Exactly 16 years back on Valentine's day we proposed. It all started in Oct. 1994 while attending a cycling camp at Patiala, ahead of National cycling competition. We were put-up at boys hostel at Panjabi University. I had taken notice of four female cyclists in our team who had accompanied us for the camp. Finding myself amongst females was a feeling that I had been missing since my schooling at Jamshedpur.
Priyanka had started making calls to our hostel's reception asking for Rahul. Rahul whom I had come to know as a fellow cyclist was a hardworking sportsman from a middle-class family. Rahul's father worked with a public sector bank and mother a possessive and very caring home-maker. I never quite understood the reason for Rahul and his younger brother's interest in cycling when they were good students. The rigor and intent that both brothers possessed towards cycling which otherwise was an expensive game to pursue, was quite intriguing for me.
Rahul after attending calls at the hostel's reception was quite sure of caller being one of the fellow female cyclists. On receiving a call from Priyanka he had rushed to check STD booths at the university's main gate. A week passed and Rahul, I believe, had been visiting girls hostel daily where our fellow cyclists were stationed. He was trying to be friends with Simran whom he had been sighting since visits to his friend's house in the same sector where Simran stayed. Rahul wore spectacles and had a hair style close to Shahrukh's. He looked to be energetic and flirty who believed not sparing a single opportunity to impress girls. Of course, he was fearless and not too worried about outcomes of his actions, quite unlike me.
I am very suggestive in nature- typical of most Indians. Anyone with a problem or a situation could approach me and I had my point to make, practical or idealistic. I could smartly mix my point with humor and hence few could make complete sense. My cousin who was a localite had visited us at the hostel. He rode a bullet which was a style statement those days in North. The trend of students having bikes at the hostels was just picking up and owners would always find free-ride aspirants around. Rahul asked for the bullet from my cousin for a round trip to girls' hostel and asked me to accompany him. I said, “Kahan mujhe inn chakkaro mein daal rahe ho”. Rahul stopped the bullet next to the two girls who were taking a 'deliberate' evening stroll- after practicing for 40 Km at an average speed of 35 km/hr you do not go for evening walks. Rahul, I recall, said, “Good evening girls.” Girls stopped and started smiling. Rahul for the sake of starting a talk inquired about Priyanka and Simran smiles back with flirty looks. I could sense from her eyes that she had fallen for Rahul already and was just waiting for a right or a formal move from Rahul. The girl accompanying Simran was Monica- shy and soft-spoken.
I made some funny remarks on Simran's statement declining to be Priyanka. Soon I was chatting loud and frank. Simran said, “You even speak.” She had not heard me talking to any of the females in the camp. How could I when I was internally trying to cope-up with decision to take-up cycling as a full time sport. What was planned was not happening for me? I was meant to be a part time cyclist so that I continued to focus on studies and qualify for an engineering seat under the sports quota and also to ensure minimal distraction at the age of 17 when most guys fall for girls and or get addicted to alcohol.
Rahul and I had infact planned to watch the just released movie- Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge. Girls asked our plans and they quickly agreed to accompany us for the movie. A brief visit to an ailing uncle of Simran in city was the excuse girls planned for their warden. By the time we were back after parking the bullet at the hostel, Simran and Monica were waiting for us basking in success of fooling their warden. We took an auto to the city which was around 4 km from Panjabi university. We bought tickets and walked into the theatre. Simran was talkative of the lot and more relaxed compared to Monica. “Just ensure that we sit next to our girls”, said Rahul. Quite contrary to our plans, Simran sat next to me. Rahul takes the seat next to Monica, hesitating. However- typical of Rahul's nature- he was not going to miss this opportunity to be close to Simran. He quickly rose to re-align the sitting arrangement. Monica smiling with shy in her eyes sat next to me. We got lost into the movie that seemed to a perfect curtain raiser for forthcoming love stories in our real lives.
On valentine's day we are grateful to Rahul and Simran for their impeccable support during our love life. We live happily today and ensure wishing each other on Valentine's day. And why not when we had committed ourselves to our love on this day in 1995.
God bless! Rahul and Simran and their kids.