“Hi Arthi”, I told when I saw her in Forum next week. She “Hi”ed me back. The conversation couldn’t continue as both were a bit uncomfortable. Taking the initiative, I told “let’s check out the movies playing, and then figure out what to do”. Tickets were available for “Gajini”, “Australia”, and “Outlander”. In the tea-time discussions some of my colleagues had told about “Outlander” being a good action movie. I thought she might not like an action movie and asked her, “Which one?”. She told, or probably asked me, “I like action movies, I have seen Gajini, how about Outlander?” I broke into a big smile, and agreed instantly. When we went to the ticket counter, ticket guy told me “Only front row tickets are available”. It didn’t matter for me, I told my OK to the guy, paid, and got the ticket. As we were walking to cafeteria, Arthi told, “Hey, it’s the first row, will it be uncomfortable? I sometimes get a head ache”. “Oops”, I told, “I have watched many times on front row, it doesn’t matter; anyways if you feel uncomfortable we will leave in the middle of the movie”. She gave me a big smile and said, “Thanks”.
We started to discuss about different movies we liked over next hour. We discussed about the different characters in the movie, how they were good and bad and all those things. The conversation was getting interesting as we entered the movie hall to watch the “Outlander”. The movie was good with mindless violence, whenever one of us got bored with the movie, we made fun of the characters and discussed in hushed tones. As we came out of the movie hall, we wanted to talk more about things. But as I realised, it was getting dark and she needs to go home, I felt sad. I guess, we both made up our mind with difficulty and left for our house. After dinner at home, I messaged her “I had great day today”. She responded by saying, “Same here, I had wonderful time with you, watch Notting Hill on HBO”. I switched channel and started watching the movie. Slowly the messages flowed between us, with laughs and discussion on the movie. It was great movie funny to start with, and a great romantic ending. I replied to her, “I never thought I will like romantic movies :-). I liked this very much, Thanks”. She replied back by saying the other great romantic movies to watch. I made a mental note to watch those, said good night and had a very good sleep that day.
Over next days, weeks, month, we constantly emailed, chatted, talked, messaged, and discussed every subject under the sun. We talked about the movies we saw, we talked about the office scenario, we talked about friends and all those small things which happen in life. It was an eye opener for me in lot of ways, getting a girls perspective on things. The way she thought regarding things like, movies, good, bad, sex, love, romance were an eye opener to me. I started discussing about my views on all these things and I could feel that we were getting closer to each other. I must say, it was surprising for me that, we rarely had arguments and even if we had disagreements we respected each others opinions. I was living a dream.
Last 2 months, after my engagement with Ravi, has been wonderful. Oh! I was so worried about marriage and husband; all my worries have been put to rest now. What a great guy Ravi is! I cannot stop conversing with him even at work. Luckily I do not have much work, Ravi, though is a little busy, always makes time to talk to me. This weekend we are going to meet my friends. Oh! An email from Ravi, it says, “Hey, sorry I can’t make it to meeting this weekend. My college buddies have planned a trip to Madikeri. Luckily most of them have agreed this time. Sorry, you had planned this before, can you help? Can we please meet with your friends another time? Pleaseeeeeeee……” I get angry with him and reply back, “Hey Ravi, marriage is just 3 weeks away and we will get busy with the preparations. It will be difficult to meet friends after that. I have already told all my friends, can you pleaseeeee go to trip another day. Please do not miss meeting with my friends :-(”. Don’t know why, I just stopped short of telling, “Missing the meeting doesn’t look good in front of my friends”.
Man, what a situation. Arthi is getting sad and all. Such a small thing, after marriage it becomes so difficult to freak out with friends. We can meet her friends any time. Who knows probably she will be ok for me to freak out with friends :-). Ok, let me cancel the trip. “Sorry guys, I can’t make it to the trip guys. Marriage is just 3 weeks away and my parents are not allowing me to go outside Bangalore. Sorry again guys, let us plan after marriage is over.” All my friends replied, regarding difficulty to plan an outing after marriage. But I didn’t try to convince them. And then the hard part, replying to Arthi, I thought for a while and replied without going into details “Hey, its fine. I will make it to the week end meeting with friends. I won’t go to Madikeri”. She replied with a “thanks” and a 24 fonter smiley. Don’t know why I was not comfortable at office that day, went home and slept early.
Meeting with my friends went well; my friends were impressed I think. Good. Ravi was little uncomfortable between my friends, he is shy sort of a guy. Nice. Marriage preparations are killing me.
At last, the meeting got over with Arthi’s friends. Man, it was a sort of torture. I was uncomfortable sitting with 4 girls and to top it, only thing running in my head was, “What will Arthi think if I say this or that? Will she feel bad?” More or less I kept to myself talking very formally without getting into controversy. She didn’t say anything about the meeting; I hope it is fine with her.
Just one month after the marriage, there is lot of difference we are finding in life. Perspectives change very much when we are in the same home, living together, and parents and relatives make it more complex. The day after the marriage, when I made a funny comment on Arthi’s aunt. She took it very personal, and got sad that I think in a certain way. It was just an off-the-cuff remark, and I didn’t mean anything really. I need to be careful next time when I make such a comment. Honey moon was another story of discovery; I just wanted to stay in one place and enjoy with her, whereas Arthi wanted to visit different places in Mauritius. It was very good at the end, we enjoyed the place just like our before marriage days, carefree and without thinking what other would think.
