My Secretary

She is the only light in my office, among people who are disillusioned, self-contained and some toxic.

I peer sometimes through the blinds of my cabin to see what make her so perfect.

I interviewed her and found her to be unfit for the position of my secretary, but something strange about her told me she is amicable and trustworthy.

In few weeks, she took the entire gamut of operations with a kind of discipline which cannot be taught in a business school.

I simply feel so energized with the positivity she brings everyday.

How can someone be so beautiful.

Life has been hard on me, past days have tested my courage and patience.

Incessant turmoil like an unceasing, unwelcome rain had filled my days.

She is like a shady oak in scorching heat.

She is my peace. I’m so in awe of her.

‘Mr Barns, the client is here’.

Thank you Sheryl, what would I do without you.

Please don’t worry Mr Barns, you can rest assured we will take good care of the the company.

I wish you all the blessed health and happiness Mr Barns. I am so happy for you.

Thanks Sheryl, you know, I made promise to Mrs Barns that as soon the company is in good hands, I will retire and we will travel the world. This is our dream, dream of a life time.

You know how much Mrs Barns and I are grateful to you.

God bless you my dear.

And we brokeup

I felt as if I was no longer important. Its been 5 years since we first met. It was like love at first sight. The magic, the excitement was unbelievable. I felt pride, I felt secure, yearning to prove how much I valued this relationship.

I felt important and cared for. My day started with thoughts of how I could prove my love and loyalty. I retired in bed with my phone in hand, waking up at a slight buzz, eager to make sure I was always there.

My life started to weave around this relationship and none seemed more important, no one could claim my time or maybe I felt no one deserved.

Few years into our relationship, I started to feel a void, I felt I was losing my identity, I was being molded to fit into someone’s expectations. Valid, but not at the cost of my individuality.

Was it me? Was I expecting too much. I began to deliberate, think of a life without this relationship. If I have to move on, it will be like uprooting myself, it will be painful for I had grown here to become what I am today.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds for me, but I knew that deep inside I was looking at a beautiful tomorrow. I felt I was right.

It felt right to breakup.

And so I resigned my job.

My Simpleton

These are the most unbelievable days of my life. These days were going to change me forever. Just got married this morning. Early morning marriage, what a time to get married I thought. Arranged marriage it was.

I seriously thanked my stars and my in-laws for not being the lovey-dovey type. They did not hurl compliments at me, they did not choose my saree, make-up and beautician, they did not shower readymade praises and ready-to-use packaged love on me.

Thank goodness, I thought. I had imagined the typical TV soap scene. My mother-in-law a retired office runner was very understanding and sweet. Gave me a lot of space to be myself.

By the way, where is my husband, I saw him in the morning. Aren’t we supposed to be like magnets, sitting together with an army of relatives, laughter and song, teasing and gossip, while I talk less, smile at everyone, be introduced to his relatives, listen to their family stories, cuddle kids, prove that I am the sweetest new aunty or sister, be likeable, if possible lovable, lower my head till my neck pains, feel shy and blush. My filmy expectations were happily shattered. None of this happened and I sighed in relief.   

Actually, it was nothing like a ‘marriage house’ to me. A small family, with professionally thriving relatives who had struggled to get leaves for the marriage. And now a total wipeout, no relatives in the house, all of them strategically employed in the after marriage work

Peep out of the window and I chuckled, to see my husband working, making payments to some people, calculating the expenses with a ‘calculator’. I could not help but laugh. Where on earth am I. Forgive me for being so practical, but that’s me. Can’t help. Being a simpleton is so over, I thought.

You may wonder why I said yes to the marriage. 

Well, I was a struggler, from a family of not much consequence. From my childhood, I have learnt to adjust to what life had given me. Most of the time it was bad and sometimes good. So I was deep inside grateful for all I received in life. 

I liked to think of myself as a badass, ‘Marriage happens, let’s face it and if anything goes wrong, life has trained me enough to handle it’. That was my attitude.

At heart, I valued that this marriage was an informed decision, that my parents knew the family to be good and respectable, that the groom was a responsible guy. 

I personally had evaluated the Features, Benefits and Advantages of this proposal. So I guess this was enough for me to say yes. I was neither happy nor sad, I was in a strange space. 

