I put my cell phone down with exasperation. It had been mom, and for the umpteenth time I had to reassure her that I would return home early. Mom had been reluctant to even send me to office today, but then she did, just to humor me, lest I change my decision again. A decision, which had required months of persuasions by both mom and dad, heated arguments and tears shed at nights, before it was finally taken. Decision, to get married.
I looked at the monitor. I had just compiled a code and now was running a job for testing it. What was I feeling now? What was I supposed to feel now? Happy? Ecstatic? No, I didn’t feel a thing. My mind was now expressionless to the point of numbness. I looked at my watch. 11.00 AM. It struck me that I better complete this code today before going. Then my team would be good to deliver this next week. With this thought, I put all other thoughts into the back burner and got to work.
I don’t remember how much time passed before Krishma walked up to my cubicle and exclaimed, “Hey! What are you doing here? Didn’t you take leave today?” I looked up from my screen and smiled, “I am leaving by 4 o’clock bus.” “What! For Christ sake Mini! Your prospective husband is coming to see you today! It’s your ‘Girl seeing ceremony’!”
I laughed at her literal Tamil to English translation. “So what! Those people are coming only at 7 in the evening. I would reach home by 5 and would still have plenty of time left to get ready.”
“Uh! How utterly unromantic! If only this had been for me, I would have spent my half day dreaming about that guy and the other half in beauty parlor, getting ready!” Kris was always like this. Die hard romantic.
It was 3.30 PM now. Finally I had caught the culprit variable that had been causing the S0C7 abend for the larger part of the last 2 hours. I finally decided it was time to wind up and started for the food court to grab a sandwich, to compensate for the forgotten lunch.
Half an hour later I settled comfortably near the window behind the driver. He had started to rev the engine. I remembered Kris’s accusation in the morning. Me, an unromantic. A wry smile spread on my lips, as my thoughts flew backwards, 2 years behind.
One of my friends had introduced me to him. At that time I didn’t know that this face was going to be carved in my very existence, forever. From acquaintances, to friends, to something more than that, we grew close quite fast. I used to be overawed by his personality. Those eyes, their piercing quality! I didn’t want anything else in my life except to keep seeing them forever.
Advait. Even his name is fascinating. He used to be a quiet personality, but a man of substance. Everything he did, he did with style. And the more time I spent with him, the more I got attracted to him.
How he sensed my thoughts, I do not know till today. May be it was too conspicuous. He asked me one day about it, and I could not deny. I had never been able to lie to him. It still remains so. I told him all that I felt for him. It sure took a lot of courage from my side to do that. I had never been so bold until that point in my life. He didn’t say anything for a while, and then slowly confessed that he felt the same for me too. Did this love spring up from my confession, just as reciprocation? I asked him. He told that was partly true. But for the most part, it was his attraction towards me too.
I was as happy as I had ever been in my life. And the days and months that followed were heavenly, to say the least. There was nothing unsaid, unshared between us. I was glad, almost proud to be the one to whom this secretive personality opened up. I am now too.
Days passed, it soon it was time to think of the next step. What were we going to do with our relationship? Surely we could not go on like this forever. All this while, it had been just the two of us. Now it was time to think of the wider picture. Parents. Would they agree to this relationship? We both knew we would have a hard time convincing them. Even if they did get convinced in the end, they would still be hurt at our decision. We asked ourselves, do we want to hurt them? What were our priorities?
Though our outlook on life was very different from each other, one thing we both agreed upon was that come what may, we would never be the cause of even a minutest agony to our parents. And that principle obviously was the biggest obstacle for the continuance of our relationship. We both knew that, but we also knew we could not do anything about it. Coming to think of it now, maybe we could have given ourselves at least a chance. But no, back then we knew that there was no way we could be together without making our parents shed even a single tear.
And so, one day, we decided to end it all. We might remain friends, but we had to drift apart from each other. Forcefully, if need be. We both promised to each other to get married, have children, and write to each other occasionally, meet up with our families sometimes.
I remembered the day when my dreams had died. And suddenly I realized, with a stab in my heart, that it was the same day, last year.
My dreams had died, but it took a long time for me to bury them. When my parents started looking out for a suitable match for me, I tried putting them off. Many offers were rejected on various accounts. It was not that I still believed I could reunite with Advait. But I felt I was not ready for marriage yet. I needed time.
One full year had passed this way, and here I was today, finally relenting to the inevitable.
As I stepping into the house I could sense the excitement. Seeing my mom’s face, lit with expectation, tense and happy at the same time, I knew that our decision was cent percent correct. I forced Advait out of my mind and quickly went off to my room to shower and get ready.
The guests arrived promptly at 7. Pleasantries were exchanged, introductions were made and everyone was seated. I was inside my room, touching up my make up. I looked at my mirror and said, “Goodbye, Advait.” And forced a smile into my lips, and a tear, into my eyes. Something seemed strange, but I could not figure what.
After about fifteen minutes, my mom walked into the room and said, “Come out dear. Take this coffee tray and serve them.”
I had been instructed to walk with my eyes down. I walked so till I neared them and then looked up at the sari clad woman, expecting to see my prospective mother-in-law.
It was Lakshmi Aunty! Advait’s mother! I did not understand. Puzzled, I looked around. Mani Uncle, Advait’s dad was smiling at me. My eyes looked around quickly as my heart beats quickened a trillion times. But they didn’t find what they were looking for. Were Advait’s parents, friends or relatives of the boy? Had they come on behalf of his parents? Or…? Now I understood why I had felt that strange feeling. It was the familiar voice of Aunty. I was about to turn to my mom for an explanation, when my brain beeped the ‘object found’ signal! My heart really skipped a beat! It was Advait, walking into the room, completing a call on his cell phone!
He looked up and smiled, and I nearly swooned. He came near me and took my hands into his. “I could not just go away from you Mini. I tried; I tried my best, but failed. For the first time in my life I failed girl. Then I decided to do what you always wanted us to, to give ourselves a chance. Just this time, I was determined, not just to try, but to succeed. I talked to my mom and dad. Convinced them. Then we talked to your mom and dad. Well, it was not easy, but then, it was not too difficult too! I was honest with them. I told them everything about us, including our decision to separate. I persisted and here we are today!”
Now how can I describe how I felt then! I was still unsure if this was real, and turned towards my mom. She came near me and put her arms around my shoulders. “Mini, it’s alright! We are your parents, child, not strangers. We would always want the best for you. Maybe that is why we are a bit overcautious. We need to be so sometimes. But we know Advait is just perfect for you! We are happy for you. Not hurt in the least. We could not have found a better match for you,” she said with a smile.
“Now dear lady, if I could have a minute of your time, can I ask you, if you would like to spend your lifetime, with me?” Advait asked my hand in his, looking straight inside my eyes, into my soul. Tears of joy poured out copiously, and amidst them, I told him, “Idiot! Don’t copy dialogs from Rang De Basanti!”