L21: The Way you love me Part II

Please read the part I here –> The way you love me

A 21 year old Laxmi was drying her long hair in the second floor balcony of the Palatial bungalow of the Naik family in Nigdi, on the outskirts Pune. Her fair skin was glowing in the soothing sunrays coming from behind a rain cloud. It had just rained a few hours back and Laxmi pulverised the dullness in the clouds with her charm. So busy was the beautiful maiden in killing the approaches from the nature that she didn’t realise her cell phone was ringing continuously. When the sunrays were sufficiently charged with her radiance, she came back to her room.

As a kid, Keshav used to stand in front of Laxmi after she  came out of the shower. He would love to have the water droplets of, what he called mini shower, sprayed all over him. Every family was jealous of the lovely relationship this brother and sister shared. And all of them despised the animosity their parents had between them. As a child Laxmi had no one but Keshav to look upto. He was her elder brother and the only one she could share her life and stay happy. Her fatehr hardly had time to spend with them and her mother hardly came out of her social circle. Both the Naik siblings always hated being born in a high profile family.

Laxmi casually checked her mobile phone. 14 missed calls 1 sms, it read. Must be Ankit, she thought. Besides being a beautiful girl, Laxmi was also a very good badminton player. She had picked this legacy from her father, Sudarshan Naik. So naturally she endured a fan following, especially amongst guys. Ankit was one such stalker. He was a niceguy, rich and qualified. But Laxmi wasn’t interested. She hated being associated with a guy. She had seen the love marriage of her parents fall apart like a pack or cards. She had seen her mother remarry to a guy who hated a person she loved so much, Keshav. She had seen her father succumb to alchohol. She hated marriage!

It took her only a split second to register that the calls were actually from Southern Command. Oh so Keshav was already here? She thought. May be Keshav was already in town and was coming to meet her. May be not. “This is Maj. Veerwani from Southern Command. Please call immediately. Regarding Keshav.” Read the message. Laxmi’s heart began to pound heavily.

“Hello… Major Veerwani? … Yes this is Laxmi… Yes… Sorry? Come again?……” … and Laxmi almost fainted.

The next thing she remembered was being on a flight to Delhi. Keshav was her only support and to say, only family member here and she was not prepared to let him slip away. Laxmi was still very young when the fights between her parent started to grow wilder. She remembered Keshav holding her tightly and sitting under the table while their parents fought on a trivial issue. She remembered the long fought battle over the custody of her and Keshav during her parent’s divorce. She was just 10 and Keshav was 14 and a half. The judge calledit split. Laxmi had to be hospitalised for dehydration, for she had cried so much. She remembered how Keshav would sneak in to meet her at her house or her school… and how some guys had roughed him up during her college days thinking he was her boy friend.

Keshav had lost lot of blood due to explosion. Moreover his right fibula and the joint with the knee were badly damaged. The Army medical facilities at Srinagar were not sufficient to deal with it. And Keshav had to be saved. They shifted him to AIIMS in Delhi. The department of Orthopaedics had taken 11 hours flat to bring the bone back in shape. When Laxmi landed in the ward 121 reserved fro Army Jawans, she was greeted with a stinking smell of spirit and blood. Orthopaedics ward is not meant for weak hearted patients. Laxmi was no exception. But all the fear vanished when she looked at Keshav, speeping in a two bed room. His leg was all plastered and his face looked considerably withered.

“Dada!”

Keshav pulled all his energies to raise a hand, as if he was saluting her. Laxmi’s emotions knew no bounds that day. She wept inconsolably that night.

The doctors had given up hope on Keshav. He was too weak and had lost to much of blood. But what happened in the next few weeks was more than a miracle. Laxmi worked relentlessly to get her pillar back in shape, so that she could again rest on him. Keshav had fully recovred in 3 months flat. Although he was now unfit to join the active posts in the Army any longer. He was offered a post to be an instructor in Khadakvasla in the National Defense Academy. He is still there and is considered the toughest guy in the regiment.

