are one of my good friends and will always be. So, wish me good luck. I am going to be John’s valentine in today’s valentine party. I just love partying and may be, even John. See, I have bought such an expensive gift for him” Bhoomi chuckled. John was the heartthrob of the college. His designer wear outfits, strong smelling perfume, well maintained physique and his Ferrari had an intoxicating effect on almost all the girls in the college.
Bhoomi tried to look her best with a huge smile on her face as she walked into the party. Surprised to see John dancing with another girl, she reached out to him. “John, am I late?” “Just in time dear, everything’s ready. I have a surprise for you.” John said. Bhoomi blushed trying to guess what the surprise was. She was within a few seconds surrounded by John’s friends who made fun of her clothes and made a parody of her. “Look, I have gifted John with an Armani T-shirt, and I, have given him a diamond pendant…what have you bought for him” several such insulting remarks of John’s, not one but many girl friends that had injured her vanity echoed in the vacuum she was drifting into as she walked out of the party.
The weather was parky and she was hurt and lonely. “Please don’t cry” Bhoomi heard a plaintive voice comforting her. “Arjun…” she went into a paroxysm of tears. Putting the plaid he had, on her shoulder he said “Let me drop you home”. She did not refuse.
Bhoomi’s absence from college for two consecutive days made Arjun anxious who called up her house to find out if something was wrong. “Aunty, I need to talk to Bhoomi. I am her class mate. It is important.” He pleaded Bhoomi to come to the college as the schedule for the semester exams had been announced.
He was relived to see Bhoomi in the college the next day. “Bhoomi, I can understand your feelings. But, its time you realize your self worth and prove yourself to the world.” He said. “I will one day become richer than these upper class panjandrums” she retorted with anger. After treating her with a cup of coffee at the college canteen, he gave her a copy of the examination schedule and briefed her about the lectures she had missed.
Bhoomi and Arjun had become thick friends with time. Though they respected each other’s differences, there was one thing they always argued about. “In today’s ultra-modern world the bigger your bank balance is the more successful you are. To have a face in the society, to earn name and fame, money is all that one needs” Said Bhoomi. Arjun tirelessly argued that money is definitely important to lead a comfortable life but it is not everything and that there are many things money can’t buy. My dear, “Its dangerous to want to get rich overnight which may sometimes tempt a person to go the wrong way to earn money” said Arjun.
The second year Valentine’s Day was approaching and there were discussions amongst students about celebrations in the campus this year. Bhoomi suffered sudden pangs of anger whenever she remembered her first year valentine’s party. “Why did you choose me as your valentine last year?” she asked Arjun and he, under his placid smile hid his emotions.
The V-Day arrived. As usual the V-Day blues invaded their lives. Bhoomi was no way less beautiful than Miss Greenfield but it was a must to look the part in such a party and moreover one cannot afford to be a wall flower.
“This is for you” was written on it. Bhoomi opened a parcel and an envelope attached to it as the courier boy gave it to her. She was surprised to see a nice red velvet gown jump out of the parcel. “Dear Bhoomi, a wonderful dress for a wonderful person. I am sure you will accept this as a token of our friendship. I expect nothing in return for this. Here are two passes for the Ladies’ evening at the campus. I will be waiting for you to tell me how the party was. Happy Valentine’s Day. From your friend Arjun” it conveyed!
At the party she became the envy of John’s girl friends. She had won the title of the Best dress and the Best dancer. Arjun was happy to see her bubbling with energy and fresh hope in the college the next day though he had been alone playing his guitar all night.
It was their final semester. All the finals were preparing their project which decided their future. “Your project will finally take shape. You must be excited about it. It is the same one you were working on since one year, right? Bhoomi asked Arjun. “I shall be taking up something else. I am not any more interested in that one” he said. But Bhoomi did not take the trouble to ask him why.
That night Arjun’s younger brother called her up on the phone and he sounded pretty rude. “What do you think of yourself?” he yelled. Bhoomi was taken aback. She kept quiet as he was Arjun’s buddy. “My brother has gone mad. He has spent all the money he had saved for his dream project to buy you a dress. Remember that red gown? Now he has compromised with a smaller and less expensive project since he cannot afford that one. Despite his sacrifices you never loved him. He is such a fool” He hung up before Bhoomi could react.
