Unfinished story of a Living Soul
A Magnificent start to a wonderful journey
“Do you eat non-veg ?”
“Do you eat non-veg ?” came the question with his quintsessential smile.
“sometimes. Well I don’t mind and can easily eat however I enjoy being called a vegetarian” said I admiring and liking his sweet smile.
These were the first set of conversation that I had with him when we were officially arranged to meet for matrimonial purpose. He looked charming ,adorable ,cute and gentle. Neither very tall nor very broad , but I presume perfect for me as I too was petite, and small. I was self absorbed and thought too high of myself .That is why I am taking this liberty of being compared to him atleast for the physical attributes.
B.tech (aeronautical Engineering) from IIT Kanpur and then Masters from Indian Institute of Sciences ,Bangalore in aerospace. These were his professional credentials.
B.E (industrial electronics) from Amrutvahini college of Engineering from Poona University.This was my professional certification.
He was 2nd rank holder in IIT in his engineering and Gold Medalist with 98% in his M.Tech . His name adorning in the roll of honours.
I was lucky to get 58% in my B.Tech. I was jubliant to have cleared and finally graduated .My division was detrimental but my jubilation knew no bounds for successfully completing the course.
He was not so lucky to have me as much as I was so lucky to have him. This was proved not just in the beginning with this unusual alliance but also with so many remarkable qualities that he exhibited at different times later in our life.
We met again for our engagement . He again looked tiny ,well compared to my brothers and other relatives who were of broad build up. He just smiled nd said hi to me when I came for the occasion. I got a new beautiful saree of pink and light blue colour with my then friend and who became my bhabhi after an year. His smile was most enchanting as compared to his entire demeanor. That day he again looked cute.
At the end of the function we were asked to give picture perfect poses. Both of us being a little shy kept a very safe distance although.
After engagement he had to go back to Bangalore where he was working as a scientist in DRDO’s ADE. We ,my dad,my mom,my elder brother came to see him off at the railway station .We knew his reservation details so were waiting at the coach . He arrived just in time ,may be ten minutes before departure. We sat on his seat for that long time, he again charmed me with his characteristic smile and accent(well it sounded like a south Indian in a subtle way). It was time to bid good bye which we again did in a restrained way not to catch a lot of attention from everybody. He asked me for my address so that we can have contact through postal mail as E-mails were still not the preferred means of communication in 1994.
After that your first letter arrived on my official address .It surprised me, as how I had deciphered him ,he may not give much importance to this communication. He wrote a very small and formal letter .Had it been without dear Priti and love Smarty ,it could be confused with any official letter. It was in this letter you asked me to addresss you as smarty as you were more comfortable with this. I think after that I seldom called him Mridul except in the last few years when I felt you need to have an identity of Mridul as for me it was the most beautiful name I had ever heard .
I enjoyed every moment of this period .Would draw dreams in my mind about our togetherness . I would unsuccessfully wait for your call almost everyday. And then one day my elder nephew called me up hysterically for there was call from Bangalore, I rushed from outside to pick the receiver .
“Hello” , “Hello” my polite hellos were followed with rattling dial tone . And then with riotous laughter of my nephew and elder bhabhi. Well it was a ruse .How very funny ,only for them. For me it was unacceptable. Why did you not call me up then? Later you did try to justify for not calling me ,but all that did not satisfy me.
Finally after a lot of wait and preparation came the Dday 3rd Aug 1994. I got my make up done in an aunty’s house cum parlour. It was very warm and comfortable. I was accompanied with my cousin Radha . We reached the venue –Pragati Maidan’s Phulwari a nice with good ambience.
It was now time to move to the stage ,I proceeded with whole gamut of friends and relatives and scrambled up the stage with almost 25Kgs of accessories hanging on to me. After a gap of almost three and a half months I saw you impeccably dressed
In your brown wedding suit without sehra ,as later on I was told that it was a precondition for the wedding. You were again smiling and composed . Our varmala went without any glitches as both of us could easily reach out to each other. I could have had a problem but for my 3 inches heels it just seemed too easy to attain . We sat on the sofa followed by myriad of relatives and friends ,known and unknown for the blessings and good wishes . Not to foget the memorable photo shoot both still and video was accompanied with the process. I just felt nice and contend to be sitting with you ,though we still barely knew each other. After the dinner and my change of clothes into beautiful yellow saree,bordered with red patch work . It was time for feras.I was made to sit with you on the mandap .Panditji sitting there chanting mantras. On one of the occasion you had to hold my hands and that was covered with a piece of cloth . You held it so strongly and simultaneously laughed on the joke of your friend and classmate Vineet . After the feras ,it was jota churayee,in which your so quiet ,down to earth and gentle self was revealed to me. You kept your cool and listened to everyone and giving away that beautiful smile so liberally. My brother on the other hand fought on your behalf with my cousin Radha thus taking the wrath of all my gharwallas. Your quiet demeanour just awed me.
