Friday, February 13, 2009

In God We Trust

'I had everything that a fourteen year old boy ever needed. And yet, I wasn't happy. Far from that!'

We were sitting on the comfortable cane chairs of a restaurant facing the serene waters of Hussian Sagar. The sky was dark already even as the pleasant evening was slowly setting in. The street lights came on early and their tiny golden reflections were swaying with the gentle ripples in the lake. I had never noticed it before, the reflections in the water look so different from the real lights. Oblivious to the million frowns that survived a full workday and now running a mad race to go to sleep faster than the guy in the car ahead. That's the job of the real street light. To stand over the stress of someone else's struggles. The reflections in the water live in another world of their own. They float on the ripples like little children roaming in a magic land, yet to discover that they are lost.

Sipping on whisky and drinking in the sights of a city receding from it's daytime glory, Sanjay and I were catching up with each other's company after an year's break. That evening, I was inquisitive about his remarkable love story again. He obliged me with it, even though he had told me various versions of it several times before.

'I knew Chetali was the girl for me the first time I set my eyes on her' he said. 'The very first time she walked into the classroom in eighth standard. And I told her within that year that I was in love with her, and I'd go on to marry her someday.'

'What did she say?' I asked.

'She complained to her mom immediately!' he chuckled. 'And stopped talking to me after that. It was only a full year later that we spoke again. And she told me to not say the word 'love' to her again. I didn't agree to that ofcourse, because I knew what I wanted. I told her then, that many years later I will come to her home one day and tell her that the time is ripe. For us to be together, to be with each other from that day onwards! I think she wrote me off as a madcap, a fourteen year old boy gone soft in the head!'

'For several years that followed, we continued being friends and she continued to ignore my occasional professions of love. And I wasn't happy! I was self-confident, almost brash in whatever I did. I was good at studies, good in sports, I knew all the bicycle tricks a boy of my age could conjure up, but I didn't have her. I had that feeling of inadequacy for the next thirteen years!'

'I was always there for her, as a friend. Exactly as she wanted it. I helped her with her studies. I helped her with everything she ever wanted. And I kept reminding her of my love. She never relented and kept me waiting.'

'Then came a time, when we didn't speak for about four years. I went away from the town for studies. And one day we met in her brother's marriage. I travelled from a faraway town to that marriage, with the sole intent to meet her. That day she was waiting for me at the gate and I could see that she was very glad to see me. That day I told her that the time had come.'

'Why didn't you speak to her for four years?' I was surprised. 'Even if you were away, you could have been in touch with her!'

He looked up at me, with an almost pensive look on his face. 'Just a stupid reason KK! I was too young and too hotblooded! I didn't like her speaking to the other guys. They were friends of hers. And I was too jealous that she was moving closely with other guys. I objected to it, but she didn't heed me. I was angry, and I ran away from her! You understand? Just one of those stupid things we do sometimes!'

'And when you met her after four years to tell her that the time had come, did she agree immediately?' I asked.

'No,' he smiled. 'She wasn't sure even then. It took her three more months to say yes to me.'

'That day when I met her after the long break, she brushed me off again with the same denial. I said to her later, "You are being silly! You don't know what your real feelings are. You don't know how much you love me! When you knew that I was coming, there you were at the gate. Waiting for me even after four years! And I saw the look on your face. I saw it in your eyes, silly girl! You just have to ask yourself if I'm telling you the truth!"'

'I was working in Delhi then. And I spent half my salary on phone bills talking to her after that day. Three months later, she called me down to Raipur and said yes. She agreed that she loved me too! She said she was always in love with me, and never realised what it meant. What a fool she had been to not see it until then. That was the happiest day in my life! I had never been that happy before and I'm still in same state of happiness!'

'I forced my bosses to give me a transfer immediately. They said that I was wasting my career going to that town away from Delhi. I told them that it didn't matter! That I will go and double the business if they wanted. But I had to go to her. If they didn't transfer, I'd have to quit and go! They sent me ofcourse. And we got married in less than a year from then.'

I met Sanjay for the first time in the dust bowl of Raipur in Central India, a few months before his marriage. We worked together for less than five months. I used to travel to Raipur ten days a month. And I saw him again only two years later. How we became the friends that we are today, is another story.

Sanjay and Chetali have a two year old son now. And they moved to my hometown, so I can meet them more often. I hope!

We stared into the lake for a long time after he finished his story. Then I asked him.

'Tell me, what made you persist for so long? How did you know at the age of thirteen that she was the girl for you? And you went with that belief for thirteen more years before she relented! What kept you going?'

'I'm sure it was God that showed me the way!' he said. 'I believe in God. I believe that he exists and he's always there with me. Even now, I know that he's here with me and watching over me. Throughout those long years of waiting, even with no change in her stance, I kept my faith. I believed that it was God who had shown her to me! Who helped me realise my love for her. That he will help me convince her. I never had a doubt that we would be together one day. I knew it was just a matter of time, and God would help me get there one day or the other! So I prayed every day for her.'

I paused to think over what he said. I stopped believing in God at some point of time in my life. What Sanjay said shouldn't have made any sense to me. But it did. Sitting there, surrounded by a comfortable evening and mellowed by rather pleasant whisky, I saw what Sanjay meant. And I believed him. I don't know about the others who argue in favour of God. Infact, less than month earlier, I was debating with a couple of young preachers from the Mormon Church, who were trying to convert me, about the existence of God. After all their logic failed with me, the final refrain they offered was 'We know God exists! We are sure God exists!' Their word wasn't good enough for me though. I dismissed the argument with contempt.

It was different with Sanjay. I looked at him and said, 'You know what? I believe you. I don't need further proof that God exists. I will take your word for it!' It was a question that bothered for me for a long time. And I was looking for concrete proof that God existed. I had given a chance to a lot of people to convince me. That day, I gave in without a fight. It may sound silly that I agreed so readily. May be I was just a sentimental fool, who melted after a really remarkable story of perseverance. May be it was the whisky. May be not. Because, even if we were completely sober and there was no story, I'd take Sanjay's word for anything and everything. I trust him like that.

I told him, 'Sanjay, I think you are the most successful person I ever knew! To fall in love at that age, to know what you wanted and to get it. That isn't an easy thing at all. To persevere for such a long time, and achieve it! Why, I would say you achieved God! Like moksha. Know what I mean? I can't even imagine what the happiness that you have feels like. I never experienced anything like that!'

'You will KK! I'm sure you will have the same happiness that I have. I know you deserve it!' he said.

I smiled and said, 'I hope so!'

'Oh, I'll pray to God' he assured me. 'I'll pray to him for you to get the same happiness!'

'Oh, that you do!' I said. 'That you do!'

2 comments:

  1. Thanks KK, and you know 13th of Feb, the day you wrote this, was my anniversary and i was there with in the same table we both sat, with my wife and kid. Can be a coincidence and can also be GOD's design, I take the later one.

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  2. I really can't beleive someone can be so lucky in life where love goes...you desired for someone and finally getting to spend the rest of the life with the same person...tat's really god willing...never knew you could pen down this so beautifully...

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