The Arranged Love!

The clouds rolled in and the thunders broke out loud. As the lightening brightened the world a wailing sound brought happiness to a cute little Family. A cute and beautiful baby was born to Ramakrishnan Iyer and Suchitra Ramakrishnan. He will be named Karthik said his dad and he will be an Engineer told his mom. I will be whatever I want to be told Karthik when he grew up. And here he is writing about himself trying to impress the person on the other side of the screen. Well, I talk a lot and you should have guessed by now. Life to me is a beautiful journey that unveils as you keep walking the road and so I don’t believe in a set of rules. Photography and dance are the love of my life. A fitness freak and gluttony for books, intelligent people and conversation turn me on. Although I grew up in Delhi, I love Chennai which is my birthplace. I am not comfortable with going on and on about me here. So if you like me I would like to talk about these over a cup of coffee. Oh yea! Just to break your curiosity, Karthik became a chartered Accountant. 🙂
I read the matrimonial profile of Karthik Ramakrishnan and let out a deep sigh. I saw his pics nonchalantly. I felt a bit awkward to see them infront of my mom, especially with her staring at me without a blink as I went through every pic of his. However, I was getting used to this ritual. He was tall, fair complexioned, well-built and was wearing glasses. He was sitting on a couch wearing a shorts and t-shirt, hair well groomed and had a serene smile on his face. There was a mole of his left cheek not too prominent but one will notice it when they see him keenly. Even in the casual wear he was looking like an uptight professional. “NERD” I thought to myself. To me he looked like a well-settled, proper tam brahm guy who listened to every single thing his parents told him. He surely wouldn’t have been in love ever before. I did not find him good looking he was just ok, but my mom was going gaga about him. It was the description that he had given about himself that impressed her. She generally, talks a lot and she loves people who talk a lot.
‘Karthik, looks good, doesn’t he? He works in Ascension too. Wouldn’t that be easy for you to know him better?’ she asked anxiously.
‘Maa, I don’t know what to say. He is just OK and I don’t want to get married now!’ I said and pushed the laptop aside. I saw his pic again. There was something about him that I liked. Maybe his smile! There were 5 pics of his I kept browsing from one pic to another. He never failed to keep his lovely smile intact throughout the pics.
‘Sakshi, you are 24 and this is the right time to get married’ said my mother and continued, ‘besides what is wrong with him? He is well settled and looks like a nice guy’ she started convincing me. I kept browsing through pics back and forth. I had just come back from office and was tired. Finally, I just clicked the “express Interest” button. I saw my mom grin from ear to ear. Yes, that would do to shut her up! I thought. Afterall, how is it going to matter? This is just the first step after this he should like me, then his parents and then his family, later comes the most important part the horoscope and I was sure that it will not match. Most of the times when we express interest from our side the guy’s side never respond. I probably looked that horrible that they did not even consider declining our request. But then, somewhere deep inside my heart I wished his parents contacted mine.

***

‘Sakshi, let’s go. They have made the announcement for our flight’ I was knocked back to present as I heard karthik’s voice. He carried our bags and offered his hand as I got up and held his hand. It has been 10 days since we are married now. That was the amount of intimacy we shared so far from the day we married – holding hands. We were going to Andaman for honeymoon and I was excited about the island, the beaches and the place itself. I wanted go somewhere north preferably Ladakh but Karthik insisted that we go to Andaman. I was ok with going anywhere with him. I accepted immediately. We kept smiling at each other everytime we saw each other. I was excited because I was standing next to one of the most handsome men and I am his wife. We got into the flight and he helped me wear my seat belt. His fingers touched my waist as he fastened the belts and it sent a current into my body. He took off his hands immediately and we smiled at each other weirdly. I looked out of the window and the view was stunning.
‘We will be there in another 9 hours’ he leaned over my side and kept looking at me. I couldn’t gaze his eyes for longer. He lifted his eyebrows and signaled me to look outside. I could see the tiny buildings and the small cars moving around on the highways. I smiled looking at them. ‘It is so cute, right?’ I turned to look at him and he was still looking at me. I smiled nervously he took out Inferno out of the bag and started reading it. I loved the way he made me feel, beautifully nervous. I felt like floating in the air everytime he looked at me or touched me accidently. I felt like a teenager again. I soon fell asleep and when I woke up I was leaning on Karthik’s shoulder. I looked out of the window and the flight was travelling amongst huge bulky chunks of clouds. It felt like I was like in a fairy land. As a matter of fact, I was in a fairyland from the time I married Karthik. That’s how he treated me, like an angel! I smiled in excitement and clasped my hands. I turned to see Karthik sleeping like a baby. I leaned on my seat looking at him. After sometime, I slowly removed his glasses, he woke up immediately. I smiled and shrugged. ‘I was going to remove your glasses so you will sleep comfortably’ I said. I was more comfortable when you were leaning on my shoulder. He smiled. We heard the announcement that the flight is going to land and was requested to wear the seat belt.

