YOU MET ME SO LATE- A Story
“Mom!, my breakfast,” shouted Rahi dressing herself in front of mirror in her room. She lived in a two-bedroom apartment with her parents and younger brother. “I am looking fatter in this mirror…do looks really matter?”, she muttered to herself while brushing hair quickly and letting it fall free over her shoulders. She looked beautiful when she let her hair lose.
She was on the dining table in the living room when her mother brings in breakfast and a bowl of curd. “Mom, I do not like milk products, they make me feel like puking but you offer me everyday.” This was Rahi’s reaction everyday but always obliged her Mom by finishing the curd.
Mrs Garg (Rahi’s MoM) got married before she could complete her studies. She was blessed with three kids- Mahi who is now happily married in Jalandhar, Rahi and Gopal who studied in Pune. Mr Garg worked with Chandigarh Administration as a Compliance Officer- a man of principles who enjoyed great reputation amongst his colleagues for his sincerity and friendly nature.
“You always have no time to eat. I wish your in-laws care for you the same way, when you are married? Eat well till you are with Me.”, Mom said, getting emotional.
”Mom! Wrong time to have tears, I am not missing my first lecture again today. Be Strong!”, and she rushed out of house.
Rahi had no plans to get married soon. She wanted to work post her graduation and get married to a person she ends-up loving. Somewhere inside her heart she believed, love at sight is not in her destiny.
Back home, Rahi’s Mom said, “Rahi should be married soon. She can work once she is married, if she wants to. Our financial position is stable now and let us find a match for her.”
I am also worried for Rahi. Ok! let me start exploring”, said father.
Rahi was in 2nd year of her MBA program at MGM College, Chandigarh. Ashima and Geet were her best and only friends. Being from a traditional middle-class Hindu family, Rahi was a religious girl, emotionally strong and with lively nature. She was very accommodating and accepted changes in her life as and when they came with a smile. She carried a strong head and never decided anything before giving a rational thought to it. She was not impulsive in her decisions quite contrary to personalities of Ashima and Geet.
The trio moved together wherever they went and attracted the attention of boys. Ashima was the one who had most proposals coming in. Rahi was not receptive to any such advances from strangers. Geet having a long-time boyfriend was a known to all and had no pending proposals to deal with.
“I just fail to understand why I should talk to these guys?” , Rahi asked Ashima. They were walking towards the bus stop after college and were being teased by two guys on a bike asking for their name. Geet’s boyfriend picked her every day after college and dropped her home.
“You are beautiful and they want to be your friend”, Ashima said, waiving to her new infatuation waiting at the bus stop. “See, I got to date him for next few days to know him better and if he suits me, I love him else break-off.” Ashima walked ahead of Rahi and turned to say, “See you tomorrow. Bye!”
Love at sight was an alien concept for Rahi and Ashima’s approach was also not acceptable to her. She believed, one day destiny will bring her close to someone she may fall in love with. Rahi travelled back home alone in the city bus. She use to let her thoughts flow freely with closed eyes while travelling back home.
She imagined- He will be the one who is very sensitive and will not mind to be on his knees to say sorry every time I get angry. I should be a die-hard fan of this personality longing to see him at home every day. I will cook for him while he stood next to me in the kitchen, kissing me, teasing me. My first tea of the day should be prepared by him. His intelligence should be well respected and appreciated with all who knew him. He should a very good communicator with strong convincing skills so that he could easily make-up reasons to convince me and win over me. He should respect woman and be dependable, ethical, and logical and with a good sense of humor.
Two years later
She graduated and found her first break as an Analyst with ICRA.
“Rahi, we have found a boy for you who is working and from a good family background. Will you consider meeting him?”, her Mom called. “Yes!”, I will she said promptly.
The meeting day was fixed at Rahi’s house. She had never put so much make-up before this day on her face. The eye liner used made her soft eyes prominent, more defined; alert to judge her potential life partner. All other members of family stepped out.
Post a formal round of introduction, Rahi asked, “What are your plans for future?”
Inder was a tall 6 feet tall, clean shaven guy who had a decent dressing sense. His gestures and dressing sense pointed to a comfortable life he enjoyed. He worked for an advertising function as sales head. He came across as a skeptical guy with soft eyes though. He looked comfortable talking to Rahi. He was single son of his parents with strong financial background with no experience of how tough life can be. His parents’ only attraction to Rahi could be the quest to search for a girl less demanding and from a weaker financial background compared to them.
Inder said, “I work with an advertising company as sales manager and do not believe in changing jobs frequently. I am quite satisfied with what I have achieved in life and will like to sustain it. That’s it.”
Rahi asked, “What do you expect from your life-partner?”
This one response, she believed will speak a lot about Inder. Even if he tried to window dress a response that will be quite evident to her.
Inder started, “I will expect my partner to take care of my mother first. She has worked very hard all her life and I am the only son. So my partner should be attending to her always. I am not very demanding person but will like my partner to be a home maker who is available for me, keeping the house clean.”
He paused in between to seek affirmation from Rahi. She just nodded with her full attention on Inder.
He continued, “Further, kids who should be given full attention at home, my partner should take consent from me when she wants to do anything in her life.”
Unaware of complexity of the question, the guy blurted out all his expectations prioritizing his parents first, then himself, then kids. Inder never asked back about her expectations from life partner.
