Chapter 16: The Promise Rings
The winds blew steadily while leaves danced merrily over the trees. The sun shone brightly, the fragrance of the flowers lingering powerfully in the air. Ishaani and Ranveer were sitting under the bark of a birch tree that cast lovely, cool shades over their head. The month of September had just begun and with it came the cool breezes. The leaves had not yet begun to fall off, but had the combined colors of red, orange, yellow and green, giving a very artistic beauty to nature in Vari.
Ranveer had his head in Ishaani's lap while reading a copy of The Moving Toyshop while Ishaani gently stroked his head and read a copy of Pride and Prejudice alongside. The two months of their new found relationship had flown by swiftly yet beautifully, every day being a new learning step into each other's hearts and minds while they opened up more with every day, sharing experiences of their lives in those three years along with their secrets and fears, their lessons and mottos being confided alongside.
Their relationship so far had been platonic, friendship springing back into the same one they shared as kids, only much more mature in the general sense. They would still joke around and pull out all kinds of pranks and sarcastic remarks at each other, but the two of them could not deny that their friendship how had an extra element of maturity that two people only gained after seeing life unfold on the whole.
On the other hand, there were several days where they would just sit silently over their cup of coffee, just enjoying each other's silence and presence. Those days were always the most emotionally challenging, for either one of them would entrust another guilty secret to another and the other would have to be there to understand and hold the other one from the fall.
Their lives in those three years were now open books in front of each other, books that were getting lighter with every lessening secret, until they had barely anything concealed from each other. They would meet each other every day after work, either to have a cup of coffee or to grab a bite, or simply to take a stroll around the various streets.
Today, they were sitting in the park, where the grasses grew richly and has a freshly mown smell about it. Several people walked leisurely around, the weather at its supreme best while several families were under different trees, taking in the cool shades provided by the majestic oaks, cypresses and poplars that cast high shadows around. At the foot of them grew several bushes with roses, daisies, orchids and lilies, while at some distance apart, peach, lemon, apple and almond trees grew prosperously.
Ranveer smiled peacefully as Ishaani's stroking of his hair had a mesmerizing effect on his, obliterating the world around him except for the glowing nature and Ishaani's presence. Looking up towards her, he smiled at her serenely. He shutt his book close and took to stare at her, her eyes taking his fancy. She looked up from her book and smiled at him while tracing her fingers lovingly over his forehead.
"This feels so good. It just feels exactly like the days when we were so carefree and free of the burdens of the world."
"Yeah, it kind of does. Ofcourse, the two of us have a lot of pros about our friendship now than we had back then."
"That's true. Plus, we get to wear all sorts of clothes now, rather than heavy suits and traditional wears." Ishaani chuckled at him while she planted a kiss over his forehead.
"You know, I know I have never mentioned this to you in these two months, but you looked gorgeous in that green gown you had worn to that party." Ishaani blushed and looked at him entranced, the reference of Martha's party bringing a smile to her face.
"You didn't look half bad yourself in that black suit yourself. That color enhances your features so much." Ranveer gazed at her intently for a few moments while she shook his head at her amused.
In those three years, both of them had changed their dressing patterns to the extreme, with Ishaani always wearing loose shirt-tops and knee-length skirts while Ranveer wore light-colored shirts and jeans or else three-fourth pants. Ranveer noticed that Ishaani would, however, wear long pantaloons and a tucked in shirt to the library with stilettos, that made her look much more taller and beautiful while he stuck on to his traditional three-piece suit during his business hours. Today, Ishaani wore a loose yellow top and a black skirt while Ranveer wore a light green shirt and cream three-fourths.
As Ishaani shut her eyes, momentarily enjoying the nature around her, Ranveer got back to reading his book once again while Ishaani caressed his forehead now, shutting her book.
"Oh c'mon, Ranveer, do close the book now!" Ranveer looked at her dejectedly before shutting the copy of his book and propping himself up on his elbows, to stare at her properly now.
"Done." Ishaani smiled at him and shook her head before they saw an ice-cream van pass by in the distance. "Ice-cream!" Ishaani gave Ranveer puppy-eyes and he shook his head, amused by her tactics.
"Which one do you want?"
"Surprise me!" Ishaani smiled at him radiantly while he smiled back.
Ranveer got up lazily and stretched his arms before making a run towards the ice-cream van while Ishaani swiftly opened her book and started reading again. Ranveer returned back after 15 minutes, when he saw Ishaani engrossed in her book, unaware of his presence.
"That's not fair! You made me shut my book. No ice-cream for you!"
"Fine." Ishaani muttered feverishly, her eyes not leaving from the book.
"Alright, I'll just give it away then." Ranveer turned and began to walk when Ishaani swiftly shut the book and stared at him beginning to walk.
"Come back! I was just kidding!" Ranveer turned to look at her, a smirk over his face while Ishaani looked apologetically. Laughing, as Ishaani now scowled at him, he came back and sat down once again while he laid out 10 packets of popsicles in front of her. Ishaani stare wide-eyed at him before a huge smile cracked up on her face.
