Perfect love comes with perfect Valentines’ Day destinations.
Just married! How everything, even the bulldog like face of the lawyer, and two or three curs plodding the streets audaciously, looked nice and beautiful. But, to top this new-found, peculiar beauty that he was experiencing all of a sudden, was the lovely face of his wife. Ah! This was seventh heaven for him.
Marrying against everyone’s wishes and settling with Ritu in the vast cosmopolitan city of Mumbai was not, and would never turn out to be easy; but so far hadn’t turned out to be much difficult either. The weather was showing signs of a possible bout of rain, with ominous dark clouds and chilling winds. With a hurried “thank you” and a few pleasantries that a civilized society demanded, the couple, in their brand new car was seen speeding into the ever-crowded streets of the city.
Above all the excitement in Vivek’s heart, there laid the inevitable truth that his life was now prone to a lot of changes and he was in store for surprises that this marriage would bring. He simply couldn’t avoid thinking how suddenly one by one the events had occasioned themselves, and now were trailing, chained together across his memory lane. Thus, thoughts took possession of his mind, and even if the heavy traffic on the roads demanded his complete attention, he got himself preoccupied with the happenings of a recent past till that very day, when he had finally transcended from a boyfriend to a husband.
His friends had not quite believed him when one day he had confided in them that it was a love at first sight with Ritu, more or less because she wasn’t the type boys would goggle at, with her short hair, simple looks and straightforward attitude; an air of discipline was always around her, something that exactly suited a school girl. Nonetheless, they had supported him in his romantic endeavor – he was successful at striking a friendship with her and from there their romance had flourished well until they had finished college.
Having been lucky have been granted placements, although in different sectors and institutions – Vivek as a travelling journalist and Ritu as a reporter in a TV News Channel, everything was running quite happy and smooth; they had little difficulty in maintaining a distant relationship. Five years went by and it was that time when family starts pressurizing about settling and starting a family. So, gradually in another year, both their families came to know about the existence of the other person in their lives, but that was when things started turning out bitter, because neither his nor Ritu’s family agreed to the marriage.
By this time Vivek had quit travelling and settled comfortably in Mumbai, and three days ago he had purchased the car that he was now driving. Actually, purchase of the car and a pact with a certain lawyer for a court marriage had been almost simultaneous, and this morning the pact had come off successful. And Ritu, who had been staying in a hostel all along after college in Mumbai itself, was going to find a new home. Her feelings of excitement, love for Vivek, and a little apprehension were all intermingled too. Neither of them spoke throughout the journey from the court to Vivek’s flat.
Neither of them had told their parents too about this act. It would have to be done soon today and they would have to face the music – there was simply no other alternative. But once that was over, they could enjoy a few happily married days…
He hadn’t imagined that a sarong and fluttery sun-hat would look so beautifully fitting on the petite Ritu. It was going to be great fun with their three day stay at Pattaya Beach, Thailand. Next, they would be visiting some more amazing Valentines’ day destinations, celebrating their honeymoon, now that already a month of their marriage was coming to an end, and love was in the air with the upcoming Valentines’ week.
The travelling experiences of Vivek had helped him choose some of the best places around the world, which would both strengthen their bond and show his bride how much she meant to him.
He couldn’t help feeling happy whenever he remembered how the stunning surprise gift of the honeymoon package had resulted in ecstatic happiness and he had been greeted with a tight hug. That had been after a fortnight of their marriage, when finally the family broils had settled down, and everyone from both sides had more or less accepted the fact. To celebrate this easing tension, as well as their marriage, Vivek had devised this wonderful idea.
With a farewell to the sands of Pattaya, they welcomed the sands of Greece, its mystic atmosphere, and eagerly waited for a view of the mesmerizing sunrise in the Santorini Islands, a haven for lovers. Their next destinations were towards the west, in the US. The joyous and flirty ambience of chocolates, champagne, canoodling penguins and lovely beaches in San Francisco, California transformed into the cobblestone streets, moody Spanish moss and Southern charm in Savannah, Georgia. Judging the expressions and moods of his wife, he could easily say that she was immensely enjoying the trip, and her happy face evoked in him a double happiness, resulting from her company and the beauty of the places, although he had already had had a taste of them earlier in his life.
After the wild and unique Savannah, the couple shouted a “hello” to New York City in New York, one of the most glamorous and exciting places to be, with the sophisticated SoHo, adventurous downtown Manhattan, Central Park and the High Line, the trip was downright amazing. And this was where they celebrated their first Valentines’ Day as husband and wife.
Unfortunate that they were running close towards the end of their vacation-cum-honeymoon, they could not see more of the country or more of any other mesmerizing places, but with a happy sigh left the New York City Airport for their second last destination – San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is said that the beaches of San Juan in winter are a perfect place to kick-start your romance in the historic city apt for strolling, lounging and club-hopping at night.