In our ‘arranged marriage meeting’, when the prospective groom came to see the prospective bride, our families spoke more than he and I did. It was a green signal from the groom’s family. And here we are.

“Are you happy with this marriage”? My mother had asked me, ‘I am neither happy nor sad about this marriage and I have no one in mind so I guess it’s a Yes’, I said. Thus began the marriage preparations.

We didn’t speak much before marriage. And when we spoke he asked me about my family, what I like and dislike. I had a feeling that he is not the conversation type. Another phase of life, I thought.

Lost in thoughts, looking out of the window, my husband still busy working, a simple guy, responsible and hardworking. ‘He is just like his mother’. I said.

He comes in and says, ‘Shall we go out for lunch’? ‘Ya sure, why not’ said I.

As we sit at lunch, he looks into my eyes, lowers his head, smiles and again looks into my eyes and says, ‘I Love You’. I was about to burst into laughter, but stopped myself being rude and said, ‘Love? I mean so fast?  

You don’t even know me well, all you know is my name, my family, where I work and that’s it’.  

He said, ‘But we are married’. I tried to be as polite as possible and said, ‘I’m sorry if I’m a bit practical, I mean how can love just start off, just because we are married’.

He smiled and said nothing. He was sweet to change the topic to other things. He may be sweet, but I also found him silly. Is he really so silly and backward to equal marriage to love? Where am I stuck, I practical, he dreamy, we are so parallel. There is no way we can have a life together. I thought.

Next day, he came up with a fun plan. He tried to match up to my practicality and seriously high energy levels. He understood me as the fun-loving kind, and I was that. I loved speed, I loved fun, spontaneity and anything that was unpredictable. So it was movies, shopping, drives, meeting mine and his friends. He thought this is being cool and fun. So he did it all.

I was having a blast; I knew all this is for me, so I enjoyed the attention. I’m quite a hard head. ‘Soon the boy’s going to tire wooing me’. It was like his breezy emotions are going to crash against my stone heart. ‘I’m not the princess type my dear’, I wish I could tell him. 

One evening I decided to meet my friends. Before starting I tried to inform my husband but he did not answer my phone call. So I set out leaving a text message.

Teasing, gossip and food, had a great time with my friends. Did not realize it was good 4-hours of fun. Then my sister calls on my friend’s phone, ‘Where are you and where is your phone, your in-laws are worried’. That’s when I realized, I had forgotten my phone at home. My husband had called my sister.

It was almost dark. I hurried home, got out of the cab. And there was my husband standing in the street. Wearing a red jacket because of the cold. I saw him and he saw me. Then he smiled a big hearty smile. Pure joy on his face. He was so happy to see me; he was waiting for me.

Am I worth this much I thought? Does he really love me?

I said, ‘Why did you have to wait outside, in the cold for me’. He said ‘You are my responsibility’.

It took me sometime to understand that, my husband equated responsibility to love, care to romance and respect to marriage.

Can I ask for more? It took me a lot of time to learn his ways. I started to become what he was making me. I loved without fear, believed without questioning and was ready to give and receive love without being practical.

To him, love, respect, responsibility and care were the same. But for me, I first respected him, then took care of him and now I’m in love with my husband.

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To Forgive Myself

I am indebted to my wife for everything in my marriage life. I was disastrously raised to be unproductive, this showed in all I did. My childhood was tarnished with criticism, low self esteem and laziness. I would dwindle away time, money and enthusiasm, for the lack of advice, patience and encouragement, that my guardians failed to render. I cannot complain because, when misery makes its home under your roof, the family as a whole becomes a failure. No one was to blame for who I was.

I earned from our well established family garments business, founded by our forefathers, which was able to provide for all of us decently and serve as a cover to my lethargy. 

If someone’s looking for me, you can find me in our garden, sitting there, shoulders drooped, legs swinging, hands clasped, staring at nothing. This was me.

Idleness to me is not, movies, soaps, internet surfing and not even friends. Idleness to me is the basic dictionary meaning, ‘having no employment’, No means ‘Nothing’. 

My education could have provided a better and more competent designation, had I decided to work with other enterprises, organizations or the so called dazzling professions, but I was scared that working with people will expose my sloth and folly. I wanted to be undiscovered, so I remained a professional Invalid.