***
The next day was Tamil New Year’s Day – The most needed holiday for me. I was drained out due to work pressure. I woke up at around 9 AM and gloomily came out of my room. I wished my dad Good morning and went to brush my teeth. Suddenly, my mom caught my attention she was having the phone in her hand and was running around with a paper and pen. I signaled dad on what was happening. He shrugged. He wouldn’t say even if he knows.

‘Sure mama, I am very happy!’ she was smiling wide and continued as her eyes went bigger with every passing minute. ‘Oh really? My husband is also from Trichy. Do you want to talk to him?’ She came running towards my dad who looked as much puzzled as I did. But before he could figure out the phone was in his hand.
‘I am fine sir. How are you?’ He asked faking a smile. I wiped my face and went to my mom but by then the phone was back in her hand.
‘She is a very nice girl too. She is extremely pampered it is our mistake mama. But she is a very loving girl’ A shrill went through my spine. My dad was having the same stupid smile on his face too. It is karthik’s father. OH-MY-GOD everything is fixed. They are talking like long lost friends already. I haven’t even met him yet I thought. Fear gripped me, I became nervous but still I took the newspaper and pretended like I was not bothered about what was going on. I finally went to the kitchen to see if my mom had finished talking. She had and was busy cooking. I sighed and coughed to get her attention. She smiled at me and passed the coffee mug. I took it and asked her hesitantly, ‘Who is it maa?’

‘Karthik’s appa. They already matched the horoscope and it is matching perfectly. I am really happy. They said they will fix an auspicious day and inform us when to meet.’ She smiled and looked genuinely happy. The news hit me as hard as a hammer hit my head.
‘But maa!’ I started to say something but she stopped me. ‘Talk to him first and then you can say anything you want to say. His parents seem really nice. Don’t say no to this guy too. Listen to me and get ready to meet him’ she ordered and left to the backyard muttering the slogam and to continue her daily course of work. I was brought up in a very conservative environment. Although they gave me all the freedom I needed. I didn’t have much of a say in few of the things. Especially, marriage because I had said no to several alliances so far and my mom understood that it was a trick I played to escape marriage itself. I was in the verge of crying. I considered talking to my dad but he is not going to say anything different. I have to meet him and I have to get ready for this stupid marriage. My liking did not matter anymore. I thought! I went into my room and shut the door. I opened the laptop and opened his pic from the matrimonial site. I saw them again. I did like him but how stupid is this going to be! Meeting a stranger, getting married to him and finally making babies with him. Plus, he is 4 years elder to me. Will this work out? How do you care about it working out/not after marriage! Even the thought sounded so weird. What if I don’t like him after I marry him? What if he never reads books and just tried to pretend like he is a book worm in the matrimonial site. What if he never liked books and what if I don’t understand his love for photography! Several what ifs kept piling in my mind and the thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door. I quickly closed his pictures and ran to open the door. It was my mom smiling again. I raised one of my eyebrows and rested my hand on the wall.
‘They spoke again, tomorrow is a good day and he is OK with meeting you in the office. He wants to keep it simple.’ Said my mom very excited like we are going to get married the very next moment we meet.
‘Maa!! Are you crazy? I mean this is all so fast. Really!’ I said totally irritated and nervous at the same time.