We arrived at the guest house (Janwaasa) and everyone left us at the reception sofa for some errand or other. You removed your coat and gave it to me. That was the first experience of holding your belonging.
Then we had to travel back to Kurukshetra ( in your car ,a light mustard Fiat )where your parents and now my in laws were staying. The car broke down at wee hours of 4th Aug. You were on the front seat and the car was driven by your brother Rishi. You just got up to inspect the scene very casually. You roamed around to take account of the situation and even came to meet me on the window door .You smiled and spoke in a very pleasant manner with the same affable smile. And then the problem in the car was fixed and we continued with our journey. We reached your house and now my sasural.
After tea and freshening up You came to meet me at the first floor room just next to the bathroom . “All freshened up?” Perhaps the first thing you spoke to me when we were totally alone.
We did not have any elaborate functions post wedding as your parents and Mummy Daddy now(literally) were not fanatics or rather a disbeliever of the rituals which was somewhat discomforting. Well, you were also not any different . But I enjoyed every moment spent with you guys. Although at some time I did feel it little overboard or unreasonable. But that was OK. Then came the first night . You came in your spotless white pyjama kurta. As always you just looked nice. You presented me a kardhani
“I have got something for you,perhaps it’s a kardhani.”
Liar . That’s what came to my mind as I knew for sure that you could never think in those terms. Presenting something like this on the first night would be the last thing in your mind. Craftly I was able to make you admit that you were not the one who bought it .
We were extremely tired for yesterday(wedding day) and the day long chores(although they were easy and relaxed) “smarty” called Mummy as the tea was ready. I was just lazying down. Then you kept your hands on my back softly to wake me up. It was the first touch and felt smooth. While I was getting ready to go out and cleaning the bed I saw you picking up the NewsPaper from the garden and scanning it through. You looked very elegant and thoughtful while reading it. That time I felt blessed to have got you . Somewhere in the evening we had gone to one of the lakes with you in your fiat. Just the two of us. I sat next to you on the front seat. I always visualized couples sitting together on the front seat and having a sense of belongingness and togetherness. I felt the same for those few moments.Again felt totally endowed .
After a lot of contemplation we decided to go to Manali for your honeymoon.Totally unplanned and totally unbooked,unprepared. We boarded a bus to Chandigarh to meet Rocky ,your brother,now my little Dewarji. From there we took another bus to Manali. Remember . We took a semi deluxe bus to Kullu and from there had to change another one to Manali. It was an ordinary state transport where nobody was standing ,so the name semi deluxe. The windows were rattling and we all were ( fellow passengers )just gyrated with each turn and swirl of the bus. It had rained a lot that day and on previous day ,so it was cloudy and and the atmosphere charged up ,misty and pleasant and especially for me as we were on for our honeymoon. The air was resplendent and we relished all the little talks of our life.
You took my hands and we chatted (well intermittently, as you believed in listening and replying in monosyllables). The view was great and so was the journey. We kept going on and on crossing all the valleys and mountains ,stopping at many inconsequential villages. It became dark and you getting naughty. Then somewhere around three in the morning we were told that the bus had reached Kullu. So,we changed into another bus .Unfortunately got two aile seats on the same row. If I am not wrong it was not even semi deluxe, but an ordinary state transport. You were very sleepy so, you kept your head on my lap and torso in the air and bums on your seat. I
would just laugh and enjoy the whole experience. The bus stopped at some place.Some got in and some got down. We then changed seat and sat together.It was dawn now. The bus did not move a single inch. The driver got down switching off the ignition . People began to disembark and then finally only just three to four people were left. Now I got scared. And angry
“ Smarty everyone has got down and I don’t feel alright”.
“Chalo !! Chal kar dekhen kya problem hai.”
And we collected all our stuff and got down.
“What happened bhaiya”? We asked.
“There’s a landslide and we can’t go anyfurther” dri
“Smarty, what do we do now”?
“Don’t worry lets find a solution”.
Impressive!! How Cool!!
I was in total awe with him.
I just felt that nothing could ever go wrong with him.
We walked up on a slope for a few Meters when we saw a taxi stand. It was a very relieving sight.
“Want to go to Manali”?asked my Huubby .