My marriage was arranged with a girl who was, as i feared a through professional. She was enthusiastic, energetic, full of life, confident and after marriage I discovered, demanding and opinionated.

The first few days of our marriage were parties, rituals, fun, meeting the world of relatives and a lot of eating out. My weight increased and my laziness, a byproduct. All I wanted was lie down, look at the roof and think, actually think nothing.

My wife, after a long holiday, joined work. One day she returned home and found me sitting in my usual place, in our garden, shoulders drooped, legs swinging, hands clasped, staring at nothing. There is a phone my pocket and I would not even surf. She smiled, giving me the benefit of doubt with all her heart.

For goodness sake, how long will I escape the eyes of my ‘Professional Wife’. I would go on to be caught in the prime of my laziness in a few days.

‘You didn’t go to the Garments Shop today? Oh, actually, this is not the festival season, you know, festival is just round the corner and we will get busy then’. It was as if I was requesting her to let me be. I was angry that she was beginning to know me better.

As I said earlier, my wife was a confident, opinionated, achiever and I had this gut feeling that my cover was going to be blown soon. 

So here begins ‘my real marriage’. Festival season, she comes home after a tough and tiring day at work. Find me in the same position, shoulders drooped, legs swinging, hands clasped and staring at nothing.

She was I have to say it, ashamed of me. I felt guilt, but why should I feel guilty, the only blessing in my life is this prosperous family business and I have been blessed not to work hard. What is she ashamed about, this is my life and she is the new entrant in my life, she has to understand.

I swallow my small bout of anger, switch on the AC and offered her a glass of water. She takes it.

She : How can you be like this, can you see how hard I’m working…….

I : Who asked you to work hard.

She : Cause there is fulfillment in work, there is self-worth, self-esteem in success.

I : I have already achieved it all.

She : It is not yours, it’s your grandfather’s achievement. What is yours?

This was an insult I could not bear, I walked out.

My wife was a practical millennial. She decided to get this fixed. She stopped talking to me.

I : Listen, this is how I have been forever, I’m not your competent type.

She : You are simply lazy.

She had a hard heart and sharp words. Her love and respect are for those who deserved it.

This is my real wife, with all the new marriage glitter gone, we came face to face with each other’s true nature. 

I had no expectations from our marriage and her, she had a lot. She wanted a husband, she could be proud of, could have an intelligent conversation with, could show off and talk about to her friends. She wanted me to be full of life, enthusiasm, high spirits and an accomplisher. I let her down.

I : This is not a love marriage.

She : I know, I would have been more careful, had this not been an arranged marriage.

I : If you are dissatisfied, you need to speak to your father then, because it was he who looked at our family riches and arranged this marriage.

She : He could have never known that you are a loser, hiding behind your family fortune.

I : The family business that you so disregard, is the very reason why we are married, otherwise, you and I would never have married. I would not have seen this day.

She was hurt and started crying. I let her cry. 

I return to my usual place, shoulders drooped, legs swinging, hands clasped, staring at nothing. She comes to me, she still has some poison left in her, ‘How can you Forgive Yourself so Easily’.

I hated her for those words. I stormed out in anger, went to the garments shop.

Got into an argument with my manager, I wanted to vent my anger, I asked the employees to present the reports to prove that they are working correctly.

One report check led to another. Evaluation led to, fact finding. Fact finding led to questioning. Questioning led to answers and answers led to solution. In one day, I accomplished what had been pending for months, all in a fit of anger.

I realized my folly. I wanted to repair, but the simpleton I was, I cannot work like this every day. I can’t be a demanding boss every day. I had to find a middle way. I had to teach myself the skill of people management. This will take time.

My wife made me realize, I can work and get work done with efficiency. She introduced me to hidden traits in me.

It’s going to take time to take hold of the business and put things in order. Till I achieve this, I guess I will have to live this cold war, I thought. Her friends suggested she see a marriage counselor. 

My only intelligent connection was my college friend who was a marriage counselor. So I meet my marriage counselor friend.

Friend : I can’t counsel her, because I know you very well.

I : You have to counsel her, because you know me very well.

Friend convinced.

So I do have convincing skills. 

