It was our fifteenth wedding anniversary and Pari, or Parvati for the world, and I decided to have lunch at our favorite restaurant in the city. We had met in college, had begun dating, and luckily got jobs at the same company. Although our company policies prohibited on-site romance, but we managed just fine. Romancing each other on and off the premises, we were hiding our little secret in our world.
One fine day, I proposed Pari and she gladly accepted on one condition that she must not be pressurized to work after marriage. I politely tried dissuading her from that thought and tried to promote a positive message that she should not quit the job only because she was marrying. But she was adamant and at last I had to lose, not losing in particular, but as a mutual understanding. I understood and respected her decision.
When I entered the house, she was ready and eager to go. We had pre-booked our favorite table. That restaurant had a ton of memories of us as a couple. I remember when we had not even met each other in college initially, I being a sort of vagabond, had disrupted a party. I was being troublesome to the members of the on-going party. When I was trying to disrupt the party by dancing in between the cake cutting ceremony of an elderly couple, I saw my arms being grabbed and someone ensured that I twist to the opposite side from where I was standing and a loud echoing extra Dolby effect studded slap was given on my cheeks. Before I could get angry and react to the perpetrator, I saw her face and in a jiff, my anger got mixed up with confusion, and all my thoughts were focused on her. She was scolding and abusing me and I was not heeding to any of her words. My entire focus was on her. Much to my relief and disappointment, we were dragged afar and taken away to our respective abode.
The next day, she came to me, apologized, and told me that she realized she should not have slapped me. You know, the romance started thence. Like that one, we had a lot of memories associated with this restaurant.
We reached the restaurant and I parked the car. She smiled at me before getting out. We went inside and I, in a gentlemanly gesture, made her take a seat at her favorite spot and I grabbed the seat next to her. Our children sat next to either of us. We were having our dinner as usual, when I felt a hand on my shoulder. When I tilted my head I saw an elderly lady standing behind me. There was something familiar about her smile. Even Pari looked at her but couldn’t recognize her as well.
“Is your name Shankar?” asked the lady politely.
I respectfully stood up and politely replied in affirmation.
“Oh… my my! How much have you grown up in physicality and mannerism as well... I am indeed surprised.” The lady exclaimed as I stood looking at her face trying to grasp the straw in my mind that I knew her somehow.
But I was still confused. I had not the faintest idea, as to who the lady was and how she knew my name. Sensing my dilemma, she smiled again and asked me, “Don’t you remember me, Shankar?”
At this point, Pari stood by my side and joined the conversation. “Umm.. hello.”
As she noticed Pari, this time it was the lady that gave a mild shocking expression and again immediately smile surfaced on her lips. “Oh! I should have guessed seeing him. I knew that something would have happened and the ice between you two must have cracked and yielded.”
Still confused and unable to tolerate the guessing game that my mind was playing, I simply asked the lady. “Sorry… but how do you know my name? And do I know you? Because I feel I do… I am just..”
“ Ha ha.. Of course, you do, young man. How could you not remember the most important moment of your life, which I might imply now, that it surely did change the track of your life.”
Seeing that, I was still confused, she continued, “Let me refresh your memory. Do you remember the loud slap on your cheek in this restaurant?”
As soon as she said this my eyes widened with surprise. “Oh my god! Now I remember… that you were the lady that I had misbehaved with?” I blurted out but then looking at shocked Pari I tried to reframe my sentence, “I mean.. whose party I was disrupting.”
She laughed loudly. “Indeed. I was the lady.”
“I apologize for that day’s behavior. You know the teenage life right. I was a spoilt brat then. I hope you have forgiven me.”
The lady began to laugh. “Oh come on! You were nothing compared to what I and my husband were during our college days.” She smiled in a childish manner and continued. “You know there was a part of my life. Even these seventeen years after that incident you are a constant part of our discussions on our anniversaries. And seeing both of you married, I am really… really happy. Somewhere… maybe just a little… because of me you two are together.”
“Not just a little…” Pari smiled to me softly then looked back at her. “Is your wedding anniversary today?”
“Oh yes, deary, today itself. And what you two are doing here?”
“You will not believe u, but… it is our wedding anniversary too.” Pari and I told the lady together at the same time and started laughing.
“Oh well! Well! Mother of co-incidences, I must say. Why don’t you two along with your kids join us.” Before we could deny, she said, “I insist.”
And we had to succumb to her love and respect.
Written by: Ram Koppar; in his own words, a larger than life thinker, who believes in spreading peace and harmony. He believes the pen is mightier than the sword and believes in bringing the change by being the change.