This story was shared by a very good friend 13 years ago….
Half past eight at night, a moonlit lawn, dinner tables with candle lights, melodious love songs playing in the background, a sweet-scented cool breeze drifting across the gardens; what could be more romantic for a newly married couple? Abhirami and I had got married three weeks back, after we had been engaged for a mere twenty days. It was a routine for us to dine out every Saturday night since the day we had got engaged.
My parents had found Abhirami through an online matrimony and had chosen her after scanning many profiles. Incidentally, she worked in the same company as I did. An MBA grad just out of college, she worked as an Associate Manager in HR and had joined our company three months before I first met her in her house.
The first encounter was a good one though. Our parents gave about an hour’s time in private to get to know each other and for me, it was more like an HR round of some walk-in interview; she had bombarded me with so many questions! The only question I got to ask was an initial “Hi?” after which, she took over the scene and spoke so many things about her in less than fifteen minutes, not only was it difficult for me to digest all of what she said, but also it did not leave me anymore questions to be asked; I just kept answering to whatever she asked me. In any case, I was not much keen on trying to find out anything about her, for I had already agreed on everything even before going to their house. My decision of saying yes was because of only one reason – to keep my parents happy, at least this time.
The day after our engagement, we met at a shopping mall and as we strolled around we chit-chatted while window-shopping at the same time. ‘Paapu’ was her pet name at home and I too preferred calling her like that, not only because I felt she was a little kiddish, but also since she was almost four years younger than me.
“Hey paapu, we haven’t even got three weeks for our marriage, you know”, I said.
“Yeah and I’m telling you now itself, go and live your life to its fullest, do whatever you want in these days and be done with your bachelorhood. I bet you’ll repent later for having lost your freedom”, she chuckled, paused and then asked with eyes wide open, “Why? Are you scared?”
“Naah! I’m all ready for it, you know. But it’s all happening so quickly and you know I was just wondering how you could agree for all this so fast!”
“Karthik!” she used to call me by name, “when my parents told me that someone was interested to take me as his wife, in a way I felt easy that that someone worked in the same company as I did. So I dug out some basic information about you, ‘you know’ and I had a peep into your website…”
“That’s not my website; it’s my blog!” I was really passionate about it, even the calling.
“Blog or whatever. Anything which opens in that ‘e’-Internet Explorer is a website for me.” It’s a little difficult to explain such things to technically-non-sense people and hence I preferred not to interrupt her. “Ok ok! You were telling something, please continue.”
“Ya. Then I saw your web..blog, went through all that you had written, came to know quite a few things about you and was really impressed on your ability to churn up so many words.”
“Whaaaaaaat?” I was flabbergasted. “You fell for a guy just by seeing some bullshit he has written for someone else?”
“Whoa! That’s not it. There’s something else too. But hey, why the hell do you think that what you write is crap? Believe me, the only way in this whole wide world to express your feelings to a girl like me is by words and not roses or chocolates! Words are forever my dear and I very well know that whatever you wrote over there came out straight from your heart. Those words were good enough to prove to me that you had a clean heart. I just tried putting myself in place of the one for whom you wrote all that stuff and trust me, I could really feel that all of it was written for me. All it took for me was a little trying; was kind of a mental preparation for me to be your wife. By the way, who said you write junk? Tell me and I know how to deal with them”, she gave the look of a girl child playing teacher-teacher.
“Trying to take undue advantage of your authority, eh?” I tried pulling her leg.
“Well, then I don’t know what you’re gonna do if I told you that I had talked to all of your team members two weeks ago.”
“What? Oh my god! Now I know what that ‘Meet-Your-HR’ was for. I did want to know why project managers were not invited, but then, my team mates said it was just an informal meet to discuss some of their problems…”
“I made it look like that”, she winked with an evil smile, “and actually due to that, I came to know what others around you think of you – professionally as well as personally! Their opinions just added on to my reasons; I had to rely on others opinion you see, I never even knew that such a creature had existed for me. So there was no question of having my opinion about you”, she smiled again. I felt I heard somebody laughing at me and someone else yelling from behind, “Dude, you are dead meat now. She’s gonna be watching you 24/7.” But whatever it was, I felt that maybe, in Abhirami, I am finding my lost love.
“Hey paapu, tell me one thing. Didn’t you have any boyfriends ever?” I’d never gotten a chance to ask that.
“I did. Four, till date.”
“Whoa! Then how come you didn’t think of getting along with any of them for life?”
“Na na!” She made faces, “They were really good boyfriends; but none too good for a hubby material. Each of them always thought of taking me out, going out to movies, parks and shopping and at some point of time secretly thinking of laying me down! But don’t you worry. I’m still a virgin.”
“Ha ha! No, I don’t really mind. But don’t you feel guilty that you ditched four good guys?”
“You know one thing dear. Not all boyfriends make good husbands and not all girlfriends make good wives. By the way, I did not ditch any of them. They simply went away; some butterflies and some cowards. But, what about you? You never told me who that girl was?”
“Hey look! This shop says flat 50% off on all type of clothes. Wanna try out?” I asked her. “You bet! Chalo, let’s go inside.” She pulled me in. It’s so easy to divert a woman’s mind I thought and felt glad about the experience I had gained!
Three weeks after our marriage, on yet another Saturday night, we had gone to yet another restaurant. This was a newly opened garden restaurant on top of a hillock and was not known by many. With candle-lit dinner tables in an open garden and a soft cool breeze drifting across, it was the perfect getaway for families as well as couples on any night of the week.