Last 2 years has been a mixture of lot of emotions. As any married couple we have had lot of fights over small things, big things, not so important things. But overall it has been good. I get up early at 6 now and prepare for the breakfast. I still like my early morning sleep, and try to enjoy that on weekends. Ravi also gets up at 6 and helps me prepare for breakfast. I have stopped going to dance classes, as Ravi’s parents are not comfortable with it. We typically go for a movie, meet friends or shopping over week ends. We do not laugh as much as we did before. No complaints, most of my friends envy me for my life and for my relationship with Ravi. They think I am leading a beautiful life, but I miss the excitement of our initial days. I walk out of the kitchen and ask Ravi,
“Ravi, we used to laugh a lot and enjoy life more during early days of our relationship. Probably for 6-8 months it was like that I think. Why do you think we are not having so much excitement now?”
"Hmmm, tough question. Not sure, probably we understand each other better now and thrill of knowing the other person is lost now."
"Is that so? Yeah, true I guess. Let’s have a kid; I think that will induce some energy to the relationship."
Ravi stutters a bit and answers "oops, but we discussed this last month right? We decided to wait for a year more, my trip to America is pending, it will be difficult to manage in America, right? Did you ask your manager regarding America? What is this sudden idea?"
"Hey, why are you getting so uncomfortable? It was just an idea and I am trying to get your views on that. I checked with my manager today, and he says it is very difficult to arrange for a project in America. He made it sound, not possible types. We had agreed that it’s not good for me to quit job, as it would not be safe for our future. Why don’t you plan for going to America alone and we will plan for kid, I can stay with my parents. What do you think?"
"What’s wrong with my parents? Hey, they will feel bad if you stay along with your parents. Too much complicated, they cannot answer questions from their friends and family. It was a big deal to them, for us to live separately in the first place. They felt so bad about it. According to norms you can stay with your parents for last 2 months.", says Ravi getting angry.
"Hey, it is not that I got you separated from your parents. It was a joint decision, we discussed and decided. Right? Even now when your mother comes visiting, don’t I put up with her without a complaint?"
Discussion continues with both in angry mood.
"Common! my mother is not that bad. It is just that she some times advices you as she is the elder and she thinks it is her responsibility. You just have to take her advice sometimes. Lets just forget this, we discussed this hundreds of times. (Taking a deep breath, talking in a normal tone) Arthi, you know how difficult it is to get an opportunity like going to America nowadays. I don’t want to miss this; It is going to do a lot to my career. It will help me get a promotion."
"All you are always interested in is you and your parents. You do not care for me at all. I do not want to stop you from going to America, you can go is what I am saying. Right? When I proposed to quit and come along, you were the person who told it is not good for family. Though I wanted to come along with you, quitting the job. I accepted your view. I also want to see America. But, when you know that I and your Mom don’t get along well, it is not good to force me to live with your parents."
Tears start trickling from Arthi's face as she says her last sentence.
"Hey, common, you can’t blame me like this. I used to meet my friends fortnightly and had some fun. Didn’t I stop it for you? My friends make fun of me for not meeting them often. They call me hen pecked, but still I do not want to break the ground rules set by us. Do you think I am doing all this for me? If this is a small thing, should I list all the things I left for us? What’s wrong with my mother? Can’t we at least try to make them happy a little?"
Arthi crying loudly says, "Hey Sorry, I didn’t mean that. But why are you forcing me now to stay with your parents? I also sacrificed a lot, right? I stopped going to dance classes which I liked; I stopped because of you and your parents. There is nothing wrong with them, but you know that I do not go along well with your mother. Why are you doing this to me?"
Ravi gets mild and says, "Why are you doing this to me, you do not cry like this. We normally discuss things, even if we fight, you do not cry. Please stop it. Let’s discuss this tomorrow or some other time, please give me some time to think. You also think about this."
Arthi walks into kitchen. Though she wants to stop crying, she can’t, she doesn’t know why she can’t stop, and continues crying. Ravi, gets irritated, walks into bed room and sleeps. Arthi slowly moves over to sofa and sleeps on the sofa in living room. Next day was a Saturday; Ravi gets up early because of daily habit, sees Arthi is not next to him, and rushes to living room. He gets relieved seeing Arthi, wakes her up and supports her in moving to bed room. Ravi goes into the kitchen to cook breakfast, slowly starts thinking of what happened yesterday.
When Arthi wakes up and comes into living room and sees the breakfast done. Ravi, slowly talks to her, “I think, I will cancel my America trip; it seems meaningless for me without you joining me. Can you try in your office more? or else we can take a holiday in America some other time. Let’s discuss about the kid some other time please.”
Arthi says, “Ok, it is not good that we fight over things. Let’s see what happens with the America thing and then decide. Not sure what happened to me yesterday, Sorry.”
Ravi says, “I am also very sorry”
4 years later Arthi and Ravi thinking at coffee table in their office:
"We have never fought with each other after that ugly day. In fact I make sure I suppress all the taboo subjects, not allowing it to affect our life. Our conversation has come down to very minimal, we only talk about our daughter and plans for her future. We talk rarely about ourselves, our interests, etc. Life is on auto-pilot with both of us cooking breakfast, work, playing with daughter, sleep. Fun is back in life with seeing our daughter play and learn to live life, but it is only with daughter. I guess we can never reach height of our relationship of first 6-10 months. Oops, stop thinking about this. Life is good..... Is it really? Stop thinking.... Do we really understand each other? Why did we fight if we understood? Why do we fear conflict? Why are we afraid of our views? What are we running from? Don't think.. Don't think.. Don't think.. Don't think.. Don't think.."
-- Madhukar Hebbar
The story is inspired by the Shetty's concept of "Old Secret for a new marriage". I suggest the reader to read the concept also.