‘Sakshi you have been saying no to every guy we saw for you. This time at least meet him in person, talk to him and then decide what you want. There is no harm in meeting the person. Is there?’ asked my dad a very understanding and practical person just scared of my mother. So, I got ready to meet him the next day at office.

***

We checked into the resort. Karthik’s father had booked a suite that faced the sea. I lied down on the bed as soon as we checked in. I was feeling very tired from the early morning flight to the travel to the resort.
‘Tired?’ he asked as he tilted his head to look at me lying on the bed.

‘Yes!’ I sighed. He lied next to me supporting his head with one of his hands. I moved away a little. Although we had shared the same bed for 10 days now I was not quite comfortable about him lying so close to me. Plus, he hasn’t spoken to me when we were using the same bed. All we did was come back after a tiring day at office or a tiring day out at a mall or some friends place and plonk ourselves in the bed. Today I was nervous again. If there is something I feel a lot these days it is nervousness. He put his arm around my waist and pulled me closer as I moved away. It felt like a thousand butterflies were just released from a box. I caught hold of the hand that was pulling me closer. Our faces were only breaths away and he removed his glasses. I could feel the warmth in his breath on my cheeks and looked away.

‘So now you can speak!’ he smiled and looked directly into my eyes. I tried to speak but my lips were dry and I felt like a fish that was thrown out of the water yet I loved what I was going through. After humungous efforts I said, ‘What to speak?’ and bit my lower lips.
‘I thought you were saying something’ he said and removed the strands of hair that were around my neck. I moved uneasily as the tender touches of his finger and my hair moving away from my skin gave a tickling feeling.

‘What happened?’ he almost whispered. I smiled. He came closer and I felt the warmth of his body on mine and the masculine smell of his perfume. I clenched his hand and he smiled. He kissed my forehead and then the cheeks as he stroke my hair. I closed my eyes tight and clasped my fingers into his. He moved away and rested his head on his hand again. I opened my eyes and looked at him confused. ‘You are very beautiful up close!’ He said and smiled. I blushed. “And you smell like lavender” He added and smiled more. I blushed and laughed at the same time. My man adored me and I felt like the most beautiful woman in the world. He pulled me much closer this time that the side of my body was pressed against his and he came closer to me with that serene smile I had seen on the pics the first time. I closed my eyes and felt his soft lips on mine. First lightly and then he was kissing me slowly and passionately. I could feel the blood gush faster into every nerve of my body and pulled him closer by his collar. He slowly moved down my chin and gave mild pecks on my neck. If a girl feels alive and yet dies slowly because of happiness this is the moment – The moment her husband kisses her for the first time.

‘Sakshi’ he said caressing my chin in his palm. I looked at him and blushed more now. He smiled. ‘I love you!’ He said for the first time and kissed me again and hugged me tighter this time.

‘Karthik’ I whispered in his ears.
‘hmm’ he said as we were just lying there hugging each other.
‘I love you too!’ I kissed his cheeks and we smiled at each other lost in each other’s eyes. I ruffled his straight hair that fell on his forehead. We were lost in love! We were lost in our own world.
***
‘I am waiting near the reception area. Yellow color top and a denim jean’ I said and turned to see him standing behind me. He smiled and extended his hand.
‘Hi Sakshi’ he smiled. Smitten is the only word I could come up with as soon as I saw him. Thick and silky hair gelled and neatly combed; dusky complexion and a beautiful smile on his handsome, macho face. Karthik was a man who really took great care of himself and the way he carried himself. I had never believed in love at first sight but that was the moment I decided that it happens because it was happening to me.

