“Anything else, dear”, Raghav, my loving husband asked me as he was about to make a move out of the train to get himself a magazine. “Hey, a packet of little hearts too”, I called out, he gave me an assuring nod, and then turned back and disappeared into the crowd. Gush of cold air hit my face and distorted my pinned hair strands. I love it, when wind plays with my hair. It was too lovely to even pin my hair again. The same scene, took me 3 months back.
It was after a long day at office, I was walking back home tired. The cool wind blew and it was as though just to tangle the hair that I had tugged behind my ears. I love it when wind plays with my hair, but that day it seemed irritating. I was not sure why, but a feeling of defeat was bothering me, since my wedding was decided with Venkat.
Venkat was a software engineer working in Chennai. His parents were at Delhi, since his father got transferred there.
I was not interested in him, probably nothing in him interested me much. The assurance my parents gave would never suffice. Venkat was exactly the opposite of how I had dreamed about my life partner. Still, for the regards and respect I had for my parents and not having enough guts to go against their words, I accepted the proposal. I felt defeated; when I realized that my life has been decided without my complete acceptance. It was a month back, I got engaged to Venkat. Our marriage was fixed exactly two months later from that day.
Venkat was eager to get my number to familiarize him, but I avoided the situation putting forth the reason that, let the sharing happen after engagement. And right the next day, the elders at home helped their children to exchange numbers and Venkat started texting me. I avoided his calls telling that I was busy and ignored his texts. I would reply to one of his ten texts. Venkat was very much gentle enough to take my dormant response in a positive way and not to ask me why.
As I entered home, that day, my Father gave me a warm smile, holding a calculator in one hand and a note on the other. Ever since I got engaged, I always found my Dad with a calculator and a note, managing the expenses and my Mom with mobile phone and a note, meticulously discussing the proceedings. It was the usual scene and it bored me. I strode into my room, to refresh myself.
“Dear, come here”, my Mom called out. I was much engrossed in my computer, that it just felt like a faint call from a distance. “Dear, could you come here”, it was the second call I was least bothered to give a response. “Harini, do u hear me” , it was the third call and I very well know when my name is being called, I had to be there the next moment or it will make my Mom furious. I stood up, and walked to the room where my Mom and Dad were seated.
“Harini , You are too much occupied with something these days, I have said this to you thousand times before, that you need not worry much about this wedding, enjoy your life sweetheart, you have to be happy now, not brooding like this. Venkat is the best guy for you, believe in our decision”, my Dad tried to console me.
“It’s ok, Appa, I have come out of it now, I will be fine soon”, I replied.
“May I know why you had been calling me?”,I asked my mom. She came close to me, gave a pat on my shoulders and said, “You are tired dear, have your Dinner, and then have a good sleep, as your Dad just said, be happy and enjoy your life.”, she smiled.
I was not sure what to tell “Fine Amma, that sounds good”, I kept my reply short.
I returned to my room, after my dinner. My parents were so much assuring about this wedding, but I was struggling inside, for having accepted Venkat, just for my parents’ sake. The beep from my mobile diverted my thoughts, when I looked at it there were two messages from Venkat.
Text 1: “Hi Dear, reached home? “
Text 2: ( 10 minutes later): “Just worried cause its dark, rchd home??”
I, thought I could ignore, but something made me to reply, I typed “Yep, rchd 45 mins bk, feeling sleepy now. Going to sleep. Gn “and pressed ‘Send’.
The next moment he replied. ‘What a prompt reply, as if he was staring at his mobile for my text’, I thought in disgust.
The message read “Take care dear, have good rest , Good night, Sweet dreams” , as I read, I blurted out to myself , ‘Only this guy on earth can write thousand lines , where only a single word is required’, placing the mobile back on table, I turned on my computer to browse for my favorite sites.
My eyelids were heavy. I mustered all my strength to open my eyes to look at my mobile, it was already 4 minutes past 9. There were three messages. Two were forwards from my friends. Last one was from Venkat, it read “Good morning dear, Its weekend again, Enjoy”. I let out a sigh and did not bother to reply. I saw that the charge was low, I connected my mobile to charger and made my move to kick start my weekend.
It was 10, When I was just about to walk out of my room , my mobile beeped and it was Venkat’s text again ‘Whats with him?’, I sighed as I opened his text.
“Gotta talk to you, shall I call you now?”, read the text. I could not tell him that I was busy , and I had been rejecting his calls for the past month , so I thought I will speak with him. I replied, “S, u can”.
