I come from a small Indian city. A city with a million dreams and a billion taboos. I have always been an average in studies, but not because of my grasping abilities, or that I have a limited grey matter that I can put to use, but mostly because of the whole education system in India, as it, currently, is. Be that as it may, I can proudly assert that I have done fairly well, in my profession, basing it on logical thinking and smart techniques to derive answers.
I met my wife 10 years ago and we have been married for the past 2 years. Times have been difficult post-marriage, with a lot of ups and downs both in my personal life as well as professional life, but we shall talk about the same in the relevant chapter.
I still remember the night when I first saw her. It was the summer of 2007 when I had visited her college for participating in a competition. Somewhere in the same city, she too was representing her college at another Competition (Both of us being from the same professional filed). My team was adjudged the Runners up, and she was awarded the best researcher trophy. With evening came the DJ night to celebrate the victory of the winning team, at her college. Since she had won the best researcher award, she had returned to her college campus like a celebrity, and joined the DJ Night to celebrate.
I, obviously feeling dejected, that we could not win, sat in a corner with my team mates licking my wounds and observing people dance. My cousin sister who later turned out to be her batchmate came and tried consoling me and forcing me to join the dance floor. But I was not really interested. As I was chatting with my cousin, “Cuddles” (as I now call my wife) approached her and asked my cousin to hold her cell phone, while she danced. Cuddles was in a black t-shirt and and a black capri. I could not help but ask my cousin the whereabouts of this “Black beauty”, as I termed her then. The rest of the night went by watching Cuddles dance and trying to spot her in that massive crowd.
The night ended and I returned to my respective college some 400 miles from that city. My cousin, as impressed as she was on my performance at the competition, called me several times to seek help in her projects and academics. Every now and then, I used to ask her about the “Black Beauty”. Of course, knowing how cousins are, I was sure that the news would reach Cuddles. After repeated attempts my plan worked, it did reach her.
All I had to do next was to keep repeating this until I had a response from the other end. Finally, the efforts paid off and my cousin told me “She says if you want to ask how she is, then its better you ask her”. This was music to my ear.
I asked my cousin to pass on her number so that I could talk to her. But it wasn’t going to be this easy. I was told to first chat on gmail and if she felt comfortable the she would herself give me her number. I was fine with this proposition. This was a fair deal.
Next few months we chatted on gmail and then one day I received an email from her, stating that its best we speak on phone now. Under her signature line was her number. Acting desperate, I immediately called her up and thus began our long telephonic conversation nights.
Now, it was time to meet up face to face. So I decided to go home over the weekend as my home is in the same city as her college and a stone’s throw distance.
Our first meeting was a 15 min walk and believe it or not I was too shy, and was over doing things, just to leave an impression. It was a disaster in my eyes. But to her, I had already clicked.
The meeting went well and it was time to return to college. Trust me, I had never been this happy.
And then as one may expect, after too much happiness comes dreadful sorrow. One day we had an argument about something. My last email to her was “Please leave me alone”.
We did not talk after that. And as usual, acting like a jerk, and holding my heart up my sleeves, I was soon into someone else and then someone else, and it went on.
In the fall of 2009, I revisited her college for another competition but she wasn’t around at that time. I was told by my cousin that she was in a relationship with another guy and happy.
“Stay away from her”, my cousin said in a forceful voice. “But I had asked because I had realized what a jerk I had been to her, and wanted to apologize”, that’s what I told my cousin. But factually, I wanted to see if she had the same spark as she did.
In 2010, after having a series of disastrous relationships, I once again begged my cousin to give me her number. And I texted Cuddles, as to how sorry I was and that I wanted to be good friends with her. To my shock, she said she wanted to meet up, and the venue was set to a public park next to her college. Never mind, parks used to be romantic back then.
It was her birthday. She was waiting by the bench, right at the entrance of the park. I felt disgusted of myself of having hurt her and didn’t know what would I say. I was struggling to face her.
