Short Story: Winter’s Butterfly

Girikand tours and travels present the second honeymoon!! Come relive your dream at the most romantic locations!! Exclusive offer for senior citizens!

Gauri stared at the ad for minutes and ran her fingers through the picturesque photo of the snow-covered peaks of the Alps. An old memory came flashing back to her. The offer was attractive and early birds could get more discount. Almost a month away, the trip dates made her gawk. They coincided with their 45th wedding anniversary. This was perfect.

In their little apartment at Prabhat road, Gauri and Mahesh lived amidst a wonderful ambiance of colors. With a little balcony that housed beautiful plants, and the morning hustle bustle, often felt like a dozen people at home. Their morning tea was their routine which they’d never miss for anything in the world. It was their courtship with life.

Mahesh as usual unscrewed another gadget, only to assemble it a few hours later and revalidate how good an engineer he still was. As they both sat in their gallery for their usual morning tea, Gauri, who otherwise easily gobbled a boiling cup, was still stuck with the newspaper.

“Girikand advertisement looks really good. Nobody ever thinks of a second honeymoon for old couples. Most ads are only about temple-tours. “

Mahesh stumbled for a bit and stared at Gauri, this was a first.

 “Hold your horses, Gaurakka, we are in the lower right quadrant of our life graph”

“So, even if the age axis is negative, the youth axis is still positive! understood Professor!!”, Gauri shot back.

Gauri and Mahesh were the quintessential middle class Maharashtrian couple. They were teenage friends living around the same block that they lived in now. Mahesh was an engineer turned professor. In his defense it was better than becoming an engineer and work in a bank. Gauri was an arts student and pursued her passion for painting all through her school and college. And like every other woman on the brink of marriage, those days casually parked her dreams aside. They lived through all the regular milestones that couples did in the 1970s. But these two were a bit different. They were best friends whose better side effect was marriage.

Gauri and Mahesh were soon going to clock their 50 years of friendship. Rarely, one finds a companion who has the same dream and continues to do so even after 5 decades. Both Gauri and Mahesh fell in love with each other due to their love for travel. And more than travel, they both dreamt of seeing all the snow destinations of the world! In their dating phase, their conversations were filled with creating bucket lists of the best places around the world. And this was an era with no Internet, so all one had was some general knowledge and imagination.

Every anniversary, both would uniquely celebrate their togetherness.  Gauri, a painter by passion and subdued profession, would create canvas paintings for Mahesh. With some scattered images in her memory, she created splendid sceneries. Needless to say, the common thread in the paintings was snow. Their house was a standing testimony to the decades of togetherness with nearly 50 paintings all around.

Post-retirement, Mahesh acquired some skills, one of them being, Photoshop. Each year he created photoshopped albums of Gauri and him in new snow destinations and relish the experience albeit virtually. This way he still kept their dream alive.

“Gaurakka, for our 40th anniversary, we have managed to reach the Alps, check it out!”, Mahesh dug out the album from his laptop, hoping to cheer Gauri up.

“What a coincidence then that today’s ad in the paper is also about the Alps. Let’s go and inquire in the Girikand office”, she insisted.

“Only Shahrukh Khan and Gujratis go to Switzerland even in their retirement. You and I can only manage to go to Darjeeling, but with your knees, I don’t think that’s possible now!”, joked Mahesh.

Gauri’s knees had begun making their presence felt ever since she crossed over to the other side of menopause. It was only because of her passion for painting and her classes that made this pain bearable.

Mahesh regretted never letting Gauri bloom as an artist. Post-retirement he made extra effort to support her. While she took classes, he would cook, clean, run errands so Gauri could teach without disturbance. They had a decent life; kids were off to their nests, and returned to see them once in 2 years, or perhaps sooner. They never really brooded about the absence of their children. Being childhood friends themselves, they were genuinely happy to finally have the solitude they once longed for. 

Their anniversary was a good month away, and according to the advertisement, the bookings were filling fast.

“Let’s at least go to the Girikand office and inquire. It’s come at a perfect time. My knees will be fine. Don’t you worry about them!”, she insisted harder.

“Gaurakka you’re 63 and I am 68 and we both know that well. It’s a long shot. Let me think!”, Mahesh replied.

“Rarely we get an opportunity again, to relive our dream. Why should age be a factor at all?”, Gauri pursued.

Mahesh was quiet. In the past 40 years, Gauri had never pursued him so relentlessly for a holiday. She was an artist in the truest sense. While other women fretted over sarees and jewelry Gauri would relish making paintings, buying new canvases, paints. Waking at midnight to see a white lotus bloom and paint it immediately, was her high.