‘I thought you wouldn’t be able to recognize me’ I said and smiled sheepishly.
‘Why wouldn’t I? I have seen your pics too, just in case you didn’t know’ he added.
‘ah! Yes! Right!’ I said and ran short of words to continue talking which normally for a girl like me is not too difficult.
‘Coffee?’ he asked as we started walking.
‘Yes!’ I smiled.
‘Barista?’ he suggested.
‘Why go till barista? Can’t we just drink the filter coffee we get in our cafeteria?’ I asked and smiled. I was starting to like him more with every passing minute and I cannot believe that it was happening. I am falling for a stranger and felt good about it.
‘Oh! You prefer filter coffee over Barista’s mocha, frappe and cappuccino! Awesome’ he smiled and I felt a tiny bit of relief on his face.
‘Why can’t I?’ I asked giving him a puzzled look as we collected our bill from the counter. He took the change and kept in his wallet as I kept staring at him which I am sure he knows I was and was probably trying to ignore. On the flip side, I couldn’t help staring at him he was drop dead handsome! The pictures in the matrimonial were deceiving. He was a bit dusky but nevermind, dusky is the new sexy!
As we relished the filter coffee we talked about various things starting from books to movies, from favourite places to work and by the end of the conversation I wanted to scream, “I so want to marry you and start a life with you!” We had decided to meet for an hour. “Hi Sakshi, let’s meet from 4 – 5 PM” he had mentioned in the e-mail he sent me. NERD! I thought. But we ended up talking for 3 hours and finally we started walking towards our building from the cafeteria.
‘So, I am happy you love filter coffee too!’ He smiled as we stood near the place where we should part ways to talk the lift our own wings. He pointed in the direction to his wing and gestured me to take that lift to my wing. I smiled. We walked the rest of the distance in silence but our eyes shared a lot of unsaid words. As we neared the lift he pressed the call button for me. I felt like I already belonged to him. Stupid I know! But that’s how I felt.
As the lift door opened I entered and stood in between the doors while nearly 10 people inside the lift staring at me. ‘Bye!’ I said.
‘Bye!’ He smiled.

He walked a few steps and turned to see me and the lift door almost closed while I pushed it back. ‘We will catch up again!’ He smiled more. Oh! If smile is a drug I am overdosed with it.
***
Weeks passed and I was back to my normal monotonous life. I had told my mother that I like him the very same day we met. Maybe he didn’t like me as much as I did, I thought. I wonder why we never see each other even when we are in the same building. I wish I could see him, we run into each other by accident or I wait by his ODC and act like we accidently bump on each other. I couldn’t stop thinking about him and that night I decided to ask my mom about him on how far the talks are and if they have planned anything in future like an engagement or at least a formal meet where the parents meet and decide, you know the other usual things.

‘Ma, what happened to that alliance?’ I asked her casually while we had assembled at the dining table for dinner.
‘which alliance Sakshi?’ she asked me back like nothing had happened in the past. I was dumbstruck for a while I didn’t know what to respond, rather how to take the conversation further. Should I say the guy whom you liked a lot and forced me to like too? Or should I say the guy whom both the parents decided that I should meet and talk. I remained silent.

‘Well, we took the horoscope to grandpa to check compatibility and there was a problem in his horoscope. Moreover, grandpa told that he will be a very dominating person which might not be compatible for you.’ She said after a while without involvement.
‘What do you mean by horoscopes didn’t match?’ I asked irritated.
‘What do you mean by asking that?’ she retaliated.
‘Didn’t his parents say that it matched after which you asked us to meet?’ I somehow felt betrayed.
‘Sakshi you don’t tell us what to do, we know what is right for you. Eat your food’ She said curtly and started eating. I pushed the plate and left the place. I locked myself in the room and sat on my bed staring at the wall. It was not settling in my head that I am not going to marry this guy I fell in love with the first time I saw him. The guy who made me feel belonged within 3 hours of conversation. I held my head in my hand. I didn’t feel sad but I was angry, angry with our system and my parents treating me like a puppet. Life is not easy and it is a struggle when you are forced to marry a stranger just because we grow up to marry someone. I mean yes, that’s what we do we go to school, study engineering and do a master degree, get placed in a decent job to finally get married to someone of our parents’ choice because we are old enough to get married because the world thinks so. Then we definitely make babies before our first wedding anniversary, because again the world thinks so. I threw a pillow on the wall. I felt helpless and raged. My phone blinked. I got a message –

