You seem troubled. Is everything alright?
Huh? Ya…yes all’s well…
HI! I’m Gopal. What’s your name?
You’re saying something to me, sir?
I said I’m Gopal. What is your name?
Kabir. I’m Kabir Sanyal.
Oh! Like in “Bond, James Bond”.
NO! I aaa… I didn’t mean to…
That’s fine. I was just playing around.
Oh! Sorry, but I really don’t feel like talking much now.
That’s OK. You know, at times it’s better to let your tears flow. They only bring you more pain when restrained. We human beings are such a confused lot. Always so bothered by others’ opinion of us. Always trying to tame our emotions, in front of the people we know, in front of strangers, in our offices and homes. Always scared of the judgments people could pass on. You know what? I feel, the bathroom at our houses are the only places left where no one gets to judge us.
Chuckles spring out…
No! I’m serious on this one. We let our tears flow freely standing in front of the mirror in the bathroom. We laugh, we cry, and we scream trying to be ourselves in front of these mirrors. And, these mirrors, they know all our deepest secrets. They know how deep we’re hurt, how excited we have been, and even, how sometimes we’ve totally been overwhelmed by happiness. And yet, they never share a word with others. You see, strangers are just like these mirrors. And, sometimes, it really helps to open up in front of them. You’d feel relieved of all your pain.
No sir, it’s nothing of that sort. I’m really ok. Just a bit tired, that’s it.
Oh! So, I suppose it’s your hobby to cry while commuting?
Ok, you, caught me there…
Chuckles again as a few tears roll down the cheek of Kabir
See, I told you, strangers sometime can make things happen to you.
And I could completely agree to that now.
You know, my wife these days stays a lot busy with herself, which is fine by the way. This keeps us off the usual quarrels. Even the kids are all grown up and have left to lead their own lives. I have all the time in the world. See, Kabir, I’m way too old now and being old means you have a fair share of all the good and bad experiences that life comes packed with. But, it’s all up to you whether to share your worries and take a bit from my experience. So, just enjoy the ride.
Well… Umm. Actually, there is something that I wanted to ask.
There you go champ… Just shoot!
Umm, how did you feel when you learned that you were about to get married?
Honestly, I was scared to death. Fati padi thi meri.
But why would you want to know that?
Umm, because, I’ve recently come across a similar situation and I am confused. Actually, I feel worse than confusion, I feel like I’ve been stranded.
Oh, now I understand. You see, back in our days, marriages were very different. The bride and the groom barely ever interacted before getting married, let alone getting to know each other. Ours was a completely different scenario, however. Shobha, my wife, was the daughter of my father’s colleague and we’d known each other since childhood. In fact, we used to be pretty good friends. And yet when I thought of asking her to marry me, I got the worst goosebumps ever.
Oh! You guys had a love marriage? That must be great.
It was far more than great, it was totally awesome.
But what about your parents? How did you convince them?
Oh, that was the tricky part. In the beginning, they were all agitated and scared, all at the same time, wondering about the whatnots of the society. But with a little convincing over three or so months, they finally agreed. After all, they knew exactly who we were and how happy we could be stuck together with each other for life.
Wow! That sounds so good. Even after all the trials and tribulations, you guys still made it beautifully to the end.
What’s your story champ?
Me, well, there’s nothing but confusion about me. I met Neetika during my college days. You see, it was more of a friendship that we shared for well over six years. And there’s literally nothing that we don’t know about each other. We’ve had a great time together and have been there for each other in our darkest hours.
So, what’s the matter with you two now?
Well, I’ve been in a relationship with Soumya for about a year and have recently broken up. Things were not exactly working out between us anymore.
Wooo… wait wait wait. Who’s Soumya now?
See, that’s the confusion. I have been into different relationships, all of which ended in a mess. And the reason for my breakups has mostly been me trying to compare my partners to Neetika. This is exactly what happened to Neetika’s relationships as well.
