They say that the time period between engagement and marriage is one of the most exciting phases for a bride and groom to be. I wasn’t feeling any different from the day we celebrated our platinum day of love. After being in a long distance relationship with Adi during our courtship period, I felt the urge to meet him and get to know him better before I could feel confident about him being my life partner. Who would have imagined that a couple who got to know each other through a dating platform like, Aisle ended up getting engaged through a horoscope match also. We both had decided to bury the Aisle secret and go ahead with the regular proceedings as it pleased our parents. Once a relationship clicks, who cares if it was through Aisle or Bharat Matrimonial. Our relationship was chugging like a steam engine, thanks to those miles that separated us. True love doesn’t get diluted with distance but we were yet to discover it. I tried my luck at job opportunities in Bangalore where he was staying so that I could get to know him more before we were officially engaged. Adi helped me in finding a PG accommodation which was close to my work place. I wasn’t happy staying at a place which was far from his house but he being the more practical one said, "Dia, in Bangalore, if you want mental peace, make sure you stay close to your workplace. Do not risk your precious time in these crazy vehicle clogged roads. We can meet on weekends when we can spend quality time together."
Our story from courtship to being engaged and then getting married was a strange one because our lovable moments have always had something to do with food. I used to fear at times thinking it could affect our health but we balanced it well just as we did with our relationship. The first day I set foot in this city, Adi surprised me by welcoming me with a bouquet of twelve roses.
"These are for those months which we have known each other for," he said squeezing my hand.
It was extremely chivalrous of him to receive me at the railway station at 3:00 AM on a Sunday morning when half the city was asleep. Probably he was equally excited to meet me. I had the worst look on my face that morning. Which girl would meet her date for the first time sleepy eyed and dull? He came close holding the bouquet and we embraced each other for the first time. It wasn’t an awkward feeling at all. It felt as if we had known each other for long. As we sat in the car and picked up our conversation from where we had left on the phone last night, he decided to take me to a coffee shop. He knew that I liked coffee. I wondered if there was any coffee shop open at this wee hour. We were lucky that a Café Coffee Day was open. I had never seen a CCD more beautiful as this; it was a small garden café. We had to wake up the poor server boy and ask him for piping hot Café Moccha which happened to be our favourite. As we sat in a cosy corner by the table in the garden sipping on our coffee, an aroma of the feeling of first love wafted into our souls. How could I forget that morning, as we sat with our hands entwined, sipping the nerve soothening coffee at the crack of dawn looking at the crimson sky and enjoying each other’s company! It was certainly a date to remember. Freshly ground coffee beans had a magic in them. The aroma was strong enough to mask any form of fragrance that lingered around. It did wake my brain from its slumber only to register the precious moments of my first date with Adi. I finished my coffee quickly and looked at Adi sipping the last bit from his mug.
He caught me staring and asked, "Do you want some more?" Just for the sake of having the last sip from his coffee mug I took it from him and relished it till the last drop. The after effect of it was something which I had never imagined. The next moment, warm lips, smelling of coffee had engulfed mine before I could open my eyes and realize what had happened. Adi was standing by the car waiting for me to get in. The motto of CCD is true- ‘Anything can happen over coffee.’
I had to spend the rest of the day tidying up my room and setting up things. My first date was a very short one but the feeling that I was going to meet him again in a few days got my hopes a bit high thinking that our relationship was getting a chance to blossom.
My thoughts were all over the place the entire day. Physically I was doing the chores and arranging my room but my heart was with him. I could still sense his lips on mine and the smell of coffee that hit my nostrils when he came close to me. It was having an intoxicating effect on me and I did not feel normal until the next day when I had to rush for work. Our long distance relationship continued even though we were in the same city. We waited for the weekend so that we could spend more time with each other. It was exciting to plan for the weekend as soon as the week begun. Weekend outings in the city were just a pretext to meet and get to know each other better. We tried to go for movies that interested us, visited book shops where we could read or discuss about our favourite books over a cup of coffee or tea.
We were the so called foodies. That was the first among the many other common likings that we had. Although, the cuisines that either one of us liked were not completely the same but in a way we were able to discover our love through food. Initially, we spoke only about our favourite dishes, likes and dislikes but when we were together it was exciting to try out something new. It is said that food has an impact on the brain directly. The gastronomic delight one gets after having their favourite dish is equivalent to feeling loved by someone.
At times, we took more time to decide as to where and what we should eat than talking about about each other. One evening he took me to an Italian restaurant that served the best vegetarian menu in Italian cuisine. Each date was memorable and had its own charm. Our pleasant as well as bitter-sweet memories were linked with food as it formed a vital part of our relationship.