So, the horoscopes didn’t match. 🙂

I kept staring at the message from Karthik for a while and touched the call option. He picked immediately.
‘What crap is that?’ I asked.
‘How are you?’ He heard his smile. I kept quiet. It felt heavenly to hear his voice. It felt like I was transported to a different beautiful world everytime I heard his deep husky voice. It was funny to go through these feelings given the fact that we had spent only for 3 hours with each other yet I felt all of it and it was happening to me.
‘I am not good Karthik’ I replied.
‘Why?’ he asked.
‘What? I…uh…you…’ I sighed. ‘I want to spend my life with you’ I blurted finally. He laughed and it irritated me more. I felt humiliated and disconnected the phone. He called me again. I refused to pick and switched off the light and tugged my head into the pillow and screamed.
My mobile vibrated again.
I want to grow old with you…
but we need to find how so my dear please pick the phone!
It read. I rubbed my eyes and read it again. I pinched myself and ouch! it was not a dream! He called.

‘What are we going to do? I mean it’s crazy right? We know each other for just 3 hours but we are behaving like Ram and Leela in Ram-leela!’ I asked totally freaked out.
‘Ram and Leela fell in love with each other at first sight. They didn’t even talk to each other, kissed first’ he said and guffawed.
‘Yes! Stupid, right?’ I said rolling my eyes.
‘Right, I am not interested in discussing about how stupid the movie was…’
‘Hey! I love that movie and Ranveer’ I interrupted and protested, ‘And Deepika’ I added.
‘Well, good for you. So now can we talk about us? As in how to convince our parents” He asked as a matter of fact.
‘Right!’ I said coming out of Ramleela. God! I love that movie although totally stupid. I love it. Maybe these days I have started liking all stupid things in the world.

‘Let’s meet tomorrow and talk’ He said.
‘Yes 4 -5 PM’ I said sarcastically and he laughed. We disconnected the phone. I couldn’t sleep that night. I was in love and I cannot stop thinking about Karthik. Where did he come from to change my world like this? I don’t remember staying up all night thinking about a guy, the way he looked and how wonderfully he treated and spoke to me. I tossed from one to another grinning like an idiot. I want to grow old with you! I thought of what he said and smiled again.
***
But we met after almost a week. We were sitting in Barista me staring at him as usual and him playing with his mobile phone.
‘OK, so I am leaving’ I got up to leave.
‘Hey!’ he caught my hand and made me sit.
‘Are you going to say what to do?’ I asked exasperated.
‘I spoke to my dad about us this morning’ he announced.
‘And?’ I asked anxiously.
‘He said that the problem is with me as in, in my horoscope so he says if something happens to you in future he will be held responsible in my family and the same goes with your parents’ he shrugged.
‘Do you actually believe in this horoscope shit! Karthik, don’t you understand that I want to be with you?’ I asked almost in the verge of crying. I really did want to be with him for a lifetime and this horoscope match seemed extremely stupid to me.
‘It’s your mother who is not ready to accept Sakshi not my parents. Trust me, I want to be with you more than how much you want to be with me. This whole thing is very stressful for me. But I want to marry you because you made me realize how it feels to be in love again. I feel new everytime I see you and I have never felt this way before’ he said rather seriously this time.
I smiled. Love again! So he was in love before this. Never judge a person by his looks! I thought.
‘What do we do now?’ I asked and sighed.
‘I already spoke to her and she is just afraid of the consequences of the marriage, she feels if something happens to you then she will be blamed and I will also be blamed because we ignored the fact that it is dangerous to marry me.’ He shrugged and continued, ‘So my dad is also a little skeptic about the whole thing. But my mom what did you do to her?’ He asked and frowned.
‘What?’ I asked keeping the cup of mocha back on table and wiped the cream mush with a tissue.
‘She wants you to be the bride. She wants me to marry you no matter what! She says you should be her daughter-in-law!’ He widened his eyes as he said that.
I smiled and blushed at the same time.
‘If we marry we can prove them that they are wrong’ I said quickly.
He smiled.
‘I mean I know you are not arrogant or dominating and I know you will let me have my life. Be independent. I know!’ I said desperately.
‘Sakshi, the fact is we hardly know each other!’ He said plainly. It felt like a hundred bullet was shot at me when he said that. That’s it he is dumping me for a stupid horoscope and I am begging him like an idiot.
‘Fine, you are right. We should just part ways!’ I said and left the place. I ran out of the coffee shop unable to control my tears I wiped my eyes with my dupatta. When I felt a hand grasp mine from behind, I turned to see him standing behind me smiling.
‘Stop throwing that faa…’ I controlled my language and said, ‘that smile on me’
He knelt down in the middle of a highway and took a box out of his pocket in his hand. I couldn’t believe what was happening. It felt like a perfect fairy tale, the type of proposal I had always expected to happen with me. I moved away but he was holding my hand, clasping it tightly in his. My eyes were blurry with tears I smiled and bit my lower lip.
‘Marry me!’ He said finally showing the box of ring to me. I ran out of breathe, if he left my hand I would probably float in the air in happiness. I sighed and opened my mouth to say yes but I felt numb in happiness and couldn’t speak. I finally nodded and smiled. He slipped the ring into my finger and hugged me.
I hugged him tighter I want to disappear in his arms, into his heart and take a permanent place there so no one, no horoscope will bring us apart. We stood there hugging each other in silence. I felt his sweat drip on my shoulder and looked up to see him.
‘Isn’t it a little hot for this romantic thing here?’ He asked and I laughed. Little did I know that I am going to laugh and my life will be filled only with beautiful memories and laughter with Karthik.
***
‘Sakshi! Why do you have to take time for every damn thing!’ He shouted from the living room. We had returned from our honeymoon a week back and had returned from a party arranged by one of Karthik’s best friends that evening. It was a party for us and I had a meeting that got extended beyond the stipulated time so I reached the party late and had asked Karthik to go first.
‘I had a meeting what do you expect? I am a manager and it is not easy. You know better!’ I said.
‘But wasn’t the party for us?’ He asked coming to the bedroom where I was removing my accessories.
‘I came, didn’t I?’ I asked back.
‘Yes, when the party was about to get over! That was insulting!’ He said and threw the towel on the bed.
‘I apologized to your friend. I told her not to keep the party on a weekday and…’
‘First! Understand you are not doing a favour by coming to that party and Can’t You take leave today? or just handover the work to someone else? Your company doesn’t function JUST because of you!’ he interrupted me. He looked very angry and this fight added up to the previous arguments we have been having everyday for silly things. Things were not the way it was when we were in love or during the honeymoon.
‘Karthik, you know how my work is…’ I tried to explain. He interrupted by showing his hand.

