Aseema Dake Kulkarni



Aseema Dake Kulkarni




8 mins 187 8 mins 187

“So finally, hitched”, Arya sounded excited. Abhi smiled. “Too early, she is working in the IT sector, check the pic on Insta”. “Nice, am happy for you. Aunty must be relieved now that you are finally at least considering it seriously” Arya knew the pressure Abhi was going through for the last couple of years. When you are professionally successful, it is the personal life that people tend to get curious about. In reality, the curiosity is never ending. 

“So some more details please. How was the meeting ?”, Arya refused to settle for just the photo and the work profile. She was his best friend since school. It was kind of a right she commanded. “You, will be surprised. She is pretty sorted than the girls I have met before. She exactly knows what she wants in life. Completed her engineering and her MBA and now works as an analyst. She even invests in mutual funds and stocks, right from her internship days. She wants us to take a home loan and buy an independent house after marriage. She is even ready to share the EMI and the household expenses. “ Arya looked confused and had to interrupt, “ Is this a marriage proposal or a business deal ?” 

“Excuse me. Please Arya. Not you’re back with being the devil’s advocate again. Earlier when I met a girl and told you that she wanted to be a homemaker you were judgemental about that and now this. I do not understand you. This is pure hypocrisy. One Cappuccino please, and you ? “ Abhi’s calmed, thanks to the boy who entered at the right time to take the order before the discussion could take the route to an argument. 

“Hey, I am sorry if you think I am being judgemental. But you are speaking about decisions after the married life that you have taken right in the first meeting. I asked you about the girl and not about your future financial planning. SeedhiBaat karo na yaar. Shaadi hein job interview nahi.” Abhi realised that something is missing, but covered it up “But is financial independence not good ? Won’t it be easy for us as a couple in future. There is nothing like love. It is always infatuation. Love happens over time, through ups and downs you share. Come on Arya, we have discussed this many times. Love, at first sight, might exist but never happened to me. “ 

“You are misunderstanding me. You might get an onsite opportunity. She might not be ready for it. She might feel like taking a break after maternity. You might not be able to shoulder the financial responsibilities you both have chosen single handedly. She or you may face a job loss and may have to look at other options. Life happens to all of us. Things are so sudden, that life just crumbles.” Abhi knew where Arya was going but he was still missing something, “Okay. Got it girl. But then how does one know whether we sail through the storms in future. Even the strongest ships sink sometimes. Divorces are pretty common in India also now. There is no social taboo anymore”

“Oh my God, now you have reached divorce. Seriously, what is wrong with you Abhi. Alright when are you meeting her again.” Arya thought it would be a better way to stop explaining but start some doing. Abhi sipped the coffee and mentioned that they were meeting the very same day, in the evening. “Alright then. Just let me know how the meeting goes on a call at night” Abhi was surprised with a sudden full stop to the conversation. But yes, pride sometimes keeps you bottled up with emotions. “Okay. Done. So how’s the little one. So are you planning to join back work ? It’s been four years now. “ Abhi was quick to change the conversation. They finally spoke about Arya getting back to work. And then the conversation drifted into some more important topics like traffic, increasing pollution levels and the taste of the coffee. 

“Is she even planning to meet me ? Arya was right. I think I fell for a business deal. Maybe she feels my salary is less or maybe I am not ready to buy a house. Or maybe my parents. My parents are a little strong headed but even she appeared to be. Will that bother her ? “ And there she was, trying to cross the road . Abhi quickly watched over his thoughts “I just overthink. I hate Arya and her gyaan.” 

“I am sorry. I had to make a quick office call and then got caught in traffic “, Payal was genuinely feeling bad, cause she was late by almost an hour. “I did not even check my phone. Did you send a message cause it surely did not ring” Abhi realised that lost in his own thoughts, time just flew by. “No. I was just surfing the phone and making a few calls. It is completely okay. As it is seven already, should we skip coffee and head for dinner ?” Abhi realised that he was felling hungry. Payal quickly suggested a new restaurant nearby and the duo headed in that direction. 

“The aroma is really good.”, Abhi reacted as soon as they enter. “We come here for most of our office parties. I really like the food here.” They choose a table near the window and ordered some food and started glancing through the menu. “So did you talk to your parents” He sounded a little direct. “To be honest, I did. I just mentioned that I would like to explore this option.” she responded. “So, now I am an option. “ he quickly intervened. “That is not what I meant and you know it. “ Abhi smiled. 

“Of course I do. I had a thought. I might get an onsite opportunity overseas next year. I thought you should be aware.” Abhi was just testing the waters as he kept thinking what Arya said. He needed to know what Payal felt as he would surely get one in next two three years. “That would be great. I am not sure how I feel about it. I do like my job but we will manage. “ Abhi was confused now. So a girl who earlier was clear about everything she wanted, was not accepting everything he wanted. He further added, “So then you are okay to leave the job and move on with me in near future. “ Silence found its place in the conversation. Payal started looking out of the window after the conversation. Abhi was emotionally feeling uncomfortable, should he ask again, did she hear it, is she angry at too many questions, is he being patriarchal ….

The racing thoughts were interrupted, “Look, I want to be honest. The first day that we met I just wanted to appear perfect. I mean isn’t that what arranged marriages first meetings are meant for. But honestly in my mind I have absolutely no clarity what do I want from the marriage. My age is crossing the suitable marriageable age bar, friends and parents keep talking about it. Not that I do not want to get married. But I don’t know what to look for. I mean….salary, honesty, looks, job, family …..don't you feel overburdened with the checklist. “ She stopped to find Abhi smiling at her. Silence found its way into the conversation yet again, but this time more pleasingly. 

To help them with the slightly awkward yet pleasant silence, the waiter came as a god-sent messenger. They both placed their orders. “I understand and feel the same”, confided Abhi. “I found you very sorted and was scared after our first meeting. I thought you were so clear about everything. I mean buying a house, your job, expectations about the marriage. I must admit, I am slightly relieved.” “Is it okay, if we today just have lunch have friends and forget that we met for this whole arranged marriage stuff ?” her tone had changed and she spoke more passionately throughout dinner. Finally the discussion went beyond parents, finances and jobs. Dinosaurs and how mesmerised they were when Jurassic Park was first released, trekking the Himalayas once in a lifetime, learning the guitar needs patience, skydiving is scary and maybe only fun to watch on the screen, chai is the best drink than even the hard ones sometimes. Stupid conversations made both of them realise that they did not have many things in common but were comfortable speaking it without hesitation suddenly. Frankly speaking frankness opened the door. God only knows if the relationship would see the future but it would always remain a memorable dinner for both. 

Dressed in pajamas, rubbing her eyes, Arya opened to door at 7 am in the morning to Abhi. “Oh come on, it's early morning. What happened, all okay? You did not call last night.“ Abhi was standing smiling to thank a friend who helped him to realise that relationships are not a mathematical equation and can only be handled well when you try to speak frankly. ## Seedhibaat

P.S. - In real life people wear a mask and carry the confidence. We see the outside perfections they carry and develop our own insecurities and battles within. Everyone struggles in their own way. Fiction helps to tell stories where you do not see the mask, meet the real person and realise that everyone has the struggle to share. 

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