“Yes, I cook and I am a strict vegetarian.” She responded to one of Inder’s questions. She added, “I will like to work after marriage.”
Inder taken aback a little by promptness said, “Yes, I have no issues but you should be home on time to fulfill her responsibilities.”
This statement of his made it quite clear to Rahi that Inder was not guy she had been imagining.Later that evening, Rahi discussed Inder with her parents.
Quite contrary to her nature, she said, “I am ready to marry this guy.”
She was sensing the worries of her parents about her marriage and Gopal’s future education expense. Gopal had expressed his desire to go US for higher studies. She wanted to be married soon to lessen their worries and let them plan for their only son’s higher education in US.
Rahi was quite convinced that she will not change her mind with regards to Inder.
She thought, “I will risk it and live with her decision- good or bad.
She got married exactly 70 days after her she first met Inder at her place. All seemed to be going well. She gave enough personal space to Inder and tried hard inside her mind not to be judgmental and compare Inder to her dream boy. She cared for Inder.
“I have kept your clothes on bed that you wear today to office. Breakfast is ready on table and your shoes polished. I go for a bath you start with your breakfast.”, Rahi said rushing around the house.
Rahi went overboard to win over Inder who never seemed to be free and frank with her. Inder’s mother took pride in her decision to have Rahi as her daughter-in-law. She was over the years taken for granted. She ate dinner after she served all others but no one was awake to ask her if she had food or needed any help, support.
She was sad and worried expecting her first kid. Despite being pregnant, she still did not deserve a special care either from Inder or her mother.
“Why are you are always late from office.”, Inder fuming in anger when Rahi returned from office, one day. He advanced to hit her but stopped when she yelled back, “How dare you do this to me? I am pregnant and you behave like this. Be a Man! Mr Inder and mind you!.”
The anger in the soft eyes was seen for the first time in two years of her marriage.
Five years later
Rahi played with her two sons- Aahaan and Rehaan- every day after returning from office. Seeing her two sons playing and grow under her motherhood, she forgot her expectations from Inder. They lived in the same house and were just husband-wife and not couples who were friends.
She could never guess what Inder wanted from her. With every passing year, she was framing a clear picture of Inder- he has a negative approach to life; never playful; always doubts me and does not trust me; never speaks his mind.
Inder’s routine in evening after returning from office was to lean on a sofa in living room and sip a drink.
Rahi use to dream about Inder coming to kitchen to help her with work and she jumping on her feet and planting a kiss on Inder’s cheek who was 6 feet tall and she a mere 5ft 4 inches. That day had not come in her life till date.
With every passing year, Rahi was feeling exerted and stressed for failing to get what she wanted out of Inder. He was not very receptive to what she said and always managed to convince her on what he wanted instead. Rahi being more adaptive gave-in to avoid any conflict.
New phase in Rahi’s life
Rahi did not change her first job since the HR at ICRA allowed her the flexibility to attend to our family requirements every now and then. Despite, all her efforts her life was not what she had imagined.
“Why don’t you come with us for lunch, Rahi?”, said Aman getting up from his seat just opposite to Rahi’s workstation.
Aman worked in same team as Rahi for last 3 years. Aman was a playful guy with good sense of humor, hardworking and intelligent. He had the wit to make people laugh with his strange but unique perspectives on life. Rahi had been observing her all these years and started to relate Aman to her dream boy. Aman was making her go back recalling her hour long city bus ride back home, when she was alone and imagined love of her life. She was impressed with his style, dressing sense and approach towards work- positive and ready to help others.
Given the prompt request from Aman, Rahi replied impulsively, “I will come along.” That day they exchanged details about their life- where they stayed; what food preferred, place to holiday etc.
“I am a mother of two sons- Aahaan and Rehaan.”, when Aman enquired if she was married.
Aman was not married and lived alone in Chandigarh. His parents lived in a village close to Ludhiana city in Punjab. Rahi came closer to Aman over the next few months. She carried lunch for Aman at times.
“I want to be your friend.”, Aman asked Rahi. Rahi said, “I think we are.”
With every passing month, Rahi looked eager to talk to Aman. Aman with his playful and care free nature continued to impress her every day. Rahi was falling for Aman. She liked Aman but hesitated to think further since she had kids and wanted no further conflicts and stress in her life. Aman will be the first to be sacrificed if it came to choosing between Inder and him. She wanted to have a secure future for her kids and Aman did not fit into the scheme of things. Aman had come too late in her life.
One day, she asked Aman, “I want you to come out with me for a lunch meeting.”,
“Sure, when do we go?”, replied Aman.
“Today!”, she said.
At the lunch table Rahi said, “Aman, I liked you as a friend and I love you.” She paused for Aman to respond.
“I too love you.”, said Aman instantly.
“I am a mother and cannot have an undefined relationship.”
“Yes, I agreed and given the fact that you are married, I opt to be your friend.. forever and forever.” Rahi stretched her right hand to hold Aman’s hand and thank him for understanding her.
Rahi was lost in Aman’s description of her and recalled her decision she took to marry Inder. She had finally found the love she had dreamt of; a life partner she imagined exactly but then resolved to live with her first decision- good or bad.
Finishing the lunch, she shook hands with Aman and said, “Aman! You met me so late in life.”