“You can’t .” said one of the drivers.
“There is a landslide on the way . ”
“How long will it take to clear”
“May be a day or may be longer”
Both of us drifted and discussed the matter curtly as to what must be done.
“Should we go back to Kullu and stay in some hotel”.
“There does not seem to be any other solution”. Said I savouring his decision delectably.
We then took a taxi to Kullu .It was maruti or indica-I don’t remember. We asked the driver to take us to a nice hotel in Kullu.
“Sir, Mahenga hai ,par achcha hai.”
We got down from the car and walked inside the reception . The hotel looked fine.Infact I am restraining in describing the hotel. It was just awesome to what I imagined. I had prepared myself to something like a dawdy and tacky dharamshala kind of stuff. So my joy knew no bounds when I saw the interiors initially and then the rooms. We took a nice big room with big windows facing the main Kullu road leading to Manali.
“So, you are staying in a two star hotel on your honeymoon.” You said proudly ,as if it deserves a gallantry award of some type. I just smiled back appreciatingly. You were wearing a blue jeans and a very light coloured T-shirt ,which I had to tolerate for a very long time. You looked so perfect that time.
“Why don’t we change and freshen up and then fix up a taxi to go to Manali tomorrow”?
“Good idea” I said cheerfully.
But deep inside me I was intimidated to change or rather be like man and wife in true sense. We took bath and then went down to devour the good food at the hotel restraint. We had nice vegetarian food. While we were waiting and engrossed in our tete-a-tete with a background western music playing, you revealed that it was your favourite rock group. It was Pink Floyd. I was so impressed , infact I must have been one of the very few people who boasted of knowing a lot about English music , yet didn’t know about Pink Floyd . You just smiled at me.Perhaps that was your way of accepting things. I however did not feel cowed down or disappointed though my scanty knowledge about many stuff were being flagrantly disclosed to him. I rather felt cozy and close to you with every disclosures.
“we want to book a taxi for taking us for sightseeing tomorrow” you asked the gentleman sitting at the reception.He was youthfully dressed Boy in his mid twenties in jeans and a sweater .
“Sure. Why don’t you taka a walk on to the Kullu mall road . At the End of the road is a taxi stand and you can find about the various tours.Actually there are many beautiful places around this .Infact Kullu itself is a lovely place to be.It is not so commercialised as that of Manali.People are warm and helpful. They wear such colourful jackets. On the way you can do some shopping of these jackets which are very warm and good to gift to the people down the plains. Is it your first visit to hthis part of India??...
When he stopped we were still gaping at him and his insatiable appetite for speech. We fumbled and mumbled “ya ya..”
He was indeed the son of the owner of the hotel.Well bred and well educated. Having found someone , perhaps of his age and type, especially in the rains (a period of the year with very few visitors) it was time to exhibit his knowledge and enjoy the company.
Bidding him good bye we started with our journey to explore The Mall of Kullu. We took a turn and found the road running through the hill and then to the adjacent hill in a serpentine fashion. But where the hell was the end of the road. We kept walking , a little difficult terrain .I had my heels on (it was our honeymoon afterall), that made the travel even more cumbersome. Somehow we reached our destination, got the taxi booked and then sat at the local restaurants to enjoy the beauty, the people and especially to cool us down from the fatigue. The sojourn back hotel was equally painful. Walking slowly we eventually reached our hotel ‘Hotel siddharth’ (I think).
It had almost become dark and we now wanted to relax. We changed into our comfortable wears and sat before T.V. We were not hungry as we already had a late lunch. So, decided to hit the bed fast. I was a little unprepared for the togetherness. When you came close to me and said we will not do anything unless you are prepared. Then you gently hugged me and both of us drifted into deep slumber. (You were an angel my dear ,because later on I came to know through many ,that husbands would not leave their wife’s for long. But you gave me a good one year or more to say yes to that situation when we eventually became man and wife.)
Next morning I was so relaxed (maybe it was the commitment given by you) that we got ready for our tour to Manali,Rohtang Pass and some other places. You told me that you like the top to e tucked in rather than free flowing. I did that just for you. To make you feel happy ,although I felt I looked a little plump . You looked at me pleasingly and said” Perfect” and I felt like a model. It was a white Van .We sat together at the back seat with camera and other accessories to make the trip comfortable. The landslide on the route of Manali was cleared now . The landscaping and the scenery on the way was breathtaking . Your touch was so gentle and tender . You were making me feel like a lamb.