Laxmi mean while, gave away to Ankit’s advances and married him. But the way she loved her brother has now become a story to tell in the entire Army circles and others.

L20: The Way you love me

At 11,000 feet above the sea level, manning a bridge to prevent terrorist attacks is certainly not a good job to do. But Keshav was upto the task and doing it diligently. It had been more than a year that he was in Dras, a small section in Kargil district of Kashmir and probably the coldest place inhibited in India. Month of July was approaching its end. It was one of the warmer periods in Dras with temperatures going as high at 20 degrees on some days. So Keshav wasn’t complaining. There were other times when he had fought for snatching the Tiger hill back from the infiltrators in sub zero temperatures. But the war was over now… at least for some time and Keshav was happy about it. Finally he had a chance to go home. He was going to meet Laxmi.

Laxmi and Keshav had spent all their childhood together before a tragedy struck and they were separated. But they still managed to sneak time to meet each other. It was difficult, especially considering the trouble between their parents. Never the less it couldn’t stop them. Sitting on the watch tower with a Tavor TAR21 in his hand, he remembered how difficult it was to control Laxmi when he broke the news of joining Indian Army. Keshav always had this attraction of guns and ammunitions. Though as a child he never knew what are they really used for and what catastrophe they create. But he liked them anyway and always dreamt of getting into the Army ranks. Laxmi on the other hand was a very sweet little girl. She liked poetry more than bombs. She cherished chasing the butterflies in the garden whereas Keshav enjoying hunting them down so that Laxmi could preserve them in her note books. They were opposite ends and they attracted each other like any thing.

Keshav alerted the security when he saw a tourist jeep approach the bridge. From distance it looked like a white colored Gypsy. Although the vehicle was at least a kilometer away, dwindling down the road, with the help of his Fujinon AR-SX 6×30 binoculors, he was pretty sure it was a Gypsy. As he downed the cross hair, he remembered how he and Laxmi used to watch stars in the night through the astronomical binoculor his father owned. Laxmi would get facinated by the stars and would want them all in her lap. Keshav would often get upset for he couldn’t shoot them down the way he shot the butterflies. One day, he thought, he would take Laxmi to the sky and show her how beautiful it is from the top.

The vehicle was now clearly visible. Keshav was wrong, it was not a Gypsy but a Toyota. This brand was not sold in India. Some thing was really fishy and Keshav’s heart was now pounding. He immediately shouted on the microphone and alerted the command post. They men on ground immediately pulled extra barricades and waved the vehicle to slow down. The Toyota instead increased the speed and was now cruising towards the bridge. Keshav’s mind began to race. What was that? A suicide attack on the bridge? Yes… probably yes! He had to act and act very quickly. He immediately threw his bino off and pulled the Tavor in position. Another few seconds passed. There were no signs of the vehicle slowing down. He aimed the cross hair on the front tyre and fired. Missed… shit! He fired again. This time it was on target and the vehicle began to swivel. But the vehicle was still on course. He now aimed at the wind screen and fired multiple shots. The screen crashed and he could see two bearded guys inside. He had to avoid the vehicle to come any closer. By the time even the ground platoon was ready and firing. Both men couldn’t take the barrage of bullets and the vehicle lost control. It swiveled some more and to Keshav’s horror, banged right on his watch tower. Keshav didn’t remember many things after that, except that he fell to the ground with a thud. A large iron block followed and fell on his right leg. Looking at the sky with a diminishing vision, he prayed god. He wanted to be home for Raksha Bandhan.

Looking at the sky, remembering Laxmi, he closed his eyes.

To be continued…

L9: Head over Heels, The Story

Taking the story of my friend ahead, continue from hereà L8: Head over Heels, The Build Up

Cut to Early November 2008; a chronological narration of how it happened

One fine Sunday morning, dada (my father) found this guy, thanks to the matrimonial pullout in The Tribune. (Didn’t I tell you? This is an age old tried and tested formula). Since I don’t live with them, I cant prevent them from looking at the news paper. Anyway, he read the profile of Mr. A (name changed to protect his identity). I will still name him A, because it is my favorite letter and this guy’s name also began with ‘A’.

