Effervescent and warm, Radio City RJ Archana L Pania shares her love story and life lessons with Team Bonobology.
Not love at first sight
I met Akshay for the 1st time when I was working as an RJ and he had won the RJ hunt. When we met he gave me a simple side hug and I just didn’t like it. I thought he was maroing chance. Which was strange coming from me, as I am a serial hugger myself! I hug everyone and am known for the really tight hugs that I give. Hugs to me are the best expression of love. I hug, family, dogs on the road, friends, the watchman…
Anyway Akshay and I ended up working together and to keep him away I’d send him for the outdoors while I handled the studio.
We bonded over set curd
Born and brought up in Kuwait, I was used to the delicious curd that we got there. After coming to India I was picky about it. But Akshay used to get a Dabba full of delicious homemade curd to lunch, which he generously shared with me. Over time I got to know him better.
One day he was really down and out. He and his girlfriend had had an exceptionally intense fight. I remember telling him then that such extremes in a relationship are not healthy and that both of them needed to talk and sort it all out soon, maybe give each other some space. Next thing I knew they had called off their marriage! I had grown fonder of him by now but as I had decided to never date a colleague, kept all such thoughts at bay.
Our first date
Sometime later, Akshay moved on and joined work elsewhere. That is when I began to miss him. I had begun to have feelings for him. He was genuine, dependable… We stayed in touch and hung out often. Akshay told me years later that even though he had moved out of office, he had an entire plan in place to woo me! He knew the second he met me that he and I will have some special bond.
One day for a concert I wanted to wear a dress that Preity Zinta had worn in a film. Akshay scoured the markets with me until I found the perfect one. It was for 800 rupees and he got it for me as a gift. It till date, remains my favourite dress and I feel like a million bucks in it! And that evening spent together I can count as our first date. It was that evening that we both expressed our feelings to each other.
Related reading: What men notice about women on their first date
We fought often
We had a lot of differences. He was a Punjabi looking for a wife and I was a woman who still had to find herself. I was feeling pressured to settle down… We fought often. We were on again and off again. Our friends got tired of it too. But in all of our ups and downs, we never for a moment disliked the other. I always told him that, “only a fool would not marry you, and I am not a fool – so if something is keeping the marriage away- there must be a reason and we will figure it all out”.
I proposed and then…
Soon my parents started looking for a match for me. That’s when I told Akshay that I might as well marry him, as I know him the best. Yes, it was that matter of fact. He asked me if I was sure. I was. Within days the entire family machinery had got activated and the wedding date was fixed, there were celebrations everywhere… But six weeks before the marriage I realised I can’t go ahead with this marriage… thoughts of running a home, being a bahu and wife and all the expectations of me post marriage began to suffocate me … I was not ready for it. I told my father. My father told his father. All hell broke loose.
The year of the breakup
Women should never feel guilty when in pursuit of happiness for themselves.
I felt terrible for having changed my mind and causing the grief to my family and to Akshay. The angst left me with severe psychosomatic pain in my shoulders and back. The cushioning between my C3 and C5 had dissolved. Emotional pain had led to physical hurt… and yet that year was liberating.
Once I set off on my path to self-discovery, the universe joined in too. Things that had not worked out before, fell into place now. I had closed one door, numerous others had opened. That year I did the maximum number of international shows. That year I bagged the maximum number of TV commercials. I felt liberated.
Related reading: I cheated on my boyfriend but I want him back
Where did that leave Akshay and me, the runaway bride?
I had been declared the vamp by all but, he… he was always there for me and never stopped loving me. Even though the whole episode took a toll on both of us, he loved the craziness that I was, he loved the extremities in me.
My journey continued. I met many people. I was attracted to some men at different times… they were all wrong for me. Each time I’d speak to them, I’d be disappointed and my first thought would be to compare them to Akshay. This happened over and over but I had not noticed.
I was having lunch with a friend who kept running to his ex, every time he met the wrong woman. As I heard him speak, I realised my own pattern. I was always running back to Akshay because I was the closest to him and trusted him the most. That was the moment of epiphany for me. I began to see things clearly. There could be no one for me but Akshay.
I found my core
I continued to struggle to find the ‘need’ to get married. A close friend then pointed out to me that I was happiest when surrounded by lots of friends and family; “having long lunches and dinners together with them over never ending conversations… that’s you, Archana. Family is your core.” She was right. Family was and remains my core.
We found each other
A few weeks later at a casual get-together, I shared the vision for my life with Akshay and then asked him his. He shared his vision with me too and then … in the same manner, casually eating the food he asked, “Why can’t we have a vision together?”
We married soon after. It was the most obvious thing to have happened. It was organic.