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Leela stared at the grassy lawn outside her living room. It was moist with the fragrance of wet earth wafting towards her. The sky was overcast and even the Met Department had declared it as the beginning of monsoon.

Rains, she noted happily, meant he would come today. And tomorrow. And the next day. And on, for the next four months. Of course, she knew that he meant to consort with different ladies, but at least, she had not come to the stage where she felt anything for them.

As she waited for him to appear, wide eyed near the fountain in the lawn, her mind drifted to what had once been.

He had been long limbed and lean. How she had loved it. The first time Leela had seen him was also during the monsoon. He had been swaying in the rain, eyes closed, enjoying the raindrops sliding down his face. It was that vision of content that had caused her to fall head over heels in love with the man newly hired to take care of the lawn.

She had watched him on that same patch, every day. Her parents had gone abroad, leaving her in the care of her grandma. But old, pampering grandmas, who are also hard of hearing are no match for girls that have just turned eighteen. She had sent him romantic looks as be swept the lawn. She had even managed to sneak a letter professing undying love on a peepal leaf. How she had searched for the perfectly transparent one, in which to express herself.

She shook her head. If only she knew then what she knew now. She heard him before she spotted him. The voice that had seemed husky and deep and unusual now grated on her nerves, a reminder of how frightfully stupid she had been.

And brazen too, a tiny voice spoke inside. And thank God for it, she calmed herself. If it were not for that fated kiss, she would have rejected Cheenu, severed ties with her rich and influential but unforgiving father, and heaven knows what else.

Her object of desire has by now come close to her. He looked at her as always, wide lips parted, looking just ready for a kiss. Like that day. Only that day, she had actually run into his arms and proposed running away to him. It can never be, I am a cursed one, he had gently said. She had thought it a reference to his poverty and her obvious wealth. I do not care. You are my Prince Charming, she had quoted. His instant look of pain then should have alerted her. But no, like a girl possessed, she had kissed him. A thing rather brazen for a woman in those days. Actually, in anyone’s days. Praise the Lord, no one had been home, everybody being out for the Elephant God, Ganesha’s festivities.

Why could not that one kiss at least been perfect, a small part of her privately wondered. Why did you have to turn instantly? Why did you have to turn into a frog, my dear Prince Charming? Croak, he replied, as always.

(fictional piece for DP Challenge)

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