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.
“Yes,” I said.
“No,” she replied again 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 fourteen. We were partners in a dance for the annual school program and I was waiting for her to come out of the dressing room. I was dressed in a black suit and bowtie. As she stepped out of the dressing room in a pink dress that came down to her knees, I took a deep breath. She looked like an angel that had just stepped down from the heavens. As we waited for the teachers to give the signal for us to get on stage, 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 the 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. I followed.
The fourth time, we were eighteen. We were sitting in the cafeteria in college as she sat sipping on a glass of orange juice and 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 again 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 twenty-one. 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. “What happened? Did you change your mind?” She was smiling widely.
“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, as I smiled at the memory.
I held out a spoon of ice cream for her to taste, and said, “Alright, so you rejected me once.”
“So?” she asked as she tasted my ice cream.
“So nothing,” I replied.
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.” She looked beautiful even when she frowned.
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.
“Why?” I asked. “What’s wrong with that?”
She blushed. “No,” she said.
“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 realized 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.
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