Yesterday, for the first time, I met him. The guy, who was responsible for me finding my husband.
It’s an incredible story, and like all incredible story goes back many many years. I was 9 years old. I knew “S” through my aunt, who was his aunt too. We lived in separate cities but got to see each other once in a while at family programs. Being the same age, we gravitated towards each other. Argued a bit, shared some music and sometimes wrote the most formal of letters.
After our class 10 exams, during the long break, “S” came to spend some time with his aunt. I was on holiday too, pretty much in the same boat. This was before the time multi channel TV and hobby classes had hit big time. We had plenty of time to kill. We chatted a bit, ran errands for the household, looked after our younger cousins and generally spent some innocent time together. But the adults frowned upon this, and being self-conscious we withdrew. No more chats and no more letters. Life rolled on. After class 10 came, class 11 and 12 and then the big change. From school to college.
I knew through my aunt that “S” had been chosen for a course in Bombay and had joined the hostel there. I too made my way to a girls college, in a new city. The college I had chosen was a missionary one, stricter than my school had ever been. I discovered that strict atmospheres brought out the worst in me! Where I had been quiet and invisible in my more liberal school, I became talkative and naughty in my strict college. I found myself a new gang. We studied a bit, hung around the college canteen a lot, and generally assumed ourselves to be superior than the rest of our classmates.
One such classmate, lets call her “R” was also in the hostel. In the other dorm, the dorm of “non happening ” girls (Or so we liked to think!). Ten months into my first year, one day, for a reason I can’t remember, I found myself sitting next to “R”. She was reading a letter and had tears in her eyes. I couldn’t help noticing them and I felt awkward. In the ten months that we had been together, we had hardly ever exchanged a word, except a polite hello, on the first day. I just about knew her name. We had no common subjects, did not share a dining table, no common friends, in short we were practically strangers. Yet, it didn’t seem right to leave her on her own. Tentatively I asked her, if something was wrong.
I don’t know why “R” decided to confide in me. Maybe, she was having a weak moment, maybe she had no real friends and was lonely, maybe I had a face that said “you can talk to me”. Whatever be the reason, she told me her tale. It turned out she had a friend. A “boy friend” . they had, had a tiff and she was upset. Happening or not, I know when a person needs to talk, and I pride myself in being a good listener. She told me about “K”. A goodish chap, he sounded like! and how they had met for the first time. How her parents had found out and sent her to this far off hostel and How difficult it was or her to be away from him. I listened patiently, as one is wont to when hearing the love story of someone , one is only mildly interested in. And then suddenly my ears perked up. It turned out that Mr “K” was now studying in a certain college in Bombay and was in the same hostel as… you guessed it “S”
I was stumped. What were the odds of this happening. Me talking to a girl, I had never exchanged a word with in 10 months, on a day that she felt like talking about her Mr “K”, who it turns out strangely lived under the same roof as “S”.
This was too much coincidence. I asked to find out if “K” knew “S”. I waited, not with too much anticipation. After all Bombay is a large city. The hostels must be huge, with hundreds of students. There was a fair chance of there being more than one hostel by the same name.
And then, one day I saw “R” wave to me excitedly from outside the mess, where I was dining with my gang. I ran to find out what it was. Not only did Mr “K” know “S”, they were room mates,! Waiting in her envelope from “K” was a little card for me. It was a small white card that Archies made at the time. With a little “Denis the menace” on the cover, in his trademark blue and red dress. And it said quite simply “Hi” and just like that we were back in touch.
Away from the eyes of the family adults, alone in our strange cities, thousands of kilometers apart. We discovered our friendship again. It didn’t start like anything big. Just simple information exchange about exam schedules and career plans. Then some relationship advice from me to him, on girlfriend troubles. Music recorded and sent to an angry girlfriend. A telegram saying “may a fat hungry crocodile eat you up” when he forgot my birthday! And so it carried on, friendly banter of friends who had known each other for decades but led separate lives. Till tragedy struck. His dad passed away. The letters became more revealing. My replies more urgent. From once a month to once a week to once a day to several times a day, the transition was so natural that we didn’t realize when from friends we became best friends and then soul mates. We got married a few years later.
So when I met Mr “K” for the first time 19 years after I heard of his existence from R. I couldn’t help thinking of the strange ways of life. Because while “R” and Mr “K” and their relationship helped “S” and me rediscover ours. Theirs did not last beyond the year, I had met “R”, that fateful day.
But every relationship has a purpose maybe the purpose of theirs was to make ours work! who knows?
Incredible! isn’t it? How something fleeting and short-lived can be responsible for creating something long-term and rock solid!!
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