While dining at the quaint and beautiful restaurant Adi asked, "Dia, do you like cooking?" I had heard that men wanted to know if their would be partner knew how to cook but I had never heard such a question. It made me feel that this man had a liberal mind set. I smiled at him and instead of replying I asked him, "What about you?"
"I love to eat and serve with love," he said with a sheepish grin.
"Wow… I guess I have one more reason to love you. When do I get a taste of your culinary skills?" I asked giving him a gentle nudge.
He gripped my hand and held them inside his strong, warm fist. "You are invited home anytime my lady."
Our conversation about meal plans vanished into thin air when the food arrived at our table. A glass of Sangria, cheesy creamy pasta and jazz music in the background with Adi made me feel that I had conquered the world. The combination of wine and pasta was enough to soothe our palate. As I took small sips of my wine and took few spoons of the creamy pasta, I felt different. The combination of vodka, cheesy cream sauce and wine hit my palette and I felt my head was heavy. I could hear what Adi was speaking and was also replying to him but there was a sort of vaccum created because of which only his words seemed to echo in my ears. I was talking to him but not in the way my normal self would do.I think I was high on alcohol and cheese. How could one get high after having pasta and wine? Later, when I read the menu in detail I realized that this pasta sauce had generous amount of vodka and when combined with cheese and wine it becomes stronger in flavour and its action on our system is also enhanced.
"I can feel my head reeling Dia," Adi said putting his arms around my shoulder firmly. He needed me and I needed him for support. We had to take a cab and reach home as Adi was not feeling comfortable to drive. I could only remember the pasta and the wine when I recalled about that evening. We got tipsy together for the first time. There were many such firsts in our lives. But again the same feeling of parting and waiting for another week made the experience painful. It gave us melancholy but at the same time we had a hope to meet each other the next week.
The weekend after that was the New Year's Eve. Adi had invited me home to join him and his friends in the celebration. I had never attended a New Year celebration party till date. It had always been spent with friends or family either watching the New Year celebration programmes on television or cutting a New Year cake. I was a little hesitant to go to his place and be with his friends but because his friends were also bringing their respective girl friends’ along, I felt a little confident about the whole idea of a New Year’s celebration. The apartment where he was staying with his friends was a beautiful one. It was the first time I was entering a house where only men stayed and I was feeling awkward even thinking about it. As expected, the house turned out to be unusually neat and tidy. It was mainly to welcome the girls, I assumed. Once the other girls also started joining us I was able to be my usual self. Apart from Adi and the other friends, there was music, good food and creative homemade cocktails made by one of Adi’s friends. I spent more time in observing Adi around with friends than talking to anyone much. In fact, his friends were too excited to know about our relationship. That’s how our conversation continued. I felt a little relieved seeing that Adi was his normal self when it came to being with me and his friends. It was one of those concerns I had which had instilled some doubts in me and made me feel a little hesitant about our relationship. Not that I had an option to step back. It was only one additional reason to feel happy about the person with whom I was slowly falling in love with. There was no dual personality that he adorned at least in front of his close ones.
We waited for the clock to strike 12 and welcomed the New Year wishing each other good luck and happiness. Adi’s friend threw us a challenge saying that we all start our countdown to welcome the New Year and with each count we should have one shot of Tequila. Since there were 10 seconds left, we were all forced to have 10 shots continuously. I think, that was enough for us to not be our normal self for that night. Adi still seemed a little sane but, I wasn’t. I became extremely quiet and I went with the flow not knowing how to react. I was never used to having alcohol and 10 shots were not something which my body could take. Thankfully nothing went wrong health-wise but I swore that day that never in my life would I have so much alcohol. I was not used to being so quiet but it calmed me down so much that it was difficult even for Adi to accept me that way. The celebrations were almost about to end as none of us could stay awake because of the overdose of alcohol. Amidst the confused discussion that was happening whether the girls should go to another apartment and stay over for the night, Adi took his chance and stole me from the group.
The next moment I was with Adi in the terrace. The dark sky was illuminated with brilliant colors of the firecrackers. The chaos caused by the crackers was loud enough get people out of their beds and celebrate the New Year. But, for some reason I was at peace in that moment in the terrace as I stood close to Adi admiring the lit up sky. Adi pulled me close and gave me a tight hug. He cupped my chin with his hands and lifted my head up so that his lips could meet mine. Our lips smeared with salt left over after the tequila shots engulfed each others. The strong smell of alcohol and the taste of salt against our moist lips made my stomach churn with desire. That day was one of those very firsts when I saw the most romantic side of Adi. The most passionate kiss to begin with and the firecrackers in the sky made me feel like life were a fairytale. I had to push him away just to breathe and absorb myself into that moment. We did not speak but our eyes gleamed reflecting the bright colors of the sky.