In another two minutes I received his call. With utmost reluctance, I pressed the ‘answer’ button and said a “Hello!”
“Hi, there, So how are you “ was his response, I could feel the charm in his voice, I had to accept, his voice was cheerful, the smile that I could hear in his voice between his words was breathtaking.
It took few seconds for me to realize that I had to answer,
I stammered “Oh, Ya, Am fine, how are you”.
Venkat said in a confused tone “Guess I disturbed you, you are sounding as though you are occupied by something else in mind “, I was amazed, the same words my father told me last night, how did Venkat make out just by listening to few words of mine.
“Hello, Harini , Are you ok?”, he asked me.
“Yup, am fine” was my feeble response.
“Fine, I will call you sometime later. Please do tell me only when you are really free, ok, As of now, Bye dear, Take care”, He said and even before I could fully get his words into my mind, the line went Dead.
I was not too sure what to do other than calling him back. The next moment I dialed his number. He answered the call in just two rings and said “So the angel is back”, It annoyed me. Yet I managed to speak. I did not want the call Drama to continue. I thought let me talk to him and end it soon.
“Sorry, my mobile signal was low and hence your voice reached me late. It might have caused the delay in response. Sorry about that. Please tell me now”, I lied in utter haste.
“Its high time, we decide about our trip after our wedding, dear, we are just left with two more months. Pour in your suggestions”, Venkat took full control over the words he spoke.
“You decide, I am not that very good in deciding places, I am ok with some cool place”, was my immediate response.
“Oh that should be a good clue to narrow down my choices for our trip , Great suggestion”, Venkat was sounding sweeter as he spoke. He was decent enough not even to use the word ‘Honeymoon’ to me. He read my mind well. That word would have aggravated my disgust more.
“Anything else?, got some work here”, I tried to cut the call short.
“Nothing dear, that’s all, have a nice day, Bye, Take care”, and once again before I could do, he had disconnected the line. Probably, I made it very obvious that I was not interested in talking to him.
The real reason behind the disinterest in Venkat , more specific in this wedding was the fact that my parents confirmed him and when they came to me, about this proposal , they were sure to get me married to Venkat. Probably, if I had seen Venkat before they could bring him for me, I might have liked him. The impression he gave me after our first meet was, he was very expressive, talkative, which I completely disliked. When my parents asked for my suggestion, I said, ”He is too out going and expressive, in future, he might expect me to be the same, I cannot, I will speak less, I am to my own self, more”.
My parents argued that the reasons I am putting forth were all lame excuses and I am trying to avoid the proposal. I replied in anger “You are obsessed with this guy and hence you are forcing me”.
My Dad was taken aback. ”Don’t you believe that all that we do is for your good, Harini?, You know! Your birth star is problematic, and hence many families had rejected you. We had been trying hard to find a perfect match for you. Just hold on and think, do you really feel the reasons you are putting forth are reasonable? , Venkat’s so called ‘bad’ qualities by you are all not permanent, if at all those are disturbing, you could really talk to him or take elders advice either side, we will be with you always, for everything, at any situation ”, my dad assured.
The words confused me. I collapsed in the chair, covering my face, shedding tears. It took one full day for me to recover. I was neither able to deny him completely, nor accept him. The mind and heart struggled somewhere in between.
Finally, I thought, ‘Fine, just for my parents’ sake, I am going for it. In arranged marriage, every girl or guy does not get to know about their partner fully. In my case, let me take a call.’
Days rolled by. Venkat’s texts reached me every day without fail. I responded very rarely. Neither Venkat nor his texts created an impact on me.
He even mailed me the itinerary of our trip. I had to reply an “OK” , with a fake smile. Weirdest days of my life were my courtship days. I wanted them to end fast, but I knew, end of my courtship days will mark the beginning of my married life. The same thought troubled me the most.
Chapter – III
The big day finally arrived. My wedding with Venkat took place and everybody around us in both the families was very happy about the grand finish of our wedding.
We were made to sit together during dinner. It felt odd, I had finally handed over my life to some guy whom I did not even bother to turn and look. I did not eat properly, when asked about my odd behavior, Venkat pitched in to save me, giving a reason that separation from my family is causing me to be so. I felt relieved. How could he be so generous to help a girl , now his wife, who has been constantly neglecting him, I thought. It felt strange.
The next morning, I bade a reluctant bye to my family, with all tears; I got into Venkat’s car to his house. Venkat chose to sit beside the driver and I was seated back along with his Mom and Dad. The pain was excruciating. I had departed my family. I did not have any liking for the guy seated in front. As the car rolled, my thought rolled too, accompanied by worries and confusion.
