Cheers to Love

Mukesh Kumar
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I, Trisha Mehta—twenty-seven, blogger and screenplay writer—have achieved all that I had
hoped to achieve. And yet there is something missing. Friends said that it was love that I
was missing. I didn’t really think so; I was never a romantic person by heart. I frankly think
the whole concept of love is completely rubbish and overrated. Love is just a tool where
you use your partner and your partner uses you, each to their own benefit. In short, love is
selfish.
I am travelling to Delhi to meet my mom. My parents are divorced. My dad lives in
Chandigarh with his partner and my mom lives in Delhi, married to a businessman. Every
year, my mom sends me a ticket to visit her on her birthday. Usually I avoid, because I can’t
really stand that man and my mom together. This time I agreed, as I have an important
bloggers’ meet in Delhi. What’s better than getting your trip paid for? I am surprised that
finally she has understood my aerophobia. This time I get a first-class train ticket to Delhi. I
switch on my laptop, thinking of updating my blog. The door of my cabin is open and a guy
—somewhere in his thirties—enters. We exchange smiles. He sits on the seat opposite mine.
He too takes out his laptop and gets busy with it. After few minutes the guy asks ‘Hey, what
time do we reach Delhi?’
‘10.30 a.m.,’ I tell him.
I can feel the guy looking at me. Finally he says, ‘So what do you do?’
‘I am a writer.’
The guy smiles—whatever be the thing, the man does have an amazing smile.
‘So what do you write about?’ the man asks.
‘I write short stories on human relationships,’ I say.
‘You mean love stories?’ he asks, looking interested.
‘There are no love stories and I don’t really believe in love stories,’ I spoke my mind.
The man said thoughtfully, ‘You have to see one to believe in one, let me tell you a story

June 1973. Uday Singh was just twenty-one years old when he became a chartered
accountant, the first boy to study beyond metric. The villagers had no idea about the
enormity associated with becoming a CA. His family, instead of celebrating, was busy
mourning that he was of no more use to them. According to them, he was ruined because he
would never become farmer and help his father. Uday wanted to shift to Calcutta and join a
nationalized bank. His parents were a little sceptical about his decision, but finally relented
on the condition that he’d get married before that. He agreed. Within a couple of days his
parents even found him a girl. Her name was Asha. She lived in a small village near
Bhiwani, Haryana. It was Uday’s aunt—who also lived in the same village—who had
suggested that girl. Uday went with his family to see the girl. When he reached his aunt’s
place, he saw a girl in a shabby salwar–kameez—but with spotless fair skin and beautiful
green eyes—washing utensils outside her home. She looked at him briefly and again went
back to work
In the evening, he got ready to meet Asha, the girl he was there for. When he came out, he
again saw that green-eyed girl playing with other kids and laughing. Her laughter was as
beautiful as her face. The girl too looked at him and again went back to playing. He thought
about her eyes, her skin and the way she looked. With that thought he entered Asha’s house.
‘They are rich people, they have twenty-four cows and buffaloes and a big piece of land,
and she is their only daughter,’ his aunt said. ‘They would even give a good dowry,’she
insisted. But Uday was not even listening to her; all he thought about was that girl, that
beautiful green-eyed girl. He didn’t even know when Asha came and left. His thoughts were
somewhere else. The girl’s father confirmed that they were ready to give Rs 25,000 and one
kilo of gold as dowry. But Uday was not even interested in the money. He just sat there,
expressionless. When everybody started leaving, he too got up and left.
The moment he reached his aunt’s place, everybody surrounded him. They wanted to
know what he thought about the girl. Uday finally said, ‘I didn’t even see the girl … I want
to marry that girl.’ And he just pointed out of the door towards the green-eyed girl in the
shabby salwar–kameez, playing and laughing. His aunt was shocked. She said, ‘She’s
Sarita. Her father passed away three years back and her mother stitches clothes to make
enough money to feed her children. They won’t even be able to give Rs 2000, leave aside
Rs 25,000 and one kilo gold.’
But Uday wanted to marry her only and nobody else. He knew he was in love. He put
forward an ultimatum to his parents, ‘It’s either Sarita or nobody!’ Finally, with a heavy
heart, his parents agreed. Sarita’s mother was called and was given the proposal. She said
she did not have much money to fund the marriage. Uday reassured her and said that they
were going to have a temple wedding with only his immediate family and Sarita’s
immediate family in attendance. Uday’s parents got up to revolt but, seeing Uday’s stern
expression, they sat down.
The next day he married Sarita. She looked stunning in a red zari sari with jewellery.