Realizing that it was quite some time that we had spent in the terrace, we both rushed downstairs just to make sure that others did not realize our absence from the scene. I had to go with the other girls to their apartment to stay over for the night. I had no heart to leave Adi and go but I had to. He had left a desire burning inside me and wait till the next day in order to extinguish the fire.
I wanted to text him and describe to him about my feelings but did not have words to do justice. My head was reeling with passion and my palate was burning because of the strong shots of Tequila. It took liters of water to flush out the intoxicating effect of the alcohol from my system. But how was I supposed to stay normal after what Adi had done to me? All I could remember about the previous night was the strong salty kiss which lingered in my senses throughout.
Every time I met him I felt a strong sense of attraction towards him. I was slowly able to gain confidence in him and felt that getting engaged to him was not a bad choice at all. The long distance courtship had taught us trust more than love. Love, was something we were discovering throughout.
The next morning I did not wake up with a headache but instead wasn’t able to talk. My throat had a severe congestion and my voice had become hoarse. I texted Adi about my condition and he reached immediately to take me to the doctor. The doctor advised me to completely rest my voice for the next three days.
"How am I supposed to select our marriage ring this way?" I wrote on a chit and showed it to Adi.
"Don’t worry, I can do the talking. You write to me in a piece of paper as you did now," he said handing over a small note pad to me.
Immediately after consulting the doctor we went hunting for our wedding rings. Since, we were travelling together from the same destination Adi took me on his bike. It was one of my firsts again. The evening breeze was just perfect to go on a bike ride. I sat as a pillion holding him tight and all those romantic songs kept playing in my mind. I couldn’t speak, so every time he wanted to know if I was doing well he would look at the rear view mirror and ask, "Are you feeling alright?"
"I would tilt my head to the side so that half of my face could be seen in the mirror and give him a smile with thumbs up."
The weather in Bangalore was supposed to be equally unpredictable, just as the traffic on the roads. We were about to reach the jewellery shop when out of nowhere dark cloud hovered above us and the weather was indicating towards a thundershower. To make matters worse, we were stuck in a traffic jam which could easily take about twenty minutes to clear. As expected, within minutes is started drizzling and by the time we crossed the signal it was a heavy downpour. We were completely drenched. Not knowing what to do I slid even closer to Adi and held him tight. I also felt slight shivers in my body.
"Dia I am going to park the bike here. We can wait there till it stops raining," Adi said pointing at a petty tea shop where there was enough space for the two of us to stand. I was in desperately in need of something warm. A hot ginger tea that we had in that shop was all it took to open up my senses and give my throat some warmth and relief. The combination of heavy rain and ginger tea has always worked wondered to soothe the throat. I couldn’t talk but that day I learnt the art of communicating with Adi through my eyes. Probably he understood how much I admired him for the care and concern that he was showing for me. Ginger works perfectly in soothing a troubled throat. Despite all the throat pain and the doctor’s advice not to talk, I took the courage to whisper in Adi’s ears, ‘I love you.’ Before he could scold me for talking I sealed the irritation with a peck on his cheek.
We couldn’t get our rings that day but because we were drenched completely and I was more prone to fall sick because of the existing infection, Adi took me shopping and also promised to take me to his house in the evening. "I hope you are feeling better after having tea," he asked rubbing my forehead and caressing my wet hair. After asking me to rest for a while he vanished into the kitchen. His friends had gone out for a movie so I felt even more comfortable in lying on the sofa and slipping into a short nap. I was woken up by Adi with a bowl of pongal and chutney.
"You made this?" I exclaimed in my hoarse voice forgetting that I wasn’t supposed to talk. I saw a hint of anger on his face but it faded soon seeing me happy. I was having the home made pongal after almost months and I wonder how Adi knew exactly about that. The softness of the rice and dal with a hint of pepper and a dollop of ghee on top made me feel even better. My nose was watering, my throat was burning from inside because of the ginger and pepper in it but it had served the purpose. I was slowly being relieved of my throat pain. My eyes almost welled with tears as I was finishing the pongal. I had not only found a future partner in Adi but I had also found my parents in him.
The trail of thoughts that were going through my mind were suddenly disturbed. You want some more of this? Adi asked feeding me and our little one in the making a spoon of chocolate brownie with ice cream. We were at the same CCD at 1:00 AM, where we had our first date. But this time we were sharing a sizzling brownie with ice cream, thanks to the midnight cravings. A spoonful of hot chocolate over soft and warm brownies with vanilla ice-cream was enough to make me fall in love with Adi all over again.