It was one of those yearly team outings, where the entire organization heads for a retreat. The management talks about the roadmap, growth plans over lots of alcohol and food. For Vishal, the senior analyst, it was a special occasion. He wanted to propose to Rajni for marriage. They both have been at the firm for over three years.

While Rajani hails from Bihar, Vishal is a local boy from Ghaziabad. Although working together for all these years, talking, working side by side, none dared to express themselves. Other office mates would make fun of Vishal that he needs a robot to express his feelings to Rajni. Some of them wondered if it was Vishal’s appearance that was making him feel inferior. Vishal is in his late 30’s, pot-bellied and 4.7 ft in height, and wrinkles on his face. Rajani is a wheatish, tall, and charming lady with an athletic built. Many confused her as Punjabi because of her eating habits and appearance. There was over a 10+ year age difference between them. Most of Vishal’s friends told him not to worry as age is just a number.

Rajani liked Vishal for who he was as a person, sober, helpful, and super intelligent. He was the go-to person for most of his confidants for advice and help. But Vishal knew it was his age, failures, and learning through the process giving him an edge over the rest. You start finding patterns from your actions and guide others.

Post breakfast after a late-night party, most were sitting lazily near the pool and watching other guests swimming. It was then Vishal expressed his feelings to Rajani. Everyone around cheered for them both. Rajani threw an unexpected challenge, call it syambar, with only Vihal participating. She challenged him to win her over 30 mins swimming challenge. It was a shock for everyone as no one knew if either of them could swim. Poor Vishal happily agreed to the challenge. He had no other option: as everything is fair in love and there are no challenges.

The challenge would begin at 9 am. Vishal had 2 hours to watch the youtube video and get coaching from some of his friends. It was like a penguin in water huffing and puffing, some observed. Others celebrated jubilantly for his courage. He was out there to win over his love. Nobody knew if Rajani knew swimming because it was only Vishal in the pool doing pre-challenge practice.

At nine, the race started. Over 50 people were cheering for them both. Many anticipated that Rajani will, close the chapter of Vishal today by defeating him. After all, they were hardly a match together. But the reality was something else; she was conceding the race to Vishal. Was she testing his courage? She was just in the waters while Vishal was competing fiercely and was ahead of hers. Everyone was hooting, shouting and some of them were dancing.

At 3ed lap, Vishal seemed uneasy but determined to finish 30 minutes swim and win the race and heart of Rajani. But God had some other plans; the next minute, he went unconscious and, his body was floating on water. The ambulance came and took him to the hospital with Rajani accompanying him. She was speechless, numb, and crying while holding Vishal’s hand. He died in Rajni’s arm with a smile on his face, on his way to the hospital. The autopsy report mentioned many other reasons like diabetes and over-stress leading to the severe stroke and causing his death.

Its’ been over 4 years since Vishal’s death. Rajani is in a mental hospital in Ranchi. She has not spoken a word all this while.