Every passing minute wounded me badly; tears automatically rolling down.
His mom consoled me. I had spoken to her thrice before, I felt her touch was warm. His Dad was very much sweet enough to console me and assure that the new place would be my second birth place. I was left with nothing else, other than a blank nod. Venkat was watching me from front, the gaze which I ignored.
Amidst all the emotions, car stopped by. We had reached Venkat’s home at Chennai. The flat looked amazing. His house was at the second floor. We took the lift. His Mom and Dad welcomed us and ushered us inside the house. The usual authentic ceremonies, which involved lighting lamp and prayers, took place.
We were all seated, when Venkat asked me “How do you like the house, our dwelling place“, I just gave a glance, and replied “Yes, it is very nice, It is well maintained”. I could neither cut the answer short because his parents were there, nor elaborate because I was not in a mental state to do so.
His mom sat beside me, held my hand and said “Harini, I am not going to advice you anything, I believe you will take good care of this house and my son. Our prayers, are always with you“.
His father continued, “Yes, Harini, you need not worry about anything, you can feel free to talk to us, if you have any concerns. But, one thing, not just for the sake that he is my son, I have to tell you, Venkat’s aim is to give you all happiness and he, for sure will fulfil all your wishes, You will have a great life here, my child “.
His mom gave a pat on my shoulders and said “ Child, it has been a long day for you with lot of things happening around. Take some rest and refresh yourself, we shall leave for temple in the evening. Dad and I will be leaving for Delhi, tonight”. Her words hit me hard.
I did not know what to tell, I thought they would stay here for couple of days, at least, but I was left with no other option. Only Venkat and I. It was going to be a tough and embarrassing time for me. I thought of the time ahead and shut my eyes tight.
Chapter – IV
It was evening, when we all were back home after our temple visit. I helped my in laws to pack. It was time they had to leave, when my Mother in law gifted me a beautiful clutch purse and said “Have a blessed life ahead, child, As Venkat planned , you would be leaving for honeymoon in another five days’ time. Enjoy your memorable moments”, she smiled. I bit my lip, I could not answer anything, just shook my head, blank.
An hour later , we were at the airport and since it was domestic flight, My in laws could pass through all the security checks fast. Venkat and I waved them a ‘Bye’ and waited a little while until they were completely out of our sight. I was staring at the moving crowd, not knowing what to do next. It was then I heard his voice “Harini, shall we make our move”, I turned, not looking at him; I just shook my head and followed him towards the parking lot.
When I was about to get into the car, Venkat asked me to sit in front and I obliged.
“I shall drive the car home straight. Do you want to get something for yourself?”, he asked.
“No, we shall go home”, I replied.
It was 11 when we reached home. I opened the door, placed the keys back in the stand. The moonlight was stunning. There was a lawn at the back of Venkat’s flat with few chairs placed.
I wished, I could get there to spend some time. I knew it was not safe to go alone and I was hesitant to call Venkat, I was wondering how tiring it was for him. As these were running in my mind, Venkat came close and said “there is a lawn at the back, this moonlight would be the awesome time to spend. If you wish we could go there”, he smiled.
“Ya, definitely, I would want to be there”, was my response, and in another five minutes we were there in the lawn , seated a little close to each other.
It was the first time, I got a complete look at Venkat’s face. I know him for the past three months, but I have never got a complete picture. He looked perfect in his white shirt, His perfectly angled nose, broad sharp eyes made me look at him longer, I was admiring his charm , as I was lost in my gaze, his voice disturbed me.
“I want to talk to you, Harini”, Venkat started. “Since our meeting, you made it obvious, that you were not interested in this wedding. You were not happy out of this wedding, too, Am I right?”, he asked.
I did not expect this question from him, at least the very next day of our wedding, I nodded my head helplessly. “Harini, I knew you were not interested, hence I tried my level best to talk to you so that we could sort this matter out. Have you ever thought, why In spite of your repeated neglects and ‘No’s , I have always been trying to interact with you?, I wanted to sort this issue out , Harini. I did not want to proceed with the wedding when you were not interested. I tried speaking with your Dad too, but he assured me that you were happy with the wedding.”
“Harini, now we are married. My humble request is at least you open up now. What is that, that is bothering you so much? It is not healthy, either to be this way or to see you this way. I cannot proceed with anything in our life if I do not really know what is behind your worry and sorrow. ”
Tears rolled down my cheeks as he spoke. “Harini, stop crying and answer me. Please “
I was quiet. Few minutes passed by in silence, Neither of us spoke.
