Kabir (28) is an engineer, now working in Pune. Akanksha (27) works with an NGO now based out of Bengaluru.
I was fed up with my job. In Delhi, thousands of kilometres away from my family and friends in Chennai, I was a stranger in a strange city. At first, I thought I would slog it out, felt it would be a good jolt to my system.
But after three years of barely having any human contact outside of office, I was close to breaking point, and decided to quit my job and move back with my parents. The plan was that I would try and find a similar job profile in my hometown. Perhaps the pay wouldn’t be that good, but at least I’d be at home.
And then, the pandemic happened.
I had already quit my job and was serving my notice period when the Prime Minister announced the lockdown. My flight back home was supposed to be on March 29, but five days prior to that, a nation-wide lockdown came into effect.
I was stuck far away from home with no job, little money and no means of getting back.
The first month of the lockdown was the worst. I had to borrow money from family and friends to make rent. I had given away much of my furniture. Fortunately, my internet connection hadn’t been cut, so I was binge-watching shows on OTT platforms.
My parents and sister would call me every day, but soon the calls became monotonous. I was stuck at my flat, they too were stuck at home and there was not much that we could discuss after a week.
And the lockdowns keep getting extended.
It was at this time that my parents introduced me to their friend’s daughter, via Skype of course. At first, I was very against it. I was still shy of 30, was recently unemployed and wanted to first get settled in my career before I even thought of marriage. Plus, I had a mental block against the whole concept of arranged marriage.
But the more I talked to Akanksha, the more interested in her I became. She worked with an NGO in Kolkata that had been indefinitely shut, so she had all the time in the world. And she too was stuck in a different city.
So we soon started talking to each other over Skype for hours. Since we were both stuck away from home, there was no parental interference either, otherwise I feel our blossoming relationship could have died in its infancy.
Becoming a habit
Around July, as restrictions started easing up, both of us flew back to Chennai. Initially after we moved back with our parents, we did not call each other. But talking to each other had become a habit -- after barely a week, we were at it again, texting each other at all hours and sneaking phone calls when our parents weren’t looking.
By August, we knew we wanted to be with each other for the rest of our lives. We were not even trying to sneak phone conversations anymore, so the two of us had THE TALK.
A few days later, I talked to my parents. My father’s broad grin and my mother rolling her eyes said it all. This was their plan all along and they had pulled it off with panache.
Akanksha and I got married in November. Covid restrictions meant hardly anyone attended the wedding, which was actually perfect -- I hate the idea of a thousand people showing up who nobody seems to know.
If not for corona
Somewhere along the lines, both Akanksha and I also got jobs -- again in different cities. For now, everyone is working from home, so there’s no problem, but both of us are trying for transfers or new jobs in each other’s city.
However, if it weren’t for the pandemic, I would have never married the love of my life. I would have moved back to Chennai, worked for a few years till either I found someone or would have succumbed to pressure from my parents and married someone of their choice.
Similarly, Akanksha would have continued to live and work in Kolkata till she found someone.
Most importantly though, since both of us had all the time in the world to talk to each other during the lockdown, our relationship that would have normally taken years to blossom was cut to three short months. And though in some ways we still have much to learn about from each other, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
To protect the identity, the person in the picture is a model and names have been changed.