I am going to tell you three different stories. Are you attentive????
“Whom are you going to marry?”
“No second thoughts???”
“What according to you is life?”
“Life??? Enjoy to the most… Live every moment…”
“Okay. Do you think Shanmugam’s family will be happy about this?”
“Why not? I’ll cook for his mom, I’ll help his dad in accounts”
“Then it’s up to you”
“Why do you ask all this?”
“Just… Leave it. Forget that I ever asked you all this”
That was my conversation with Sanjana. A slim, not-so-fair girl with spectacles and a big nose. She has that smile on her lips always. I’ve seen her cry once – the reason: She lost a notebook in which she had notes for the subject, Electrical Machine Design. This conversation took place in the third year of my college. You know, Sanjana is a quite interesting girl. I asked her phone number during a lab hour in the first year. I was the first to do so. But, she didn’t give me. That’s a separate story.
But, Sanjana fell in love with Shanmugam in the first year itself. Love in college is a very tough thing. You need a lot of money. Giving Rs.30 for a friend’s birthday cake would be a big thing. That would hit on your week’s budget. Sanjana and Shanmugam were not exceptions to this rule. Shanmugam, when he goes out with guys, lets people get him tickets too. He was so bad. People sometimes, go to the extent of asking, “he is spending so much for her. Why can’t he get us bus ticket?”
Love is not easy. You need to talk over phone all night. Till 2 a.m. atleast. Some people follow a different strategy. They, wake up at 5 in the morning and talk. When asked, they speak like saints. “Girls… It’s a totally different world. It is too good to be in. Always hard to get out”. When they talk, you feel like they are talking about credit card debts. But, actually love is like that.
Slowly Shanmugam, started to move away from boys and he had his own group – SHE. They had their own world – Garden of Eden - for Adam and Eve. But, there was no fruit of wisdom to be served. There was no serpent, to tell them bad things, atleast. There were only two people in that world and they thought they lived happily.
“So, Shanmugam… Are you in love?”
Silence was the reply.
“Tell me. Are you?”
“Ya da. Why are you asking all of a sudden?”, There was always a ‘da’ in talk between two guys to show their intimacy.
“Who is it?”
“You know who it is! Then, why do you ask me?”
“I asked Sanjana, yesterday regarding this and she didn’t even think to say your name. Why are you thinking so much?”
“She is expressive man. I’m not”
“Ok. You know about your family. Your brother’s was a love marriage. Your family accepted it. Your mother is dreaming about yours. She wants all her relatives to be called and get her lost prestige and dignity back, by conducting your wedding the best way possible”
“Ya! I know. But, see.. I love her a lot”
“Why do you love her?”
No replies… That confirms love. When you have no reply to that question, “why do you love your lover?”, you are definitely in love. When you find reasons, your love has come into a small box. A reason, a simple, petty reason can define your love. Then, it is not it.
He started replying. “Not one da. Many… How do I start? How do I…”. This is also a form of love. He didn’t know to say that simple answer, “For nothing”. I knew, they were into something that’s going to last forever.
**** **** ****
Karthik is white, with a lot of hair, a thick mustache and owns a splendor. Now, let us look at this forty-six year old man. Love for him, began at home, like charity. Raji, his wife, lived in the neighboring house. Karthik was a malayalee. Raji, a telugu lady.
Raji’s father came one day and told, “See, we have a lot of gold, bought for our girl’s marriage. We have bridegrooms waiting, if Karthik says a ‘NO’ to marry her”
But, Karthik never said ‘no’.
“What is more important to you? This 30 years of life or that five and half years of life?”, asked Karthik’s elder brother.
“That five and a half years”
“There is more than ninety thousand debt, because of you to the family… Ok, leave that. What about the society?”
“Society, when they get a new news, they change to it, forgetting this”
One fine day both went missing. A TVS-50 rode up that muddy road. It was Raji’s father. Now, for the past 5 years, the neighbors have gone apart. He kept the vehicle leaning on to the wall, and came in.
“This was not good for both the families”, said her father to Karthik’s father. But, Karthik’s father kept mum. He could not tell anything. Then fight, knives, long nights, peace talks and finally the girl’s family stopped everything and told, “See, we will never turn back at you. We’ll never see if you are alive or dead. We’ll never come into your life hereafter” - They had not for the past 17 years. All say, it’s the family’s curse, but I don’t believe in that – for they don’t have a child.
Beauty fades. That’s what Karthik didn’t know. Once, my mom’s mom has asked me, “What did he see in her? Is she that beautiful???”. What they’ll never know was that, she was beautiful, once. She was a dream for so many guys.
Karthik is such a sweet man; very nice person. Only if the family and society had accepted his love, his life would have gone in another direction altogether. Once, when I asked him for lift, he told me to get on and rode me till 500 metres before my rendezvous point.
“Are you in love?”
“No… Not till now”, I replied.
“Okay.. That’s fine…”
“Why?”, I asked.
“No, If Indira Gandhi were alive, she’d have told Rajiv Gandhi not to enter Gurudwara wearing boots”
Then, he clutched, geared and accelerated. I could not play anymore. I was bowled out all the three matches. I was thinking about this. Really, has he made a fatal error???
**** **** ****
You’d call him coward. I’d call him brave. Lot of things happened behind the screen. But, he married her – not his lover – and now has a baby. I went to his marriage. She – his love – had come there, pregnant. Both had tears in their eyes looking at each other.
They were both from the same family. His father’s sister’s daughter was she. But, his mother stood strong. There was small dispute among them. And also these immunity problems, occurring due to marriage from the same family, played its part well. Now, she has a girl; he has a boy. Now, these fellows, twenty years later would say that, the girl is elder.
Whatever... They are happy. They can’t have sex, as Indian culture says so. But, they can see each other and talk on endless topics as they used to over mobile phones* during colleges.
Her husband, books tickets for his sister’s train journey. He helps them when there is a need. It always will happen. There is lot of things to do, if you are neighbors who were in love. You can get newspapers for them; spinach every morning; play carroms on Sunday (chess required brain and cricket can’t include girls).
They, join them in the same school. It is one year’s difference. She’ll learn to ride a bicycle. Then, she’ll teach him. He learns to play Mario and contra and teaches her to play them. He’ll win a lot of games for sure. She will be the Luigi. All the while, the four of them, sit and watch them growing. She teases him, when he cries for those sunday haircuts, those Saturday baths. He learns to play a violin and she learns bharathanatyam. He learns swimming in the well. He teaches her in the pond. All for a few years, and then a break and then they understand that, this is it and live a life that is better than love.
**** **** ****
“So, do you believe that love has to end up in marriage?”, I asked.
“No. It is life. Life need not be like what you told in the third story. But, If it is like that, then well”
“What do you think about, Shanmugam and Sanjana? Should they get married?”
“No just think of his parents. They have already faced one such problem”
“You think of this fellow da”
“You know, he promised, rite in front of my eyes to his mom, saying that he is not involved in any relationship”
“Promises… You believe in that? Fine, tell me… What do you think?”
“See, if everything goes well, then its fine. Otherwise, it is good if they listen to what their parents have to say”
“What about society?”
“Who is that? It is we who formed it. Don’t think sixth sense did it. Ants also have social colonies”
“Why do you say that they have to listen to their parents?”
“Without sex, it is ok. Without the relationship, with hate, how do we live?”
Many times when Gimly and I sit and talk for a long time, we end up in this topic for no reason - Sex. Many people say, ‘we are not bad lovers’, when asked how good lovers they are. What we end up with is “you have to get bad, if you end up there – marriage”