Glimpses of a Love Story – The Far Side…
For those who are coming in now, I’ll repeat the reminder – this post is a continuation of the earlier two. So if you’re new to Raghu & Priya’s story, read the earlier posts before you read this one.This is the third & final part of the story.
For those who have been following Glimpses from the beginning, Thank you, for all those messages and tweets and calls, telling me how much you liked & enjoyed the story. You guys were awesome & I hope my writing doesn’t disappoint you, now, or ever.
I got quite a lot of questions. The most common question was if I played football. No people, I don’t. I play cricket and if you can make it to Amrita University, Coimbatore on the 9th of this month, you can watch me play in the white and red of Amrita School of Business. I’ll be the guy wearing number 88.
I unlocked the door & walked in. My watch said it was quarter to six. My timing was good. 6 laps around the block in 45 minutes. I still had some football in me. Maybe I could’ve played a bit more. Maybe I should have gone for the job that Air India offered me, I’d have been part of their football team, played in the National League & maybe, just maybe, in National Colours.
I smiled to myself. I’d never have taken the job. Ever. There was a reason why.
The reason was asleep in the bedroom across the hallway.
The reason had a name. Priya.
I opened the door, as slowly as I could, and there she was. She never could wake up in the mornings. The only times she used to was to come to my matches when we were at University. There she was, at one time the girl I loved, now, the woman I call my wife. She was exquisite even when asleep, actually, especially when asleep. As if nothing could ever disturb her. As if she was just that, her beauty eternal, frozen in time and space, never to be destroyed, something perpetually magnificent.
I walked up to her, removed a golden strand of hair from her eyes, twirled it behind her ear, bent down and kissed her.
The grin never left my face as I removed my tracks and trainers and walked to the kitchen. You never could tell with her. Sometimes she would want coffee, sometimes she’d have none of it. Sometimes she’d want orange juice. Sometimes she even wanted my Gatorade. As I said, you never could tell with my Priya. She was always like that.
I took out the coffee from the refrigerator. It’d been a hell of a ride with her. But it’d been worth it, every step of the way. From the day it dawned on me that I just had to be with her all my life, the day we had told our parents, the madness after that, and the day we’d won, at last.
Wow!! We’d been through a lot.
Her father had been unconvinced. He’d looked at me once and went into heart attack style convulsions. He’d wanted an IAS or summat, you know, one of those guys who listen to whatever their fathers say, get straight A’s through everything, wear shirts and button their collars, hold a handkerchief in their hand all the time and when asked a question, look at their Dads for inspiration. Translated – he’d wanted a geek. What’d he get? Ummm. Me.! No wonder he reacted the way he did. I’d have been surprised if he hadn’t.
But in all that, he’d said just one thing that made sense, one thing that I knew he was right about. He knew I wanted to play football and that I would chase my dream. And he knew that it wasn’t a stable life. I might have to move a lot, travel a lot, and be away from home. The pay would be crummy. I had no idea if it would be enough to give Priya everything I wanted to give her. I couldn’t take her on that journey. It was the life of a travelling athlete. It wasn’t the life for a married couple. He was concerned about his daughter’s future. He was her father, and he was spot on.
I asked him for time.
My mother was another story altogether. You see, it’s easy to handle threats and harsh words. What cannot be handled are tears, high pitched wails, and statements like “Was this why I sent you to college? To bring a girl home and tell me that you want to marry her?”
This sounds pretty straightforward, right?
Well, it isn’t!
This would be accompanied by several spoken and unspoken insinuations that I’d somehow committed an unforgivable crime. “You want to spoil the family’s standing in society”. Whoa! Why would I wanna do that, of all things? Dad didn’t mind actually, but coz Mom’s performance was worthy of a Golden Globe, he too pitched in.
All this lasted till the day I brought her home. My sister was transfixed, with one look she was sure that I should marry only Priya and was on our side throughout. I’d expected that. Sisters are made that way. My mother, ever the headmistress of her school, grilled her, much the same way Priya’s father had grilled me. The difference was, Priya had the answers. I always knew that Mom would be convinced once she met Priya. I was right. It may be also because of the fact that by then Mom knew she had no choice in this whatsoever. That was tough, but we did it.
The coffee was almost done. She liked it black. I didn’t know why. I liked it with milk and sugar. I always had. We were both very different personalities, as I noticed sometimes, but it all somehow came together, like magic. But I suppose our love is exactly that – magic.
I took the two mugs to the bedroom. She was as I’d left her, peaceful, her tranquil face lost in a world of dreams. I tore my gaze away from her face and looked out the windows, at the light of an approaching winter morning.
I had had a choice. I could’ve chosen her and football, or I could’ve chosen just her. She’d have been alright with anything. But I couldn’t take the chance. What if something went wrong? One injury, one sprain could take down my career. She would have had to struggle through my early playing years, until I made it big. If I made it big. And that was a big If. She would have wanted me to follow my heart and she would have stuck it out through everything that came with it. She loved me. She would do it, happily. She would face it all. That I knew.
But could I do that? Put her through all that?
I loved her more than she loved me. Or so I like to argue with her.
I chose her. Just her.
Do I regret it?
No. I don’t. Not for one moment. Not ever.
No achievement, no accomplishment of mine, would ever be complete without her. When I had won the University Cup, I had searched for her piercing brown eyes in the crowd. When I’d got through the placement process for Caterpillar, I’d run to her like wild dogs were after me. When she’d got through her interviews for Tata, I’d been there outside, and held her hand when her name was announced. I don’t know about other people, but that’s the way we were. We still are.
My place was beside her. It always would be.
“What are you thinking?” said the voice I loved. She was by my side. She could do that. Walk through the house with no noise whatsoever. She looked up at me, with that gaze that could see through me. She knew what I was thinking. But then she always did. She shuddered. It was cold. I put my arms around her.
“Liar.” She said and smiled.
I passed her the mug. She snuggled closer to me and had a sip of the dark brown liquid.
“Are we going out today, Raghu?”
“Do you want to?”
“Then we are babe. Of course we are.”