Synopsis: 25 year old Dr. Sanaa Sharma was content to go along with her life following her parents' wishes for her until she met heiress and philanthropist Andrea Wittington. Little did she known that agreeing to chaperone the foreigner around India would change her life in more ways than one and open her eyes to the possibility of a fairytale love that she had never believed existed. But when outside influences put hurdles in her path, will she choose to fight the tempest or will she settle for whatever the easiest path offers…..

  Disclaimers: Nothing much, really, at this point. Adult scenes will come most probably in the next part. This is my first ever attempt at writing a story. So kindly forgive me for any and all errors. All feedback is welcome. Do mail me at

An Indian Odyssey





After having a hard time rearranging their schedules, Sanaa finally managed to get time off from the hospital for the weekend. Andy had cleared her calendar and was looking forward to her first trip alone with Sanaa. Sanaa had arranged a cottage in a place called Chikmanglur which was a hill-station about three hours away from Bangalore .

“So, your friend doesn't mind us using her cottage?” Andy asked Sanaa as they loaded their bags into Sanaa's car on Friday afternoon.

“No. Her family is not using it now. You know what the best part of the place is? It's located in a very secluded area and there won't be anyone there except for a couple of security guards who have already been informed about our arrival.” She came around the car to wrap her arms around Andy's neck and after checking to see that no one was around, quickly kissed her on her lips. “We'll be all alone to do whatever we want” she said with elation.

“I'd love that. Just one thing though. Are you sure this car of yours can get us up the mountain?” Andy asked, looking at Sanaa's small hatchback sceptically.

Sanaa looked at her indignantly and dramatically placed a hand on her chest. “Was that a dig at my car? You better be careful otherwise I'll just leave you here, Miss.Whittington. Of course my car can go up the mountain. It's going through Bangalore traffic so that means it can get through anything. Don't worry.”

Andy smiled even though she wasn't completely convinced by Sanaa's words. That car was entirely too tiny to be able to take them safely to a hill-top residence.

Andy clutched the handle of the car door with a white-knuckled grip as Sanaa went through curving mountainous roads which didn't seem to have any railings. “Are you scared?” asked Sanaa, smirking as she took another hairpin bend at a speed that Andy was not very comfortable with.

Andy tried to appear nonchalant as she gripped the door. “Are you sure you can drive through these roads? It's a single lane and there's a huge drop-off on the other side.”

Sanaa noticed the fear in Andy's face and slowed down. She patted her hand and said affectionately “Andy dear, stop holding that door. And you're missing out by closing your eyes. Just open them and take in the scenery around you. I'm sure it'll take your mind off the roads.”

“Can I interest you in some cheesy dialogue like ‘You're the only scenery that I want to see'?” Andy grinned as Sanaa laughed. She took her advice and found herself calmed by the greenery of the valley and the beauty of the mountains. As she felt the air chill around them, Sanaa broke off into a small lane and drove them into the gates of a small cottage.

“Here we are. Home for the next two days” she said, opening the door as Andy followed behind her with their bags.

Andy was wondering where to place the bags when Sanaa came up to her and placed a hand on her chest. “Andy, I want us to share a room. Let's keep both bags there” she said, pointing to the master bedroom. Andy breathed a sigh of relief as her unspoken question was answered and trudged off to do the task while Sanaa unpacked their groceries in the well-stocked kitchen.

Andy came up behind Sanaa and wrapped her arms around her. They took in the utter silence around them. “It feels so quiet and peaceful here” Andy commented.

Sanaa leaned back into Andy's chest and said “I wish we could just stay here for the rest of our lives, Andy.” Andy just closed her eyes and kissed Sanaa's cheek softly.

They snuggled together on the couch with a blanket around them and drank hot chocolate as the night settled over them.

“So what can we do here?” asked Andy.

Sanaa smirked at Andy. “There are so many activities that we could do here. Go trekking, visit temples and wildlife safaris, explore the falls nearby….if that's the kind of thing you want to do” she said slyly, looking at Andy's reaction.

“And what if I don't want to do any of those things?” asked Andy, returning Sanaa's smile and leaning towards her.

“Then what exactly would you like to do during the next two days?” Sanaa asked around turning around to straddle Andy and trap her on the couch.

“This” said Andy and pulled her into a deep kiss. Her hands moved under Sanaa's blouse and started their own trek up her body. Sanaa moaned when Andy placed her hand over her breast and squeezed. Andy pulled back suddenly and said “I'm sorry. I went too far.”

Sanaa took Andy's hand and placed it back on her breast and smiled shyly and said “I liked it.”

They resumed their kissing and Sanaa found herself getting bolder in her exploration of Andy's body. Just as things were about progress beyond the point of no return, Andy put her hand on Sanaa's hand which was caressing her abdomen. “So now that we've agreed on what to do over the weekend, I want to say something.”

Sanaa lifted dazed eyes up to Andy's face and asked “What?”

“I'm still sure that I want to take it slowly with you” Andy replied seriously.

Sanaa took a moment to compose herself before sighing and getting up from the couch. “We should probably get dinner going” she said wrapping her arms around herself. Andy stepped closer and wrapped the blanket around both of them and they stayed in the embrace for what seemed like forever.

That night, they resumed their make out session on the bed and slept in each other's arms, knowing it was only a matter of time before they took the next step.


Sanaa insisted that they do something outdoorsy to show for their visit to the hill station. After arguing over choices, Andy finally agreed to a walk through the coffee plantation. She didn't want anything to take even a second away from the time she had with Sanaa.

They strolled through the plantation hand in hand marvelling at the exquisite beauty of the surroundings. Andy didn't need to be convinced to go along as Sanaa pulled her to the plantation building to learn about the coffee making process. As they walked back laden with bags of coffee that they had bought on site, Andy said “I'm glad you brought me here,” recalling the look of wonder on Sanaa's face when she tasted the coffee freshly prepared from the beans. “But those moans when you took a sip of that coffee….I just wanted to kiss you right there.” She stopped and brought Sanaa closer for a hug. “I love that we're experiencing things and making memories together.”

Sanaa smiled and placed a soft kiss on her lips, content to just quietly bask in their love surrounded by nature.


