Sunday, February 15, 2009

14 planned days, 4 planned flights and 1 unplanned love story

The rays of a lazy sun filtered through his silent room. He opened his eyes to the noise of a familiar buzz that radiated from his cellular phone lying next to him. He quickly flipped it open and realized she had sent him a message. ‘Her first message for me in India…’ he thought as an unconscious smile escaped his curious lips. He continued reading the contents before pressing ‘Reply’ and punching in his own matrix of quiet alphabet patterns. This was Day 1 at 5:30AM.

The bizarreness of the affair started becoming obvious quite soon. The fact that the two of them had somehow, given the very restrictive framework of an arranged matrimonial alliance, managed to go beyond formalities into a whole new world of trust and friendship was becoming too apparent. Their conversations took various shapes – SMS messages, text chats, voice chats, web-cam chats and of course, telephone calls. While all this was good enough to keep them waiting for the eventual face to face interaction, there was something else to it too – it didn’t seem to matter. His liking for her was seeded in her shockingly pure shades of genuine earthy innocence while her adulation for him stemmed from the creative attempts of sporadic star spangles he had managed to weave around himself over the years. A pair, one might say, truly unique in relation to one another.

After having exchanged over 200 messages, 100 phone calls and several telepathic signals by the end of day 5, there was little else remaining to be said or done. The meeting of the revered elders now seemed like a ritual that needed to be executed. The truth was he had fallen for her the day she had switched on her webcam for the first time and seen directly into his eyes not realizing she had scooped out his heart in one simple glance. She, on the other hand, had found a new lease of humanity in this stranger who, despite being the quintessential paradigm shifting prodigy-like symbol with an ‘NRI’ label attached, still had his feet firmly stuck to his roots regardless of where his life’s branches extended to. A match that was beginning to compliment each other with every interaction. A pair that was now officially in love but with neither the mental setup nor the physical parameters to confess it yet.

Day 6 brought some hopeful indications to that end as he prepared to take flight # 1 out of his city the following day to the place where he was convinced his soul mate stood waiting for him. Having been a lone wanderer for close to a decade, he wasn’t entirely sure what to expect in terms of companionship. One of the consequences of living alone was this – self reliance. An emotion so intense that many people never get married only for fear of ‘losing’ that space of island life. However, what he didn’t know then was that his much appreciated ‘island dwelling’ wasn’t complete without another shadow that could compliment his ragged presence. A fact that would dawn upon him like a thunderbolt on Day 7.

After the initial bugaboos of ‘arranged marriage’ idiosyncrasy, the two finally got some time to be by themselves. They walked around for a couple of hours exchanging pleasantries and trying to connect the dots about each other that had formed in their heads over the weeks. She spent her time narrating stories from her past and showing him the neighborhood, while he reacted with the utmost sense of sincerity and slapped away annoying mosquitoes that had started their rounds at dusk.

The families decided to eat out for the night, so they went to a delicious ethnic joint in the city. Over several steel tumblers of savory curries and endless supplies of interestingly small rotis he never missed an opportunity to look at her. What the 4-5 weeks of nonstop interactions had done was ignited this brazen craving in him to catch her in all her moods – surprised, thoughtful, serious, unattached, sober, mischievous…all of it. And try as he may, given the rather generously joyful occasion that day, he continued to silently etch her face into the interiors of his heart. She continued stealing glances from him and giggling away incessantly at jokes that only the two of them knew about. Over uncertain queries from her confused elders, she continued munching her limited meal as the evening came to a pleasant close.

Day 8 was going to be a big one. Quite possibly the ‘deal maker’ day for the two. Every exchange thus far had basically culminated up to this day that would go on to become one of the biggest milestones in both their lives. Over idle chat and the humdrum of the traffic whizzing by, he suddenly turned to her and asked her if she would marry him. A gasp of genuine surprise escaped her lips as she paused for a second, before continuing with a reasonable ‘Sure!’ and then they sat in silence for a few seconds before breaking into short giggles at how easily they had moved on to the next step. As the day drew to a close, sitting next to the waves that crashed into custom made rocks with subdued fury, they confessed their love for one another. It was a simple affair. No trumpets. No needless exaggerations. No cards. No music. No sonnets. Nothing. Just a quiet look into each other’s eyes and the magical words spilled forth. It was becoming quite apparent that their story wouldn’t be an ordinary one given that the proposal had preceded the confession, when usually it’s the other way around.

He flew out of her city in flight #2 as day 8 ended. It wasn’t easy, as he later realized sipping cold tea on the flight, to walk away from someone who had responded in the affirmative to the two major things in life – love and marriage.

