>> Tuesday, February 1, 2011
It was the warmest campus story those days. He was handsome and always wore a beard, perfectly trimmed and we used to call him ‘the zodiac man”. There was an advertisement of the zodiac apparels, featuring a handsome bearded man, and he looked similar. No wonder so many girls were after him. He belonged to a lower caste, which was the only difference. Annie was the best student in her batch and they had met during their clinical rotations. Soon, it became the sensational romance of the campus. They were often seen together, at the coffee house, at the garden in front of the college, which would be deserted by evenings, and always at the hospital wards. At evenings only the lovers used to go to the darkened corners of the garden. "Lover's corner", we used to say. And the campus was so full of lovers those days.
Her parents were senior professors in Medical College. Because they were working in another college, it took some time for them to gather the news. By the time they knew, the lovers were inseparable. Her father was so unpopular among students because of his tough and arrogant attitude to students. He was equally tough with his children. He tried all his tactics with the girl and everything failed. And one fine morning, the campus was thrilled to hear the news that the lovers got the marriage registered in a court.
Her father simply sent her out of his home. He refused to accept Kumar as his son in law and had no hesitation to say that on his face. He publicly declared that she was no longer his daughter. Annie was my good friend and would confide in me with all her problems. She would tell me, Kumar could not take all problems as he was very sensitive.
Both of them were good at studies and completed their course and got direct admission to the PG classes. The professor tried to harass them at every opportunity, especially during exams, by using his influence among the faculty.
They survived all the ordeals and remained inseparable. Everyone knew Kumar was obsessed with her and would never leave her for a minute. It was as if he had nothing else in his life. She was everything for him. Both joined the teaching faculty after studies. Somewhere along the time, they had a son and then, I lost touch of them. We were working in different parts of the world.
It was after ten years that I got a call from Annie. She got the number from my wife and called me when I was in Dubai.
I guessed something must be wrong, from the time I got her call. Her voice was dull and she was no more the talkative and cheerful Annie. She said she wanted to come to Dubai, and wanted me to find a job for her. I asked about Kumar and she was not very enthusiastic. By the time I got her papers, she already had received an offer of employment from the ministry. It looked as if she was frantically trying to come out.
She would come to visit me when she was not on call and slowly I got her story in bits and pieces. She said she could no longer live with Kumar, even when it came to losing custody of her child. Reasons were simple. He was suffocating her with his love. She couldn’t go out anywhere, or spend time with some friends and was answerable to each and everything. There was no breathing space. It was embarrassing to see him waiting outside if she would be attending some conferences or meetings. He would even take time from work and come out, as if she were a child. She just wanted to breathe free. In her words “to live normal”
I just couldn’t make heads or tails out of it. Too much love and attention! That was the first time I was hearing such a story. I didn’t ask her anything more and just listened to what all she said. I expected some more stories, but nothing came out. I honestly do not know if there was something more to it.
Once when we were sitting at the edge of a pool at Safa Park, she filled the palm of her hand with some water and held it before me. “You see this water carefully contained on my hand? It symbolizes Love. As long as you keep your hand gently open and allow it to remain there, it will always be there. If you attempt to close your fingers round it and try to posses it, it will spill through the first cracks it finds”
That was a statement I would never forget. This is the greatest mistake that people do when they meet love. They try to posses, own, demand, and expect… and just like the water spilling out of your hand, love will retrieve from you. For love is meant to be free, you cannot change its nature. If there are people you love, allow them to be free beings. Even the greatest of love would become boring, if there is nothing else in the background.
Love is a bumpy road.