‘Oh yes! The world’s busiest person cannot afford just a bloody evening for her husband! I am sorry I expected you to come early or take a day off for one damn day! For me, indeed that was too much to ask, right! I understood that now’ He yelled and left the room.

‘Karthik, please come back!’ I cried. It was my mistake. I always take him for granted and assume that he will be fine if I come late from work.  We have been having these fights and arguments very frequently these days that I started wondering if he has started hating me and if he will ever love me again the way he used to. I slept crying and when I woke up I felt his arms around my waist and his chin on my shoulder. He had come back after I slept and had cuddled me when I was sleeping.
‘I am sorry!’ he whispered in my ears and kissed me. I smiled and a tear fell out of my eyes. He kissed my eyes.

‘Karthik, I am starting to think if we have become like these old married couple, fighting and arguing over everything. What if this doesn’t work out?’ I asked worried. He turned me to face him and stroke my hair.
‘Love is not just about being crazy about each other. It is about fighting, arguing and hating each other too. Driving each other crazy yet be madly in love with each other! That is love baby!’ He smiled.

‘So we are not falling apart right?’ I confirmed.
‘No we are not, infact we are becoming closer with every passing day and with every argument we have, my princess.’ He kissed me and I felt wonderful again.
‘And you know what?’ He asked.
‘What?’ I looked at him anxiously.
‘I love you!’ He smiled and planted a kiss on my forehead.
‘And I love you more!’ I elbowed him playfully.
‘Well! I doubt that… Let’s see… I love you much more!’ He chuckled and started tickling me. ‘I love you much much more’ I replied laughing like a child.
We continued measuring our unmeasurable love for each other lying on the bed. And I thought, Did the horoscope ever predict how lucky I will become after marrying this man? No!

***
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