As part of Literary club's effort to promote emerging writers. Literary club organised a short story writing competition- Kathakaar. We are happy to share two of the best submissions which the literary club got. The first story is written by Bhavya Subramanian of IMI New Delhi. Her story is a response to travails of true love.
“Courage lies in speaking the truth, but wisdom lies in knowing when to speak it.”-By Bhavya Subramanian
Liam snapped his book shut in impatience and muttered “You know, I’ll ask for your wisdom if I need it.”
Emily nearly poured tea into the saucer at this outburst. “Heavens! You’re quite ill-disposed today.” She muttered to herself before turning her attention back to the tea.
She heard Liam shut the door behind him.
Liam wanted to yell, but he couldn’t. For two reasons. One, Emily was his sister, and he loved her to death. Second, she was right. As annoying as it was, she was right. Wisdom does lie in knowing when to speak the truth. But Liam didn't have an option. If he didn't resolve the problem now, he probably won’t get the chance to sort it later.
Holding his breath, he knocked the door of his father’s study before entering in.
“Come in.” A cold voice called out.
You need reslove this today, Liam told himself, today, you just cannot let him intimidate you into going in to his wishes. He then stepped in.
Augustus Harrison looked deeply engrossed in a book, so much so that he didn't even look up to see his visitor. Liam waited a few seconds for his father to acknowledge him, but seeing that that wasn't about to happen anytime soon, Liam coughed slightly.
“For God’s sake, Liam,” Augustus murmured without removing his eyes off the book, “if you’ve got a cough ask Mrs. Hudson to make you some soup. Do not bother me with it.” Mrs Hudson was the housekeeper.
Liam didn't even flinch at this indifference of his father. In fact, he was so used to it that he barely realised it anymore.
“Very well then, father. Let me bother you with an issue that does concern the both of us.” Without giving himself time to think this through, Liam said in one breath, “I do not wish to marry Ms Jane Bertram. I realise I do not love her, and to marry someone in these circumstances will not guarantee happiness to either’s future.
“I did not know you were fond of fairy tales, Liam. Let me set the record straight. You’re not marrying Ms Bertram out of love. You’re marrying her because it is the best possible alliance for the Harrison line, and I will not let your whimsical notions get in the way of it.”
I will not give in. I will not let my father run my life for me. “I’m afraid, father, that we have very different perceptions of matrimony. I find that I cannot let your expectation of it determine my future. I am not in love with Ms Bertram. I love another woman, and I shall do everything in my power to marry the one I love. If you’ll excuse me, father, I will now write the letter informing Ms Bertram of my inability to marry her.”
“You shall do no such thing, Liam.” Augustus responded in a bored tone. “I will not repeat this for the third time, so listen to me carefully; I will not let you get in the way of what is best for this family.”
“What is best for this family is that the sons remain happy because they make decisions that they desire and choose.”
Augustus snapped his book impatiently, “What utter non-sense! You really have very fancy notions in your head! The best for the family is its future generations enjoy the best of rank and wealth, and established as we are, wealth will only insure more power, security and respect in this society. So, my dear son, you will kindly leave me to enjoy my book, and to the best of your ability, do whatever is needed to make the ceremony and the wedding a success. I would like to emphasise you would do better to treat my thoughts seriously. I will not hesitate to re-consider your claim on this estate if you give me the reason to.”
I am afraid that under the current circumstances, I see little hope of father giving us his full blessings. But, do not despair, my love, for I will not give up. Come what may, we will be man and wife. I know we can make this happen. All I need is, you, precious, to stay strong.
The letter was crumpled and thrown into the fireplace.
Liam held the gloved hand as the lady carefully disembarked from the carriage. He was so anxious. He knew what was going to happen, and yet, he couldn't stop his foot from fidgeting.
The chaperone followed behind them, maintaining sufficient distance to allow the lovers to talk freely.
“My dear, what has happened? I know something has happened for sure.”
“I asked you, Amelia, to be strong. Now, your strength has paid off. Amelia, my dear, I am yours to marry. Let us get married.” He knew she was going to be overjoyed.
“This is wonderful news! Oh, I am so glad to hear of it. My dear, what a wedding it will be! Your father, despite his initial opposition, would be there to bless us! Our families, friends, everyone! The ton will be so pleased! Oh! This is lovely news indeed!”
