Love is in the air. The moment, it flashes February on our calendar. The beautiful flowers of love and romance blossoms. What follows is two weeks of utter madness. Right from the chocolate day, rose day, propose day, kiss day, and finally to the Valentine’s Day. The love mania does not end.
The recipe for a perfect romance is always boy meets girl. They fall in love. After a little drama, they unite for a lifetime. The future is always a happy ever after. Sorry to burst your balloon of foolish hopeless romanticism. There is no such thing as happily ever after. The ever after is filled with bitter fights, accusations, slurs, and insults. Some stay together irrespective of differences. Some remain connected no matter how far apart physically. Mostly do what they feel best. They disintegrate or in simple words, choose to part ways.
Today, on Valentine’s month, I will narrate one more romantic tale. This is not a typical love story of fantastical romance. Here the boy does not meet a girl. In this love story, a man falls for a lady. The age gap between the two is of ten years. Kavya has seen forty summers in her life and Rishi will turn thirty tonight. On the 14th of February, he will turn 30.
Kavya lied still on the bed as she looked blankly at the ceiling. The images of her past flashed in front of her eyes. She could see her entire life run like a movie. The ringless left hand reminded her of her marriage. The crucial five years or the most humiliating phase of her life.
Constantly, she was ambushed by Viraat, verbally and physically. Her marriage was arranged by her parents. Just like so many other girls, she too harbored dreams of a fairytale romance. Luck was never on her side in terms of love. After breaking up with her long-term boyfriend. Viraat was more of a security than solace. The marriage turned out to be such a bad bargain. All she received in terms of security was endless humiliating nights. She spent nights standing at the porch of his house. Time and again she was reminded about the so called home being “his house.” During his violent bouts of frustration, he thrashed her. Being stripped off of all self-respect and emotions, she used to shed silent tears of helplessness.
“Girls from respectable family don’t go to the police station or women help center,” this one sentence is the root cause of all troubles. Good girls don’t do so many things, in fact, everything one would expect of a normal human being, good girls are seen not doing it. One day, something snapped within her. Lying on the patient’s bed. After the effect of anesthesia had subsided. The decision was made. The forced death of her fetus gave birth to a new Kavya.
After leaving the nursing home, she headed straight towards the police. There she provided them with enough evidence to put her culprit behind bars. Her next stop was her home. Contrary to her belief, her parents welcomed her with open arms. They were sorry for marrying her off to a scum. Now they wanted to make it up to her.
The divorce was easy and the following years were a lot easier. Being divorced meant being constantly bugged by members of opposite sex just for sex. Being divorced meant being not-a-very-good-influence over other females. Being divorced meant being ostracized from many social rituals of wedding and engagement. Unfazed and unaffected, she stood strong.
To her, being divorced meant freedom. Freedom from humiliation, depression, violence, and unhappiness. For years, she lived peacefully. Single, happy and peaceful. Things took a U-turn with the entry of Rishi in her life. The two of them met during a seminar. The topic of discussion was Religion Vs Humanity. Many activists blamed historians for propagating false theories while many claimed the clerics of all religions to be the root cause of all evils. Either way it was the humanity that suffered. The humans were at a great loss.
After the whole fiasco of intellectuals whose contributions to the community remained nil, the congregation got busy with foods and drinks. Once again, their ludicrously lucid lectures failed to bear any fruits. The society requires more than the same old knowledge and information. It was the time to either create something new or do something out of the blue. Kavya was busy sharing her disappointment with one of the fellow activists. Suddenly, a young man with ruffled hair and twinkling eyes jutted in, “What we need is education. The past and present will rot, let them rot, nothing can be done to this lot. The future needs education. If we as an Indian make it our duty to spread education instead of sperm, a lot can be changed.”
“Hi, I am Rishi,” said he with a disarming smile, stretching out his hand towards her. He was a newly appointed neurosurgeon at the hospital where Kavya practiced psychiatry.
The two of them bumped into each other on and off. Initially, she felt it was an accident. But soon the truth dawned upon her. Rishi considered her more than a mere colleague. One fine day, he confessed his feelings to her. Her first reaction was to laugh it off. What she considered to be just an infatuation turned out to be much deeper than that. Days changed, seasons got replaced, new developments occurred. The only thing that remained consistent was Rishi’s persistent chase.
There was nothing lecherous about him. She also enjoyed sending time with him. Things did not change between the two of them after his proposal. Kavya was too mature to shie a guy off due to his interest in her. There were many who admired her. It was not possible for her to live like an uptight recluse.
Since he had taken accommodation next to her residence. Many at times, they enjoyed dinner together. Kavya’s wardrobe saw new entries in the form of colorful chiffon, crepe and satin sarees along with the regular cotton. Her figure was such, anything looked good on her. But she preferred to drape herself in a saree because it accentuated her beauty and grace.
Lying on the bed, she smiled on her own thinking about stupid boyhood romantic fervors of Rishi. Grabbing flowers from the traffic signal, going on his knees in public and coax her to accept his proposal or simply send her his tuneless songs in the middle of her counseling sessions. There were times when she fell ill or faced a crisis situation, Rishi was always there for her. No expectations, no demand – his love for her was unconditional.
The two of them synced with each other on a different level. Their areas of interest were same. Both liked discussing the same thing. Rishi once told her, he felt proud of himself when she stood next to him. He was not the kind of guy to whom male chauvinism mattered. He was a progressive male – who believed in equality and not empowerment. He found the whole concept of women empowerment null and void. To him, those who propagated women empowerment were either a big fool or utterly biased. A woman by default was an epitome of power and strength. He felt thrusting upon a woman the idea of empowerment was a man’s ploy to save his lost face. The two of them were equal in every sense of the word. If one lacked physical strength the other one filled it with its mental strength. If one faced the world with a strong back the other one provided its partner with moral support and emotional balance to stand tall. One needed the other to create that perfect balance.
To Rishi, Kavya was a perfect partner. The one who can stand next to him like a solid rock when he faltered. She would love him like an understanding partner and reprimand him the moment he crossed his limits. He did not want a sex object or a decorative piece. For that, he can always order a beautiful doll from any online store.
For a long time, Kavya pondered over her past, present and future. There have been many proposals that saw the bin. This one was different. Rishi did not make her feel uncomfortable or forced her to do anything against her will. More than anything else, the emotional and intellectual equilibrium that she felt in his company was totally satisfying.
Just because her past was awful. It was not feasible for her to deprive herself of future happiness. “Age is just a number,” Rishi always tried to convince her helplessly. Their age gap, her age, her past – these were nothing but an excuse to deny her of the happiness she so rightly deserved. “I am too old for you but you are too young to understand,” Kavya used to repeat the same sentence time and again. Her motive was to dampen his spirit. Rishi always retaliated with an equal vengeance, “This stupid excuse only proves me right and you wrong.”
“Look at the couples around you, the happiest ones are not bothered by such petty issues,” ruffling his hair with disturbed fingers, “Please don’t torture us like this. Don’t be such a stubborn witch.” Again he flashed his disarming smile and like always he melted a portion of her heart that had turned ice.
Tonight was the night when the ice had melted completely. The curse was finally broken. Kavya had overcome all the demons of her past. She felt human again. “Hello,” he answered the call in one ring. As the clock struck one, she whispered in his ear, “Happy birthday and happy Valentine’s Day too. Will you be my valentine for the rest of my life?”