She Was A Muslim, He Was Sikh So The End Of Their Love Story Had Been Written
In the small picturesque town of Jubbal in Himachal Pradesh, winter had just started to set in. The roads were hemmed by the orange, red and yellow leaves of the Chinar trees planted. She had just arrived at work. Settling in, having her morning tea and organizing her to do list. Her phone pinged. It was a message from an old acquaintance just saying a muted "hello". She responded with an equally absent-minded "hi".
That’s the beauty of modern day communication. Your fingers just tap away without so much thought to why you may be reaching out to someone. It's like sitting in a crowded theatre and acknowledging someone with a nod while you carry on sitting in that crowded theatre. The day progressed- many letters were written that day, small gossip sessions with fellow teachers, two inconclusive meetings, a nice chat with the students, a small 5-minute call to mom, a nice selfie, and a few laughs later the day was over.
She was a normal 35 year old facing and surviving life as it came to her. At least that’s what she thought. Her personal life goals and what she wanted for herself were entirely different from what was expected of her. She had to be attached, roped, caged, made to settle down with kids and a nice family. The pressure was overbearing at times but she lived on while not actively searching for a husband. She just wanted for Love to come to her, find her and free her. Yet she did not understand how such a profound emotion can exist in a lock-down forced by the society.
That was her life and the life of many other women her age living in that part of the world. When she was younger and had no care for what the world thinks, she had been her true self. All but for the dreadful warnings of her mom “What will people say”.Share this quote
She had loved and lost. She had moved on and she still loved every one who had ever been a part of her life. She loved many different variants of the opposite sex- the funny artist who was a player, the older mature intellectual man, the depressed soul whom she wanted to rescue, the overly fake and pretentious ones, the regular soldier. Sigh. And she had been pursued too- spoiled, loved, sought, remembered, respected by many. Many that she could not love back but never deceived. She never lied about her feelings.
She had been happy, she had been depressed, really sick and really brave.Share this quote
That night while going to bed she received another text message from the old acquaintance. That nod in the crowded theatre now became a conversation. A conversation that threw her back and reminded her of what life was like when she was a small town girl in a foreign land with big dreams in her eyes; when she didn’t try hard to look desirable; When all in her makeup bag was only lipstick and powder. Her hazel eyes shone bright and her unruly curly hair were her biggest beauty dilemma. This was back when she believed in herself and the world had given her every opportunity to shine and she did.
Life was unpredictable. She had a limited vision of how to spend her evenings. A lot of men used to ask her one question that used to perplex her. "So what do you do in the evenings?" And her reply was always, "I do laundry, cook, clean or read, Why do u ask?"Share this quote
She was not introduced to the world of the after-work oblivion of sheesha, drinks or raving to spend a good life. She was absolutely content with her evening full of chores. It was then, back then in those moments of she being at her younger best that she first saw him. He was young, full of ambition and very much like her. They would try to have awkward conversations but she knew all along that he fancied her. He was just starting out and wanted to become a global sensation.
She didn’t believe he could become one but she was seduced by the way he looked at her. He saw her occasionally visiting the same premises for her meetings in a black suit with white collared shirt. The ice broke when on a casual evening she sang and he melted. They were together, without much thought to their inter-faith status. He was a Punjabi sikh and she was a Himachali Muslim. Both took absolute pride in their roots and neither of them would give up anything. Life was just starting out for them. And in the beginning of their journeys to become successful grownups, it had found two reckless teenagers who were inseparable for 25 days.
Those 25 days of love, laughter, passion, lust and music went through their lives like a holiday on a Caribbean island. He left, she left, and it left them both with nothing but a small secret they knew they would keep close to their heart.Share this quote
She dozed off to sleep thinking about how stupid she was back when she was young. He was here. He was in Himachal Pradesh, and he wanted to meet her. Her Punjabi munda was in town and as she learnt it, a war started within herself. She was no longer the reckless woman that she once was, and although she could laugh at her stupid younger self, how could she allowed herself to repeat a mistake that did not suit her new mature adult self- who, like her mother, had started caring a lot to "what will people say?" and added to it was "what will God think of me?”.
