Is this my dream girl?
Looks like I am going to be the opening batsman! So here goes.

With the age lots of memories start fading, but this one stays fresh like spring air.
I was in my final year engineering college and our last semester had just started. The final project was the main focus along with couple of other courses. The load of the classes was thin as most of the project work needed to be done in our own time.

I, along with one of my “Punjabi” pal, made plans to visit “Vaishno Devi” near Katra in Jammu. Since the plan was made impromptu, it was impossible to get any train ticket, the best and cheapest mode of transport. The second best option was a bus. So, we went in the evening to Paharganj in Delhi where the buses originated. It was a Friday and it seemed kind of busy season. People also make reservations in advance to travel by these buses. We were kind of last minute boarders so only could secure the last berth seats. If you have travelled by bus, you may know how bumpy those are back there; you probably would say that the camel ride is milder. We left Delhi at around 9:30pm.

On the way the bus stopped somewhere in the night. We were too tired to eat anything in the night so kept napping in the small blanket we carried with us. I woke up once when bus suddenly made a sharp turn. I peeked outside and could not see anything. It was pitch-dark. The only thing you could see was the faint headlights of the bus, barely illuminating a short distance in front. Suddenly, the thoughts came to mind about the valleys and ditches on the way, the speed of bus which was high according to Indian directives and the state of the driver. Most of them guzzle a few pegs before embarking on the journey. The crammed space, tiredness and bouncy ride did not leave much to fear about. When I woke up we had reached Katra.

It was the month of February and the air was still briskly cool. We went into a nearby dharamshala like hotel, took bath and got ready. There were abundant eating places. You would find stuffed “parathas” everywhere. These are not any kind, but really big ones, fried in desi ghee. If my doctor sees them, he would immediately get a heart attack. We ate couple of “Aaloo” ones and started thinking about the journey ahead. The shrine, called “Bhawan”, is about thirteen kilometers from this point along the hilly terrain. It takes about 5-6 hours to reach by foot. Now-a-days, you can travel by a helicopter within 10 minutes, but there was no service back then. Even if there was, we would not be able to cuff up that kind of money.

As you may expect from a young adult, we were not the ardent devotees or fans. But, the sheer enthusiasm of the visiting people and the environment makes it nothing short of meditation. I love hills and mountains. We heard from people that if you take the journey bare-foot, it is more fruitful and the wishes you have are better heard. So we decided to pack our shoes in the bag and embark without them. What do you think I had on my mind? A new career prospect? Yes, that was, but on forefront of the list was to get a girl of my dream. Probably that was the effect of the movie recently released back then, “Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak” and the song “Papa Kehte Hain”. I am no Amir Khan but who can control the thoughts. In the college, where there was a drought of girls because of engineering discipline, it was impossible to find one. It was the most raved topic in the hostel about who has got the best girl, or for that matter, any girl. And, the ones who did not have any could only dream about.

It felt really cold in the feet for first few minutes and I guess our feet went numb afterwards. There is a paved trail that leads to the hill-top. But, being born with the adventurous nature, we took less commonly traveled paths, some were short-cuts but steeper. We kept going through narrow dirt trails, some of them passing through dense vegetation. On the way we came across “Banganga” river. It was almost afternoon by this time and sun was shining bright as it was a clear day. We didn’t feel cold at all with all that walking. We stopped here for a little while and enjoyed the nature and sound of river. It really felt divine. The water level in the river was no higher than a foot so we crossed through it. The water was warmer than our feet so it felt pleasurable. It was extremely clean that you could see the bottom. The rocks in and around were very smooth and mostly sandy white.

After walking some more, we started feeling hungry again so we headed towards the paved trail. On the way to the hill-top, there are small “dhaba” like eating places who serve “Paneer Pakora”. So we snacked on them. I feel those were the best ones I have ever tasted, may be because of all that walking and cold weather. We also bought some nuts to help us along for later and started again. By the time we reached the “Bhawan”, it was almost evening. There was a big queue to visit the shrine so we decided to sleep and go in the early hours for “Darshan”. There were not a whole lot of arrangements for staying other than you can rent blankets and find a place in the hall to lie down. In the morning, we woke up early. We went to take bath in almost ice-cold water which felt like a torture for a few seconds but felt better later when surroundings started to feel warmer. Also, the devotion of lots of people taking bath there makes you feel coward if you don’t go for it.

We went for “Darshan”. It was about two hours wait in the line. To reach the “Pindis”, the three rocks shaped like heads of goddess “Vaishno Devi”, you have to go through a cave. You have to almost crawl to pass through it. After reaching in front of it you can stand there for few seconds to pray and wish before being pushed out. With eyes closed, I thought about my career ahead. A picture of a girl got painted in front of me with long hair, wide eyes and supple face before the slight push from the people which prompted me to move ahead. Somewhere in my mind it said, will I ever meet a girl like that.