It was all a bit strange though; because even if Vivek could vividly visualize their holidays, the places, his beautiful wife and the quality time that they were spending together, he could hardly remember anything of their journeys from one place to another. It was more like the playing of a film for him, too fast, when the background scenery changes from place to place, with the hero and heroine dancing to a romantic song on the foreground. Weird it was, but he let the peculiar feeling go, and focused his mind on their trips.
And finally they took leave of the West and the journey towards the East ended in the islands of Maldives, their last holiday destination, marking the end of an awesome trip. The calm waters and lazy atmosphere of the beaches, suitable for relaxation, helped to get them prepared for a journey back to their country, back home, and of course back to their respective work, and no need to mention – a visit to their families.
At that thought, a little uneasiness crept into Vivek, for the brief carefree days were nearly gone and reluctantly they would have to plunge into the monotonous life again. But at present he was happy to plunge into the azure ocean.
The excitement in her family after she had gotten a job in Mumbai, gradually through the course of years changed into a nagging tension for Ritu, resulting in several cold feuds with her family, all because she refused to marry anybody else, other than Vivek. The situation had worsened in the past few days, after she had celebrated her twenty eighth birthday. And it was not only her family, but also Vivek’s who were grudging their marriage. They simply couldn’t understand where the problem was. Both of them were well-off, their families were well-off and if they could guarantee a good future with each other, then why get denied? Just because of the difference in their cultural backgrounds, where she belonged to Gujarat and he was a Delhi-based boy? Oh, that was altogether absurd!
When none of the families seemed to see reason, or even try to understand the perspectives, what could they do; no logical solution seemed to appear. It had been almost a year that they were spending their days uneasily, which was hampering their personal as well as professional lives. Now that Vivek had settled in Mumbai, something needed to be done soon; otherwise she felt that this tension would turn out to be a depression for her. The situation couldn’t be avoided anymore, she couldn’t avoid the phone calls from her parents anymore, who even had proposed to come down to Mumbai in a few days to discuss the matter and couldn’t be talked out of it. So, before they arrived and tried to handle the situation in their own way, possibly take her away and marry her off to somebody else, she had to do something quick. But what could she do?
The only answer that was framed in her mind to all her questions was a single word – elope.
Though it wasn’t a very sensible thing to do, but once done, it would sort things out, although after heavy complications. But, no other way out, this was worth a try. This was of course not the first time that this thought had crossed hers or Vivek’s mind; in fact, they had discussed it several times before, but not being an ideal thing to do, they had put it off, always hoping that there would come one fine day when at least one of their families would agree to their getting married.
But now, running out of time as they were, she would urge Vivek to take quick steps and wait no more. And she would do it tomorrow, on Valentines’ Day, and would also gift him something to make the occasion special. After all, she was sure that he would agree and if so it would be their last Valentines’ Day as boyfriend and girlfriend. The thought brought a grin on her face, but at the same time she heard the clock in the hall chime midnight. Time to sleep. Tomorrow was going to be a very busy day, perhaps for both of them.
Vivek in the middle of enjoying a drowse on his airplane seat beside Ritu, on their retuen journey from Maldives to Mumbai, was rudely awaken by somebody who had so audaciously taken the liberty to dash a glass of cold water on his face.
“What the-!” he halted in the middle of shouting.
He was dazed. It was not in any airplane he was in, but strangely in his own house, sitting drenched on his own bed, and there was Ritu beside him, looking ever so gorgeous, laughing her guts out and holding an empty glass.
“It was about time you woke up, sleepy head. It’s nine o’ clock,” she giggled, “And happy Valentines’ day!”
“So it was all a dream” he murmured smiling to himself, “But an extremely pleasant one”. Well, now he could understand the abrupt shifting of the scenes and the movie-like feeling. Aloud he said, “Happy Valentines’ Day, dear! What a surprise! No office today?”
“Took a leave. And so are you going to do. Here are two movie tickets I bought for us. Get up and get ready. The movie starts in two hours.”
At the movie, which turned out to be rather boring, Ritu told him about her parents coming in a few days. And that was when a bright idea struck him. Why not turn that dream into a beautiful reality? So, before she could suggest the part about eloping, he asked her if she was okay with a court marriage, and told her about the rather filmy dream he had had. She smilingly nodded her consent and hugged him. Wow, another beautiful moment, and this time it was real.
They would marry, and after things had settled down well, he would take her on a vacation to the exact same places he had visualized in his dream. The movie ended and while coming out of the theatre, he called up his lawyer friend to fix a date for the marriage. And he would also buy a car in a few days. The dream had been picture perfect. And so his life was going to be.