Hailing from a highly conservative and traditional village, Shyam and Radha fell in love with each other but could not let anybody know about it. Not even their friends knew anything about it. Shyam and Radha are used to ignoring each other in college during the day time. However, they meet at 2 am every night at a secret place behind the temple atop the hill. They could see the entire village from there and nobody will be able to notice them unless they are in the temple. Shyam knew very well about the rituals followed in the temple and knew it since childhood that nobody would be in the temple from 2 am to 4 am in the morning.

Radha asked, “You are such a night owl. How can you stay awake and come here at the right time. I feel so difficult to stay awake during the day. My father thought that I have been insomniac and he took me to a doctor the other day. I kept telling him that I don’t feel sleepy during the night and go upstairs to study in the terrace.”

Shyam kept playing with her hair as she was talking. Though he understood why she was whining, he wanted to enjoy this moment and forget everything about the world. of all the people, he did not want to hear about her father at this wonderful time of the day.

Shyam said, “Talk about us, please. Forget about everyone else. I want to spend the next two hours looking into your eyes and forget the fact that I am a human being and I am alive. I want my soul to be free with your soul and let our souls wander high up in the skies and reach for the stars while singing a song that resonates our happiness. Aren’t we lucky? We get this time of the day to be with each other. It is so difficult for me during the day time to ignore you. But, I made it a practice to ignore you.”

Radha said, “Consider my situation. When you were giving the presentation the other day, I wanted to come up to the stage and hug you tight and kiss on your cheeks. But, I had to act as your presentation was mediocre.”

Shyam said, “Why don’t you think about that presentation and kiss me now? Let me assure you something. I will not give any restrictions. You can kiss me wherever you want. You need not think that the cheek is your only territory.”

Saying those words, Shyam moved closer to her and hugged her tight. Radha, as she always did, brushed him aside. She said, “Remember the rules that we framed for ourselves. It is one thing to be seen by someone at this hour. And, it is a bigger thing to be doing things like that. So, let us know our boundaries until life gives us an opportunity to practically get intimate with each other with the approval of our parents.”

Shyam felt dejected. Whenever she brought up this topic, Shyam felt very sad as he felt the future was very bleak for them. He said, “Do you think that is ever going to happen? Our parents are rivals in this city. Everybody knows about their famous rivalry. Why do you keep dreaming about our alliance.They hate each other so much. And, your father hates me too.”

Radha said, “Let us not forget the fact that they were friends two decades ago.”

Shyam said, “That was before we were born. Things have changed a lot. Initially, they both came together to set up a local political party. They have been pretty successful. But, your father decided to break away after some tiffs with my father. He floated his own party. These two parties kept fighting with each other in the last three decades. And, trust me, I do not see any hope in reconciliation.”

Radha remained silent. She looked at the village. The sleeping village was at the center of the district and their parents ruled the entire town from this village. The dimly lit houses formed a pattern like a sleeping bird. Within a few hours, when it dawns, the lights would disappear and the bird would wake up and fly up to the skies. As long as she was thinking about the village and the people, she did not feel sad. But, the thought of marrying someone else really troubled. They had more than five years before the topic of marriage would come in their households. But, she wanted to get married to him immediately. She desperately wanted to live with him.

Radha turned back to the temple and said, “Let us pray to our favorite God. The last time I prayed, he sent me across. I was feeling so lonely after all my friends left this place for higher studies. My father wanted me to continue education in this place. I met you in our college and life seemed so better. I never felt lonely again. If we continue to pray with our purest hearts, our favorite God would do miracles and things will change for us and for our families.”

Shyam’s father Shankar and Radha’s father Keshav were the best friends four decades ago. They were so similar to each other in many ways. After college, they both were inspired by great politicians and decided to get into politics. But, after joining some political parties, they realized that none of the existing parties stood for their principles. They both started a party together. When they both were together, this region developed significantly well and people were happy with their leadership. But, fate had other plans and due to some misunderstanding things changed and they broke the party into two after fighting with each other.

Shyam said, “Why don’t we consider running away?”

Radha was angry he brought up this topic yet again. She said, “Please do not think about it. If we cannot get their approval, we will never get married.”

Shyam understood her plight. He remained silent.

They both kept meeting each other every night at the same place.

It was elections time. Surprisingly, a third party was formed by some college graduates with inspiring ideals. This new party seemed to be threatening to both the parties of Shankar and Keshav. They had to do something to suppress this emerging party. Some exit polls also indicated the growing influence of this newly formed party.

As Shankar was worried about his party, he started suffering some sleepless nights. One night, he noticed Shyam sneaking out of the house stealthily. He followed his son.

On the other side of the village, Keshav also started following his daughter. All this while he thought she was going upstairs to read when she could not sleep. But, he saw her walking out of the house. So, he followed her.

After a few minutes, Radha and Shyam met each other and sat down on their favorite stone. Shankar was overhearing their conversation from one corner while Keshav was overhearing their conversation from the other corner.

Shyam said, “With elections round the corner, I only see the rivalry deepening. I don’t see any prospects of them understanding our love.”

Radha cried. She said, “I love my father. He is the best father. I cannot go against his wishes. Let us break up. Let us think of our story as a small and interesting part of our journey. I’m not sure if I can love anyone as much as I love you. But, my father is more important to me. I’m sorry if my words hurt you.”

Shyam said, “No. You are right. I can understand the plight of a father. I respect both our fathers. They have their goals and aspirations. They have done so much for this place. We should not let our love story ruin all their efforts. They are inspiring leaders. Let not the world hate them for separating us. Let us get separated.”

They wanted to hug each other. But, they stopped. They shook their hands. First, Radha left crying. Keshav felt bad for his daughter. Though he was initially angry on her, he wanted to salute her for her maturity in dealing with this.

Shyam sat there and cried for some time. His father, Shankar, could not stand there seeing his son cry so much. He has never seen his son crying so much. He went and sat beside his son. They did not speak anything.

The next day, Keshav called Shyam on his mobile phone and said, “I made a mistake fifteen years ago. I fought with your father and broke up with him. I did not call to apologize. But, can you please ask your father if I can talk to him about your marriage with my daughter? I know he will never forgive me. Can you ask him if he would want to talk with me?”

Shyam felt overwhelmed. He said, “Thank you Uncle for calling. You will not believe this. But, we have reached your house just now. My father came to your house to speak to you about me and Radha.”

Keshav and Shankar met each other at Keshav’s doorstep and hugged tightly. Shankar said, “Ask me anything. But don’t ask me to forgive you. Do you know how much you troubled me?”

Everyone around was frightened. But the old men became young friends again and started hurling insults at each other as a token of their reunion.

After their college, Shyam and Radha got married to each other in a lavish ceremony.