Dusk was falling by the time they made it back to their house and just as they were entering the house, Sanaa heard her phone ring. She took one look at the name on the caller ID and groaned. “It's my mother. I need to take this otherwise she'll just keep calling me.”

Andy knew that Sanaa wanted some privacy while speaking to her mother and felt a twinge of disappointment that she couldn't be honest about their relationship. “Alright. I'll be inside.”

After exchanging pleasantries with her mother and convincing her that she wasn't starving to death, Sanaa asked her mother when she would be coming to Bangalore for her cousin, Rhea's engagement.

“Sometime next week. By the way, I've been meaning to ask you, Rhea wanted to contact you to give you the invites but she said you weren't home yesterday.”

“I was probably at the hospital, Ma” Sanaa replied, feeling sorry for lying to her mother.

“She said she went to the hospital too but was told that you were on leave for three days. Where were you?”

Sanaa tried not to let her fear show in her voice as she casually replied to her mother “I told you I was working on a project. I had to leave for a camp visit.”

Her mother huffed “Why would they say you were on leave if you were on a hospital project? Sanaa, don't lie to me.” Sanaa's heart leapt to her throat when her mother unexpectedly changed tracks and exclaimed “Oh did you go somewhere with Rohan?”

Sanaa didn't know what to say and just sighed into the phone. Her mother took her silence as acceptance and went on “While I'm happy that you like him, I don't want you to be spending too much time with him before marriage. Please don't tell me you've spent the night with him. What will our relatives say if they knew you were sleeping with him before the wedding?”

Sanaa knew her mother would be more appalled if she knew the real reason for Sanaa not being home but she couldn't let her mother continue to believe that she was hanging out with that guy . “Ma, I promise that I'm not with him and I'm definitely not sleeping with him. My virtue is still very much intact.” She was pretty sure that her mother wouldn't get the sarcasm in her voice. “Now, I don't want to continue this terrible conversation” she added, in exasperation.

“Alright. Alright, darling. I'm your mother and I'm just worried about how people would perceive you. If they find something wrong with you, they would judge us as parents for not bringing you up properly. We love you and just want the best in life for you. That's why we searched for so long to find you the perfect guy.”

‘Yes the perfect guy. Just not perfect for me' Sanaa thought ruefully.

“I love you too, ma. I'll call you later and I'll see you next week.” She cut the call and gazed at the night sky thoughtfully. Her mother's call had jolted Sanaa out of her dreamy vacation and she found herself again facing the realities of her situation.

She was stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place. She knew she'd be disappointing her entire family if she committed to Andy. ‘My parents would never forgive me. But I love Andy. It would break both of our hearts if I left her' she thought. Tears pricked her eyes as she knew what decision she would make ultimately. ‘This blissful love can't last forever, can it? Andy would get over it eventually' she told herself, as she felt her heart crumbling inside.

She felt more than heard Andy come up behind her. She shivered more from her own nervousness and despair than from the cold. ‘I have to tell her this is it. We can't see each other after this weekend' Sanaa thought.

Andy could almost hear Sanaa's thoughts and feel the doubts radiate from her. ‘God, what does her mother do to her?' she thought to herself as she hugged her from behind and tried to pour all her support into Sanaa. She frowned when she felt Sanaa shivering against her. “Cold?” she asked, quietly.

Sanaa turned around to see such love in Andy's eyes that she just couldn't bring herself to tell Andy her thoughts. She pressed up against her and placed a desperate kiss against her lips.

Andy was taken aback but she was stopped from wondering about the reasons behind the kiss as she was swept away in lustful sensations.

Sanaa slightly pulled back and stared at her face for a long moment. “Andy, I know we said that we should take it slowly but I can't wait anymore. Please make love to me” she said abruptly with pain colouring her voice.

“Sanaa, does this have anything to do with that call? What happened? Talk to me” Andy replied, not wanting Sanaa to make a decision in the heat of the moment while upset about her mother's call. “I don't want you to regret anything later.”

“No. It's what I want. I want us to know each other in every way. I love you and you love me. What are we waiting for?”

Andy hesitantly moved her hand up and caressed Sanaa's cheek. “Then let's take this inside.” She placed a slow kiss on her lips and led her into the bedroom. She looked at Sanaa to see whether she had any misgivings over what was about to happen between them.

Sanaa hid her emotions as she thought ‘Even if we are never together again, at least we would have this for memory. She would always be the first and only person that I would ever truly love. The only person to whom I would give my heart and body willingly.'

Sanaa felt anticipation take over the heartache that she had been feeling till then. She also knew that she would have to take the lead if anything was to happen that night. Andy still seemed unsure about Sanaa's need. Moving forward, she ran her hands over Andy's chest and started unbuttoning her shirt. They resumed their kissing as Andy soon found herself topless. She had one hand under Sanaa's t-shirt and was in the process of relieving her of it when Sanaa stopped her with a shy smile on her face. “I've never done this before with anyone.”

Andy, who had found a surge of confidence, pulled off her shirt and between placing kisses on her neck, said “I know. Don't worry. I won't do anything you don't want me to. And we'll go at your own pace.”

Sanaa clutched Andy's hair as she felt tingles spreading from the kisses on her neck all the way down to her toes. She pushed Andy to lie down on the bed and straddled her stomach. As Andy managed to remove her bra and started kissing her breast, she lost all control and couldn't help grinding her lower body against Andy's stomach. Andy flipped her over and continued the kisses down to the waistband of her jeans. She looked up at Sanaa's hooded eyes and asked her “Can I?”

Sanaa, who couldn't verbalise anything more than some incomprehensible sounds, mumbled her agreement as Andy pulled off her jeans. She took off her own clothes before returning to Sanaa on the bed. Sanaa's dark eyes widened as she took in Andy's sculpted body. She closed her eyes as she felt Andy's body against her own and placed her hands on Andy's back to hold her tightly. Andy slowly entered her fingers into her panties to feel the wetness gathered below.

Sanaa gasped and tilted her head back in pleasure. Andy knew she had never seen a more beautiful sight and kissed her on the lips, coaxing her to open her eyes. “Tell me if I hurt you. I'll stop.”

