When you see the origins of a stream you would never think it would result into a stram. The beginning is just small flow of individual lines. At times its still then there’s a sudden gush and then it disappears underground. But you keep following the earth till you see it. You see the stream.
‘Did you lock the car?’
The Satara sun bears down hard as Ashish struggles in his 3-year-old wedding jacket that’s now a size smaller. After a tiring drive lady night, hes been up since 6.00, packing clothes for the photoshoot, filling gas, packing lunch, withdrawing cash and reaching the location. Then he parks the car, changes clothes, double checks their stuff and leads they way for Mrunmai through kuccha road into the sugarcane farm. They negotiate the road carefully because of the muck and slippery surface till, somehow, they reach a clearing – the location itself.
Now sweaty, tired and a tad irritated he turns around to consider Mrunmai’s question – did you lock the car?
He squints as the sun hits his eye but still manages to say – Yes.
They have volunteered as subjects for my friends photo shoot. I am accompanying them there when I see them interact and get to know their story.
We spoke about books & movies. Initially that’s what we connected about, Mrunmai revealed.
Because of my father, i too took up reading as he liked to read a lot, Ashish added.
But the story of this stream began on warm night and an auspicious occasion
It’s 2010. An ecstatic Mrunmai, super happy about connecting online (those were the days!) pings her friends Happy Diwali at 11 in the night. Not many takers for her enthusiasm. That night, Ashish was travelling alone by train from his home-town back to Mumbai. He was bored on a long and cold night when he saw the ‘Happy Diwali’ ping.
They were ‘FB friends’, more friends of friend types. Perfect strangers, two rivulets running in different directions. But when he wrote ‘Happy Diwali’ back to her, everything changed.
In the beginning, the stream has no direction. Many a time it takes itself by surprise. Surprised that it can become a stream….
We did not get to set up a home in Pune, Mrunmai reveals
We did try, Ashish replies, a meek protest in his voice.
Four years of knowing each other. She became an engineer & he got a doctor’s degree. They were strangers, then friends friends, close friends.
Till it grew beyond.
He took the first step he thought there’s more to it, more to them. That day he broke up with his steady girlfriend, called time on an unsatisfactory relationship. But she couldn’t do that.She felt the same about him, but couldn’t do much. Her engagement was fixed with another man, the match decided by her family. And she didnt want to fight that.
Then the struggle – calls, debates, yearning, emails, cut off, silence. Two days to the wedding. The boulders and stones in the path were many – the rivulets flowed in different paths now, accepting of their fate.
Till the next turn.
A day before, the police arrested her fiance who turned out to be a regular fraudster with women. That’s when Mrunmai knew – it was Ashish. Now she couldn’t back away. She called him.
Thoda OCD, she has,
We realised it in Shillong.
Now, it flows like they were together forever. His laid back self to her taking charge, his riding pillion to her spilling milk and his big dreams to her practical side. At times they run solo like small rivulets – like his thoughts where he loses himself – does not invite her, like her poetry that evokes emotions and kindles passion she can’t explain. Together they learn to ride the stones, find their path, tame the curves. Not there yet, but slowly getting there – one day at a time. Which brings us to:
Did you lock the car?
His gaze. Smile and then,