“Am sorry, Venkat, I could not help myself, but to answer all of your questions, at least few , I have to tell this” I paused to take a deep breathe. I continued, “I have to tell at least, that, I was forced to marry you. My wedding was decided without my complete interest and involvement.“, I completed, expecting a million of expression in his face, rather, he was calm.
“Ok, so that clearly says you did not like me. You could be forced only when you do not like it”
“Not that way, Venkat , I was made to marry you , hence I did not like the wedding, every proceeding after our wedding is hurting me more, and I just want to get out of it “.
“Harini, whatever way you put in, it is the same thing that you are trying to tell. I want to be more practical here. The root cause for all your troubles is the thought that you were ‘made’ to marry me. You were ‘forced’ to like me. You did not do things by yourself; it was all other’s decision. Am I right?”
“Yes”, I could not stop my tears.
“So, do you have any opinion for me? Like or dislike? , out of what you saw in me and not out of what others told about me”.
“No, I have not seen you beyond the fact that I was ‘made’ to like you”
“Ok Harini. Just listen. I held your hand yesterday, not to drop it half way through. I want to hold you forever in my life. There is no concrete reason behind your dislike for me except for the fact that you were forced to. I am firm on one thing Harini, I can compromise anything for you, but shall not compromise you for anything. Now I am leaving it in your hands, the complete decision. Now I am giving you the choice. Stay with me for the next five days, until we leave for honeymoon. You will not be forced, for anything. You will be left to decide for yourself. Whether you like me or not, tell me your decision and we shall proceed accordingly. “
“But, Venk…” before I could proceed, Venkat already made his move to stand up, I followed him inside the house, not knowing what to do, too many crucial thoughts were running in my mind.
As we entered, he turned and gave a smile, “If you feel five days would not suffice, you can take as long as you wish. Also, Harini, You can still look at me with the obsession that you don’t like me. I have the confidence, that my love for you will break all your obsessions about me in your mind. For the first ever time, am telling you, “I Love you, Harini” ”, and walked into his room.
I was woken up by my alarm the next morning. Venkat had left me a text, that he has gone for jogging.
I continued all the regular activities. Couple of days passed , Venkat took me to a mall, temple, a movie, for dinner . I used to cook for us. He kept complimenting me for all that I did. I remained silent even for his compliments. I would react to some. Venkat’s attitude was that, he never waited for me to accept or reject his compliments. He would comment and leave. When asked for reason he used to say he did not want me to get embarrassed.
It was fourth day after our wedding; It was 8 in morning and he was still asleep in his room. The door was half open and I could see him. He was charming, I had to accept.
I had made up my mind. I had taken my decision what Venkat wanted me to do. Now it’s time for me to reveal it to him. The rest was his choice. I thought the right time has come.
I went to my room and started packing my things, my clothes, my accessories, etc. I heard the screeching of Venkat’s door. He came out, calling my name. He was stunned to see me packing.
“Harini, what is going on?” he asked in bewilderment.
“Venkat, I have a lot to talk to you. I have decided my path. It is time I tell it to you.” , I stiffened my tone. I wanted to sound brave, probably for the first time in life. Someone had asked my opinion and I am now standing for it.
For the very first time , I could see that he was worried. Rays of angst marred his brows.
“Venkat , please go and refresh yourself. Your day has just started. I shall prepare coffee for you. Let’s have our coffee and talk”, I walked towards the kitchen. I brewed two cups for us and we sat in the couch, facing each other.
“Venkat “, I started the conversation.
He nodded, holding the cup in his hands. The steam from the coffee created few sweat beads on his face.
“I have chosen my path. You gave me five days to decide. I have chosen faster. I was ignorant enough, for not having realized who you were, so many days back. I am happy, you gave me a chance, and I think I used it wisely, at least this time to know you, to admire you, to like you, above all, to love you.”, I paused.
He was looking at me, with wide eyes.
“Yes Venkat, I love you and have decided to be with you forever”, as I said these words, I locked my eyes with Venkat’s. It showed joy , a joy of not missing something in life, still I could sense he was confused.
“But , Harini, How…..”, as he tried to ask something, I interrupted Venkat and continued.
“Venkat, you did not impress me over night. Of all these days, I spent with you, you looked new to me every day. There was something in you, that meticulously crafted a path in my mind about you, tracing from a ‘good human’ , to a ‘perfect Man’ to a ‘Noble heart’ and finally to a ‘Great soul’.