Are you telling me that you guys have been in love with each other even without realizing it?
I believe that might have been the case so far. Nonetheless, this time when I broke up with Soumya, Neetika was there to console me yet again. And what she did shook the very ground beneath me. She literally asked me to get into a relationship with her. She said “This cannot continue forever. How many more relationships do we need to get into before we realize that there is literally no better companions for us than one another? You know, I totally think we should get into a relationship. And this time make it a permanent one. Would you like to marry me?”
That’s a courageous step. I don’t know even a single girl so far who’d dare express her feeling so loud and perfect. So, did you give her a reply?
Yes, I did. I said I wasn’t ready to take up such a big decision so soon. I said that I’m confused and need more time.
Oh, poor girl! You must have upset her badly. But, what’s there to be confused about?
Don’t you see? We’ve been friends for so long, I can’t even begin to think how we’re going to do in a relationship, let alone marriage. And, what if things don’t work out well? I could lose my best friend forever.
You never know that until you give it a shot. Don’t you have feelings for her?
Of course, I do. I feel for her, even more, knowing that she does the same for me. And I’m too excited about this. But, I’m scared as well. You know what, I’m in a complete emotional wreck and definitely confused. I just think I’m not prepared.
I was 26 when I proposed to Shobha for marriage. Fashionably late if you consider our time. And even when our families agreed and other things settled down, I was still thinking if only I had maybe two more years, things could have been better for me. I could have been more prepared. But, beta, life happens exactly like this. It’s a complete mess, a confusion if you don’t arrive at a decision. Nothing ever happens at the right time. You know what, take it from an ugly experienced old man, even after five more years, you’d still be as confused as you are today.
You make it sound so simple. Ummm… I don’t know what to do. I’m worried that I might not even be a good husband.
You see, life’s just like riding the Delhi Metro in rush hours. We always tend to leave the train with all the crowd, thinking that the next one would have more space for us to fit in. But, no matter how long we wait, things don’t happen that way. So, just get on whichever train you could find. You’ll get enough space for yourself. You always do. The more we want to control our lives, the more life mocks us. And that’s exactly how things are meant to be. We can only fool ourselves pretending to act as if we could ever control the outcomes of our lives. But that never happens.
So, do you and your years of experience have any suggestions?
Indeed, they do. It’s just us who make up most of our troubles thinking about them. Overreacting to the beautiful surprises and imagining how bad things could turn up to be will only ruin your magic moments. And mind you, there are only a few magic moments reserved for us all. So, just let go of your control and prepare for the wonderful surprises that await. Celebrate them, embrace them and then you’ll realize how beautiful life can be. You know, as a married couple, we’ve had a lot of bad days, a lot of fights, and a lot of disagreements. We still do. But they all have only added to the love we share for each other, the respect we have for one another. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, took a lot of bad decisions but deciding to marry Shobha was definitely one of the best things I ever did.
The cab stopped as I notified Kabir that we’ve arrived at his destination.
Let go of your worries beta and rejoice what life has to offer you next. The way you listened to all my babble, I’m pretty sure that you’ll make a great husband. Go and say yes to Neetika, Kabir. Don’t let your magic moment pass.
I’ll call her right away. Thank you, sir. You were right after all, ‘strangers do sometime make things happen to us.”
Hahaha… Take care beta. And have a pleasant life.
Kabir took off as we started moving towards Mr. Iyyer’s destination.
Oh, my name is Ayush by the way and I am a cabbie. I’ve known Mr. Iyyer for over 10 years now and I often drop him at Hauz Khas. He owns a restaurant there and he’s undoubtedly one of the best people you can cross paths with. He doesn’t always tell the truth though. Like, for instance, when he said to Kabir that his wife stays busy with herself, he didn’t mention the fact that she’s been dead for over three years. Nevertheless, I haven’t seen one single soul riding alongside him in my cab who did not leave with a full smile carved on their face.