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She was like a blushing rose in a lush green meadow when I first saw her. A sight so beautiful that could inspire a poet to sprout fountains of spellbinding verses. Moving forward to get a closer look was my instinctive reaction to a strange energy generated inside me. Swaying in the breeze she seemed to spread joy and happiness all around her. Her ease and her confidence, in a crowd, was no different from a butterfly moving in a garden blooming with flowers.

As I grew nearer, the usual lovely smile welcomed me and I felt her magnetic aura reaching out to me. Willingly, I let myself engulfed by the forces of attraction surrounding me. But then, suddenly, a strange force began to weigh on my feet; opposing my walk towards her. I tried to fight this strange force, as I wanted to be part of the crowd around her, but something inside me pleaded to stop and go no further. My curiosity sent me exploring for this hindering force. It was her eyes. A beautiful face with a lovely smile but with eyes so sad and full of pain that they could stop a beating heart.

I stopped and decided to sit at a distance and look at her again. The picture, this time, was so very different. There she was, lying in the middle of nowhere. Her soft petals were repeatedly being trampled by the crowd I was so desperate to be part of. Although the smile never left her face, each time a foot stepped on her or a hand plucked at her, she was unable to hide the sparks of pain in those deep dark eyes. When I questioned the winds for this injustice, few gusts blew my way and whispered that not long ago, she used to decorate a collar and did it with utmost sincerity until she was replaced by another. The jolt was too much for her, as she had perceived that collar to be her eternal home till the winds picked her up and tossed her to this meadow.

From time to time, the winds would be kind to her also. They would pick her up and float her to a different spot in the meadow; giving her some relief until the crowd gathered around her again. As for me, I too changed my places, maintaining my distance but never letting her out of sight.

Finally, one day, she noticed me. My distance, from her and the crowd around her, became the reason of my recognition. As our eyes met, the pain in her eyes was now understandably accompanied with suspicion and confusion for she had got used to the trampling feet and the plucking hands but an alien to a smile or a flying kiss sent from a distance. We talked through the breeze that blew between us and began to understand each other through the bond of being lonely in a crowd. The reassurance of our presence was mutual as I too had reached this meadow after a long and tiring journey through a vast desert and feared that if she lost her color and aroma, the winds may decide to place her in the middle of some remorseless sand dunes. This was something my heart would not permit as a rose adds beauty to the garden and is not to be tossed to die in a desert.

The winds kept on blowing and the sunsets continued. We began to find solace in each other’s presence. The sparks of happiness in her eyes, when they met mine, gave me the confidence to get into the crowd and touch her hand reaching out for me. I felt great pride in shielding her from the trampling feet and the plucking hands and was rewarded, in return, by her silent gratitude. The crowd gradually dispersed to look for another solitary rose tossed in the meadow by the winds.

Being with her alone was more difficult and trying than admiring her from a distance. With the crowd gone, I realized that the only feet that could trample upon her petals and the only hands that could pluck at her were my own. If I was the source of solace and comfort for her, I could so easily be the source of pain and unhappiness too. The bond between us was strange and difficult to define. To me, talking about love with her seemed as cruel as pressing the head of a drowning man. The thought of placing her on my collar, therefore, smelt of insincerity and injustice.

Then, one day, the winds came again. As she began to float I realized that the ground beneath my feet was no more. All I could do was to stand and watch her fade into the sunset. Her eyes said nothing when they met mine for the last time. Strangely, my heart felt no regret as she left. Instead, it whispered a wishful prayer to the winds carrying her that someday, somewhere, by somebody, she be treated the way she deserves. Like a rose.

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