“There she is,” said my friend, and my heart skipped a beat even before I looked up to see Simmi – said to be the prettiest girl in town. Man, was she really good looking! Wearing a white shirt with denims, she entered the cinema hall just in time for the 10.30 a.m. show, while we had been firmly ensconced in our seats for the past 20 minutes.
Simmi had been suggested to my mother as a possible match for me, by Mr Gandotra, who used to give me tuitions at home (in commerce, not love). Can love be arranged? Or was my private tutor a modern version of Cupid? His persistence had paid off, and here I was, to catch a glimpse of what could be…Mr Gandotra’s was a lethal arrow, indeed, and I actually found myself massaging my heart.
We started meeting. It wasn’t too difficult: our parents had been friends a long time back, and my dad easily bulldozed our way into their home, rejuvenating the ‘just like old times’ series of dinner evenings.
Simmi always knew I pined for her. Of course, girls can easily figure out what effect they have on a guy, and often she would catch me staring at her, only to give out a delicate smile that nailed it completely. I was hopelessly in love, without even really chatting with her. By chat, I mean people used to have real conversations. Mercifully, our time was before WhatsApp, iPhones and social media.
Related reading: I don’t believe in love and marriage
“So what are your hobbies?” she asked one day.
“I love music, reading, travelling,” (which was pretty clichéd) but then I added, “I like to write poems.”
That caught her by surprise.
“Oh, really? How nice. So let’s hear a poem from you.”
“Umm…everything was decidedly different this morn,” I said.
“The sun shone bright, much brighter than yesterday.
The stars were still up, they refused to go away!
Sparrows whispered to each other excitedly,
The bees were already stumbling in drunken ecstasy,
And did anyone note the trees as they swayed?
Some strange delight in the air. All this, for you, my Love…”
“Er, that’s the way I just wrote it…you know.”
“Yes, I understand…and…it’s really nice…I like it.”
If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, the way into a lady’s life is surely through her heart. And nothing does it quite like poetry. Forget diamonds, that’s how I made my entry into Simmi’s world!
A world I loved to live in, a world which I realised gave perfect meaning to my own world. I loved the mingling of the two worlds, knowing deep in my soul that somewhere, a long time ago, they had always been one… But Simmi didn’t think like that – not just yet. She was a Libran, and Librans like to make friends with everyone, especially admirers; they are too polite to turn anyone away! But I held on to the initial success – well begun was half done – and I wrote at least 20 more poems to get to the other half. As a result, we did become pretty good friends, replete with long conversations, both in person and on the telephone, etc. One day, I asked her if she would marry me.
“I’m not ready yet. You’re a nice guy, undoubtedly, but I need time,” she said.
“Oh, I will wait forever.” She looked at me.
“But please hurry!” I added with a smile.
“How can you just fall in love with someone, and straight away ask to be married?” she asked. “I mean, it’s a little funny. How can you be so sure?”
“Sure? I am sure,” I said. “I am sure we are soul mates, and totally incomplete without the other. But you need to be reminded. You know I belong to the automobile trade?”
“So, in a gearbox, each gear has a certain number of spokes, we call them teeth, which need to fit perfectly into the other gears’ teeth, and when they do fit, it’s a perfect match, resulting in good transmission for the car.”
“Ha ha. You are a funny guy, but I think I do understand what you are trying to say. Let’s sleep on this a bit, shall we?”
Simmi agreed in the next few days. We got married! Everyone dubbed it the most romantic event of the decade. And truly, we seemed forever in love, forever happy.
But then, after I celebrated my 40th birthday, something strange happened: I became insecure, without any reason at all, just from thinking that I was now growing old. Sullen, snappy, and suspicious, is what insecurity made me, despite all the love. And that’s the time, if you are lucky enough to have been friends besides being lovers, when your spouse can still get across to you; talk to you in friendship. The same spouse you are possessive about can calm you and restore your self-esteem. And Simmi did that lovingly, with passion and compassion; and understandingly, with great patience, making me realise that not only is she the one I love the most in this world, but also that she is my best friend.
So what happened when I turned 50? Things are far more confident and the gearbox works in perfect harmony! After 32 years of a very happy married life, the car is still cruising happily; the transmissions and poetry are still good, fitted for eternal drive!