Like most conservative Maharashtrian couples, they grew in a time where luxury was looked at, as a useless spend. Mahesh felt guilty for even inquiring about the trip. Years ago, he had come closer to traveling abroad in a miracle of a situation and it slipped away within a second. There must be a reason, why today after so many years, a similar opportunity had shown up. Gauri was restless. A rare sight, Mahesh grew anxious, watching his otherwise peaceful wife behave like a teenager.

He reminisced the past anniversaries. They had a strange relationship with fate. On their fifth anniversary, they were about to leave for a trip abroad. After many dilemmas, they both mustered the courage to travel to Switzerland, while the family fretted. But just the previous night, Kamal Mavshi fell severely ill. They had to cancel this lifetime opportunity, which was sponsored by Kamal Mavshi.   

On their 15th anniversary, Mahesh made an ambitious plan to show their children Atharv and Anagha, snowfall in Kashmir. In the two weeks leading to their travel plan, at least a dozen mouths filled their ears with strange and some eerie rumors about taking young children to Kashmir. It was the 90s and the average middle-class man living in Pune, spent winters in Panchgani and summers in Lonavla or Kokan. Due to the pressure of the entire family, the kids too were on the majority side and again Gauri and Mahesh had to let go off their dream plan.

25th Anniversary was a milestone for them, and they were working towards their dream yet again. This time their son Atharva had planned a surprise for his parents. It was much later in their travel did it occur to Mahesh that they were taken to Vaishno Devi. The journey to the shrine was filled with challenges. With the exhausting travel, they could barely enjoy the snow around. The little bit that they could manage to see, was not exactly the kind that they pined for.  

Despite the number of mishaps, Gauri was still hopeful that one day their snowflake dream would come true. Reach a mountain top on a train, take the cable car to reach another mountain top.  Both in their oversized coats step into a vast land of snow. A vast space of white divine snow. They would lay down there like hysteric kids and just run around enjoying the snow like a baby enjoys the first vision of color.

This ad, was, therefore, a miracle opportunity. Mahesh had lost his zeal after the Vaishno Devi trip, and swore, never to be too ambitious about his dreams. He regretted never checking the itinerary of that trip, but on his return, he had to fake his happiness for visiting Vaishno Devi on his wedding anniversary.

“You will have a golden jubilee wedding anniversary, Mahesh. Devi has blessed you! Take it from me!”, Goutam Rao, his neighbor would often say!

Over a the next few weeks, Gauri forced herself to forget about this trip, thanks to Mahesh’s stoic silence. She was quiet in her shell, and continued with her classes, wondering about Mahesh. How could he have given up so easily, she would often wonder. They lived life as normally as they could manage to, but Gauri couldn’t lower the voices in her head. They kept tugging at her, that this was perhaps the last chance. Mahesh showed no signs of change. He went from unscrewing one gadget to another with the same conviction as he did every morning.

2 months passed by. It was the morning of their anniversary.

Mahesh made their usual morning tea. He called out to Gauri, who was still in bed. Hearing no response, he walked up to their bed and woke her up gently.

“Gaurakka! Good morning, we need to leave in 30 minutes”, Mahesh called out to his partner in crime.

In the months following up their anniversary Mahesh had sold their fixed deposit that he had reserved for Gauri’s knee operation. The universe had given them a possibility to chase their winter dream one last time. Gauri was right. The thrill of the snow mountains could surpass any kind of pain.

He rushed her to get ready. In exactly 45 minutes they would be on a train that would take them to Matterhorn. They were in Zermatt from the Girikand tours’ second honeymoon package. This was their day off on the trip. He carefully selected Matterhorn, where Gauri and he could finally enjoy the proverbial dream of their life, just like they had imagined.

Source: Dreamstime.com

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83 thoughts on “Short Story: Winter’s Butterfly”

  1. aaah, love stories are so sweet. especially ones that are not in a rush but savor the emotion and the setting up of a moment, a memory 🙂
    lovely read.

  2. Lovely and beautiful storytelling. Liked the idea of being young at heart at any age. You have kept the story very relatable and relevant. Life rarely gives second chances but when it does one should grab it with both hands. Thanks for writing this. Keep the good work going. All the best.

    #MyFriendAlexa #ContemplationOfaJoker #Jokerophilia

  3. Story about love and friendship always touches right chord. I was keeping my fingers crossed as cannot think of any negative end but you relieved me.. Beautiful ending.

  4. Such lovely story of an adorable couple. The elements like ‘Prabhat Road’ and ‘Girikand Travels’ are so much relatable to Pune. Just loved this flowy simple romantic tale of an aging couple with growing friendship.

    1. Thank you so much Rashi! Really appreciate your feedback. I am a fan of your writing, and your feedback means a lot to me. Thank you again!

  5. Most ads are about visiting temples for the elderly…that really hit me. Yeah, we just stop thinking about love after a certain age. Really liked the way you narrated this story!

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