I devised a plan, I made sure she only got to meet my marriage counselor friend.

Shrewd? No, I want to call myself intelligent. 

Marriage Counsellor : So your husband is lazy.

Wife : Yes to the core, to his flesh and I think DNA (very angry)

Counsellor : Before we start, I have a questionnaire, I will ask you some questions and please reply truthfully. 

How long have you known him?

Wife: 3 months

Counsellor : How old is he

Wife : 29 years

Counsellor : Has he ever been, rude, violent, verbally or physically abusive with you.

Wife: No

Counsellor : Does he have a parent or guardian, he goes to when he needs some advice, is there an influential person in his life to guide him?

Wife : No, it’s a very distraught family, quite disconnected.

Counsellor : Has he ever mishandled money, squandered it on luxury, bad habits, friends…..

Wife : I have not known, he is a simple guy and has been brought up in a lot of behavioral discipline.

Counsellor : Is he irresponsible towards your needs.

Wife : He is just lazy, but he does care of my needs.

Counselor: Do you think he is a good guy…..

Wife : I guess I will take it up from here. Sorry I would like to leave now. 

She comes home. I got complete intelligence from my friend. What is she going to do now? My wife a thorough professional, understood that mine was a skill and will issue.

Wife : There is a huge mountain of issues, we have to deal with. 

I : I know

Wife : I have targets at work, every single day, so can I set some targets for my husband.

I : What targets.

Wife : Can you increase the business profit percentage by 40%. Do you think it is possible?

I : It will take time.

Wife : How much time

I: At least a year

Wife : Angry look, but says, ‘Ok’.

I go to work regularly, come home after work and relax. She gets up early, works hard, harder and hardest possible. I pity her that her dreams drive her insane and she pities me that I don’t have a dream. She gives me the ruthless look and I give her the care a damn attitude. We both are still angry with each other. 

The truth is, I arranged my counselor friend to speak to her because I wanted her in my life, and she decided to give me a chance, because she did not want to leave me.

If I had not forgiven myself, I could not have changed. Guilt is a bondage. One needs to take correction, forgive one’s self and move on. My biggest achievement is correcting myself.

Time has made me see her as a person of zeal and sincerity. She now understands my limitations and my simplicity. We are happy and satisfied with who we are now and what we are to each other. 

I come back from work, sit in my usual place, shoulders drooped, legs swinging, hands clasped, staring at nothing. She comes home from work, looks at me, smiles. I switch on the AC and offer her a glass of water.

Annual report reads, profits have increased by 33%. We both celebrate.


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Lost my Heart to her Words

My mother really liked her and was hell bent that I should like her. So she showed me her photograph. I was a city guy and she had lived in a small town all her life. This fact was something I was not able to appreciate. Nevertheless, she looked pretty in the photograph. I was not very good looking, so she passed the looks parameter. According to my dad, education and family were very agreeable. 

To my mother, this was a match made in heaven. Since, all the criteria were met, what on earth can stop this marriage, she thought. So here we were sitting in front of each other in the arranged marriage meeting. Both of us were silent for some time. I initiated the conversation. ‘It’s a beautiful house’, I said. ‘Yes, all credit goes to my mom’, she said nervously. 

Silence again, now it’s not my responsibility to continue, why can’t she say something. How do I live with a girl who does not talk? But I have to accept, she is the best among all the photographs my mom showed me.

‘Mom can I meet her one more time please’, ‘let me try’, mom said. We invited her family for my sister’s birthday. So many relatives, not a minute were we left alone. 

Decided to take the matter in my hand. She was sitting and talking to my cousins. I sat right in front of her and said, ‘I was told you teach music, what instrument do you teach’. Everyone was surprised and slowly they started moving out and left us alone.

I teach violin. I started practicing when I was in school.

That’s awesome. I have no idea about music, but I love listening to it.

So where do you teach?

I want to apply for a music teacher position at this international school, but I’m scared of the interview.

I know the feeling; I was a mess in my first interview. Don’t worry, it will go well. Just make sure you smile and don’t talk fast, sorry but I observed that when you are nervous you talk really fast.

You noticed that, I know I speak fast? She colored.