“I am very happy that you’re so pleased. But my dear, there is one thing. My father will not be there, for he has not given us his blessings. Everything else will hold true; your family, my sister and brother, our friends, everyone who matters shall be there, when you and I will get married.”
Amelia stopped walking and turned to face Liam, “Your father! Why won't he be there? I believed the matter had been resolved.”
“As far as our getting married was concerned, yes, I have resolved it for once and all. There was a little price to pay, but I believe for you, I would gladly do so.”
“What, Liam,” Amelia’s voice rose, “was the price you paid?”
“I will not inherit any share of my father’s rank or wealth once he passes on.”
Amelia dropped her purse. “Liam, let us sit there at that spot. The sunlight must be exhausting me, for I’m sure I must have heard wrong.”
“We can sit wherever you like.” He quickly lead the way to the seating spot in the park where they both sat down.
“You did not mishear me, Amelia. I have given up all claims to rank and wealth.”
“Oh!” Amelia murmured, and got up. She took a few and then came to sit near him. Again, however, she couldn't sit still and started pacing about.
“How-. What did he-. I cannot believe it came to this!”
“My dearest Amelia, I am so touched by your concern for me. Do not fret, it will be alright. We can get married in two weeks-”
Amelia looked contrite as she said, “If I may be so honest, Liam, I am not sure if marriage is the right path for us. I feel it would be wise for both of us to think things-”
“Think? My dear Amelia, you know very well how hard I have fought to make our wedding a possiblity-”
“Why did you fight, Liam? This does no good-”
At this point, an uncomfortable suspicion morphed into a chilling realisation. Amelia did not care about him, or the fact that he had let go of so much for her. What had mattered to her was what he had let go of. Literally, the wealth was what seemed to matter.
“Do you not love me, Amelia?” It killed him to ask his Amelia such a simple question, because for the first time, he was unsure of the answer.
“Liam!” Augustus’ voice was shocked, “You’re- you’re soaking wet!”
It had been raining outside. Liam had been vaguely aware of the downpour, but it had not mattered. Nothing mattered anymore.
Augustus was concerned. The boy was drenched like a cat, and yet, it was the eyes that were scary. Because they looked soul dead.
“Father, I’ll marry Jane Bertram. Whenever, however and wherever you wish.” Saying this, the son exited the study, without awaiting his father’s response. He remembered the conversation he had had in his father’s study.
“You really have very fancy notions in your head!The best for the family is its future generations enjoy the best of rank and wealth, and established as we are, wealth will only insure more power, security and respect in this society. So, my dear son, you will kindly leave me to enjoy my book, and to the best of your ability, do whatever is needed to make the ceremony and the wedding a success. I would like to emphasise you would do better to treat my thoughts seriously. I will not hesitate to re-consider your claim on this estate if you give me the reason to.”
“Without the inheritance, life will be less richer, but without Amelia, life will not be worth living.”
Augustus snorted his ridicule, “Liam! Now I am starting to worry, because you’re not sounding like a man in love, but because you’re sounding like a man disillusioned.”
“She loves me, father!”
“She loves the man that holds a rank in society, and will have a sizeable inheritance to gain. Being born into the family of aristocrats has its merits. But, Liam, it has its disadvantages as well. Your rank, your title will always supersede you. Are your friends, friends with you because you’re Liam, or because you’re Liam Harrison, son of Augustus Harrison, belonging to an enviable family of aristocrats? Does the woman you love, love you back because you’re you? Liam, let us try an experiment. Tell the woman you love that you no longer have any claim to the inheritance or the rank.”
“Father, it is unfortunate you are such a cynic. I will meet Amelia immediately, then. I will tell her that I don't own any wealth, and she will cry for me, but she won’t leave me. I will then inform you of these events and you will yourself give your blessings to our marrying each other.”
“We shall see, Liam, we shall see.”
Nothing mattered anymore. Liam had given up wealth to pursue love, and love had given up on him to chase wealth. What he felt could not be described in words. He had loved her truly, and she had made him believe she had loved him too. However, bygones were bygones. He belonged to the Harrison family. He would marry Jane Bertram, and the children they would have will never go through what he went. He will not allow them to fall in love. He would decide their life, like his father had done for him. He would protect them, from the world. From people like Amelia.