The Sandcastle (Short Story)

Seven year old Neel and Kathy played together on the beach, whenever they came along with their mothers. They loved building sandcastles. Kathy could never get hers right but Neel had become an expert in making them. He could however sense Kathy’s despair when she saw her model to be a far off cry from the one that he made. To make her feel better, he would invite her to share his castle. Kathy always felt gratefully drawn towards his kindness.

Many years later, they lived in different parts of the world. Kathy was a successful Corporate Executive who kept travelling across continents. and always remained caught up into hectic schedules. But whenever she remembered home, she never forgot the sandcastles. So when she would call up her Mom she would always enquire after Neel. After all, he had been her kind little friend.

Neel, however, for some unknown reason seemed to have lost his bearings when it came to relationships. Mom would say that after his divorce, he seemed to be on a dating spree. He would go on courting one girl after another aimlessly and kind of looked disoriented. Kathy ascribed and left it to their varied experiences in life.

One day when Kathy visited her mom, she accidentally bumped into Neel, even before she could pay him the intended visit. As they chatted over juice and sandwiches, she enquired after his marital plans, at which Neel admitted that a rare disorder had caused reproductive issues for him which had been the reason for his divorce as well as why girls don’t date him for long. Kathy seriously listened to everything with absolute concern. And when she finally spoke up, she was relaxed.

‘Will you share my castle?’, she asked as a matter of fact.

‘What?’, Neel exclaimed astounded.

‘Yes, you heard it right. Will you share my castle?’ She repeated.

‘Are you sure?, he asked.

He then continued with difficulty, ‘Look Kathy, This is no joke. I am…in certain ways…inadequate….I hope you understand. I have tried almost everything. There is probably no cure for my condition. You are young and with me, perhaps, it may not be an easy journey. Why do you want to sacrifice your joys. when you could have a worthier life with someone else? Don’t make hasty decisions. I’d rather you please think about it carefully. It’s a question of life.’, he urged.

‘You are absolutely right.’, she said, ‘but what is the guarantee that he will share his sandcastle?’

‘What do you mean?’, he asked perplexed.

She sighed. ‘Look Neel, Life is nothing but a sandcastle. What we seemingly have at the moment can easily get washed away in the next minute. I know you. You are a guy with a golden heart and this is what forms the essence of a good marriage. I can marry anyone wealthy, handsome and healthier than you but is there any guarantee of happiness sustaining in that marriage forever, since for that, it is essential that the two people involved are kind, caring, honest and respectful towards each other’s feelings. Marriage is not limited to progeny or sex. Rather it’s mutual compassion and trust which are needed for a relationship to thrive and sustain. And as far as your problem goes, who knows, our positivity towards each other may work something out. Even if it doesn’t, we can always adopt and I would still be happier with you. Mister, I am trying to tell you the same thing – It’s life’, she chided smiling at him.

Neel stood up and hugged her tightly, his heart overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude and love, for the understanding.

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