Dec 05,2009: I asked the cabdriver to pull the car near a tall healthy man, dressed in a simple kurta paijama with a jacket. He looked puzzled, nervous and tired at 9AM in the morning as he stood outside Delhi airport. I asked him to hop in the cab and before the cabdriver could start the engine, he looked directly in my eyes and asked, “Are you sure we are doing this?”
“Don’t you think we have come a little too far to ask this?” I replied in a reassuring voice. So there we were heading to the court with the slightest clue of what our life will be then on. We knew we were risking everything we had. Marriage is always a gamble, and in our case, stakes were much higher.That was one of the rare moments when we were not filling time with words. Hardly had we spoken in an hours’ travel till we reached the court.
As I stepped outside the car, I checked the people around me, secretly hoping that nobody recognized us. We held hands comforting each-other and walked to the building. As we approached our advocate with our hearts pumping blood more than they ever had, he said “We have another two hours to go, can you people return later.” We wished we could plead and let him know how desperately we wanted the formalities to be done so that we could rush to a more secured place, but beggars are not the choosers.
Deprived of options, we returned to the cab thinking where could we possibly spend those tense moments. Then after a long pause he said something which was so like him, “Summy bhook lagi hai, kuch khaye?”. I nodded and after a few steps we reached a small restaurant. A teen came, wiped the filthy table and chairs as the bride and the groom took their seats. He handed us the menu and nothing on that menu was worth eating. I lifted my head from the menu in disappointment to have a look at Shahzeel, who was so engrossed in the menu as if he would be questioned about it later. The teen could not take it anymore and asked, “Kya logey aap log?”.
“Kya specialty hai tumhare yaha?”, asked Mr. Jawed
“Theek hia, do le aao and dekhna ki masaledaar bane”, Shahzeel replied while handing over the menu to the guy who then left. It’s amazing to see how he carries the same attitude in a dhabba that he has in a 5 star hotel.
“Shahzeel mereko bhook nahi hia, water will be just fine”
“Kha le na Summy, we don’t know how long it will take us here, also don’t worry about not finishing it, now that I am getting added in your life, food wastage ka chance hi nahi hia kabhie”, he smiled for the very first time that day and lightened the air. How true it was, its 2 years since then and not a grain of food ever went to waste.
Mr. Jawed is always next to me to take care of my leftovers.
As Shahzeel ate, I checked myself in a pocket mirror. I looked awful in a red kurta, which I got a day before at Shoppers Stop. I bought a simple striped red kurta for 300 bucks only. We made sure that we do not wear anything gaudy in the court as we wanted to be lost in the crowd rather than standing out. Even my mom’s wedding lehenga costed her Rs. 3,300, thirty years back. Anyhow, post the chola-bhatura when the kid was about to serve us water from the rusty steel jug, Mr. Jawed said “Get us a Bisleri”. He winked at me and said ,“Today is our wedding, we can atleast afford a bisleri”
So there we were having a Rs. 25/plate of chola-bhatura along with a Bisleri, looking as stupid as we were when we met at the age of 17 and 18. Hardly had we known at that age what we were entering into.
After the grand food, we reached the court again and did all the necessary paper work. I won’t say we got married as we were mentally married for years by then, we just needed the legal proof for that. It’s funny to see that no matter how much love and affection you have for a person, it is considered illegal in the eyes of the society and one small signature in a split of a second makes it all legal. So after crossing the threshold of legality we looked at each other with one question in our eyes, “now what?”
As we moved out of the court with Shahzeel holding his marriage certificate so close to his heart as if it was a bullet-proof jacket (which it kinda was), we did not know where to spend time till it was time for him to board his flight back to Hyderabad. I remember he even suggested “Pa dekhne chale PVR?”, to which I said “Really Pa, aaj shaadi hui hia hamari; Pa is melodramatic”.
“Yeah, and what is our life?” He had a point there, but then I believe you can’t appreciate real love till you’ve been burnt, and we have a superb experience in that domain.
So this was our ajab gazab shaadi. No friends and no relatives. I don’t regret a fancy wedding till now as I personally feel weddings are such a waste of money. Even as a kid I was the same as I always used to ask my mom to get me married in a court and invest the amount which she would have put in an extravagant wedding in something constructive . Shahzeel also shares the same thought. The only thing we missed was, while signing the paper our parents were not standing next to us. That’s all we ever wanted – to get married with them beside us. But as they say, all’s well that ends well.
Later that night Shahzeel left for Hyderabad, leaving me behind in Delhi. I was serving my notice period in office and had 15 more days to go before I could join him in Hyderabad. For the first time in life, it pinched me so hard to see him leave for another city. It was that time that it struck me that it was not my boyfriend but my husband who was leaving the city.
And here we are 8 years from there, happier than we could ever be. I think the key reason of our happiness is that we haven’t changed with the passage of time. We are still the same Summy & Sheikhu who met just after school at a real young age. We act as a matured couple where needed but mostly we are the same stupid college going kids. He still pulls my pony tail and I still stamp on his feet for fun. Also, we have never taken each-other for granted, we never forget what we have been through to be together.
Our life has been a roller-coaster ride since that day, without any doubt I have had an amazing experience since then- moved to places, built new homes, did crazy adventure stuff, got to see so many beautiful locations and most importantly, gained acceptance in the families. But none of this could have been possible without me being be backed up by Mr. Jawed. As I always say – I don’t say he is the best person because he is my husband, but because he is the best person, is the reason why I chose him to be my husband, even when the world stood against me.
I vividly remember Shahzeel telling me “Dekhna aagey jake we will remember this day. It will be fun telling our kids our story, our ‘so called’ wedding!”