Exactly 16 years back on Valentine's day we proposed. It all started in
Oct. 1994 while attending a cycling camp at Patiala, ahead of National
cycling competition. We were put-up at boys hostel at Panjabi
University. I had taken notice of four female cyclists in our team who
had accompanied us for the camp. Finding myself amongst females was a
feeling that I had been missing since my schooling at Jamshedpur.
Priyanka had started making calls to our hostel's reception asking for
Rahul. Rahul whom I had come to know as a fellow cyclist was a
hardworking sportsman from a middle-class family. Rahul's father worked
with a public sector bank and mother a possessive and very caring
home-maker. I never quite understood the reason for Rahul and his
younger brother's interest in cycling when they were good students. The
rigor and intent that both brothers possessed towards cycling which
otherwise was an expensive game to pursue, was quite intriguing for me.
Rahul after attending calls at the hostel's reception was quite sure of
caller being one of the fellow female cyclists. On receiving a call from
Priyanka he had rushed to check STD booths at the university's main
gate. A week passed and Rahul, I believe, had been visiting girls hostel
daily where our fellow cyclists were stationed. He was trying to be
friends with Simran whom he had been sighting since visits to his
friend's house in the same sector where Simran stayed. Rahul wore
spectacles and had a hair style close to Shahrukh's. He looked to be
energetic and flirty who believed not sparing a single opportunity to
impress girls. Of course, he was fearless and not too worried about
outcomes of his actions, quite unlike me.
I am very suggestive in nature- typical of most Indians. Anyone with a
problem or a situation could approach me and I had my point to make,
practical or idealistic. I could smartly mix my point with humor and
hence few could make complete sense. My cousin who was a localite had
visited us at the hostel. He rode a bullet which was a style statement
those days in North. The trend of students having bikes at the hostels
was just picking up and owners would always find free-ride aspirants
around. Rahul asked for the bullet from my cousin for a round trip to
girls' hostel and asked me to accompany him. I said, “Kahan mujhe inn
chakkaro mein daal rahe ho”. Rahul stopped the bullet next to the two
girls who were taking a 'deliberate' evening stroll- after practicing
for 40 Km at an average speed of 35 km/hr you do not go for evening
walks. Rahul, I recall, said, “Good evening girls.” Girls stopped and
started smiling. Rahul for the sake of starting a talk inquired about
Priyanka and Simran smiles back with flirty looks. I could sense from
her eyes that she had fallen for Rahul already and was just waiting for
a right or a formal move from Rahul. The girl accompanying Simran was
Monica- shy and soft-spoken.
I made some funny remarks on Simran's statement declining to be
Priyanka. Soon I was chatting loud and frank. Simran said, “You even
speak.” She had not heard me talking to any of the females in the camp.
How could I when I was internally trying to cope-up with decision to
take-up cycling as a full time sport. What was planned was not happening
for me? I was meant to be a part time cyclist so that I continued to
focus on studies and qualify for an engineering seat under the sports
quota and also to ensure minimal distraction at the age of 17 when most
guys fall for girls and or get addicted to alcohol.
Rahul and I had infact planned to watch the just released movie- Dilwale
Dulhania Le Jaayenge. Girls asked our plans and they quickly agreed to
accompany us for the movie. A brief visit to an ailing uncle of Simran
in city was the excuse girls planned for their warden. By the time we
were back after parking the bullet at the hostel, Simran and Monica were
waiting for us basking in success of fooling their warden. We took an
auto to the city which was around 4 km from Panjabi university. We
bought tickets and walked into the theatre. Simran was talkative of the
lot and more relaxed compared to Monica. “Just ensure that we sit next
to our girls”, said Rahul. Quite contrary to our plans, Simran sat next
to me. Rahul takes the seat next to Monica, hesitating. However- typical
of Rahul's nature- he was not going to miss this opportunity to be close
to Simran. He quickly rose to re-align the sitting arrangement. Monica
smiling with shy in her eyes sat next to me. We got lost into the movie
that seemed to a perfect curtain raiser for forthcoming love stories in
our real lives.
On valentine's day we are grateful to Rahul and Simran for their
impeccable support during our love life. We live happily today and
ensure wishing each other on Valentine's day. And why not when we had
committed ourselves to our love on this day in 1995.
God bless! Rahul and Simran and their kids.