“I saw a Good human in you, when you were kind enough to drop a ten rupee note to an old man , the other day in the mall parking lot, and when I asked you why , you said “Do we hesitate to eat a junk food, in the evening , just for the sake of passing time, even though we are not really hungry? , This is more of a wise expense”. I got to know your good humanity there, Venkat”
“I saw a Perfect Man in you, when you cared so much for a woman in a two- wheeler, who was about to get hit by you, when you waved your hand unintentionally. It was her mistake,that she did not honk and came too close behind, still you showed perfect manliness to care enough for her and to feel good that she missed the blow. When you spoke about preserving delicacy in Women, I admired you much”
“I felt a Noble heart in you, when you completely understood me that I must be in confusion and for not asking the reason behind my dormant behaviors in the past days. I respected the nobility in you, which made me to like you”
“Above all, you were such a great soul, to provide me a perfect ambiance, to relax and calm my mind. It dissolved all my stress, made my mind clear to get a clearer vision of you and your love“. I lowered my head in demure.
“Harini”, Venkat called, as he moved a little closer.
As I raised my head to see him , I found Venkat smile, a smile of victory, Yes he had won my heart, so beautifully.
As I neared, I found that Venkat had a warm, comforting smile on his face. “My dear, Am so happy. My joy knows no bound now, I feel like flying. You had noted all this in me, which had paved a way for you to understand and love me? I am much proud of myself now, thanks for giving this moment of ecstasy”. he exclaimed. More than his lips, I could see his eyes and voice, smile broader.
I suddenly spotted our wedding card and in front cover in bold letters it read,
“Harini Weds Venkatraghav”, a flash of thought struck me.
“Venkat, can I ask you something?”
“Sure, dear” was his response.
“Can I call you, ‘Raghav’, from now on? Not sure why, but am loving that name and it sounds more lovely when you are called so.”, I blushed and Venkat giggled. Did I look funny, I wondered.
“Baby, hereafter it’s all your choice and I am all yours “, he replied and winked.
I held my Raghav’s face close to me. “Raghav, now, there shall be nothing in the world that could separate us.”
Venkat signed by placed his finger on my lips and said “We have not yet started living, dear. Why to talk about separation, now, I do not want to hear it from you, even if it is in positive sense” and looked directly into my eyes. We were too close, I could see myself in his eyes. We both froze for a moment and I wish the world around us could freeze too, making this moment, ever forever.
Venkat moved back, releasing himself from my hold and said “I have to thank you dear, if you had not opened up yourself properly, we would not have come out of this”
“No, Raghav, I have to thank you, you were the one who brought me out. But, I still have one question. When I said I love you, you were very calm and composed. You expected me to say so? You believed yourself so much?
“Harini, the other day when I asked you, do you have any opinion on me, you gave a blunt ‘No’, which was of great help for me. Though I challenged to win over your obsessed mind, I knew you were not obsessed. You were just confused, not knowing what to choose. I just created a calm situation for you, to be more realistic and practical. When I said the choice is yours, you had no other option, but just to think all by yourself. As confusions started draining out of your cup of life, you had space in it, and my love was available nearby and you started filling your life with my Love. Once I realized that you started accepting, I started pouring in my love more and that’s how the magic happened.”
I was completely in tears.
As he wiped my tears off, I found his eyes locked somewhere. I turned towards the direction of his sight and found my half packed brief case and a travel bag. I sensed what was going through in his mind.
“So, now shall we get back to packing? We have to kick start all our way to our Honeymoon, My first trip, most memorable trip with my Love.”, I smiled, extending my arms in air.
He came closer, held my hands, took them close to his chest and pressed it firm.
We are in train now, as the flights were cancelled due to bad weather.
I was brought back to the present by a warm touch on my shoulders.
And yes it was my Raghav, holding a pack of little hearts for me. “Nature gave me only one and I gave it to you, now see, this biscuit company has helped me, to give you so many hearts, accept them as you accepted mine” Venkat extended the biscuit pack.
“Still you speak thousand words where only a few are necessary” I blushed. He chuckled and sat beside me.
I held his hands tight, leaned against his shoulders and closed my eyes tight. I could now go anywhere in this entire universe, even by closing my eyes, If I could hold my Raghav’s hands forever.
End of all my worries and confusions marked the beginning of new, wonderful life with Raghav aka Venkat , my ever loving husband.
- The end , Sorry, The beginning :-) …….