"Oh my! Chocolate, Vanilla, Mango, Strawberry, Blueberry, Butterscotch, Raspberry, Orange, Pistachio and Lemon! Thanks!" Ishaani read the labels happily while Ranveer laughed at her antics.
"Hold on, hold on! I'll be having some from these as well."
"Alright. Take what you want." Ranveer and Ishaani started snatching away the flavors they could get their hands on, until they hand five each. Ripping open the packet of Blueberry, Ishaani finally tasted it and nodded in satisfaction.
"Yum!" Ranveer was busy unwrapping his packet of Lemon Popsicle when he looked up at Ishaani and smirked.
"It's my choice. What do you expect?" Ishaani rolled his eyes at him.
"Oh yeah, right."
"Well, don't forget that you were my choice too." Ishaani simply stuck her tongue out at him and smacked him on his shoulder playfully while Ranveer laughed at her.
"Oh alright, alright. Enjoy your ice-cream." Ranveer shook his head at her and turned his full attention towards the lemon Popsicle in his hand.
After an hour and half, Ranveer and Ishaani sat next to each other once again, Ishaani leaning against Ranveer's shoulder, her left hand on his chest. Ranveer saw the dove ring sparkle on her finger and smiled.
"You really love this ring now, don’t you?"
"Yeah. This ring is a part of myself now. I don't know what would life had been had this ring not been there." Ishaani looked at Ranveer and saw a ring gleaming over on his finger in the sunlight. "I see that you still wear your engagement ring as well."
"Yeah. It has been with me for far too long to part with it." Sitting up straighter, he caught Ishaani's hands in his own while both of them sat crossed-legged, so that they were now sitting exactly opposite each other. Ranveer sated at her curiously while Ishaani stared at him, a strange fire dancing in her eyes.
"Do you trust me?" Ishaani stared at him intently before speaking again.
"Yes." Ranveer smiled and spoke gently.
"Remove the ring." Ishaani did as she was told, without uttering a single word. Her eyes did have a slight hesitancy, but she did it nonetheless. Ranveer continued smiling at her.
"Give it to me." She handed the ring over to him, bewildered, but with a confidence at the same time. Ranveer smiled at her and closed his fist around the ring. Keeping it safely in his shirt pocket, he took off the ring from his finger and gave it to her.
"By giving each other our rings, we are trusting part of ourselves with each other. Keep it safe." Ishaani smiled at him and accepted the ring while she held it carefully in her palm, as though holding the world's most prized possession.
"We'll only be returning these rings back to each other the day we get remarried."
"Yes. Didn't I tell you that we are going to live every phase of our relationship in the order it is supposed to go?" Ishaani stroked his cheek lovingly while Ranveer kissed her hand.
"We've established what we wanted to. Trust. Now, we need to establish the second base of our relationship. Friendship."
"But weren't we doing that since the past two months?"
"Yes. But when I say friendship, I mean making it always the prime relationship we share, even before being married or in love. And for that, I have just the perfect thing."
Quickly removing a small box from his pocket, he opened it and removed a ring from the box, a silver ring with two hearts, one a silver and another with gold with a diamond in between both the heart. A double band ran from the hearts on either side, diamonds along the width of the bands in a diagonal order. A thin phrase was engraved on the inside of the ring. Ishaani looked momentarily mesmerized before she took the ring and read the engraved phrase.
Life made us friends.
Ishaani looked up at him, her eyes teary and gave him a hug while he hugged her back a content sigh escaping his lips. After breaking their hug, Ishaani looked at Ranveer, a guilty look on her face.
"I've got something for you as well, but I don't know whether you will like it or no."
"As long as you are giving it to me with all your love, there is nothing more precious for me than it." Ishaani nodded nervously and removed a small box from her handbag and handed it over to him. Opening the box, Ranveer's breath got hitched. In the box was a black titanium ring, with an infinity on the forefront. Ranveer stuttered for a few moments before looking at her, his gaze lowered.
"Wasn't this the same titanium ring that Mota Babuji had given you to give this to the person on the day you find your true love, companion and friend?"
"It's the same one."
"How did you even think that I would not like it?"
Ishaani stared at him sheepishly while Ranveer looked at the ring dazed, the combined effect of it being amongst one of his Mota Babuji's most prized possession and Ishaani entrusting him with it. Minutes later, when both of them finally managed to snap out from their reveries, Ranveer took Ishaani's hand and slipped the ring over her ring finger.
"I promise to be your friend and stand by you in every thick and thin and face them with you together. Always." Ishaani bit her lip as she smiled at him teary-eyed, the memory of this day steadily being etched into her mind as amongst the most beautiful day of her life. She looked at him intensely before slipping the black titanium band over his ring finger and looked at him lovingly.
"I promise to stand by you no matter what and never leave your side. I trust you with my heart and I know that you'll take much better care of it than me myself."
Ranveer smiled at her and whispered a soft ‘I will’. Ishaani and Ranveer hugged each other once again as the leaves and blossoms from the trees fell lazily around them in the breeze and both of them smiled at each other.
They could finally see a future where they had each other and above that, each other's trust.