Anyway, so after a few telephone calls between A and my parents, they fixed a date and time to meet. Next, the horoscopes were matched; our pictures were exchanged and approved. The whole world including my mother’s sisters, my sister and brother in law (who are in Switzerland), my uncle in the US, in short the whole world knew about it except me. Beat that! I got to know this by chance. Dada has a habit of speaking with me every morning, but that day he didn’t. When I called to ask where he was, he said he will call me back. I knew something was fishy???

Cut to November 30, 2008- Sunday evening 7.30 pm: Dad calls me and tells me about A and his family. 27 yr old, 5 feet 11 inches, electrical engineer, MBA from a reputed college, works with a big Indian IT giant and currently posted in London. He gives me his email address so that I can write him an email. I suppose similar routine was carried out at A’s house.

Being what I am, my questions was why should I write, why can’t he simply call me? Well… I’ll tell you, parents are good at emotional blackmail. This was followed by two quick calls from my brother in law and my Uncle, both said the same thing- be mild, talk nicely, you have to do it and don’t get emotionally involved. Ya… Ya, right! I am going to talk to this guy about marriage and not get emotional about it. Hmmm… I always told my parents please don’t expect me to agree for a matrimonial match after one meeting with the guy, like my sister did. It worked wonderfully well for her but who knows? I’m not taking it. And anyway, it was first time for me to actually talk marriage with a guy whom I had never met or talked to.

Next day, Monday- December 1, 2008; I couldn’t believe I was going to do something like this. My work does involve talking and meeting strangers. But this was different. Yet, I went ahead and wrote to him. In the mean time me and my best friend also checked out his profile on orkut (comments- profile, interesting, pic could have been better. When I told him later about it, he got a little upset that I was checking him out.) Actually when I wrote him, I had prayed that he shouldn’t reply. But I guess the others were praying harder because he replied. Not bad, because it began with an apology for the delayed response.

It was exciting yet fearful.  But hang on… why was I feeling scared and claustrophobic? Everyone was on me, asking for updates. I tried to enjoy it but never imagined the whole thing could be so stressful, my sinus was at its worst (please don’t ask me why). Yet, I pretended to my family that I am also excited. And gave only 4 adjectives to describe A- nice, sweet, sober and no nonsense person. Too much praise could have been interpreted as a yes.

A did write nice, warm and long mails. Was I liking it? I think I was. I surprised at me completely. I never knew I could do this. While we shared our histories, likes, dislikes over next two days. My fears began to creep in; some silly some serious ones. If I move from Delhi I will not be a call away from my family, will he love my family like his own? Take-2, he might be the one.

A week later, Friday- Dec 5, 2008: I was a total nervous wreck- filled up to the brim. In the mean time we also had exchanged our pictures (PERFECT- one word to describe him). I think it was not easy for him either. ‘A’ wanted to discuss and take his sisters opinion about me but he was afraid of sharing his perspective with me. He thought, a yes might mean a yes for marriage with me. I think, no I know I did overreact but we were not able to explain our state of minds to each other.  Another revelation; I am not the most mature person when it comes to taking a decision about marriage- but it was my first time. I was on my all time low, and finally I broke down, cried like a baby. A still continued to diligently reply my mails and endless list of questions. But I thought what the point of exchanging mails is when we are not sure about it so I told him to discuss it with his family and then get back to me. He said he will do it by the weekend or by Monday morning.

Cut to Sunday- Dec 7, 2008: I always loved my Sundays and wanted them to be never ending. But this Sunday was different. I couldn’t take the stress. I had to go for a Sunday Brunch at ITC Sheraton, and I managed to scrap through it. Dad called and told me, his mom wants to meet me. Meet me? God, why? Dad said A’s mom told him that she had discussed it with her son and that’s why they wanted to meet me. Did that mean a yes from A? I wanted to wait for him to tell me that he does want to take things forward. I was desperately waiting for a reply which did not come and all kind of crazy things were going on in my head (I told you he chooses to be silent when he is not sure of things).