“Don't stop” Sanaa whispered and moved her hips against those fingers, which seemed to have only one goal in mind, which was to give her the ultimate pleasure.

By the time Andy removed her fingers from inside her, Sanaa felt completely ravished. An intense orgasm had taken her by surprise as she felt pleasure beyond anything she had ever imagined. Andy didn't stop there and proceeded to move down and place open mouthed kisses on the most intimate part of her body, triggering another round of release.

As she lay with Andy's head on her chest, Sanaa said “What you just did to me…”

Andy lifted her head and asked “Yes?”

“I want to do that to you.”

It didn't take much guidance from Andy for Sanaa to hone in on all of her trigger spots. Andy found herself struggling to hold back as Sanaa brought her to the edge rapidly. A few well-placed kisses ended with Andy going over the peak leaving Sanaa with a smile of utmost satisfaction.

They collapsed on the bed, tired but content with Sanaa resting her head on Andy's shoulder. Andy looked at the ceiling thoughtfully.

“I can hear you thinking something deep” mumbled Sanaa.

“Hmmm. I'm just thinking…. This is the best day of my life. I want this moment to last forever” said Andy, turning to look at Sanaa with a besotted look on her face.

Sanaa looked up at her with love and they kissed slowly. Dawn found them entwined with each other. Sanaa woke first and felt a smile take over her lips as she felt Andy behind her. ‘I wish we didn't have to return today' she thought, not wanting to face the reality of the outside world, knowing all the challenges that were awaiting them.

Andy woke to an empty bed and found Sanaa packing up things and preparing for their return. She grinned when Sanaa looked up at her with a blush on her face, knowing she was reliving their time from last night. Their heated stare was interrupted by Sanaa's wretched cell phone ringtone.

“I swear, Sanaa. Next time we go somewhere, we're leaving that thing behind” she said playfully.

Sanaa grumpily picked up the phone, ready to tell anyone off for interrupting their last few hours together. By the time Sanaa finished with her “Yes, ma'am” and “No, ma'am” responses, Andy knew their time together was going to be cut short.

Sanaa sighed. “That was Dr. Mandira. She was very apologetic but she wants me to come back today to help out as soon as possible. Seems there was a fire accident in a firework storeroom and they have a lot of casualties with eye injuries.”

Andy, though disappointed, simply nodded, knowing that Sanaa would never go against her mentor's wishes. “Alright, let's get moving then.”

A part of Sanaa felt relieved that she wouldn't have to talk to Andy about their future. The call had given her an excuse to run away without confronting the issues facing them.

Their drive back was spent in silence and Andy felt Sanaa pulling away from her. She brushed it off, attributing the distance between them to Sanaa's concentration on the treacherous downhill roads. When they pulled up in front of her hotel, Sanaa turned to her and briefly brushed her lips across her cheek.

“I know you can do better than that” said Andy, pulling her into a deeper kiss. “You know I won't be seeing you for the next five days because of my Mumbai trip.” She had a work trip scheduled which she couldn't get out of. Sanaa rested her forehead against hers and sighed. “I'll miss you.”

“You need to go. I'll see you soon, love” said Andy, squeezing her hand and exiting the car with her bag in hand.

Sanaa watched her walk into the hotel and waited to see her turn and wave to her. She felt a lump in her throat as she thought ‘I really will miss you, Andy. Always.'



Three hectic work days later, Sanaa found herself hurriedly getting ready for Rhea's engagement. She was trying on her earring as she heard her doorbell ring. She pulled the door open and was surprised by the sight of Andy standing there with a bouquet of flowers. Sanaa smiled at the look of awe that came over Andy's face when she saw her.

“Wow. You're a vision in red” she said, running her eyes over Sanaa's form in a red sari.

“And you need to get inside” said Sanaa, pulling her into the house. Andy was still in her business suit having come directly from the airport in her eagerness to surprise Sanaa.

“You were going somewhere. I'm sorry. I got away a little earlier than expected and just wanted to surprise you.”

“Hmmm….I'm really happy to see you” replied Sanaa, leaning up on her toes to kiss Andy delicately on her lips. Her pleasure at seeing Andy was tempered by her need to leave for the family get-together. “I wish I could spend the evening with you but I really need to get going. Otherwise my parents will start calling every five minutes.” Seeing Andy's face fall made Sanaa feel awful. She surprised herself with what she said next. “Why don't you come with me? I'll introduce you to my family. As a friend, of course” she added hurriedly. “It'll be fun. Lot of eating, dancing and gossip with a little bit of drinking too. It won't be very formal. And besides, you're already dressed for it and have a bouquet to give as a present.”

Andy thought for a moment before nodding enthusiastically. “Okay” she said, looking forward to learning more about Sanaa's family but a little apprehensive about meeting the parents.


Sanaa drove into a large bungalow type house which was located a fair distance away from the main city. Andy could see at least fifteen cars parked around the gates of the house and the entire house was decorated with lights.

When Sanaa got out of the car, she was accosted by two kids who jumped on her back shouting her name at full volume. Andy had already got a class on the Sharma family tree from Sanaa on the drive over and she assumed that they were one of the many cousins' kids.

The loud greeting from the kids was enough to bring a few of the adults out the house to find out what the commotion was. Finding them hanging from Sanaa's shoulders, they rushed to pull them off and welcome her themselves. Andy watched on in amusement as Sanaa was swept up in group hugs by different family members, who pulled her into the house. She couldn't get a break to introduce Andy as she turned back and threw a helpless look at Andy. Finally after enthusiastically hugging an older couple whom Andy presumed to be Sanaa's parents, she turned and waved Andy over.

She held onto Andy's hand and addresses her parents “Ma, Papa, this is Andrea.” She hesitated a moment before continuing “My friend from the US who's come to work on a project with the hospital.”

Andy felt a little let down by the introduction but she reassured herself ‘What did you think she could do? Introduce you as her girlfriend and lover?' she asked herself scornfully.

She shook hands with Sanaa's father and was pulled into a hug by her mother, who asked her “So Andrea, I hope that Sanaa has been on her best behaviour and has shown you around her city?”