Yes, she had found a new, very judgmental God within her faith and she had started caring a lot about revealing her arms in public and covering her head at work.Share this quote
How could she commit the mistakes that only youth is entitled to? How could she be so morally corrupt to even let a thought like this enter her grown-up thoughts? Yet she was curious and wanted to seek the buried dead wish, in that grave that laid in the darkest corner of her heart. The damage was done. The crack had started to break that stone that composed of expectations, reality, practicality, logic of life. All this made her heart heavy. She started looking in the mirror again.
Although in her head she was never meeting him, in her heart she played the scenario of standing in front of him a thousand times a day. And she started worrying again of how her hair would look or her wrinkles under her eyes would appear. Her hazel eyes were now as dull as her heart. How could she be exposed to a man in such a mess? It's better to leave him with the memory of my younger self, she decided. But he pursued on. That was what he was always good at. He had found her, and he would not let go. She had been proven wrong. He was rising and shining bright. Men and women loved him in his world. Thousands followed him and danced to his tunes. He was becoming bigger and better with each passing day. His status unnerved her.
They had both started together and he had been much more successful than her. She felt inferior. The supremacy with which she had commanded her short stint with him 10 years ago, the confidence with which she had advised him on how to conduct himself was all gone.
She was a plain Jane and he was a super star. She didn’t know if she would be able to see the disappointment in his eyes after witnessing what she had become. And then what was the point? He was committed and she was too. She woke up that day and knew she was going to meet him. That evening with a bunch of friends to fall back on, she brought with her all the acting talent in the world to look confident and complete. She was insecure and full of complexes, yet she wanted to appear confident and humourous. He was there and it was awkward.
When two people meet it's never the slow motion run towards each other, although she wished it was like that. Their longing to hug each other or just be themselves was suppressed by the many onlookers who could not understand why old friends are meeting and not speaking much to each other. Once again he realized he can't just wait around and he whisked her away from greetings, formality, and courtesy nods to a place where he could be her Punjabi munda and she could be her bossy Paharan. The next three days were like another Caribbean holiday. They fought a little, they laughed a lot, they talked and talked, they were judged by others for being so reckless, they lied to their worlds, they drank loads of coffee to avoid sleeping and to be able to stay awake for those three days.
Sleeping was a waste of their time. They sang for each other and cried a little, married each other in mock Sikh and Muslim ceremonies. They let themselves passionately embrace, completely submitting to the desires they had for each other. They were both surprised to know they longed for each other to the level of insanity that threw modern day ethics out of the window and reduced them to characters of old folklores, who lost their lives only to be with the ones that they desired. She felt as if she was touched by God. It was confusing and liberating at the same time. She felt that God had intended their union. She kept wondering if this was Devil's Paradise that she was enjoying and if she had sold her soul to him. Yet she could not deny the divine serenity of his arms around her, his kisses on her body and his fixated gaze upon her. She just watched him breathe heavily as the chain in his neck caressed her chest.
She would watch him very closely, as if she would imprint those visuals to memory forever. She watched him in awe as he would gaze at her. She refused to blink, for she never wanted to miss a moment spent around him. She was a living woman wrapped in a white coffin and he was slowly and gradually unwrapping her fold by fold. She was not being touched by a man who did want to touch her because he could not sustain his carnal desire.
There is nothing more demeaning to a woman than that. He touched her with the desire to only touch Her, to only explore Her, to only know Her. He made her feel wanted, and beautiful, and alive! He made her believe in herself. That’s art.Share this quote
That requires a man who has mastered the art of expressing himself- it shows in the way he dresses up, walks, talks, and looks at you. Like a painter who knows what strokes would create what impact on the canvas on your skin or soul. This phase had a dark shade with hues of red. It was a compact, but saturated with experience.
It was not the lust to see each other in the open, stark naked. It was about hiding in a small corner, exploring and trying to mix like liquids, become homogeneous with the other. Trying to wear the other's skin. He was a Sikh and although her ancestors were too, a 100 generations ago they were separated by a Kalma that one of her ancestors had been blessed to recite. Their destiny was written 800 years ago. They were separated years before they had even met. As they came to the cross road that would separate them again, the modern day instinct to share information online and stay in touch caught them both with their gadgets in their hands. He paused. She looked at him and he said, "This is it. This is where Heer drinks the poison and Ranjha is killed. This is where Sassi is lost in the desert and where Sohni realizes that she is cheated. Let’s not stay in touch, it will ruin us for our worlds." She could not agree more.
On her way back she took her engagement ring off and wore it in the middle finger.Share this quote