The conversation was good. She was able to shed some of her inhibitions at least. But what next, I still was unable to see her as my future wife. I did not feel it in my heart. Mom had not confirmed anything to her family. Everyone was upset that I could not make up my mind. Things would have been easy had I not dared to speak to the girl in front of everyone. Mom called it a hasty act. Dad was very angry. As for me, I gained nothing out of my audacity and managed to complicate everything.

What will happen if I say no? This will set everyone talking. I had unnecessarily dragged the poor girl in all this. I regretted what I did but I wasn’t hasty. All I wanted was to understand her, but no avail.

I had been impulsive and so undecided. Everyone understood my silence as a ‘No’. Relatives gossiped, my mother was sad, the girl’s parents felt insulted. I blamed myself. As fate would have it, we came face to face with their family once again at my aunt’s house. How I dreaded seeing them.

There was cold politeness, so uneasy. But like sunshine on a gloomy day, from behind her father, she smiled at me. Her smile told me that she had no regrets. This was such a relief for me. I was so burdened with guilt. I felt happy and wished all good for her. She made me smile.

All the relatives were busy with the celebrations. I sat happily in the garden. Suddenly, I heard someone call, ‘Sir, Sir’. I was like who the hell is calling me Sir, I turned around to see the ‘Violin Girl’. She managed to sneak into the garden.

She was out of breath, stood before of me and said, ‘Sir, I worked on what you said, I passed the interview, I got my dream job. I cannot thank you enough’.

I lost my words. I came to my senses and said, ‘Wow congratulations’. She smiled and said, ‘I don’t know how to thank you, but thank you so much’.

She left me zapped, I felt the ground fleeting under my feet. I was blushing. I didn’t know what to make out of my feelings. I liked her.

I paced in the garden thinking only about her, I did not understand why I was so uneasy. I was not in love, not a bit, but what is this feeling.  

Next 5 mins, I found myself requesting my mother to convince them for the marriage. Was I hasty again, but something in me said I wanted to marry this girl. Why? I have no answer. My mother and dad were shocked, my mother hurried to speak to the family. Everyone was surprised. Her father was unsure, but my mother convinced him.

But my Violin Girl was only surprised. Now it was her turn to show some guts. I was sitting with my cousins and she walks in and sits right in front of me, everyone is surprised. They started moving out to leave us alone. She says, ‘Sir, I don’t understand, but did you just say yes to our marriage?’.

Perplexed and confused was she. I started searching for words. Till now I did not know why I wanted to marry her, but at that moment, I got my answer. I said, ‘I don’t know how and why, but I would like to talk to you all my life. I will never be able to find a simple and sincere Violin Girl like you’. She smiled.  


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My Punishment

My Sir was my role model. He was from a rich and famous family. The bungalow was the pride of our town. He was handsome like a demigod, gregarious, zealous, intelligent and atrociously charming.

He was a Civil Engineer and loved to work on the town projects. He was philanthropic, benevolent, merciful and charitable. He constructed reservoirs and schools for the poor.

He was forever the toast of the parties among his cluster of affluent friends. The bungalow was always lit with laughter, songs, parties and also immoral indulgence. The lady of the house, my sir’s wife, never ever was seen by anyone, they say she was ashamed of her husband’s flirtatious life. She always was with their daughter.

My house was a stone throw away from the bungalow. My mother was given my father’s job in the cotton factory. My eyes were always on the bungalow, the glory, the riches, the splendor and the man of the house. He used to smile at me, as I stood watching him come and go in his Mercedes. 

One day, he came took me by my hand and said, ‘Come, let’s have dinner’. He made me sit with him at his beautiful table. I looked like a skunk of a boy in my poor clothes. He was to me, a king in his royal robes. He promised my mother, he will take care of all my needs as long as he lived.

I got new clothes, new school and after that day, we did not know want. Our life changed. He was my god. It’s not a small thing that, someone comes and takes away your misery, we did not have to worry about our next meal, we felt protected, blessed and fearfully grateful. 

My Sir’s life was not a happy as everyone thought. He was a man of many sorrows. From my childhood I have witnessed, many fights in the bungalow. He never asked me to leave, even if I got up, he would hold my hand, ask me sit and be with him. It was as if he wanted to confess his guilt to someone. I was that someone.