“Of course, Mrs.Sharma. Sanaa has been the best friend a foreigner like me could ask for in this country. I've had the greatest time in India and most of it was due to your daughter's company” gushed Andy, looking affectionately in Sanaa's direction. She told herself to tone it down wondering whether she was giving her feelings away. Sanaa's mother just appeared pleased that her daughter had made a good friend and welcomed her into the group. She proceeded to introduce Andy to what seemed like hundreds of people. Andy had lost track of Sanaa and had forgotten the family tree by the time she uttered her fifteenth Namaste to another of Sanaa's relatives.

A plate of food was pushed into her hand giving her some respite from the conversations going on and allowed her to observe from the side-lines. As she slowly munched on the delicious sweets on her plate, her eyes followed Sanaa as she kept flitting across the room cheerfully talking to her various cousins. There seemed to be a whole lot of love here for her from her family and Andy could see why Sanaa was so hesitant to let them down.

She watched on with irritation when Sanaa was teased yet again by another aunt for being the next in the marriage line after Rhea.

“Sanaa beta, I've heard some news about you. Your mother told me about Rohan” she said smiling, as she was egged on by the other women around. Sanaa remained silent with a tight smile on her face as her cousin took over from there “Yeah Sanaa, I heard he was courting you and doing it successfully. So you finally bit the bullet. We've been waiting for your wedding for years. Maybe you can have it on a beach somewhere. That would be fun for us.”

Andy gritted her teeth in frustration as Sanaa just put up with the ribbing, not refuting the assumption that she was going to marry Rohan. She was tempted to walk up the group and kiss Sanaa in front of them all but held herself back knowing this wasn't the time or place to reveal their relationship.

Sanaa glanced in Andy's direction and tilted her head with a rueful look on her face as if apologising for her family. Andy just raised her plate in acknowledgement and nodded understandingly. Their silent communication was cut short by the hushed silence that descended over the room. Andy turned to see what had caught the attention of everyone and saw an elderly couple and a handsome man walk into the house.

Sanaa's mother rushed forward to welcome him and hugged him far more affectionately than she had Andy. “Rohan, I'm so glad you could join us. This is such a wonderful surprise for Sanaa” she said glancing at her daughter. “Thanks for coming” she said, turning to his parents.

Sanaa stood still in shock as her whole family descended on the man that they all expected her to marry. She sneaked a glance at Andy who watched stone-faced as he politely greeted her relatives and then turned his attention towards Sanaa. He walked towards her smiling, totally oblivious to her feelings and lightly kissed the back of her hand. “Hi Sanaa. I missed you. I haven't seen you for ten days so when your mother invited our family to this function, I jumped at the chance. By the way, you look really beautiful.”

Sanaa scanned the room to find all her relatives trying to watch them discreetly and failing at it. She couldn't say anything else in front of them so she turned back to Rohan and said “Thank you. It's good to see you too.”

Andy felt her heart sink as she watched the episode play out in front of her. ‘She'll never tell her family about us' she realised. Though a part of her wanted to leave the room immediately, she watched on in morbid fascination as she sensed her relationship dreams going up in flames.

Rohan cornered Sanaa as the party continued in the room. One of the uncles offered Andy a glass of wine and she took it just to keep herself occupied with something.

Sanaa, for her part, was confused by the way Rohan was acting. He seemed entirely too happy to be here and she had no idea how to extricate herself from the situation without hurting anyone. The anger and disappointment on Andy's face was only making her more anxious. She was lost in her thoughts and was wondering whether she could feign illness and get out of the party. She had totally missed what Rohan was telling her when she was suddenly jolted out of her musings as Rohan lifted her left hand and placed a kiss on her knuckles.

She realised that she had somehow become the centre of attraction in the room and that he was addressing her seriously with her parents by her side and his parents standing beside him.

“Sanaa, I know we've known each other only a few days. But I've really enjoyed the time we've spent together and I'm pretty sure that I want to marry you and spend the rest of my life with you. Our parents have also approved of our marriage. So I don't want to delay the official announcement any longer. This isn't a formal engagement. But I'd like to place this ring on your finger with your entire family as a witness to our commitment.” He looked at her expectantly, holding a gold ring with an over-sized diamond in his hand.

Sanaa looked at him mutely in shock at the unexpected question. As he grew confused over the lack of reaction from her, she was nudged by her mother who attempted to cover for her. “Poor Sanaa is speechless because of this happy surprise. Come on, dear, don't waste any more time in giving him a positive answer. After all, this is Rhea's engagement. Don't hog her spotlight.” she said, while the rest of the family giggled at her poor joke.

Her father piped in “Rohan is the best man that you could ever find and we are so excited that you both are getting married.” Rohan's parents added their two cents about wanting her as their daughter-in-law and droned a little about how proud they were of their son for choosing her as his life partner.

Sanaa's mind was internally screaming ‘Doesn't anyone want to know what I really want? I don't want any man. Andy is the one I need but that is never going to happen.'

She felt her heart break as she simply nodded, unable to even give a proper reply. Everyone just took it as acceptance and started clapping and Rohan's face broke into a huge smile as he placed the ring on her finger. Sanaa felt like handcuffs were being placed on her and she didn't dare to look at Andy's face knowing she would find either repulsion or devastation there.

Time flew and faces blurred as one after the other came up to congratulate the “lucky” couple. An hour had elapsed by the time that Sanaa could break free to launch a desperate search for Andy. When she called her, she got a ‘switched off' message. Finally, after half an hour, her uncle came up to her and told her that Andy had left. “Your friend had to leave. She got a call and told me she had some emergency work to attend to. I got her a cab back to her hotel. She was sorry to leave and didn't want to disturb you when you were busy.”

Sanaa became frantic as she shouted “She left? Did she say anything else?”

He just shrugged and replied “No, she just said that she would contact you later when I asked her if I should get you.”

Sanaa didn't bother saying goodbye to her parents or to Rohan as she went out and got into her car. She knew she couldn't let Andy leave like that after all that they had shared. ‘What am I going to say to her? Am I just going to break up with her after agreeing to marry a man?' She leaned her head against the steering wheel and sighed as she realised that she didn't have idea about what to do.