Abhirami and I took a table in the far corner; not that nobody should disturb us, but because I did not want anybody else to get disturbed by our, I mean Abhirami’s, talking.
A few moments after we settled down, while we still hadn’t thought about ordering anything, a very cute little boy, maybe not even two years old, toddled towards our table. “Cho chweet!” Abhirami exclaimed and turned sideward to pick him up. She was very fond of small kids and always coquetted that she wanted at least a dozen of them from me! Before she even stretched her hands, a female voice started calling out, “Partha, Partha, come here. Come here dear.” The name Partha struck something in me. But what was more unsettling was the woman who called out. She came near our table and while she picked him up and said, “He’s become very naughty these days. Keeps running away all the…” she saw my face; words got stuck in her throat. She turned to see where her husband was. He was already seated at a nearby table. “Very sweet child!” Abhirami said to her, but she did not listen. She simply went to her table and sat down. My mind was totally fazed out.
Abhirami turned towards me. She could easily sense that I was unnerved. “Something’s wrong? What happened dear?”
“No, nothing. Paapu can we go to some other place? I’m not finding the ambience as good as people told about it.”
“What? I am not budging from this chair until we are done for this evening. Karthik, I’m sure it’s about something else. Come on tell me what it is.” The first time I tried lying to her and I was caught so easily. I knew I had no option but to give away.
“You always wanted to know who my first love was, isn’t it? That’s her – Poorvi; the lady who picked up the kid just now.” Abhirami turned back to see Poorvi seated diagonally opposite to us and facing our table. “Paapu, please, don’t look at someone like that.” “Oh! Come on, she’s not any someone. Let me see what’s so special about her that made you go head over heels.”
“You can never see it from the outside.” I said lowering my voice.
She turned back. “Karthik, I always felt there was something really heavy that you carried all the time. It’s probably because you have never got anybody to share it with or never thought of letting it out. Listen to me. Tell me about it right now. I am sure it will definitely make you feel lighter. Trust me.” She held my hand. I did trust her. I too felt that there was no point in keeping it inside anymore.
“Paapu, she was my college mate; we first met during our college fest in the second year. After that, we met often; sometimes by chance and many a times on purpose, and as we kept meeting, our friendship grew. By the time we reached the final year, we both knew it was something more than friendship that we had in mind. Never in my life had I felt so good about any girl. I started to miss her when she did not meet me or call me on some day. You know it’s like, we miss only those whom we never want to miss. With Poorvi around, I felt I had found something that I had always been missing in my life. On one fine day, in our college campus itself, I proposed to her. She too accepted with a beautiful smile. I felt I was the luckiest person in the whole world.
“We both had been selected for the same company in a campus interview during our sixth semester itself and so, even before we got out of college, we had started dreaming about settling down in our lives, so much that we had even planned to name our kid ‘Partha’ if it was a boy and ‘Punya’ if it happened to be a girl!”
“Wow! I’m kinda liking this.” Abhirami’s eyes were gleaming.
“Unfortunately, the second half isn’t as good. After we got into our jobs, almost everyone except her parents had come to know about us. I too had told my parents that if at all I marry, I will marry only this girl. They were down emotionally and against me for some days but then they understood how much she meant to me and later whole-heartedly accepted her. From then on, she even used to attend every family function of ours. My parents had also agreed to talk to her parents regarding this.
“But before they did that, on one fine day, when Poorvi had been to her native, she told everything to her parents. That was when tragedy struck. For her parents who were very much conservative, their only daughter’s love-marriage was the biggest insult they could suffer in the family. Giving a petty reason that the horoscopes do not match, although there was no problem of caste or community, they simply said no to it and put some guy’s photo in front of her and forced her to marry him. When Poorvi resisted, her father suffered a cardiac arrest. I do not know if he acted so, but the doctor is supposed to have said to her that one more such attack and she may lose her father. Hearing this, her mother too sentimentally blackmailed her and all that Poorvi could do was succumb to the situation. She left me stranded but I still don’t blame her; I had been with her for not even five years but her parents were there for her right from the start. I still remember her last words – ‘I am really very sorry’. She even quit the company before completing two years and did not wish to continue as a friend either. So I never tried to contact her after that.
“I went into solitude for one and a half years, searching for a bit of joy all the time. But in the last four to five months, things at my home reached crisis. Both my parents became more depressed than I was and started to lose their health. This time, I had to surrender to the pressure. Finally I said I would marry any girl that they would put in front of me and then…” my tone was heavy as I finished my story, “you know what happened.”
Abhirami’s eyes were fixed. After a moment, she sat next to me, held my hand tightly and rested her head on my shoulder. For the first time ever I felt Abhirami’s hug was different. I could feel her silence telling me something, “Karthik, promise me that you’ll never leave me. I need you more than anybody else in this world.” My heart understood what her silence spoke. I realized that I had to be the one in her life and that all she wanted was a little love in return for everything of hers. I looked into her eyes; my eyes made the promise. Finally she spoke. With an aching voice, she just said, “I love you Karthik. Let’s go home.” We got up. Abhirami remained clung to me like a small child holding its mother. I put my arms around her shoulder and started walking.
As I walked past Poorvi, I saw her eyes. There was regret in them. I just wished that she would bury it all.
They say ‘Marriages are made in heaven’. Made or not, I do not know, but one thing is for sure – the one whom you’re going to marry, would have already been decided by The One above. No matter how many crushes you have in your life, no matter how many infatuations you go through and no matter how much you try to get into a relationship with someone, you’re going to marry the only one you’re destined to. If that ‘one’ happens to be the one you’re already in love with, then you sure are lucky, or else, better luck next time!