I was with him in his shame. He was ashamed, but bore his punishment, with grace. We would sit and have dinner while, Madam hurled insults at him, from her room upstairs, and he would bear them with patience. He knew, he deserved it.

I was now a Civil Engineer like my Sir. He made me a manager in his construction company. How happy he was. He was now old and forlorn, always sitting in the veranda, in his rocking chair. Madam ceased to quarrel, when she passed away one day.

My Sir’s daughter, came to India to complete the last rites. I saw her after 5 years. She was now a young woman, ethereal beauty, she had taken after her father. Divine charm.

After the rituals were done, my Sir sat in his rocking chair and I sat beside him.

‘My weakness is lust’, he said. I listened, as I always did. I have lived a life my family was ashamed of, I will always be sorry, I will die a guilty man.

Tears rolled down his face, ‘But my daughter, I love her, she is my image, she is me in every way’. ‘Yes Sir she is a royalty like you’, said I. 

‘She has my weaknesses, may be she has inherited it from me. I know about her life in US, she is just like me’. I was silent.

I want you to marry her, he held my hands. My son, she will be a punishment to you, but I ask you this, because you are my obedient boy. I know I am selfish. She will put you to shame and you may even hate her, but can you give me this sacrifice.

My son, remember she will be a punishment to you and she cannot be trusted, but my last prayer is that, ‘Your punishment becomes your blessing’.

‘You know Sir, that I can never say no to you. You are my God. Sir died a few days later. One day, Sir’s daughter came to my house with her lawyer. 

‘My Father has bequeathed this property to me and you, on the condition that we get married and that we stay married forever’. That is all she said.

We got married the next day. After the formalities, the whole town was invited to celebrate our marriage.

She was vibrant, beautiful and loved her life. It was so herself to flirt. Her friends took me for a fool. Everyone knew our marriage was a deal. 

She was her father in every sense, she had his waywardness, but she also had love for everyone, kindness and humility. She treated me with respect and affection, like her father did. She never belittled or insulted me.

I never looked at her as my wife, she was always my Sir’s daughter, my responsibility. After some days, she bid me goodbye, ‘I’m sure you don’t hope for a blessed marriage life with me, do you’, she said unapologetically. I smiled and said, ‘take care’. She smiled, ‘I’ve never seen a guy like you’.

I read about her on page3. I bore the disgrace for my god’s sake, my Sir. At the office everyone looked down on me, my wife and I were the talk of the town. Gossip mills ran high feeding on the flirtatious life of my wife. 

I sat in the veranda, in my Sir’s rocking chair and closed my eyes, ‘Sir, call from US, Madam, has attempted suicide’. I was anxious and worried, all through my flight, I remembered my Sir’s words and how much he loved her. 

The doctor confirmed she was out of danger. She was lying on the bed, weak and swollen eyes. I was angry and sad, ‘You don’t have any right over your life, your father gave life to you and me. Don’t ever do this again’. She cried.

Next day, as I brought her breakfast, ‘Why did you come for me, do you know anything about me’. ‘I don’t want to know’, said I. 

She cried and said, ‘I’m not worth’. 

The flight attendant announced the takeoff and we both slipped into slumber after many weary days. We land in India, she makes my home, she returns as my wife, like an excited new bride. She talks endlessly about life, about her, about me and about us, I’m a good listener. She plans a honeymoon for us, a splendid holiday, those were the best days of our life.

Days later, a text message in my phone, ‘I’m on my flight to the US’. I was not one bit surprised, I never set my emotions on her, though I cared for her, she filled my thoughts, but never did I ever allow myself to be fooled that she was mine.

She was her father’s daughter and she was like him, gregarious, flirtatious, wayward. She has inherited her father’s personality and traits, and they controlled her. 

As my Sir said, she was my responsibility and punishment.

I sat in my Sir’s chair and prayed that I may have the courage to fulfill my responsibility. 

2 months later, one evening, I hurry to the upstairs room. There she was sitting with some files. 

‘How are you’, I asked her.

‘I can’t say, I’m good, so let me say…. I’m trying to be good. Well, I guess there is no question of forgiveness, because you know me, our marriage is just a deal. I am as you know, your Sir’s responsibility.

