Arti Sharma, Sales Coordinator for Telebrands. Perhaps this was the only other identity that was left with Arti apart from being a single parent to her daughter. She was the only daughter of Ghanshyam Sharma and Parminder Kaur. A half brahmin and half punjabi, she had had her own share of miseries in her childhood. As a child Arti spent most of her time alone. Her mother passed away when she was just 12. Being the only child, it meant she had to manage most of the daily activities at home. It had an effect on her studies too. Her father Ghanshyam was working in an automotive parts making company in Faridabad. However the company couldn’t survive heavy losses suffered due to a canceled major international order and was locked down. Arti was 14 and saw her 47 year old father crumple under the uncertainty and misfortune. Finally, after two years of dragging and pulling and after Arti completed her secondary school examination, they moved to Pune. It was supposedly going to provide new career opportunity for Ghanshyam, so he thought.
He was wrong. Despite being a boom in the automobile sector, the middle aged Brahmin failed to strike a deal with any of the auto companies or its ancillaries. He had to settle for a role of a Manager in a garage cum parts dealer. It helped Arti complete her education. But it hampered her dream to be a doctor. At a tender age, she was left neither with money nor courage to follow it. She worked part time at various offices and also managed to study commerce from an average college. She was neither a bright student nor a promising youngster. But there was one thing that no body could ignore was her charm and eagerness. Despite all the hardships, she was a cheerful girl. It helped her survive and motivated her father to live. She was his only hope and only motivation.
During her second year of graduation, she bumped into a stall in the porch of her college that read ‘Mphasis spot offers’. Out of curiosity, she registered and took the test, the interviews and cleared it. It turned out to be a call center job that paid her 15 grands a month (thrice of what her part timers would pay). The time however was going to be 2:30 to 11:30. Although they offered a pick up and drop at no extra cost. It took her 3 days to convince Ghanshyam to let her take up that job. Ghanshyam was skeptical about the kind of people coming there. His daughter was just 20 and too vulnerable. The job was to change their fate forever. But they had no choice.
Here is where Arti met Akshay, a.k.a. Akki. They were made to sit together on the first day of training and the seats remained as it is for the next 2 years; earlier due to the arrangements and later by choice. For a voice process, Akki was a serious guy. In fact too serious. He was a man of few words. But when it came to delivering a speech or a pitch, he was the man to watch for. Arti loved him for his dedication to work. But she found him too methodical, scared of taking risks. Akki on the other hand loved Arti’s go-getter attitude and her energy. She was gullible, yet too sweet to be deceived. As they say, opposite poles attract. Arti and Akki were opposite poles. Arti brought life to otherwise mundane Akshay Jain where as Akki protected Arti from the obvious side effects of being a call centre employee. An year into the job and they still remained ‘good friends.’ Finally on one of the rainy nights when they were off duty and heading for home, Akki dared. Arti was at her talking best and telling him what nasty customers she got today.
“Arti…” And akki dragged her behind a pole in the basement parking. It sent a chill down her spine. They were the last two employees going out and the basement was empty. She could hear the cabs honking and moving away behind Akki’s ears. “I love you” He said.
She could feel his hands pressing against her shoulders. “Akki…I”
“I know you like me too. But still if I’m wrong, may be. Tell me do you?”
“I just want to say…”
“Its okay if you need time. Take it. I’ll wait for your answer.”
“Shut up you Idiot.” Arti put her hand over his lips. “You have become a part of this scum. What took you so long to say it you dumb?” She slowly removed her hand, looking at a bewildered Akki. He couldn’t believe it. (And I dont need to tell you, they kissed later on.)
Arti shifted her house on the route where both could travel in the same cab. They worked for another year in Mphasis before shifting to Spectramind. It was a 3 month gap before both could join the same company. Life was beginning to be fun. Finally bowing to Ghanshyam’s pressure, Arti took Akki home one day. After all she was turning 24 and her father was beginning to get worried. Even she and Akki were going around for more than 3 years and it was necessary to think marriage. Akki was 25 and a half, he was good looking, had a good job and belonged to a good family. There was no reason why Ghanshyam could reject him, expect for the fact that he was a ‘Jain’. He some how knew Akki’s family wouldn’t approve of this. He was indeed right.
Akki’s father was a reputed businessman in the town. He ran 2 garment shops in the down town and was a very devout religious guy. So when the two gentlemen fathers met, they greeted each other with serene diplomacy. It must have been identical to the India-Pakistan peace summit. The diplomats show all the respect for each other yet they know things are not going to work out. The night that day saw both love birds being reprimanded, warned and requested to forgo the relationship they have. Days passed and so did weeks and months. There was no trace of a positive vibe coming out. It was a big heart break for Arti. She knew Akki loved her. But she hated him for not being able to fight for her. Another seven months passed. They met daily, they went out, they laughed and they talked. But they never discussed marriage. Finally Arti thought she had had enough. She resigned and left the company without informing Akki. Although she knew Akki would eventually find out where she was. She wanted him to find her out. She wanted him to reach her, feel for her. He did. Initially he called friends and tried to get her number. When he found out her office, he left her messages, which Arti never returned. Because they no longer mattered. What mattered was some courage from Akki.
One day when Arti was about to leave her house, she saw Akki standing in front of the door. She ignored him but he was not perturbed. He grabbed her hand and pulled her aside. She could feel the power, it was hurting. But she instantly knew some thing was about to happen. She knew it. He took her to the temple in the neighborhood. Now they were standing on the flight of stairways. Akki was beaming with confidence and anger. He drew his hand inside his pocket and pulled a small box wrapped in pink. He opened it and handed it to Arti and said…
“I want to give you this ring. And with blessings of god I want to marry you… here! now! I love you Arti. Will you marry me?”
To be continued…