Shan was on his usual evening stroll by the river. He hated his full name - Shantanu! Knowing this, his friends used to teasingly call him King Shantanu, and it was not completely inaccurate as his ancestors belonged to the royal family.
This was not one of those regular days. He spotted a gorgeous woman in blue dress near the river shore. It was almost as if she blended into the river. Or was he hallucinating? He observed himself being dragged near her as he felt unsure of what to say to her. The woman had a radiating smile, as if she half expected him to approach her.
"Hi, I am Shan", he smiled and stretched his hand.
"Hi, I am Ganga", she shook his hand. The grip was unusually firm, for a woman who looked that delicate.
"Like the river, huh?", he smiled.
"Mm, hmm. Like the river", she said as the radiating smile acquired a tinge of mischief.
"You from around?", he asked.
"You can say that. I was not born here. But I am here right now. Who knows about tomorrow?". The mystery added to her allure.
They walked along the river shore, talking, smiling and holding hands. Nobody knows for how long. How do you actually measure time - in the units called 'seconds' or in terms of 'intense million moments'? Finally, Shan summoned up the courage to ask her hand in marriage. "I can be difficult. I am not demanding. I dont like jewelry, I dont care for your money or your royal lineage. I just love YOU. All I ask for in return, is my freedom - to live the way I want to. Even the slightest threat to that, I am gone" she said with a serious look in her eyes. Shan, madly in love, gleefully agreed to her condition.
They got married and moved to his palatial bungalow. Shan showered her with gifts and his love. Had Ganga asked for the moon - which she did not, Shan would have arranged for a space mission. To say that they lived happily would be an understatement. They dined out together, went for exotic vacations, laughed and talked about every topic under the sun. Their love life was great too! One fine day, Ganga broke the news that she was pregnant. Shan's joys knew no bounds. Ganga was ecstatic, she loved kids too. Or so he thought!
The first crack appeared in their relationship when Shan came to know that Ganga had got her pregnancy terminated. She seemed calm, as if nothing had happened. Shan was devastated, he wanted to confront her. But he remembered the condition, and keep silent. He did not want to lose her. It was in fact, her idea to have kids. He tried to be 'understanding' and thought of finding out what Ganga really wanted.
Years passed, the gap widened. Silence and mistrust seemed to engulf the bungalow that was once filled with laughter. Shan had endured six more of such incidents. This was the last straw on the donkey's back.
One evening, Shan and Ganga went for a stroll to the riverside.
"What is it that you are unhappy about, Ganga?", Shan asked abruptly.
"Who said I am unhappy?", Ganga retorted, while being as calm as the evening.
"But, why? Er, I mean, you have changed so much, its as if I dont know you", Shan was at a loss for words.
"Hmm", she smiled a knowing smile, "I knew this day would come. When I would walk away, and you would not even stop me. Would you stop me if I walked away now?", she started walking towards the river, without even waiting for an answer.
Shan stood paralyzed, feeling numb, unable to react.
"Idiotic female. I gave her EVERYTHING. But she got hung up on ONE thing", a terribly hurt Shan muttered to himself.
"Stupid man! I demanded NOTHING. He could not give me the only ONE thing I asked", thought a disappointed Ganga, as she disappeared from Shan's vision.