She is in deep pain. I smile.

She wants to build a hospital for our town. She is committed, hardworking and dedicated. She was sad and composed. It looked as if she was trying to make amendments. The hospital was inaugurated, she personally manages the hospital.

‘It’s true, your Sir gave life to you and me, we don’t have any right over our lives, but I am going to try and try with all my heart to be a good daughter and if possible a good wife, I cannot assure you of anything, but I am going to try’. 

‘I’m still indebted to my Sir, I don’t have any expectations from our marriage’.

Neither do I. Thank you so much.

We smiled.

The way ahead was not easy, she was zealous like her father to make this marriage work. From the moment my Sir asked me to marry her, she became my responsibility, but I could never trust her. I was always prepared for her to pack her bags and be gone to US.

Time is an imposter, it fooled me, made me weak. I was now waiting for her, missing her, started dreaming of a future together. I started thinking that she was mine, my wife. I was scared to trust her, but I already set my hope on her. 

There was a time when I was prepared for anything, now I was fearful, that she will leave me. Day after day, year after year, together we walked for 29 years and it was beautiful and worth. 

I remember, my Sir’s last prayer, ‘I pray that your punishment becomes your blessing’.


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Anyone but You

Ours is a match made in heaven everyone says. There is love between us, that’s all I can say, because I can’t define our relationship. Should I say magic, that’s not the word. Just can’t define. 

Let me explain, we go out, she sees a boy suspiciously alone on the road, she will get down, ask the boy where he lives and make sure he is safe. She does not know the difference between AC and DC, though she got 70 marks in electronic. How is that possible, ‘I don’t like electronic, I mugged up’, she says. Gave me her debit card and pin, within one week of marriage, ‘money should never come between us’,  and then asks me for money.  

Saves money by using food vouchers when we eat out. Loves cartoons. Has a collection of 80 earrings, scared of horror, loves action movies. Just can’t follow a diet, can’t cook more than the basics, crazy about French fries, pleaded with her sister, to buy her a washing machine, as a marriage gift, ‘I hate washing clothes!’ says she. Bit lazy, but when she wants to work, she will work herself sick.

Ours is a match made in heaven, but it was finalized at a shack. I and my senior were having tea at a shack. I don’t know, I have this strange friendship with the elderly. Half of my friends are double my age. 

Hey, that does not mean I am old fashioned. I like to talk to them and even more listen to them. I started working at the age of 18, because of family and financial commitments. So at the age of 33, I almost had 15 years of work experience. So 50+ year colleagues were my friends. 

At 18, when other boys went to college, I was a man running a family. I proudly say, I’m a family man in my teenage. I felt sad, when I saw college kids have fun, but I accepted my life with courage. This courage helped me fight but also looked like audacity to many. At heart, I was emotional and scared. I lost my father at a very young age. I had no one to talk to, no one understood my struggle. I had nightmares, where I saw myself, a young teenage boy, fighting monsters. A kind of fear always lived in me.

Life taught me the hard way, or may be the hardest way. I acquired patience, compromise and endurance as virtues. The by-product of all this was a weird sense of humor. My sense of humor was dry and difficult to decipher. I used it on my juniors. They were like, ‘Sir, I didn’t know that you were joking, you scared the life out of me’.

I will ever be grateful to one of my colleagues who was about 50 years. One day he said, ‘I don’t know, how to start this, but I have a friend who is looking for a match for his daughter. This is weird but, will you be interested, can I suggest your name to him’.

I laughed and thanks to my sense of humor, I said, ‘let’s go after office’. My senior agreed. So he called his friend and we went to their house. This was not the first time I went to see a prospective bride, in an arranged marriage meeting.

My sole intention was, marry a girl who earns well, so that we together can work, earn and build a future, I could not build alone.

Actually, she was number 25. ‘Roll no 25’ – there she walks in and sits in front of me. I had evaluated 24 proposals so far, some by meeting them, some by just looking at their photo. I will not brag that I rejected them. I rejected some, some rejected me.

So here we are at No 25. She walks in, I will be remembering this day for the rest of my life, but right now, It was just another meeting, nothing more. She comes in, sits in front of me. My colleague, starts speaking. He speaks about me and my work, that he has known me for 10 years. 