By the time she reached Andy's hotel, she had received at least ten calls from her family. She turned off her cell phone about fifteen minutes into her two hour drive. She entered the hotel only to be told in the reception that Andy had checked out and that they weren't at liberty to tell her about her plans.

Sanaa collapsed into a chair in the lobby and hid her face in her hands as she trembled and attempted to hold her tears at bay. ‘Where would she have gone? She isn't picking up my phone. I know she has every right to be upset but she should've at least spoken to me before leaving' she thought.

Finally, not having another choice, she placed a call to the only person she could think of to whom Andy might have told her plans. Dr.Mandira picked up her call in two rings “Yes, Sanaa, what can I do for you?”

Now that she had placed the call, Sanaa felt foolish, not knowing how to ask her question. Mandira just sighed “I kind of expected your call. Did you call to tell me that Andrea is leaving?”

Sanaa perked up, discerning that Dr.Mandira knew Andy's whereabouts. “Yes, ma'am. I'm sorry to be disturbing you. But she left before I could speak to her about something. Could you tell me where she has gone?”

“Well, I just got a call from her about an hour back. She said she had some emergency that she needed to attend to in L.A. and that she needed to leave today itself. I wished her a good journey and she promised to follow-up on the project through a video conference next week. Why? What did you want to talk to her about? Maybe you could just call her.”

Sanaa was crestfallen as she replied “No. It's not important now, ma'am. Never mind. Again I'm sorry for disturbing you. Good night.” She disconnected the call quickly.

She walked out and sat in the driver's seat of her car for the next one hour. ‘She left and it's for the best. If I go after her now, what am I going to say? It's best if I leave it like that. Better for both of us. We can go on with our lives and I'll just live with my memories of her' she told herself. She drove slowly to her apartment, wiping away tears that just didn't seem to be stopping. Her heart told her that how much ever she tried to convince herself that Andy was not for her, she would never get over her.

When she entered her flat, she saw that Pari had returned home and fell into her arms crying. It took Pari the rest of the night to get the whole story out of a distraught Sanaa, till she fell asleep in emotional exhaustion.



Two weeks had passed since that fateful day when Sanaa had become “engaged” and she had spent that entire time retreating into a shell. She stayed late at work and took over call duties for anyone who asked. Pari looked on worriedly as Sanaa seemed to be working herself to the point of exhaustion. She had avoided their department meeting which was scheduled to detail the progress of the project and had turned over the work to another resident citing her upcoming marriage as an excuse.

Sanaa ignored calls from her parents and handed the phone to Pari whenever Rohan called. Each time Pari had to come up with a different excuse for Sanaa and she had exhausted everything from “She's sleeping” to “She's in the shower”. Her parents were busy with wedding preparations and Rohan was away on a business trip so they didn't seem very concerned about her behaviour. Sanaa herself had told them that she needed to cover some extra shifts so that she could take leave for her wedding. Pari found herself getting frustrated with her friend as she remained in a state of limbo.

Pari was doing rounds in the ward when she was summoned to Dr.Mandira's office. Wondering what she had done wrong, she sat in front of the department head to be faced with some surprising questions.

“I know you must be thinking I called you here to yell at you for something but actually I just wanted to ask about your friend, Sanaa.”

“Oh” Pari was dumbstruck as she got worried for Sanaa.

“I know you both are very good friends and she seems a bit off over the past few days. I asked her if she was having any problems and she brushed it off. Is there something that I should know?”

Pari thought for a moment about what to say and replied slowly “She's just having some….issues at home. I'm sure she'll get herself sorted out soon.”

“Do these…. issues have anything to do with her marriage?”

Pari just remained silent not wanting to give her friend up to the person that she respected the most. Dr.Mandira looked at her with her piercing eyes for a long time as Pari fidgeted nervously. “Hmmm okay, you can leave now. Tell your friend that I need to look over the registers for the last one month and that she needs to bring them all to my house at 6 o'clock today evening. She knows where they are.” She then went back to reading the book in front of her and Pari got up knowing she had been dismissed.

Sanaa wasn't happy to hear the news as she had been trying to avoid her mentor for the last few days. She begrudgingly took the big stack of registers from the medical records department and made her way to Dr.Mandira's house in the evening.


Dr.Mandira sighed and looked up from the register with a frown on her face. Sanaa asked her “Is there something wrong in those records, Dr.Mandira?”

“It's not the records that I have a problem with, Sanaa. It's you” she replied sharply.

“Me? What did I do, ma'am?”

Mandira gestured for Sanaa to sit on the couch beside her and addressed her seriously. “Sanaa, I've been seeing you since the time you were a wide-eyed but enthusiastic undergrad in my ophthalmology class and you've called me your mentor since I guided you on your research project then. I wouldn't be a good mentor if I didn't recognise that something was not right with you. So, now, talk to me” she instructed her.

Sanaa was quiet for a minute. “I'm getting married” she blurted out suddenly without making eye contact.

“And I presume that's the problem?” When Sanaa did not reply to the question, Mandira sighed. “Sanaa, can I show you something?” she asked and Sanaa nodded.

She got up and retrieved a photograph from the mantelpiece which showed a young Mandira with her husband and child who was probably about three years old in the picture. The family was flanked by two older couples. She pointed to the picture and spoke “This here is the first time that my daughter met both sets of grandparents.”

“Oh” said Sanaa, a little curious as she sensed that Dr.Mandira was about to tell her life story.

“I fell in love with a man from another religion and both our parents did not agree to our marriage. We eloped and got disowned by both our families.” She smiled with a faraway look on her face as she started reminiscing about those days. “It was tough for a while without any support from our parents but eventually we made it. Our careers took off and we had a child. We loved each other and we wouldn't have changed it for anything.”

“Then what happened?” asked Sanaa.

“Some days, I would wonder how it would be to have the love of my whole family but I was happy. Then when my elder brother died, my mother reached out to me one day. This photo is from when we all got together one day with my husband's parents. It was awkward for a sometime and we both are still a little uncomfortable with the other's parents. But my child couldn't have asked for better grandparents.”

“That's amazing. That they eventually accepted you.” Sanaa was, however, confused. “But why did you tell me this story, Dr.Mandira?”