We walked around for a bit. And then finally I asked her about her ongoing relationship. She said, “its fine”. But I could sense that something was wrong.
My profession had taught me the art of witness cross-examination, and I knew perfectly how to dig things out when you know something is wrong. So I, in my own way, asked her about the problem, and then she dropped the bomb.
She was in tears and started crying. I was clueless as to how to calm her down. For me it was always a big deal to wipe someone’s tears, or cushion someone’s head on my shoulders or to even hug someone (that small city taboo that I carried with myself). But I wanted to know what was wrong.
She told me the atrocities she was facing and how she was unable to get out of the current trap. It was the guy she was in relationship with. He was assaulting her, blackmailing her, raping her, abusing her.
My blood boiled. I wanted to tear the guy into pieces. At some point I believe, I even accused her for falling for the wrong guy. How could she?
These emotions dramatically changed in seconds when she said, “Why did you leave me alone?”, “Why didn’t you return my calls”.
Oh my god! What did I do? I hated myself. I ruined her life.
I don’t know if I was the reason for all the worse things that happened or were happening in her life. But I convinced myself that yes I was.
I calmed her down. Although, for what she was facing, it didn’t matter but I apologized. The rest of the evening was quiet. We didn’t say a word. the silence was doing the talking. Everything was accusing me for what I had done to her, the flowers, the stray dogs, the birds, the bees. I returned home with a guilt.
That night, I kept thinking about it and all that came to my mind was only hatred for myself. “How could I do this?”.
Finally, I gathered courage and texted her:
“I am the reason for what has happened to you. I cannot undo what has already been done. But I promise to get you out of this mess. But I can only do that if you allow me to be a part of your life. I love you. Would you please give me another chance?”.
“Yes, I will”, she replied.
We met the next day and things different. She was smiling. My cousin tells me that she hadn’t smiled for about an year, before that day. I think it was the loveliest things I had seen till date.
I once again comforted her in my arms and, I asked her to tell me everything she had been facing. With a promise to her that I would do all I can to make her happy each day of her life for the rest of her life, and most importantly to get her out of this mess; I dropped her back to her college and left for home.
What followed was a lot of action and drama, with me being beaten up her boyfriend and returning with my friends to finish him off once and for all, with me filing a police complaint and throwing him behind the bars, to getting facebook and gmail block hacked accounts of Cuddles, and finally to making Cuddles gain back her courage and confidence, and most importantly to fill her life with so much love that she forgets her past.
But it still pains that for my stupid ego and stubbornness a girl had to face so much.
It was now time for me to introduce her to my family and so I invited her and my cousin for tea at my house. Of course I did not tell my parents about the hidden agenda.
As I was helping out my mom in the Kitchen, my mom said “She is so pretty”. “I want to find a bride just like her for you”.
Struggling to find words, I hurriedly said, “OK!! why don’t we ask her if she want to marry me?”
“Shut up. Are you in your senses?”, my mom said in a heavy tone, pushing me out of the kitchen.
“Mom”. “I havent been completely honest with you. I am sorry. I invited her to seek your blessings. We are getting married”. As I said these words, it was all laughter and happiness on everyone’s faces.
We moved in together, in a bigger city, and what followed was amazing 5 years of togetherness, with of course the downs that I saw in my professional life, when I wandered searching for a job, penniless, hungry, in scotching sun. The times when she lied to me of having already eaten with her colleagues and passed on her lunch box to me so that I had the energy to fight again the next day (this broke my heart when I learnt this), and finally how I convinced her parents for a marriage that were were totally against, is a story in itself and does not hold any importance to the ongoing setup being created for the plot, “The Day it Came Down”, so we will skip it.
When I was young, my mom had told me fascinating stories about something called a Dream Catcher, something which is a small hoop containing a horsehair mesh decorated with feathers and beads, believed by American Indians to give its owner good dreams. I am not sure who was the dream catcher here, my wife or me. But honestly, it never mattered.
…….. to be continued ………..