Read a tale of endurance, will & a daring fight against Covid. Click here for "The Stalwarts" by Soni Shalini.
Read a tale of endurance, will & a daring fight against Covid. Click here for "The Stalwarts" by Soni Shalini.

Coping The Change !

Coping The Change !

12 mins

Avi and Riya had been in a relationship for almost three years. They met in college and had been together ever since then. They had been with each other through thick and thin and shared a great bond. Riya had been placed as a software engineer in a reputed firm . Avi had not been placed yet. So they didn’t celebrate Riya’s placement as she wanted to celebrate when they were both placed !

Finally, the most awaited day in their life arrived. Avi got placed in a consulting firm ! It was one of the leading consulting firms and was paying a handsome amount. They were both really happy!

After being thoroughly kicked , bruised and broken by his classmates and hosteler friends, he went to meet Riya at the open air auditorium in their college .
She was there with a small cupcake with a pretty pink icing and a candle and a huge smile on her face.

Her smile eased out all the pain that his friends had given him.

Riya : Congratulations Mr . Biggie .

Avi : I love you !

After finishing the cupcake , they both sat on the stairs.

Riya : So in less than a month we will be working at different places .

Avi : We’ll be in the same city.

Riya : You’ll not forget me na?

Avi took out a floral tiara and put it on Riya’s head .

Avi ( smiling ) : You’ll always be my princess .

A tear rolled down Riya’s eyes and she hugged Avi. She rested her head on Avi’s shoulder and he put his arm around her waist.

Riya : Also , some hot girls might flirt with you there but you dare not flirt with them else I will kill them all!

Avi : I am dating the hottest girl on earth. Why would I even think about flirting with someone else!

Riya : Chal Jhutte!

They both laughed and talked under the starry sky and the cool breeze . Everything seemed perfect!

They both joined their respective offices after a month. It was their first day . Formal clothes gave them a cultural shock and they gasped in amazement at the huge buildings and the amazing but expensive cafeterias. It was all so different.

They couldn’t call each other so they kept texting as and when they got time to text. At night, they talked but for the first time, the conversation didn’t last for long as they were both tired .

Over time, their real job life started as the pressure of work began to increase. Riya’s job was relatively better as she would be free by 7 pm but Avi’s job got more and more hectic as each day passed. It was getting hard for them to catch up. Avi used to be so tired on weekends that he would prefer sleeping and they would even meet very rarely.

Their frequent calls had become less frequent and used to end soon. Riya’s used to be up till 11 to talk to Avi and over time, she started getting bored by the same workplace talk. Avi barely talked about their relationship. Riya had been a very supportive girlfriend but now, this ignorance and obsession for work was getting on her nerves. One day , She decided to talk to Avi about it.

They were on a call.

Avi : So, I am learning Tableau as my appraisal is coming ..

Riya ( cutting him off ) : Sweetie, can I say something?

Avi : Ya sure.

Riya : Can we please talk about something else? I am sorry . I didn’t mean to say this but maybe, I don’t want to talk about this all the time . We barely talk about us. I don’t know why I feel a strain in our relationship!

Avi : I am sorry darling. You know these appraisals and the pressure !

Riya : Do you love me?

Avi : Do you doubt it?

Riya : Good Night Avi. We’ll catch up tomorrow.

Riya hung up. For the first time , Avi felt that Riya was upset. He hoped that nothing went wrong as he really loved her.

However, the greed to get an A1 made him forget this and he became the same zombie. Small arguments sprung up between Riya & Avi .

It was Avi’s birthday. He had cancelled the plan of meeting Riya. Riya planned to give him a surprise visit to cheer him up . Needless to say, Avi was elated to see her. They sat at the cafeteria and he cut the cake. After that, he ordered for Maggi. There were incessant calls . Riya patiently waited for the calls to end but they did not. After half an hour, she got up to leave. Avi tried to wrap up the 5th call .

Avi : At least have Maggi .