“Sanaa, I think you know very well why I told you this story. The point is, if you love someone, you need to fight for him… or her.” Sanaa gasped, shocked that Dr.Mandira might have found out about her. “It won't be easy but eventually, it's the only thing which will make you happy in the long run” she added. Sanaa just nodded as Mandira patted her hand. “I'm not going to interrogate you anymore but you should know that I will always be on your side. If you ever need someone to talk to, you can come to me anytime.”

Sanaa swallowed, unable to speak against the lump in her throat as she understood Dr.Mandira's implications. ‘She knows. She knows what happened between Andy and me. But she hasn't rejected me' she thought with hope rising within her.

“Thank you, ma'am” she replied as a look of understanding passed between them.

Sanaa handed the photograph back to Mandira and bid her good night. As Sanaa got up to leave, Mandira called to her. “Oh. By the way, Sanaa, I just wanted to tell you that Andrea was very happy with the way the project is progressing. She may even come by sometime later to review the results herself” she said casually. Sanaa froze with her hand on the door handle and stuttered out a reply. “That…. That would be great. I'm looking forward to it” she said and left hurriedly.

Sanaa's reaction just confirmed what Mandira had guessed. Her resident had feelings for the dashing foreigner who had graced the hospital with her presence. After Sanaa left, Mandira kept looking at the photo and thought back on her life. She couldn't let her best resident suffer. She needed to do something for her. She made her decision and took her phone to make a call.



Andrea just couldn't find the energy to get out of bed that Saturday morning and was lazing on her bed contemplating her life. ‘This pain has to pass someday right?' she asked herself. She scoffed to herself, thinking ‘Yeah right. And maybe one day I'll sleep peacefully for a full night without dreaming about her.'

It was the worst two weeks of her life. Her mind had shut down when Sanaa had allowed the ring to be placed on her finger by her fiancé. She couldn't stand there and watch any longer as her lover was ripped away from her. A part of her knew that Sanaa had been left with no other choice at that moment but mostly, she felt a deep bitterness towards Sanaa. ‘She led me along. She gave me herself completely and left me with no doubts about her love. Then she stabbed me in the back. How could she have put me through that? I was completely blindsided and now all my hopes for a future with her are gone' she thought despondently.

She heard her phone ringing and tried to ignore it. She had already called in sick to work and she knew her secretary was worried as it was the fourth time within the last two weeks that she had cited illness. She was tempted to just let the phone ring and let it go to voicemail when she noticed the name on the device.

‘Maybe something went wrong with the project. Otherwise she wouldn't call me on my direct line' she thought and picked up the phone. “Hello, Mandira. To what do I owe the pleasure of your call?”

“Good evening, Andrea. Or is it good morning for you? I just wanted to talk to you about something.”

“Hmmm alright. Any problem with the funding? I had given instructions for the money transfer last week.”

“No, there's no problem with the funding. Actually, I wanted to talk to you about Sanaa.” When Andy didn't respond, she continued “What did you do to her?”

Andy was shocked. “What? What did I do to her? Mandira, I don't know what you're talking about.”

“Well, my best doctor seems completely lost and she looks like she's carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. She's supposed to be getting married within the next three months but there isn't even the slightest bit of anticipation on her face regarding the event.”

“And what has that got to do with me?” asked Andy, trying to feign ignorance.

“I believe that you had something to do with it and while I believe that it's up to the both of you to fix your issues, I can't help but meddle in this matter as I feel a little bit responsible for her unhappiness. After all, I was the one who introduced her to you.”

“Oh, I didn't realise I made her that unhappy” Andy replied snarkily.

“I meant that your absence makes her unhappy. Andrea, she has a lot on her mind right now and you need to give her a chance to sort herself out. Our society is very different from yours and you can't just come in and expect her to give up immediately on what she has believed in for years. You can't just give her an ultimatum and run away when she can't make a decision immediately.”

“Mandira, you don't know what you're talking about.” warned Andy, tempted to cut the call but unable to tamp down the small glimmer of hope that Mandira had offered her. “ She made the choice herself.”

“I may not know about everything that happened but I could see that Sanaa was happy when you were around and that she's been completely devastated since you left.”

Andy sighed. “Mandira, you know very well that we can't help people who don't want to help themselves. It's the path she has chosen and I can't force her to change her mind, even if I want that with every piece of me. She wasn't the only one hurt here, I was too” she said, quietly.

“All I'm asking from you, Andrea, is to not give up on something that is good. Just think about it okay? I'm not going to talk to you about this anymore. Good bye.”

Andy just stared at the phone as Mandira's words ran through her mind. ‘Did I just run away from her? Did I not give her a chance?' she asked herself.



Pari was surfing through the TV channels when the bell rang in the apartment. She heard Sanaa asking her to open the door. She pulled it open in surprise as she spied the person standing on the other side through the peep-hole.

“Andrea, what are you doing here?” She moved forward to hug her. “I'm just so glad to see you” she said sincerely.

Andy smiled at Pari, a little bit of her nervousness allayed by Pari's exuberant welcome. She was steered towards Sanaa's room by her friend who said “I think the person you need to see is in that room.”

Andy stood at the entrance to the room, the door of which was partially open. She spied Sanaa sitting on her bed working on her laptop. “Who was it?” Sanaa asked, without lifting up her head from the screen.

“It's just me” Andy replied, causing Sanaa to look up in shock.

Tears started flowing from her eyes and it didn't take long for her to push away her laptop and fall into Andy's arms crying uncontrollably. Andy couldn't help but hold on tight to the love of her life as she cursed herself for leaving without talking to her one month back. She was still a little apprehensive about the reception she would get from Sanaa when she tilted her head up and looked at Andy. “You're here. You're really here” she said in wonder.

“Yeah, I just couldn't stay away from you” replied Andy, unable to stop a few tears from falling out of her eyes.

“Andy, I…” Sanaa started but was stopped by Andy's finger on her lips.

“Wait, Sanaa. Let me say something. I was wrong. I shouldn't have run away like that. I told you that I loved you and that I would do anything for you but I ran at the slightest sign of trouble. I spent a miserable one month in L.A. away from you. I'm here now to tell you that I can't imagine my life without you and that I will fight for you. Even if it takes years for you to be able to come out to your family, I will wait. Just please Sanaa, give me a chance and don't marry him” pleaded Andy.

