It is 10 PM at night. Rima, 23 years old, is in her night suit, hair in braids, sitting in front of her computer. Her study table on the left is stacked with books, note books, and stationary.
Rima is flipping through her books even as she is waiting for her boyfriend to come online for their weekly chat.
‘Tak Tak, she hears the familiar sound of her boyfriend’s chat messenger beeping. This sound always makes her heart skip a beat.
The much-in-love girl is talking to her boyfriend in the US. Rima’s life always revolved around books. She had very little interactions outside her close circle.
Falling in love with Rishi was the only time she broke barriers.
They met on a matrimony site. The moment she saw him, she felt he was the ‘one’. His charming smile, aquiline nose, and a deep cleft in chin floored her totally. She excitedly typed a note to him hoping he would respond. He did!
The relationship has been going for 4 years now and Rima’s parents are pressing for a commitment.
Rima furiously types into her computer pad.She is telling her boyfriend that it’s time they take a decision on their relationship. In between, she minimizes her chat window, trying to reply to a mail from her sister in the US.
Rima’s heart makes a thud sound every time the yahoo messenger lights up in yellow with a new message. She was desperately looking for a ‘yes’ that day.
Rishi: “Rima, even I want the relationship to work. But Ma is asking me to hold off from making any commitment right now. My mother has raised me all by herself, and it is her dream that we move to a bigger home.”
Rishi’s mother Alaka Das had been widowed very early. Along with raising Rishi single-handedly, she had a job in a local college and her household to manage. The petite lady dressed in simple cotton sarees was always in a rush and had no time for petty talks. She was looked upon as a no-nonsense lady, much respected among colleagues and relatives.
Rima: “Of Course Rishi, you must fulfil your mother’s dream. I will help you fulfil her dream once we get married. My final exams are two months away and soon I will start working.”
Rima is a very positive person. On the threshold of work life, she feels everything can be won by positivity and determination. Rishi on the other hand, was soft spoken and well-read but had led a very sheltered life. All through his growing years, his mother made him focus only on studies. After all, he had to be his mother’s sole support once she retired. Girls were a taboo topic with his mother. The soul mate-like connection with Rima was irresistible and he fell in love with her.
This is the third time in six months Rima has brought up the topic of marriage with Rishi. Though the families knew each other, and there was no real impediment to the match, Rishi is reluctant to commit despite having met her family formally.
Rishi: “Ma is much occupied with building our new house. I don’t think any other thought occupies her mind right now”, Rishi wrote.
Rima: “Do not understand this Rishi. Your Ma has met me. As you said, she has not objected to our match. Then why this reluctance for a formal engagement. ? I am not saying that we marry right away. My parents are after me to settle down and I need a ‘word’ from you Rishi.”
Rishi: Rima, I will speak to Ma again.
A few days later
“My son will only listen to me. I am not allowing any commitment of marriage right now.” Rishi’s mother Mrs. Alaka slams the phone down on Rima’s mother.
Rima’s mother falls silent.
A few days later Rishi and Rima talk on the phone.
“Rishi, tell me one last time, why can’t we commit if our love is true?” At least we can make an official announcement”.
Rishi listens to her silently without speaking a word.
Some more months pass and the lovers are chatting on the messenger. One day, after a fight over the ‘commitment’ issue Rima asks Rishi for marriage one last time.
Rima: “Please tell me Rishi, if it is a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.“
On reading the answer, Rima logs out of the messenger.
It dawns on Rima that Rishi’s mother is not ready to take their alliance seriously. Perhaps because she feels there would be better options once Rishi moves to a managerial position. Rima can only guess.
With her head down, Rima focuses on the food in her plate. Her hands shake a bit as she digs into the Manchurian balls in her favourite restaurant. Her parents seated on either side are oblivious of her feelings. Sporadically, there are clattering sounds of the cutlery as everyone digs into their food with spoons and passes the bowls around.
Rima’s heart aches for Rishi but time moves on…
15 years later…
Rima is working on her computer. She is smartly dressed in a plain cotton blue saree, teemed with a red high neck blouse, hair tied in a high ponytail. Her brown neckpiece added to the minimalist look. There always was a certain goodness about Rima that reflected in her external appearance. Now in her late-thirties her experiences have added to her wisdom. She is one attractive lady now. She has many bookings from clients today. There is a married girl seeking her help.
It was an arranged marriage. Divya was chosen by the boy’s family. The boy is a reluctant participant in this ‘arranged ‘marriage. Divya feels he is not putting any efforts to make the marriage ‘exciting’. The relationship is slowly breaking down within two months of marriage. Rima suggests Divya gets her husband to join for an online session with Rima, alone.
It was business as usual for Rima who specializes as a relationship counsellor. She switches on her computer and logs in to the video conferencing system. Time suddenly stops for Rima. This face in front of her she knows by heart. He is almost 40 now and has a few grey hairs to prove it. Her eyes meet Rishi’s, a pale version of himself. Their eyes meet as if time has stopped. He gives a blankly courteous smile to her. They video conference.
Rishi clears his throat, and speaks almost nonchalantly.
“It was a quick marriage. Ma wanted me to marry as soon as possible. She wouldn’t hear a no from me. If she was not so forceful, I wouldn’t have even got married”.
Rima asked in a surprised tone, “You married her just because your mother wanted you too?”
Rima takes a deep breath and readies to listen to her client. She can’t help thinking how some people seldom take responsibility for their own actions. Rishi is such a weakling. Rima finally thanks her stars that she has one meaningless person less in her life now
Contributor: Anusmita Dutta
About our Writing Program Student
Anusmita Dutta works as the Content Head in GetAConnect.in. She started her career in the e-learning industry but moved on to writing in the print and the web medium as well. She is also a Spoken English Tutor and a children’s storyteller.