Riya ( smiling ) : That’s Okay Avi . We can always have Maggi later. Happy Birthday sweetheart.

She gently kissed him on the cheek and left. As she walked away, tears rolled down her eyes. She gently wiped them. Avi saw it and felt really guilty and miserable. He got busy in calls again . At around 1 am, he called. Riya had slept and so she didn’t pick up. After 5 calls , he finally texted

Avi :

I am really sorry sweetheart. I can’t tell you how horrible I feel. I will make up for this for sure. I will make it up to you.

He got a text in the morning from Riya .

Riya :

Good Morning Love ❤ .

Sweetie, don’t make it up to me . Make it up to yourself. Don’t let this job kill away every other pleasure in your life. We work to live , not live to work 🙂

We’ll talk later 🙂

He read this text again and again. Life had indeed been different ever since college. He had not been able to give time to the one person who had supported him throughout college and the one person that mattered a lot to him.

Their fights only increased. They wouldn’t talk for long. Avi felt helpless. He felt they were not on the same page. One day he decided to meet her and discuss it. Avi texted.

Avi : We need to talk. Let’s meet at Garden of the 5 senses tomorrow.

Riya : Okay.

Next day, they met. Avi’s eyes were still red due to the exhaustion and work.

They sat on a stair near the grass .

Riya : I know what you want to say. You want to break up with me because I have become a nagging girlfriend.

Avi ( laughing ) : God No ! I love you .

Riya ( hugging him ) : I have heard this for the first time in 1 month.

She rested her head on Avi’s shoulder and he put his arm around her waist.

Riya : Your eyes are all red. You look tired. I keep feeling worried.

Avi : I am sorry sweetheart. But you tell me what shall I do. I am doing this for us.

Riya : Yaar, if that is what your intention is, then don’t do so. I am okay with an average earning as long as he has quality time for me!

Avi : Sweetie, tell me something; Will your parents marry you to me if I don’t earn? Let’s look at my matrimonial CV – a little fat, bespectacled, medium height ed, average looking!

Riya : Who can call you average looking! You are so handsome!

Avi ( laughing and kissing her on her forehead ) : Ab tumhare liye toh main Bradd Pitt hoon. But let’s be practical. Look at you – You are beautiful, sweet and talented. Anyone would die to be with you! The ONLY plus point that I have in my CV is my salary. I can’t let this go. Do you think it is easy for me to ignore the one person who matters the most to me? I hate working so hard yaar  You remember na how you used to push me to study during exam time. But things are so different now. We’ve grown up . We need to be practical.

Riya : I am really really sorry. I really didn’t think so broadly. I won’t say a word regarding this now. Gentlewoman’s promise.

They hugged again and spent some quality time with each other. They both made each other laugh. Even after going home , Avi felt really happy. He slept and it was the most peaceful sleep he had had in days. When he woke up, he texted her .

Avi :

I love you . With you, I enjoy everything . Even things as simple as just reading a romantic book together. Or maybe even just walking. Yesterday was great ! I love you ! Please don’t leave me ever !

Riya :

I love you too! More than you know , More than I show ❤ . You light up my life. I will never leave you ❤

Things actually changed after that meeting. Riya stopped complaining. She became more patient.

After a month , Avi got his appraisal. He had got an A2. Every one was congratulating him. He was a little upset that even with all the effort, he could not get an A1. However, since only 2 people had got even A2, he felt it was something worth celebrating. He texted Riya.

Avi : Got an A2 !! Finally ! 🙂

Riya called and congratulated him. She made him feel that it was a great achievement and asked him to enjoy the success party. Even after 4–5 drinks and a lot of dancing, he was missing Riya. It was 1 am. He knew Riya must’ve slept.

He saw his phone. There were a lot of notifications on Facebook. He opened facebook and opened Riya’s page. Her page was flooded with a lot of messages.

They said : “ Happy Birthday , Riya !”

The day of his appraisal was Riya’s birthday!