Day 9 and 10 were a blur. More talk. More SMS exchange. More calls and yes, definitely more love. It wasn’t clear to either of them if what they had done was timed properly, but what they definitely knew was this – it was the most beautiful thing they had ever done in all their lives. Hence, the timing aspect of it just didn’t mean much.

Day 11 arrived with another packet of beautiful surprises. She took flight #3 into his city and brought to him the much needed sense of calm he was so desperately seeking. One look into her calm yet sparkly eyes and he knew – he would live out the rest of his days gazing into those pools of everlasting beauty. The elders met at his place under the blistering sun over cups of sugary coffee and equally sweet juice. After a few placid interactions, it was settled. They then shook hands, touched feet and received the blessings of the elders all the while aware that they were already blessed to have each other. She was now officially welcomed to his family.

She flew out of his city in flight #4 at the end of day 11. A capsule in time he so wanted to forget as he helplessly watched her walk away from him. Their eyes met just before she disappeared in an ocean of bags with hands attached to them. It was in those few seconds, that they had a dozen conversations. And that was enough – for now, he thought. As he drove back into his city constantly checking his messages to see if she had sent anything, he was sure that she was doing the same thing. He found himself instinctively letting out a prayer – ‘God…let this be the last time I see her walk away from me…’ and looked away into the dizzyingly maniacal traffic. A unique bond had been created that the event of ‘marriage’ would only solemnize in public since their celebrations of the heart had already begun.

Days 12 and 13 went by with equal temperaments. He would stay up till the wee hours of the morning as she would spend a good 3-4 hours after a 10 hour shift at work talking to him. This love story had to be the shortest and yet the most beautiful in his recollection since what he had known was that he would have to get married some day. But what he didn’t know was that he would fall in love with his future spouse with such intensity even before the families had properly met. A prospect that has him smiling in blissful wonder even today.

Day 14 came. The day when he would leave his city and head back to his second home in the west. He arrived at the airport almost four hours in advance so that he could speak to her contently for as long as he could. Luck, again, was on his side as he found an isolated phone booth and spent 45 minutes speaking to her and wishing her the best on their first Valentine’s Day. After being eyed suspiciously by a waiting co-passenger, he had to hang up, albeit with a very heavy heart.

He flew out at 3:30AM on the 14th day and slept like a baby for five straight hours on the flight. It was only after waking up and heading to the washroom did he realize why it was. He no longer struggled to sleep on long flights since he had now fallen in love with the most beautiful dream.



..ShaKri..

11 reflections:

Anonymous said...

Elders :(


- Krishna

ShaK said...

@Krishna

Haha! :) No no. I did not mean it that way! We couldn't have gone farther without the "elders" giving their consent. :) :D

Cheers,

SK

Madhura said...

Beautiful love story! Nice Picture and a nice pair :) May the Love create an eternal bond between you and Jaya, Bless you both a life that is deeply rooted in the bonds of love and commitment.

Madhura.

ShaK said...

@Madhura

Thank you Madhura for the kind words. We are truly blessed to have such friends and their warm wishes during this phase. :)

Cheers,

SK

Rajeswari said...

Absolutely fairy talesque.May the lovers marry and live happily ever after.

Raji aunty

srinivas said...

am tagging you :)

as you are aware, am already a blade (to cut air only) of your fan :D

ShaK said...

@Raji Aunty

Thank you aunty! :) It looks like the wedding will be in Bangalore so I will definitely make a personal visit to give you the invitation. My best regards to Kumar uncle and the family.

ShaKri

smita said...

Hey there! that's a very cute love story.. straight out of a fairy tale and m sure the ending will be equally fascinating!! :)...One thing is for sure u guys r made for each other! M very happy for Jaya and for u as well! I have never seen her so happy, i can say this for sure as I kno her since a v long time!!...Wish you guys all the best! Take good care of my frnd(i kno u'll) :D

Warm regards
Smita K

ShaK said...

@Smita

Thank you so much Smita for the kind words and warm wishes. As is obvious, I am crazy about Jaya. :) In fact I can safely say she is the best that has happened to me in a long time. I definitely look forward to meeting you some day and yes, you can count on me to take care of her as if my own eyes. :)

Thanks again and wishing you the best with your current ventures too.

Cheers,

Shashi

ಸ್ವರ said...

ah, such a nice one.. you really write so well, it feels we have witnessed it ourselves :)

our regards and wishes to you both

nitya santosh :)

Shefalle said...

Jaya and Shashi,

Now thats what I call an incredible love story woven with words that melt the heart to believe in the beauty of love. Have read so many love stories yet the story I now read gets a unique joy knowing that I have seen and touched the character the novelist speaks so highly about...making her celestial in his own inimitable style...

Shashi...Take care of Jaya and keep loving her more with each passing day...she deserves all of it as much as u deserve her...

- Shefalle...Jaya's grad college friend...

 
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