Bhoomi remembered the day Arjun had expressed his love but she refused and felt guilty. But she was in a dilemma as she did not understand whether she loved him or he was her best friend as she always thought. Amidst this confusion she determined that she will see that his project takes shape by hook or crook.
Bhoomi approached the head of their department in the college explaining him the financial constraints of Arjun and requested him to study Arjun’s project. She said that this project will bring fame to the college and Arjun should be funded for accomplishing the same.
She had made an impact and after thorough study of Arjun’s brilliant project the H.O.D. announced that Arjun along with two other students with excellent academic record will be funded by the for their project.
Arjun’s joy knew no bounds. Their semester ended and during the convocation ceremony Arjun was startled to know that he was selected as a prospective candidate to be trained and placed abroad. On the Dias addressing the gathering, Arjun surprised the college authorities. “I am honoured. But I will not be able to leave my family in these testing times and go abroad. I suggest Ms.Bhoomi’s name because she is an eligible candidate and she will be able to do justice to this honour”. Bhoomi was chosen for this opportunity.
“You should be out of your mind to pass this golden opportunity up. And I will not go in your place. I don’t deserve this” Bhoomi was very angry. “You know that my father is too sick and he needs me”. And this is a chance for you to prove yourself to the world. Remember your dreams and ambitions?” Arjun had smoothed her way to success.
Finally, Arjun could convince her to pack her backs off. After seeing her off, at the airport Arjun was so played out that he plodded on his way home. Bhoomi had never felt like this before. As she turned back to wave to Arjun for the last time just before she vanished from his vicinity she felt like running back into his arms to feel the warmth of his love. It was too late for her to realize that she was in love with him. She had to do justice to his sacrifice. So she quietly left.
Repenting on her pyrrhic achievement, all alone in an alien country, she felt so stupid for not understanding his love all the while he was in front of her eyes. Arjun’s father had expired soon after Bhoomi left. Though he was placed in a reputed MNC as an HR Manager, all the success could not cheer him up as he missed his father and now Bhoomi, even more.
With the passing time, Arjun had got too involved in the job and had lost his charm. He even forgot that day for the first time in his life. It was V-Day again! As soon as he entered the office he received a call. “Arjun, will you be my valentine? For a life time?” “Bhoomi, I cannot believe this” Arjun burst out into tears right on the phone. “I was such a fool to not understand your love. You were so right! Money is not everything. Today I have money and all the comforts in plethora and still I am not happy. It’s not riches that make a man happy but his dear ones and their love” Bhoomi said. Arjun also confessed that he has never been able to escape from her thoughts and that he still loved her a lot.
Arjun wanted to enliven the atmosphere. “Bhoomi, you always told me that you will gift your valentine an expensive gift as you think that it is essential to express how much you love him. Where’s your gift for me?” Bhoomi said that he would receive the gift within a week’s time.
Arjun was waiting for the gift when suddenly his door bell rang early in the morning. “Bhaiyya, this is your gift. I had gone to collect it” his brother said. As he moved to his right to let his big brother see the gift… Arjun couldn’t believe his eyes. His valentine’s gift was his valentine herself standing in front of him. She had informed Arjun’s brother about her arrival who had gone to receive her at the airport. Bhoomi had come back forever.
Happily married for one year it was their first valentine’s day together. Arjun playfully reminded her what she had told him on the first valentine’s day in the college & he demanded that he should get a really expensive gift this year.
“Ok. Your wish is my command” said Bhoomi before she walked towards her cupboard. “Have you already bought it? Hey, I was joking. You told me that you have changed your opinion about a V-Day gift. I hope you haven’t spent a lot of money!” He kept on talking till Bhoomi with an extra ordinary glow on her face this time, handed over an envelope to him.
“This is my gift for you”. Arjun laughed and guessed that it would be a love letter which she never wrote to him. “His laughter turned into a scream when he read that love letter. It was her pregnancy test report which declared her pregnant.
Bhoomi with all her emotion said that this was the best gift she could ever give her man. Arjun hugged her with pride as he said “All my valentine blues have vanished. Thanks a ton”!