Next day, Monday- December 8, 2008: I didn’t have a reply from him till about 1 pm. Maybe I was a little disappointed because he told me no matter what my decision is you have every right to know. But he did not write, so I did it- wrote the toughest mail of my life and made the hardest decision. I communicated by NO in not a very polite mail to this really nice guy. I did hate myself for doing it. Of course I don’t have to add that everyone was disappointed with me.  My main and only reason of doing it was to get over the tension and stress. I don’t know how I could be so impatient. I have been in more difficult situations. I thought till this episode that I was Miss Manage-it-all. But now I know I am not. He didn’t reply and we did not exchange mails for about two weeks till I penned down my experiences. (I have this strange habit of writing down what I feel) I sent it to him too because he was the inspiration behind it. He loved reading the story. I was happy he enjoyed reading it and he gave me his take on my story. What he felt and other things. Of course I replied back and finally asked him if he too had said no. Because I wanted to know his reason for backing out. But very smartly he avoided answering that question and then the pieces of the puzzle fell in place. He did not say no in first place so how could he gave the reason? It was my foolishness that pushed him back. I felt like kicking myself. I so badly wanted this to work out. He then said ‘why don’t you give a take on what he wrote’ and well we were exchanging our thoughts again about marriage and life in general. I was hoping it would lead me somewhere with him. Just one chance to meet him and I would tell him that I fell head over heels for him, even if it didn’t matter now. Albert Einstein once wrote ‘you cannot hold gravity responsible for falling in love, you just fall in love!’ he was so right. I just wanted him to know what I felt and was waiting for him to call me so that I could meet him and just say it. I didn’t care if he thought I am mad and even if he didn’t reciprocate it. Anyway, I don’t think that is going to happen, he is going back to London and I think he has found his Miss Right. In the last mail he wrote to me, it had a line ‘what goes around comes around’ … So will, lost love come around in my life too? I hope it does. And it happens soon because now I know it is a beautiful feeling.

Why I wrote this- Simple, I keep telling my colleagues that sometimes you don’t have to commit mistakes to learn from them you can learn from others experience. Here is my experience, you learn from it.

“Real love is always fated. It has been arranged before time. It is the most meticulously prepared of coincidences. And fate, of course, is simply a secular term for the will of God, and coincidence for His grace.” Joshua Harris

L8: Head over Heels, The Build Up

My friend has shared her love story with me. Here is the second part. You can read part one here.

Cheers!

This is an absolute first had incident, an event that will always be close to my heart and taught me a few important lessons in life. I call it my sweet bitter experience (rather than the other way around).

Arranged marriage in India is a very scary affair. These are long lasting traditions that still find peak importance in life. You can say it is a ‘gathbandhan’ (A holy knot) between two families. My case was no different considering I belong to a traditional and conservative Indian family. Where you grow up with a belief that your husband will be short listed by the parents and grand parents and other elders in the family and your relatives and… anyway. (Though I won’t say select, because we do have a choice of saying a yes or a no)

Let me start with a confession first. Parents of a 27 yr old are not at peace at all no matter how well settled their child is. Every minute is spent thinking how and from where to find a ‘perfect match’ for their not so perfect daughter. In fact a day comes when the parents out of desperation do say; go find yourself a good boy. My question is- How? And Where?