Sanaa smiled through her tears “So you would wait years huh?”

“Yes. Yes, I will wait that long for you, if that's what it takes” replied Andy, confidently.

Sanaa just shook her head, still smiling, as she said “Well, you definitely don't have to wait years. I already told my parents about you and I broke off my engagement with Rohan.”

Andy just stared at Sanaa, unable to believe her own ears. “Are you serious?”

Sanaa didn't reply and instead stood up on her toes to plant a deep kiss on Andy's lips. “I'm completely serious” she said, as she was pulled back into a kiss by Andy.

Before things could go any further, Andy pulled away and looked at her intently. “Wait, Sanaa. When did this happen? Tell me everything.”

Sanaa led Andy to her bed and they snuggled together under the covers as their bodies yearned to reacquaint themselves with each other after the time spent apart. Sanaa placed her hand on Andy's cheek as she spoke “I had an eye opening talk with someone who inspires me. I knew then that I just couldn't live my life the way my parents expected me to. It would've been a farce. Even if you weren't around any longer, I couldn't go ahead with the marriage. It would've destroyed not just me but also Rohan and my family eventually. So I first went up to him and told him that I couldn't marry him.”

She paused for a moment, thinking about her acts over the last one week which had required every drop of courage that she had in her bones. “How did he respond?” prompted Andy.

“He initially didn't take it well. He started cursing me for not breaking it off before the engagement. I was tempted to tell him off and point out that he was actually the one who had ambushed me with a proposal. But I controlled myself and told him yes when he asked if there was someone else. That was it. He said he was glad that I had told him at least before the wedding and promised to break the news to his parents.”

“Then came the most difficult thing that I've ever had to do in my life. More difficult than even my first solo cataract surgery, mind you” she continued, self-deprecatingly. “I called my parents and told them that I had broken up with him. There were tears, screams and threats which went on for an hour before my father finally calmed down and asked me the reason. That's when I told them that I was in love with you. It took them a while to understand that I was in love with Andy who was the woman I had brought to the party.”

Andy gazed at her lovingly as she listened to the tale. “And Andy loves you with all her heart” she said with a smile. “What happened then?”

“Nothing much happened after I dropped the bomb on them. My dad didn't respond and my mother's tears continued. They told me not to talk to them till I was ready to speak sense. I haven't heard from them in the past one week but I got a call from my sister Sonia. Seems they aren't ready to forgive me for being an embarrassment to the entire family.”

“I'm so sorry, baby” said Andy, hugging Sanaa to her chest. “I'm so proud of you and I'm sure your parents will come around someday. They love you too much to disown you.”

“On the bright side, my sister told me that she would always support me, no matter what and that if I was in love with you, I should go after you.”

“Is that so? Your sister seems like a wise person” Andy said, smiling into Sanaa's hair. She breathed in Sanaa's scent as a part of her still wondered whether she was dreaming.

“I was just composing an email to you” Sanaa mumbled into Andy's chest. “I didn't expect you to come here.”

“Should I go back then?” asked Andy, teasing Sanaa as she felt happiness inside her heart for the first time in the last one month.

Sanaa smacked her on the shoulder. “Joker. As if I would want you to leave now that I've pledged my heart to you forever. In fact, I want you to never leave.”

Andy flipped her over and rested her hands on either side of Sanaa's shoulders. They looked at each other intently before joining in a kiss that made Sanaa's toes curl.

“Hmmm I just wanted to see if you both had patched up. Seems like you have” said a smirking Pari at the doorway. The star-crossed lovers pulled away abruptly and stared at her as she waved at them. “Anyways, I just wanted to tell you that the house is yours for the night. I'm going over to Teju's house to study and you can do whatever you both want. I'll lock the door behind me” she said suggestively, winking as she walked away.

Sanaa looked at Andy with a sly smile on her face. “So what do you think we should do?”

“More of this” said Andy, as she restarted their make-out session and heated it up by placing her thigh between Sanaa's legs.

One word that Sanaa had used ran through Andy's mind that night ‘Forever. That's exactly what I want with her' she thought, beaming as she looked at the sleeping woman in her arms.



Sanaa walked out of the arrivals area of the Los Angeles airport, looking around for the person who meant the world to her. She smiled as she felt arms wrap around her waist from behind and closed her eyes as she felt soft kisses being placed on her neck. ‘God, I've missed you” said Andy, turning her around.

“And I, for one, am glad that we can do this right here” said Sanaa, pulling Andy down for a proper welcome kiss.

They walked hand in hand to Andy's car as Sanaa told her about her journey. Sanaa thought back to the last one year as they drove towards Andy's beach house. She still couldn't believe that they had been able to get to this place. There were times during the last year when they thought that they wouldn't be able to manage the long distance relationship. Andy had made two trips to India , staying for a couple of weeks each time. Sanaa had also managed to sneak in a ten day visit to the United States , most of which she spent inside Andy's house. Each time, their parting felt so terrible that Andy was almost tempted to resign from her job and stay with Sanaa full-time.

Finally Sanaa had managed to finish her residency and land a fellowship in Ophthalmology in California . Dr.Mandira's glowing reference letter had helped as had Sanaa's involvement in Andy's project. They were determined to work something out so that they could stay together somewhere forever.

When Sanaa entered Andy's house this visit, she came secure in the knowledge that they wouldn't have to part for the next two years at least. She was surprised by the decorations all over the house and the “Welcome home, Sanaa” banner that was displayed. “That was my Dad's order. He wanted to give you a proper welcome but can't be here till tomorrow. So he wanted to make up for it some way and ordered the banner.” Sanaa smiled as she thought back to her first meeting with Andy's father and the comfort and acceptance that she had found with Andy's family. Though they couldn't heal the part of Sanaa's heart that yearned for the love of her parents, it went some way in helping her deal with their rejection.

Andy pulled Sanaa down on to the couch and peppered her face with kisses. Sanaa laughed and tried to distract her by trailing her lips over Andy's jaw. Andy jerked her head back and stared at her with a sultry look in her eyes. Sanaa ran her nails down Andy's stomach under her shirt, making her growl. She knew that she had Andy exactly where she wanted, aroused beyond the point of no return.