Uday couldn’t take his eyes off her. As they were about to exchange garlands, she looked up
and smiled her captivating smile; Uday smiled back. He loved her more and more with
every passing minute. He promised himself that he would do his level best to see this
beautiful face smiling always.
After they returned to his hometown, the young couple left for Calcutta the very next
week. As they came out of the Howrah station, Sarita was amazed to see how big the city
was. Cars zoomed past her. She had never seen anything like that before. It was nothing like
her village. She was astounded by the vastness of this city and beauty of it too. In Calcutta,
initially they stayed in a hotel, until they found a house to live in. And till then they did not
sleep together. Sarita insisted on sleeping separately on the floor. At first, Uday thought she
was perhaps nervous, so he did not questiod her. But finally, he asked her why she wasn’t
sleeping with him on the same bed. Sarita’s eyes grew big and she spoke very innocently,
‘Ma had said if I slept with you on the same bed, I would get pregnant …’ Uday was
speechless. He didn’t say anything. He knew she was young and that he had to wait. He had
no problems with that. But he couldn’t see her sleeping on the floor every night.
The very next day, he got a sofa for his place. Sarita was very excited as she had never
seen anything like it. By the time the delivery men left, she had climbed on to the sofa and
started jumping on it. Bouncing on the sofa’s springs, her laughter and playfulness was
infectious. Uday too climbed on to the sofa and jumped with her. Finally exhausted, they sat
on it and laughed uncontrollably. Sarita got up to prepare dinner, but Uday wanted to take
her out for dinner and a movie. Anand was playing at the Metro then. He made her wear a
green-and-red sari and no make-up. Like always she looked ethereal. They boarded a tram
from Bhowanipore to Lindsay Street. It was Sarita’s first film. She watched the entire film
and it seemed she didn’t even blink her eyes. Sarita cried inconsolably, seeing Rajesh
Khanna die at the end. She thought everything that was happening was for real and Rajesh
Khanna had really died. Uday had a tough time making her understand that it was just a
movie and not for real. Uday was taken aback by her sheer innocence. Crying made her eyes
become very big and very angelic. For the first time he hugged her in public and she hugged
him back. He took her to a very famous restaurant called Moulin Rouge in Park Street.
There were live cabaret dancers. Sarita stared at the semi–nude ladies. Uday had no idea
what she was thinking. Her face went through series of expressions—surprise, shock,
embarrassment, shyness, wide-eyed amazement. From time to time she looked at him. Uday
couldn’t even remember if he looked at the dancers; like always he couldn’t take his eyes
off his wife.
After they were done with their food, they came out of the restaurant. It was a lovely night
and a cool breeze blew from the nearby Hooghly river. Uday suggested they walk back
home instead of taking a tram. They walked silently and then Sarita started talking, and went
on about the restaurant, the food, the city … She just looked like an excited child. As they
reached home, Sarita started putting a mattress on the floor. Uday stopped her and made her
sleep on the bed, while he slept on the couch.
Days passed, months passed, and finally the week arrived when Sarita had to visit her
mother. Uday had been dreading this for months. He knew he couldn’t live without her. He
spoke to his boss and took leave for a week. He visited his parents and then took Sarita to
her mother’s place. He ensured that they met everybody within a week, after which he
brought her back home. This time she was very angry as she wanted to stay longer with her
mother, but Uday wouldn’t let her. Uday reasoned, ‘Who will cook for me? Outside food
doesn’t agree with my stomach.’
Once Uday and his wife were invited by his boss for dinner. Sarita saw they had dinner
in glass plates. As she returned home all she talked about was the glass crockery. The
following weekend she got a dinner set which cost them half of Uday’s monthly salary. Like
his boss’s wife Sarita too hanged them on the utensil rack. But within minutes the whole
rack came crashing down, breaking all the pieces of the set. Sarita, out of nervousness and
fear, went and hugged Uday and cried bitterly. Uday didn’t scream at her; instead, he
consoled her and helped her clean up the mess. Then he took her to Prinsep Ghat for some
pau bhajji.
Sarita too cared for Uday. She would make sure Uday had no problems throughout the
week. She would wash his clothes, starch his shirts, iron his clothes; she would try to learn
new recipes because of her husband’s love for good food. They had made a routine every
morning that they would go to Victoria for a walk, and then would have tea together. After
tea, Sarita would prepare breakfast and tiffin for Uday, while Uday would clean up the
house. Uday made sure Sarita had a maid who would do the rest of the cleaning. He hated to
see Sarita work, but Sarita insited on washing clothes herself. In the evening, sharp at five,
she would get ready before he came back from office. Every Sunday, they had to go out—
either they would go for a movie together or he would take her out to shop for clothes.
Nearly every month Sarita would get a new sari.