I’ve always been single, a freebird you may say who enjoyed her share of crushes, infatuations and an occasional attentive glance from the opposite sex. Delhi is my karambhoomi where guys I met fell broadly in 5 categories. (I guess it might be the same every where). So the categories are

  • Married– can’t look at them.
  • Taken– already seeing someone- no point looking here. Let the one who are happy together stay together as well.
  • Friends– Never confuse relationships, sort of my personal policy
  • Some good guys who aren’t really straight
  • And last category- never mind, not worth it at all

So what do I do? Back to square one each time? Then I told my family, you want me to marry? Fine! Find me options to choose from. Mind it! Getting one married is a family mission. It is not just limited to parents responsibility (I just love this thing about big families). Trust me; this feeling of ‘all in the family’ is just great of course its adds to the already existing pressure but that’s a different story.

Next was the million dollar question. How will the family find an ideal match? They took three options:

Option 1 (Even I was surprised people still go for this. The age old formula is still a hit)- Matrimonial pull outs with newspapers.

Option 2– The new age mantra; shaadi.com and the likes. I am strictly against this one. It feels as if you are putting yourself up for sale. Come check me out. Don’t like it? No problem, refresh the page… But lot of people fancy this, millions including my grandmother who keeps telling me, “Aaj kal toh computer par ladkey miltey hein.” Wow!

Option 3– Oldest Formula, reference from family and friends. Since there is a dearth of good guys these ones are few and far in between.

Here I am, a 27 yr old, a PR professional working in Delhi for last 6yrs and living with my maternal grandparents. Youngest and only girl in the family left to be married. My life so far has been quite easy going, work-home-work and yes, friends too. But the biggest dream my grandfather (dad’s father) had in the last few years was to get me married. He even tried every trick in the book to convince me for it which also included a bribe. J I being a little naughty, I always had some trick to get out of it. My favorite reason was- I am only 24 and too young to get married (24 for last 4 yrs, he had poor memory because of old age so he believed it and my parents never corrected it either).

L7: Head over Heels, The Prologue

A fellow blogger and a friend on mine has shared her love story with me. With her permission I’m publishing it here, as written by her for your readership and review.

Cheers!

——–

Head over heels: The prologue

It is not a love story with a fairy tale ending but then I am no Cindrella either!

I never thought it could happen to me. Only in wildest dreams probably I could fall in love with someone. But never thought it would silently walk into my life and all my practical ideas that I lived with all my life would fly out of the window. Hmmm… so I fell for a man I never met or even heard his voice. How could I do something as crazy as this? Fall for someone I only exchanged mails with. Now some of you might think.. Girls love in chat rooms is kiddish and you don’t know who the guy on other side of the computer is. But this was not love in chat rooms. our parents had introduced us. We had not met but started to exchange mails and I did get to know the guy on the other side. I know when he is unsure and uncertain about things he chooses to be silent and no matter how hard you try he will not speak up and he knows me too- he thinks I am contextual, candid, frank and describes as one hell of a person (he says this when he loves and admires someone and the way they talk).

Anyway, It happened one fine Sunday, what, where, when, how everything I will share. I never imagined my parents would be the ones to introduce me to the guy I will end up falling in love with and they had done this with an intention that I might eventually end up getting married to him. Well marriage did not happen but love did (they don’t know about it because this one sided affair might just make them upset)

Mine is not exactly a happy love story but the fact that I too fell in love with someone makes me happy. It made me discover certain facets of my personality which I never realized existed and now I am not scared of falling in love or getting into a relationship and my friends are only too happy for me!

Like any other girl of my age I had my share of crushes and got some proposals too. Again like a good girl, I thought them through- do I see myself with this guy? Mostly I came to a negative conclusion. But for the first time when I thought about Mr. A (that’s the guy l loved) & me- I got an answer which was YES. Wham! It just blew me; I really was in love and was I happy. Only that I realized it a little too late and I was not sure about what Mr. A thought about me. So I kept my feelings to myself. I don’t know if I ever will talk to him again. And even if I do, I don’t know what I will talk. I think he is getting married- he social profile status says committed. Whether we both were meant to be together is a question I cannot answer. But yes, one question that I can answer. Should we have given it a chance? and my answer is YES YES YES!

——

The story is continued. Watch out for my next post

L5: Arti’s story. The other side of ‘It’

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…