I was busy looking at her, innocence was written all over her face, fear smeared and tender eyes. She nodded her head, smiled, was attentive as if she is listening to a lecturer at college. I found her very interesting. I was laughing inside and a grin on my face.

The brat in me overpowered my etiquette. I asked her, ‘Do you know………, she works in your company, she is my cousin’. She startled, like a bird in the face of danger. She said, I don’t know the name, but if I see her I will know.

Her father, was like, ‘did he just talk directly to my daughter’ he thought. And he smiled. He mighty liked me. I was not interested in talking to her father, because I was very interested in this girl. Meeting over. As we walked out, I looked at her and thought, ‘Anyone but You’. 

I return home and laughed. I had not seen such a specimen in my life. Did I like her, no I didn’t, I cannot marry such a girl. How does she survive in this world? I needed a smart girl who will be able to help me build our life, I was already lagging in the race of life. All my friends were well settled. I had to accelerate. ‘I can marry anyone but this girl’. So it’s a No.

I was musing and thinking about her the whole next day. Evening at the Tea Shack, I told my colleague my decision. My colleague was a bit disappointed. ‘Ok, that’s it then’. 

After I said No. I felt strange. From the moment I saw her till I said ‘No’, she was with me, I could joke about her, think about her, wonder about her, but now I lost her forever, after saying No. This thought came to me like a revelation. 

I was practical and I began the evaluation process.

She is innocent, or may be silly.

She is not a survivor, she is not smart.

Not very beautiful either.

She failed in my evaluation. I had a kind of fear on my mind all next day. At work, I enquired if my colleague had come. I was told he is on-site today. I thought I will meet him at the tea shack in the evening, but what if it is too late.

I walked to the site, there was my colleague. I said I want my aunt to meet her. I colleague was upset. He said, ‘I thought you are wiser than your age, that’s why I arranged this meeting. I told my wife to convey your decision. I don’t know if she has informed them.’

First time in my life, I was being impractical or may be afraid. I had been too practical to believe in miracles, but now I was waiting with bated breathe, my colleague calls his wife. ‘My wife has not yet informed them’. I sighed in relief.

Am I just playing with mine and their family’s emotions? I don’t know. I was not as wise as I thought I was.

I urgently called my aunt and told her I was ill and she hurried home. My only guardian, who loved me after my mother. I and my aunt meet the family. May be she brought out the teenager in me. She came, same expression, innocence, this time, she looked at me as if, ‘How many times will you come’. I loved the expression.

My aunt told them that I liked the girl, her father also accepted.

Her father wanted to get us engaged that very moment. As a ritual, we exchanged turmeric, sweets and some fruits. My colleague brought garlands and the engagement was done. My aunt asked if we could speak alone. So she sat in front of me. She was uneasy and I never felt better. 

Do you have a tongue in your mouth.

She was shocked.

Then why don’t you speak.

She gave me an angry expression.

Do you like sweets?,  

Not much, she replied.

‘Good’. 

‘Do you know how to cook?’, I didn’t wait for the answer.

‘I follow a routine, I’m an early riser’.

She looked at me, as if she saw the horror of her dismal future.

I smiled.

We got married that weekend.

We stand beside each other as we get ready to enter the marriage hall. Madam, please look up, the photographer said. She was on the verge of crying.

I held her hand and said, ‘This is the face I want to see everyday’, she was shocked. She stamped my foot and said, ‘Why did you speak to me like that, you know how scared I was, I didn’t even choose my wedding saree, I did some stupid makeup…….’ 

I looked into her eyes and said, ‘I would have never let you go, I knew you will be mine’.

The wedding pictures were beautiful, because the bride was smiling now. 

I can work hard, sacrifice was not new to me, I learnt compromise, but this is the face I want to see when I come home, this is the face I want to see when I wake up. I wanted her in my life. There was a kind of strength in her innocence. 

Right now she is bringing the house down, trying to cook, decorate and arrange for our first anniversary party. Breathing heavily, ‘Can we call for catering’.

I looked at her, ‘Why do you start things you can’t complete’. ‘All you can see is money, you can’t see how hard I work……….’.

I hide my smile and dial the caterer’s number. She gave me the innocence, my struggles stole from me. 


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