As Sanaa smoothened Andy's shirt over her chest, she felt something hard in her left breast pocket. She watched curiously as Andy suddenly yanked Sanaa's hands away from her body and her expression changed from lustful to one of nervousness.

“What happened, Andy?” asked Sanaa.

Andy ran her hands through her hair and got up from the couch to pace a few times in front of Sanaa. Sanaa was becoming slightly panicked by Andy's behaviour when she stopped pacing and looked at her seriously. “Sanaa, darling. You do know that you are everything to me. We've spoken about being together for the rest of our lives. It's just that….I now want to make it official” said Andy, as she kneeled on the floor between Sanaa's legs and pulled a square box out of her pocket.

Sanaa looked at her in shock before uttering the one word that Andy was waiting to hear expectantly “Yes.”

“I haven't asked the question yet” teased Andy, placing the ring on Sanaa's finger.

“In my dreams, you've already asked me the question a hundred times and each time I have answered yes” replied a teary Sanaa. “I was engaged once but I felt nothing then except emptiness. Now I fell so much with you that I can't even describe it. I just know that I'm looking forward to every day of the rest of our lives.”

“So am I, baby. You agreeing to marry me has officially made this the happiest day of my life.”

“Stop talking and kiss me, my future wife” ordered Sanaa.

“You've already started ordering me around” huffed Andy but didn't bother trying to resist the order. They were completely involved in a passionate kiss till they were disturbed by a vibration near their hips.

“Hmmm Andy, what is that?” asked Sanaa, apprehensively.

Andy looked at her confused until she understood her implication. She started laughing and pointed at Sanaa's phone which lay on the couch next to her. “That, my dear, is your phone. I believe it's vibrating ” said Andy, chuckling as Sanaa's face flushed.

Sanaa smacked her shoulder and looked amused as she motioned for Andy to stop laughing when she saw her sister's name on her phone. She accepted the video call to be greeted by the frantic expression on Sonia's face. “What the hell, Sanaa? Are you alright? I told you to message me as soon as you landed.”

Sanaa looked at her sister sheepishly through the phone as she replied “I'm sorry, sis. I'm at Andy's house now. We got a little….distracted.”

“Well, tell Ms.Gorgeous to control herself till you text your family that you arrived safely.” Andy turned red in embarrassment as she heard Sanaa's sister address her. Sonia had met Andy in Bangalore and had told Sanaa that if she ever let her go, she would swoop in and steal her for herself. Sanaa laughed when she saw Andy's face. “Stop teasing her, Sonia. By the way, I have news” she said, after looking at Andy to confirm that she could break their news.

“So do I” said Sonia. “But you go first.”

“We….we're getting married” Sanaa told her sister softly and moved her hand to bring her ring into the view of the camera.

Sonia looked stunned for a moment before her face transformed into an expression of joy. “Oh my God. I wish I was there next to you so I could hug you.” Andy watched amused as the two sisters started blubbering. ‘I love how emotional and passionate she is' she thought as she looked at her fiancée with love.

“Okay now that I've told you this, what's your news?” asked Sanaa.

Her sister remained quiet for a few seconds and Andy watched her curiously on the phone screen. “Actually, Sanaa, I'm not alone now.”

“What?” asked Sanaa. “Who's there with you?”

Sonia turned to address someone outside the focus of the camera. Sanaa watched in shock as the screen focussed on her parents. “Ma and Papa wanted to speak to you. Don't be mad at me. They were really upset that you had left for America without saying goodbye.”

Andy was worried at the lack of any reaction on Sanaa's face as she stared at the phone in her hand. Her mother, who was crying in her husband's arms, initiated the conversation. “Sanaa, we heard everything that you just said now to Sonia.”

“Ma, Papa, you should know that I wouldn't allow you to….” started Sanaa, ready to defend her love.

“Wait, Sanaa. We didn't want to speak to you to criticise you. We've missed you so much, darling. It didn't hit us until today when Sonia told us that you had left for America and were planning on settling there permanently. We couldn't bear the thought of never seeing you again.”

Her father pitched in. “We just needed you to know that we can't ever stop loving you. We're your parents and we'll only wish the best for you, always. I know that we caused you to doubt our love for you but we'll do whatever we can to get over our prejudices.”

Sanaa buried her face in Andy's chest and felt grounded by the arms that wrapped themselves around her. Andy, noticing that Sanaa couldn't seem to form any words, picked up the phone. “Mr and Mrs.Sharma, I just want to tell you both that I love your daughter more than life itself and that I'll do my very best to keep her happy. I would've tried to give her anything that she wanted but there was one thing that I couldn't give her. That was your love and acceptance. I know I speak for her when I say that it means the world to her that you reached out to her today.”

“Andrea, we're sorry to you too for the way we've treated you. We don't want to lose our daughter. Just give us some time to get over ourselves and I promise that we will not be intolerant about your relationship” said Sanaa's father.

“Besides I don't want to miss out on my daughter's wedding” said her mother, smiling slightly.

Sanaa looked up at her mother's statement. “Do you mean that, ma? Would you come to our marriage and be completely welcoming of our relationship?”

“I'll be honest, Sanaa. We can't change overnight but we will try our hardest and I want you to be patient with us in case we ever say or do something intolerant. You would probably have to educate us quite a bit on your lifestyle.”

“Don't worry about educating your mother. She's been reading everything about the lesbian lifestyle on the internet for the past one year” Sanaa's father said, lightening the mood between the two couples separated by continents.

Andy left Sanaa to catch her parents up with her life and her future career plans. She watched happily as her wife to-be laughed at something her sister said to her parents. She knew that a part of Sanaa's heart had been repaired only now. After Sanaa ended the call, she walked up to Andy and wound her arms around her waist. “You told them that you couldn't give me their acceptance. But this was your doing too. Every good thing that has happened to me over the last one year has been because of you. It's because of the love you have shown me. You once asked me if I ever believed in true love. I do now” she said, pressing her lips to Andy's. As they walked together into the bedroom, Sanaa smiled knowing that she had finally found a love worthy of those fairy tales that she had never believed in until now.



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