After that we had some food on top, “Aaloo Puri” and “Halwa”. We bought some “Prasad” to carry with us. We put our shoes back on and started the descend down to Katra. We noticed few nicks and cuts on our feet but nothing very painful. We took bus back to Delhi and reached next day. Astonishingly, our feet felt fine and all the pain and swelling was gone.

Next day, I had to work on our project and because we did not spend time over the weekend so had to work through the night. Getting the computers in the lab to work on was so difficult during the day, so I had decided to go early morning. Most of the students become nocturnal during the college days so mornings were the great time to go and work. When I entered the lab, I saw this slender girl, with two long, almost touching her hips, thick hair ponies hanging on both side of her utterly innocent and beautiful face. She asked me with her sweet voice and enormous eyes wide open “Computer chahiye?” I just kept looking and barely could utter yes. I sat in front of the computer and started thinking, is this the same face of my dream girl which came in front of me couple of days ago while at “Vaishno Devi”? It was 8:00am when she left and another lab attendant came in.

I came to know later that some new temporary computer lab attendants were brought in as trainees for six months. Out of them some were beautiful girls. This was like a rain in the desert. This quickly became the talk of the town and some of the folks started associating with them. I was friends with one of the computer lab employee and obtained the schedule of these trainees. I also found out the information and name of this girl. All of them had rotating schedules for three shifts. But she was privileged to be the daughter of a dominant person who had instructed not to give her any night shifts. As far as I can remember, she only worked on two night shifts during her tenure. That night was one of them.

Armed with all the information, I started making rounds to the lab during the hours she was working there. Sitting on the computer, I used to keep looking at her without being noticed. Purposely, I would sometimes jam the paper in the printer so I could call her for help or loosen the monitor wire so she can come and check it. But she was unaware and probably never even noticed me. And, I was so scared to even ask her or tell her anything.

A short while later, the festival of Holi came. I didn’t feel like playing Holi that year instead wrote a letter. Next day, I went early when there was hardly anyone in the lab. I knew this was the second night shift she was working on. I collected all my courage and handed over the letter to her and asked her to read it, and ran out quickly even before she could open it. The letter contained a simple message “Would you like to be my friend?” I was contemplating what would happen when I went in front of her next time. But contrary to my anticipation, she didn’t react or say anything. I went up to her and asked about what she thought. She calmly replied “I don’t become friends with anybody”. She also said, “If you are so daring, why did you not come and ask me directly and not to write anything in the future”. I had no answer and simply got no signal, neither positive nor negative. It’s funny, at that age, how brain interprets no negative signal as a positive step.

After that, we occasionally talked general things but nothing which I would be proud of making the positive impact in my favor. Slowly, the day came when her tenure was coming to an end. I wanted to try again, and bought a small gift for her. When I presented it to her, she refused to accept it stating she does not accept anyone’s gifts. I was heartbroken…

I graduated soon after and started working. Whenever I used to see someone with even a faint resemblance to her, I used to think about her. Her face could not just go away from my memory. After sometime I started my own little company and began providing computer related services. It became a pattern, take bus to the office, work until late, come back home, cook yourself or eat outside and sleep. One day, I started early and I was standing on the bus stop. On the other side of the road, I saw her, standing, waiting for her bus. By the time I realized and could react she took the bus and vanished. I don’t know about how long I sat there thinking about her.

One day, I was sitting in my office, and this girl walks into the office. She wanted to get something printed using DTP. Desk Top Publishing was fancy back then. I was meeting her again almost after two years, in my own office. She was as much surprised to see me as I was to see her. I found out where she worked and what she did. Was it just a coincidence that her work place was in the same area as my office, I thought? She came the next day to take the delivery of the document. This time I didn’t want to do something which was not daring, so I asked her directly if she would like to have a coffee with me. My legs were trembling though. I could sense that she was not comfortable in saying yes but somehow she said that she will try. I told her the restaurant and time and said that I will wait. She was worried about the information reaching her parents. It’s amazing in India how information travelled so fast even without the cell phone, internet and FaceBook.

I anxiously waited in the restaurant, reaching there almost half hour before time. The waiter made several rounds and I kept telling him that I am waiting for someone. I was contemplating if she would come and how long to wait after the time was passed. It’s hard to describe that exhilarating feeling when I saw her come through the restaurant’s door and walking towards where I was sitting.

We continued meeting afterwards over lunches and coffees and talked about myriad of things. I realized how wonderful she was from within. I don’t remember when I expressed my love to her or she did to me, or if we ever conversed it explicitly at all, but the feeling was realized. We got married several months later.

Would you call it a destiny? Yes, I believe if you sincerely wish for something reasonable and you are worthy for it, nature will bring it to you. However, don’t forget that others can also wish for you and you may get them as well  so keep doing good to others.

Can you guess what the date was when I saw her for the first time? Yes, it was February the 14th. I did not know until after several years that this day is celebrated as Valentine’s Day! We don’t formally celebrate it because I think it’s every day that we need to love our partner but this date has a special meaning in my mind.

Happy Valentine’s Day!
Tags:Valentines day



Post a Comment

Trending on this Site now