Their fourth wedding anniversary was approaching. Sarita was about to turn eighteen.
Uday knew it was time to take the next step—consummating their marriage and starting a
family. They hadn’t gone out on a holiday since the time they had got married. So he decided
to take her to Kashmir, the Heaven on Earth. He booked the best hotel possible. When they
reached the hotel he refused to take the electric heater. He knew that when she’d start
feeling cold, she would automatically come to him for some warmth. It happened exactly as
he planned, and that night they were finally husband and wife. Exactly ten months after their
holiday, Sarita gave birth to a healthy boy. They decided to name him Agastya. Now Uday’s
small, happy family was complete.
Uday was made the regional manager of his bank. Uday was now on top of the world. He
had everything that he desired. Years passed and he was promoted to the post of assistant
general manager, and after that, general manager. His love for Sarita was still the same. It
was not that they never fought. They fought nearly every day, but for things that could only
make Uday smile. Uday had a pretty-looking secretary and Sarita hated that she wore short
skirts. Sarita would display her possessiveness every now and then. Uday never had any
friends. He would always laugh that his wife was his friend and that he didn’t need any
more—she was a handful already!
Years later, when Agastya was twenty-three, they decided to send their son to the US for
further studies. After Agastya left for the US, Sarita started keeping unwell. She would get
dizzy spells, she would sleep a lot, she became forgetful. Initially, both Uday and the family
doctor thought it might be because she missed her son.
Then one day, she fainted while working. Thankfully, Uday was around. He immediately
took her to the hospital. Lots of tests were conducted and the reports showed only one thing:
she had a tumour on the right side of her brain. He took her to all the best hospitals in
Calcutta, Mumbai and even Delhi. All the doctors said the same thing—the tumour was
getting worse. Uday had never felt this lonely and helpless in his entire life. He had wellwishers all around but nobody he could speak to and share his fear of losing Sarita. Sarita
knew there was something very wrong with her. She could see it in Uday’s eyes. She
wouldn’t complain and would joke around Uday to make him smile. Uday would smile too.
But both knew that their mirth wasn’t genuine. He couldn’t concentrate on his work. Sarita
was getting weaker day by day. She would sleep most of the day. Uday couldn’t see her like
that. All of a sudden his picture-perfect life was breaking into pieces. Doctors tried
explaining to him that it was too late to do anything—she was already in the fourth stage and
that was literally the final stage. Uday knew he was losing her with every single passing
minute. She had lost a lot of weight. Uday thought it was time he called his son. He called
Agastya and he told him everything about Sarita. Agastya did not say anything; he returned
to India the very next day. By that time Sarita was sleeping nearly twenty hours a day.
Agastya was home, but Uday couldn’t open up to him. He had so much to say to Sarita but
couldn’t.
That night, Sarita woke up for a while. She asked Uday how he was and why he wasn’t
sleeping. He had to go to office and Agastya to school. Uday looked at her and smiled.
Sarita moved beside him and hugged him with her frail hands. Uday hugged her too. He so
wanted to protect her, save her, not let her go. When she looked up at him, her eyes shone
brightly and she smiled. Although her cheeks were hollowed and eyes sunken, her smile
was as mischievous as it had been on their wedding day. She shut her eyes and went to
sleep again.
She didn’t wake up the next morning.
Uday had lost his wife—his companion and best friend. After the cremation was over,
Uday went to his room to lie down. His son came to his room to talk to him. On seeing
Agastya enter, he sat up. Agastya had no idea what to say—he too had lost his friend and
mother; he too missed her. Uday broke the silence. He said, ‘I never told your mom that I
loved her, and even she forgot to tell me that. Since our marriage we’ve never slept without
each other; we’ve never been apart. This is the first time I am going to sleep without her. I
never even let her stay at her mother’s place without me. She can’t even go to heaven
without me. I hope she’ll wait.’
Agastya was too dazed to listen to what his dad had to say.
Finally Uday said ‘I want to sleep now’.
Agastya left and went to his room. By the next morning his father had passed away in his
sleep …
‘Love stories exist,’says the guy sitting opposite me, concluding his tale. ‘You just have to
meet the right person.’
He then shows me a black-and-white picture of a very beautiful lady with a very
handsome man. They look happy, more like buddies. ‘Sometimes you meet someone and
before you even know their name, before you even know what they do or where they’re
from, you get that hunch that sometime in the future this person would mean something
important to you.’ Flashing his gorgeous smile again, he extends his hand. ‘Agastya Singh
here.’
Well frankly, I feel the same way about this guy. Okay, now I can safely say, I do have
something romantic in me.
‘Trisha Mehta,’ I reply, smiling, and truly hoping for a new love story to start.

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