He gazed at her face longingly, enamoured, infatuated. She looked ravishing in her pale pink ensemble that flowed into soft folds near her petite feet. Gracefully and with poise, she walked towards the stage, and the guests seemed bathed in the sparkle of her resplendence as they looked on, as though awe-struck.

He rued the time he had wasted in telling her how much he loved her. Tonight she was getting married, to that shady character who always seemed to hang around her house. But the marriage contract hadn't been signed yet, he thought to himself, and took a deep breath. This was his last chance, and he would never forgive himself if he didn't tell her he loved her.

He looked warily at the huge throng of people around her. Surely, she would be alone for a moment? He rehearsed the words in his mind — not that he needed to. He had envisioned that conversation a hundred times, and he waited, anxiously, for her to finally distance herself from all those people.

He realised his lips were suddenly parched, his throat completely dry. He had made his way to the stage, and finally — this was his moment, away from all those interfering, offending relatives. "Hello," he said, looking straight into her eyes. She seemed glad to see him, and that encouraged him. He knelt down close to where she sat, close enough to get a whiff of her heavenly, enchanting perfume. He sniffed deeply. She always smelled wonderful.

He didn't have a ring, but those details could be worked out later, he thought to himself. It was important to pop the question to her — after all, that strange fellow had gotten this far because he wasn't afraid to tell her. She looked at him enquiringly — why on earth was he suddenly kneeling in front of her? He glanced behind him — the meddlesome relatives would be back on stage any minute. She was the bride after all. He cleared his throat. "I have to say something to you. It's very important," he deadpanned. She leant towards him.

He had to say it. He just had to. He couldn't back out, not after he had gotten this far. She waited patiently for him to speak, her smile a little waned now. "Will you marry me?" he blurted out. Relief washed over him — he had revealed his feelings at last.

In slow motion

She smiled widely, and his heart skipped a beat. "You know what, I'm flattered. It's not everyday that such a handsome young man proposes to you!" He breathed easier. So she was happy! Life suddenly seemed to go into slow motion. He watched the approaching crowd, fantasising that it would soon be him sitting beside her. Suddenly, her words brought him back to reality with a harsh, unpleasant bump. "But no sweetheart, I'm so sorry. I can't," she said simply. That moment was unfortunate for two reasons — the first was her answer and the second was that at that precise second, the music, which had so far been playing without a hitch, suddenly stopped. "But why? What's wrong with me?" he said indignantly, stamping his foot on the ground. The people (who had now reached the stage) all heard him because of the silence created by the break in the music and began to laugh hysterically.

"Darling, age difference is definitely a factor," she said stifling a laugh, as she picked him up and put him in her lap. Seven-year-old Farhan was mortified. "We can still be friends, right?" he said at last.

"Always, darling. You're gorgeous." And with that she kissed him, and he didn't remove the lipstick mark from his cheek practically forever.

Note: The above is a true account and the people in the story are my cousins. The seven-year-old boy is now a teenager, who hasn't proposed to anyone since.


Mehmudah Rehman is a Dubai-based freelance writer.