Rohtang Pass was our first stop and as we advanced towards it ,it started from pleasant to cold. And finally the van stopped .There was an eerie silence as the prattling of the engine stopped.Outside our window was such a picturesque sight. Clouds came down to the vast green meadows.A huge tapering mountain attired in magnificient green and wonderful brown cap of rocks was right in front of us posed to welcome us all. Though there were many visitors ,but because of its expanse it looked all empty and covered with green velvet. It was breezy not windy .I felt like a child all the more. You were like trying to hold me from spreading wings flying away to the horizon. After the photo session and casual and admiring strolling it became a little dark(for the clouds) andwe felt awetty sensation on our head. We ran for shelter and found the van. The driver was not there however it was unlocked so we got in safely waiting for the driver to return. Meanwhile it rained and then slowed into light drizzle. We looked out of the window but driver was not seen .After about half an hour we saw a thatched roof tapari at a distance. We had seen the tapari earlier as it was well within our sight ,so we presumed the driver would have noticed us if he was in that . From nowhere he suddenly appeared from the group of gathering and apologized for he had stopped there for a cup of tea. This was the first time when you and me together were put into dilemma and anxiety together . We continued our journey towards Manali . We reached there at about three and the van driver left us again at the end of Manali Mall road.He briefed us about some places around as the car couldn’t go any further. We strolled a bit and found a decent Chinese restraunt. It was our first Chinese cuisine together . It was here it was revealed that you preferred rice in Chinese than noodles . Actually it was the beginning of the realization that we do have different likings. This was again accepted whole heartedly.
Before that we had gone to Hidimba temple. When our alliance had been arranged amovie named Roja had come. In this the hero was a govt. official may be in DRDO only.That too was shot in Manali and and had Few scenes shot at hidimba temple. Since then I portrayed myself in heroines position and wanted to visit the temple. I felt more close to you after the visit . I remember going behind those big deodar trees and while I came back you clicked snaps of me coming close to you .you smiled while you did that. I now comprehend that you were smiling more than you laughed.
We visited the Buddhist monastry and the famous manali govt. owned hotel. After this it was time to head back to our hotel in kullu.
Exhausted we entered the reception
“So ,how was the trip? Was the Taxi on time? What about Rohatang Pass,did it rain there? What all places did you visit in Manali”? I couldn’t handle so many questions ,so I left for the room .You stayed back to clearing his doubts and querries. You joined me a little while later when we decided to devour some dinner before hitting the bed . It was again a wonderful being together.
We had to leave the next day .This time we decided to return back in style.So, we got ourselves booked on the deluxe coach,. Well the coach in which we had come was semi deluxe ,so it would be a little better than that. Morning we got up ,had breakfast and got the tickets booked .Fortunately it was just across the road where our hotel was situated. Then ,we went to a rabbit sanctuary.I so distinctly how both of us held two beautiful baby rabbits. They were soft and tickled our hands. (Later on in our life we did get two beautiful rabbit like twins whom both of us held so close like this for so many years). We even visited a temple close by. You said that you were not comfortable with the idea of removing shoes .I was not convinced,however I was in total reverence with all your ideologies and outlook towards life. I wanted to sit with you on the bank of the beautiful beas river. We walked a long distance to find a decent place to sit and relax. But all efforts went in vain . We did sit on some of the stairs near the temple, but somehow it was pretty unsatisfying. We even walked to a beautiful looking unconventional bridge made of ropes .we crossed it and reached to a unexpectedly crowded place,full of local himachalis. Well,that’s not we were looking so we came back to our hotel to relax and get ready for our journey back. Time for check out .And then it started drizzling. It seemed like dampening our spirits and a spoil sport. We parked ourselves on one of the STD booths .Thats where we had got it booked . It must have been almost half an hour wait before the bus came. The bus arrived so majestically , like Boing 747 on the airport runway. With such elan it opened the boarding door. I entered clambering up the stairs and found just the two empty seats on the third or the fourth row. A lot of foreigners gazing at us .Felt like models walking up the ramp. So, my imaginative return bus was crushed to pieces and was replaced by such wonderful real time bus. So, this is real honeymoon, we discussed the bus for the rest of the journey.
It was dark and the bus rumbling into the darkness . I saw you talking to the conductor and also carrying the luggage near the door. You woke me up, as if I was sleep. We are about to reach Peepli. A place very close to Kurukshetra. And then the driver pulled the brakes and the bus came to halt smoothly. After disembarking took an auto rickshaw to reach home. It was almost dawn . The auto was running and piercing through the quiet settled surrounding. We were sitting together and enjoying the conclusive part of our honeymoon. We were heading with the auto to commence a new chapter of our life together with two of us on the lead.