Try, try, try again

The first time I asked her to marry me was when we were six years old.

“I’ll be the husband,” I said, “and you can be the wife.”

“No,” she replied simply and walked off.

After a few moments, I walked off too. It’s no fun playing house alone.

The second time I asked her to marry me, was when we were 14. We were partners in a dance for the annual school programme and I was waiting for her to come out of the dressing room. As she stepped out of the dressing room in a pink dress, I took a deep breath. She looked like an angel that had just stepped down from the heavens. I stared at her and tried to find my voice. She caught me looking and smiled as she asked, “What are you looking at?”

“Will you marry me?” I blurted out.

Her smile turned into a grin, and a second later she burst out laughing. I didn’t mind. I could see stars in her eyes. Still laughing, she took my hand and led me onto the stage.

The third time I asked her to marry me was on her sixteenth birthday. We were at a picnic with friends and the two of us were sitting by ourselves under a tree as the rest argued about which game to play next. She laughed at something someone was talking about in the distance. I heard the tinkling of bells in her voice. I plucked a daisy that was growing nearby and gave it to her as I said, “Will you be my wife?”

She blushed as she looked at the flower, and then burst out laughing again. She took the flower and ran to join the rest of the group.

The fourth time, we were 18. We were sitting in the cafeteria in college she was telling me how beautiful the last poem she read had been. After speaking continuously for a few minutes, she stopped and said, “What happened? Why aren’t you saying anything?”

I looked into her eyes and said, “I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?”

As before, she burst out laughing and said, “You’re not old enough to get married yet.” And then she started talking about another poem.

The fifth time I asked her to marry me was the day of our graduation. We were both 21. I got down on one knee with a red rose in my hand and said to her, “Will you, now, take me to be your husband?”

She grinned this time, and replied, “You’re always in a hurry. You wanted to do your post-graduation, right?”

I shrugged, got back on my feet, and walked with her to the convocation hall.

Four years later, I had finished my post-graduation and had a job in a multinational company. We were sitting in an ice cream shop when she brought it up. “You haven’t asked me to marry you in four years,” she said. “Did you change your mind?”

“What do you think?” I teased.

“I think you’re afraid I’ll reject you again.”

“You haven’t really rejected me even once, till now,” I countered. “You never really said ‘No’.”

“I did when we were six,” she pointed out.

“She remembers,” I thought to myself.

I held out a spoon of ice cream for her to taste, and said, “Alright, so you rejected me once.”

She rolled her eyes in silence. She was no longer smiling.

“Well?” I asked. “Do you think I’ve changed my mind?”

She frowned as she said, “I don’t know.”

I watched her for a few seconds and said, “Why don’t you ask me to marry you this time?”

“Me?” she replied, eyes wide in surprise.

“What’s wrong with that?” I asked.

She blushed and said, “No.”

“Are you rejecting me again?” I asked.

“No, no!” she said quickly.

“So then you are saying ‘Yes’?”

She stuck her tongue out at me as she realised what I was trying to do, and went back to eating her ice cream.

“Hey,” I said, as I took her hand in mine. “Marry me.”

She scrunched up her nose as she replied, “Are you sure?”

I’d been sure since I was six. “Yes,” I said simply.

And she just smiled and nodded.