He wanted to slap himself. He felt that he had turned into a workaholic beast. Riya was always so jovial about her birthday that during college time, she would just keep talking about it ever since her birthday month arrived. But this time , she didn’t say anything.

All this started seeming meaningless to him!!
He put his palm on his face. Tears were flowing. His boss came. He sat next to him and put his arm on his shoulder. Avi looked at him.

Boss : Girlfriend ya Biwi?

Avi : Girlfriend.

Boss : Birthday ya Anniversary?

Avi : Birthday.

Boss : Do you intend to be with her?

Avi : All my life.

Boss : Dude , you are only 22. This is the only time in which you can focus on your career and make it. Bitter truth – don’t expect a work life balance if you expect A1 / A2 ratings. At this point, you got to think and make your choice. Set your priorities right!

He said so and left. There was an employee looking at them and listening to the conversation. He was Rishi. He smiled at Avi.

Rishi : Do you really love her?

Avi : More than my life.

Rishi : Then don’t let her go.

Avi kept looking at him.

Rishi : Jobs and bosses will come and go. These fuckers don’t care. You could’ve got an A1. You burnt your ass off. It’s still an A2. I am not saying don’t do your work. I am just saying don’t overdo things. Don’t take calls on weekends. Take offs when you can . Have a life outside office. Don’t talk about it at home all the time. That 1 -2 extra lakhs in your bonus can cost you the loss of a relationship for a lifetime. I am 35. Single. I had a love in life but I didn’t understand its importance back then. I have loads money but it has never been able to fill my emptiness. Don’t let that happen to you.

Avi : Thanks bud.

Rishi : Set your priorities right . (winks)

Next morning Avi went to Riya’s flat. He greeted him with her sweet smile. He hugged her. He couldn’t control his tears.

Riya : What happened? Are you okay?

Avi : No I am not and I can never be till you are not around.

Riya : Have some cake.

Avi : I love you. I am sorry.

Riya gently caressed his cheek.

Riya : I love you too and you don’t have to be sorry. There is always another day ..

3 Years Later

It was Holi. Their college friends had planned to play Holi at Country Club. They were all enjoying the rain dance and the DJ. The men were enjoying drinks while the women were dancing to the beats in the showers that created the rain. Riya was wearing a jeans shorts and a short white t-shirt. The song that was playing was :

Balam Pichkari Jo Tune Mujhe Maari
Toh Seedhi Saadi Chhori Sharaabi Ho Gayi
Haa Jeans Pahen Ke Jo Tune Maara Thumka
Toh Lattoo Padosan Ki Bhabhi Ho Gayi

Avi rushed to the dance floor and danced a little with Riya. Then he gestured that there was a lot of noise and he took her along to the open terrace on 1st floor.

He put his arms around her waist and she put her arms around his neck. They looked at each other.

Avi : Pehli baar yaad hai ? Holi pe hi propose kiya tha.

Riya : Tumne ya maine!

Avi ( laughing ) : I almost did.

Riya : Ya ya . How can I forget! We had been talking for 6 months and you still couldn’t say it! We were all wet and everyone was dancing. I dragged you and when you saw everyone was busy, you stealthily took me to the top of science block, put your arms around my waist. We looked at each other and silence spoke everything. Your innocent eyes made me blurt that I love you and it was official.

Avi smiled.

Riya : Now you know why Holi is my favorite festival.

Avi : Time to turn the table love.

He knelt , took out a ring and said

Avi : My princess , will you be my queen forever  Maana average hoon , zyada kamata nai, geeky hoon but I really love you.

Riya : Maana main super sexy hoon ( winks ), entertaining hoon, amazing hoon but I really love you and I can’t imagine a single day of my life without you. And if you like me in my Holi Avataar, then you’re definitely my man !

Avi put the ring in her hand.

Avi : Now that you’re my fiance’, it is time to break your rule .

He cupped her face and gently kissed her. Their friends hooted as they saw the scene from downstairs. Everybody came running and congratulated them and they enjoyed the festival.

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