Monday, 27 July 2015

Love's Labor Lost?


“I am yours.
Don't give myself back to me.” Rumi
We all have our Love stories, some end in a fairy tale happily ever-after and some end in both going separate ways with love still in their hearts, but part due to circumstances. This is one love story of a girl and a boy from different regions of India (Delhi and Orissa), different religions (Muslim and Hindu Atheist), different ages, different professions (academics and advertising/writing) and different temperaments!
They fell in love and nothing mattered! Both lived in Delhi. He had done his Master's and was working now in Delhi. She was born and brought up in Delhi, and was pursuing higher studies. They had met through a friend who got injured when fire broke out at her place. She had jumped with her laptop from her second floor flat. They both had gone there to take care of her. They liked each other and it became a domestic scene with both of them cooking, cleaning, buying vegetables together for the house 'to take care of her'. The walks in the nearby park after cooking dinner, cleaning dishes and tucking her in became long. Later these walks shifted to Old Delhi, as his office was within walking distance of her home. She was from a conservative Muslim family of Old Delhi. Her father had recently passed away, and her mother and brother were the other members in her family. He came from a conservative Hindu family, youngest son with two married sisters. The families loved their son and daughter immensely, when the news traveled to them the reactions were nothing less than catastrophic. Her family feared the entire mohalla would gossip, his family thought the son would lose his religion or may get killed by 'violent Muslims', and the social boycott. Her mother gave her threats, brother said he would financially remove her from family property. His father said he will leave the house and will not eat food cooked from a Muslim's hand.
As tensions increased from the families side, they decided on a date when he would get his salary and would have saved enough to rent a place. She had some of her PhD scholarship money. Her family wanted a nikah for which he would have to change his name. Her family wanted him to become a 'good Muslim' to marry their daughter. She promised them she would try the Sufi way. He started staying with a friend to save some money. They started searching different localities. He left advertising and started working in digital media. Every weekend in hot sun on his bike they would start in search to find "home". They had to save money so would eat only at his friend's place. Friend and his family would tease both with songs like "..do deewane shehar me raat me aur dopahar me ashiyana dhoondte hain..", both were scared as after weeks they were not able to either finalize a locality or any place. Some rents were too high or at some places the houses were not good. Her family was putting pressure on her being away with him for such long hours before marriage, he should also know  some basics of Islam if he was marrying a Muslim girl.
The date for the wedding was getting near, they were getting restless. Families were skeptical about both of them being financially secure or would they be able to pull it off with long list of differences between them.They finalized a house but on hearing about their religious identities landlord backed out and refused. It was just a week left to go for marriage and they had not found any place! They were scared and tense with ever increasing pressure of the families' trying to break them apart. Finally, her prayers were answered (he never prayed!) and they fond a beautiful home. A barsaati with a bedroom, big drawing room, big windows in all the rooms, airy, open terrace and beautiful. Three days before the marriage both were busy scrubbing the floor, washing the walls and making it their 'home'. They hardly had any stuff to start with, but bought fridge as their first appliance. Her family gave some basic stuff like a gas stove, oven, utensils, bedsheets, etc. to start with, not happily but for her to manage with. She was sure of his capability and her love that they would acquire all the amenities with time. 
Her mother even though was angry, got ubtan for her so her daughter can look beautiful as a bride in her gharara, his sherwani was stiched by an expert tailor from Aligarh. It was a small ceremony, with just a few close friends and the barat from the inner streets left in cycle rickshaws. There were two cars, one of his friend and one of his boss. It was a sultry July evening. Everybody was sweating but everybody, whosoever got the invitation came to bless and wish the newly weds well. Friends welcomed them and decorated the bed sheet (no bed but a huge cotton mattress) with flowers. House had a bad ant problem and red ants were all over the sheet, they had to remove everything from bedroom. 
 By the time everybody left they were exhausted, just made space in the drawing room, opened the few gifts from few guests, and slept peacefully in each other's embrace. She was happy she would not have to answer anybody's queries about him anymore, he was just content to have her beside him. They had got the social sanction to live together now. The next day, house had to be cleaned post-dawat, chairs returned, nobody visited the newly weds, and the first trip they made was to the neighborhood baniya to buy household stuff. Her family had invited them for dinner next day of the wedding. Nobody had come from his family, they were informed on phone. Another marriage was scheduled to be held in Bhubaneswar. There was no TV/ internet just an old radio and some books. They talked for days and nights and still had more things to talk about.  For now, they were happy just to be together, and families seemed to have reconciled.  Her family made a total vegetarian menu on Bakra Eid/Eid ul Azha to suit the taste of their new son in law.He joined office after three days, as they needed money and could not afford more holidays, had long working hours. She did housework, laundry herself. His father , most vocal opponent of the marriage but soft hearted adorable man, thought it was inhuman for the daughter-in-law to wash clothes by hand and asked his son to buy a washing machine on Diwali. It was the second big expenditure that they made on an appliance. 
Often in the evenings they walked on terrace, on weekends went on bike rides or just walked miles. They got pirated dvds and watched movies on the  laptop with small speakers, each speaker on both their ears, as sound was very low and quality bad. They got internet connection next, so he could download movies himself! There was an old cooler that they had, and power cuts were a problem then. Sometimes they slept in the balcony with wet dupattas, and sometimes on the open terrace. 
 The second floor neighbours were a South Indian couple with no kids. The woman was a gentle, kind woman and an amazing cook, who would often get them piping hot idlis, dosas, appams in the morning for break fast. She would get medicine and cook her own versions of soup if she ever fell sick. 
On the first floor lived a lonely Aunty who was greedy for people's company and used to become generous and large hearted whenever anybody visited her.  
The top floor house was hot in summers, cold in winters and leaked in rains! But, they hosted friends, did open air parties and loved their little piece of heaven!
It was almost after a year of marriage that they saved enough to go for a trip together to Mcleodganj. She had a problem with altitude and vomited the entire way, he was by her side always comforting her, giving her water/ lemon/ chewing gum. They found a budget hotel and rested there. It was his birthday next day at Mcleodganj and she gifted him a wrist watch.   
To be continued......  

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