Love at first sight
Nancy* – a stunning, shy and a hopeless romantic was sixteen when she fell in love with Venkat – a 21 year old daredevil, impatient, adventurer from Pune, in 1981. It was also the year Ek Dujey ke Liye had released.
Nancy was the only daughter of a strict middle class devout Catholic South Indian family. She loved to sneak out to watch movies. Venkat was the middle son of a Brahmin Maharashtrian family with five children and his favorite pastime was racing from Pune to Bombay on his turquoise blue royal Enfield.
In the summer of 1981, Nancy was at her cousin’s house in Bombay, enjoying her summer holidays. Her cousins and their friends decided to spend the day at a pool. Venkat was already there in the pool when she arrived and lost his heart to her at the first sight.
Beginning of the journey
Lovestruck and smitten by Nancy, who looked like her favorite actress Rekha, Venkat’s reverie was broken when someone said, ‘Meet my cousin from Pune, she is here for summer holidays.’
They both exchanged ‘Hi’ and realise their feelings are mutual. For the entire time they then sit with their feet in the cool swimming pool – talking like old friends!
Fast forward to 1983, they both are now madly in love with each other. For Venkat, it was his daily routine to pick Nancy up after college and takes her on long drives on his Royal Enfield. Nancy was equally crazy about him. In him, she found a true lover, friend and a good listener.
Nancy’s love was the motivational force behind Venkat to start looking for a job. He wanted to make something of his life before he can ask her to spend it with him.
Venkat does get successful in his job hunt but there was one problem. He gets a lucrative offer from a firm in Indore.
However, when he told her about it, she showed her support and told him to take it. And thus begins their long-distance romance in the era where there was no internet, WhatsApp or even mobile phones!
Once a month, Nancy would go to the caller booth near her house after saving enough money to make a five-minute call to Venkat. The handwritten letters (yes they did exist) were their only saving grace back the
Yes or No?
In one such letter, Venkat proposed Nancy in a very casual way. ‘Let’s get married on the 4th of October, on your birthday, what do you say’, he wrote. Her heart let out a loud scream – ‘YES, YES, YES’ she wanted to shout out loud but instead she runs to the phone booth to call him and tell him this in person.
On the way out she gets interrupted by her mother, who had just discovered a box of love letters while cleaning her daughter’s cupboard later that evening. Not surprisingly, she was shocked and felt cheated. In a fit of rage, she locked her daughter in a room for a week.
Two weeks had gone by since Venkat sent that letter and he had not heard back from her. He was starting to get worried. Had he said something wrong, was she not on the same page, had something terrible happened to her? He couldn’t concentrate at work, forgot all about food and sleep started to evade him as well.
When Venkat did not hear from Nancy for three weeks, he got on a bus to Pune and headed straight to her house. Heart pounding, he knocks on her door and is greeted by a tall dark man. He recognizes this man as her father. The man asks curtly what he wants, ‘I love your daughter and I want to marry her,’ comes the reply. SLAP!
‘How dare you! I will never let my daughter marry some Hindu man, go away!’ For the next few weeks she was escorted to college by her father and picked up by her mother.
Weeks go by and he had to go back to his job. After a few weeks, things at her house seem to settle down and she managed to call him to reveal the truth about how badly she wanted to say yes and how much she wants to marry him.
However, her family is not the only one that needs convincing. His family doesn’t want a Catholic daughter- in- law either. ‘What will she teach your children? How will she fit in? She doesn’t even speak Marathi and above all she is Christian.’
So preempting Dilwale Dulhania le Jayenge, my parents decided to win over each other’s families first but their families won’t budge.
Finally, after four years, his family agrees on one condition– she should convert to Hinduism. Her family, however, had the same idea, they would give their blessings if he converted to Christianity.
They both stand their ground, no one would convert. They chose to keep fighting and waiting, resisting the emotional torture their families put them through, bearing the distance, the pain of knowing that someone you want to spend your life with and not being able to, finally love would win.
And indeed love did win. Two more years later, their families finally gave in. Nancy and Venkat had two weddings in 1989 – a Christian ceremony on the October 4, Nancy’s birthday and a Hindu ceremony, the next day.
Seven years, 83 days after they first met, my parents finally sat together as a married couple, silently vowing how they will do everything differently with their children, hold each other and cry.
*Names have been changed.
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