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That, That Thing Called  Love

About Devang Desai

An accountant's journey of 40 years gathering non- financial insights about people , their relationships & their environment . Learning from the experiences of the many who have travelled before and trying to create enjoyable readings from words , ideas and self-realizations .

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Prologue

5 am. The rattle of shop shutter opening, the switching on of front light and Aabid’s humming were signals for Sulekha to decent herself in the public washroom after the usual night on the pavement. The waning winter made her family cuddle up, waiting for the warmth of early dawn.

Part 1

“Good Morning, Sulekha.” Greeted the early riser, ready with the clipping, sorting, watering of the first batch of the flowers and converting the multi colors into magical combinations. He liked her sweet response, every morning….

“Gud Moorning, Aabid.” Attempted the unlearnt Sulekha, bringing the boiling tea from the street vendor; a daily drill with exchange of street happenings. She liked to follow Aabid and his family to make her learn about a different life. She admired their simplicity, love for people and zest for life.

And Aabid selflessly helped. As did his parents, who had almost adopted the pavement family. It was the richness of mind that made them what they were – retired teachers who now taught the many unprivileged and helped them out in many other ways.

The Sulekha family had migrated to the city from central India, hoping for a safer and more liveable environment. The city was new, but the language and people posed no barriers and they had support of Aabid’s family. They hoped to get a roof as soon as the daily bread issues were resolved.

Sulekha attended the street evening classes conducted by Aabid and his family and learnt to appreciate the written word. Like a hungry childlike adult, she read everything that she could lay her hands on.

Permitted to stay in the shop at night and getting support in several other ways, Sulekha and her family settled down, in a way that pavement dwellers define “settling down.” And Sulekha started dreaming… She saw in Aabid her savior, partner and lover. A dream she kept close to her heart though her mind raised all the troubling doubts.

Aabid loved Sulekha. He loved her form, which, though well – bundled, had revealed to him her natural womanliness on many occasions of constant nearness. He loved her heart which, though socially-disciplined, had shown her tenderness, her boldness and her ability to respond spontaneously. He feared her mind, which was sharp, independent, touchy and always offended about her social condition.

Sulekha and Abid needed an event to trigger the acceptance of their love.

That week Aabid’ s aunt and her distant cousin had come to visit them and Sulekha was saddled with running the shop, as Aabid spent time touring the relatives. Every evening they would come to the shop after the day’s outing.

“Aabid beta, I have never seen so many places before; Simran never stops talking about things you have shown and explained to her.” spoke the Aunt, eyeing Aabid as a potential suitor for her daughter.

“I’m glad Simran enjoyed the city; I hope it was not very tiring.”

“Oh! I love this city and would want to live here, forever.” Blurted the already enamoured young lady in a worshipping tone to Aabid.

The “ouchh” from Sulekha was, to most, the reaction to a thorn piercing her finger. Or was it something more? An outburst of anger maybe.

So the week went on. The daily descriptions from Simran, her glorification of Aabid and the presumptive possessiveness of the aunt, making Sulekha increasingly silent and distancing herself from Aabid.

Part 2

At the end of the week, Abid’s 5 am routine resumed…

“Hey, why no morning greeting? ” Aabid reacted to Sulekha’s indistinct murmur to his vibrant “good morning.”

“Aabid, my mornings are the same as they were all of last week; though, I’m sure, yours were more enjoyable in her company.” Quipped the irritated, just woken-up Sulekha.

“I missed waking you up; but daytime used to be hectic with the ladies. I can be your guide next time.”

“I’m not interested; I can see on my own.”

“Oh oh, my princess is mad at me. I’m sorry I burdened you with too much work”

“I’m not your princess; my name is Sulekha.”

And Abid experienced the sullen Sulekha. A need based exchange of words and limited eye contact. Both families noticed but kept silent as all guessed, excepting the two young hearts, who knew but were new to it. Love is easily felt rather than understood by those who live simply and feel intensely.

Aabid, while sipping the morning tea, now homemade by Sulekha, could no longer control after a week of her maun-vrat.

“What have I done? Everyone looks at me as if I have committed a crime. I treat you as a family; so what ails you?”

“I’m only your worker. I thank you for giving us your support. We are under your debt. We will always wish for your happiness.”

“I like your company and yes, you are a great worker. You are brave, eager to learn and do new things and very caring. I respect you.”

“I don’t want your respect. I am a human like you and like your cousin. I can be as free and funny, maybe not as smart.”

Realising where the shoe pinched, Aabid enjoyed teasing her. But he was afraid of stretching it too far, knowing her fiery temper and spirit of rebellion.

“It’s about you and me; why drag the cousin?”

“You dragged her whole of last week; and every evening, telling me, me…my…me…about all those outings and shopping places,” the suppressed heart was pushed by Sulekha’s agitated mind.

“You never like to waste money on all that, so why get mad if someone likes it.”

“I like, but I won’t waste your money. I have very little of mine; only what you gave me.” She murmured softly. “Whatever I am is because of you.”

“So why quarrel with me, when we know we are so dependent? I need you as much, don’t I?”

“Anyone will do my work; I won’t remain here forever.”

“Now, my princess, what plans have you made behind me?”

“I told you I’m not…! I have my own plans to settle down as you have.”

“I thought u are never going to leave me; remember you said once?”

“That was to show my kindness when you gave us work and let us sleep in your shop. It just came out.”

Sulekha remembered how that night and every night after that, she would go to sleep preparing for her special dream. A dream which unfolded its many wrappings in a pleasantly surprising way.
And now, she wept inside. Uncertain, fearful, hounded less by the inevitable return of pavement shadows, but more at the thought of never being a part of Aabid’s life.

Abid looked at her dismal face, lifted her chin and looked into her wet eyes.

“I’m going to marry you, not her.” Abid, took her hand and softly spoke to her.

“Don’t make fun of me. I can never be what your cousin is. Not educated; can’t control my temper; will fight with you always. So don’t tease me with false hopes.” Said the irritated Sulekha, angry but still intrigued as never had they talked in this manner.

“I’m serious, come here. Don’t fight so much.” With that he, for the first time, held her close in his arms.

Aabid had always admired both her amazon-like spirit and grace. There were many accidental and a few not-so accidental starings and touches. Both understood the subtle exchanges but both underplayed its significance externally.

His closeness, seeming absurdity of his proposal, dawning reality of how much she loved him with a gnawing fear of losing him, broke her strong will and she burst out crying.

“Please remove your arms. I can find my way in life but you will never find a truer love than I.” Her rational mind spoke but her heart and body clung to him in hope.

Aabid slid the shining band on her ring-finger, putting to rest all her anxieties, making her weep more but now with released joy.

She dreamt that night her special dream once again.

Early next morning, Sulekha, totally sure of her destined future, was up and ready with her eager smile and a beautiful red rose to welcome Aabid, her love.

5 am. The rattle of shop shutter opening, the switching on of front light and Aabid’s humming were signals for Sulekha to decent herself in the public washroom after the usual night on the pavement. The waning winter made her family cuddle up, waiting for the warmth of early dawn.

“Good Morning, Sulekha.” Greeted the early riser, ready with the clipping, sorting, watering of the first batch of the flowers and converting the multi colors into magical combinations. He liked her sweet response, every morning….

“Gud Moorning, Aabid.” Attempted the unlearnt Sulekha, bringing the boiling tea from the street vendor; a daily drill with exchange of street happenings. She liked to follow Aabid and his family to make her learn about a different life. She admired their simplicity, love for people and zest for life.

And Aabid selflessly helped. As did his parents, who had almost adopted the pavement family. It was the richness of mind that made them what they were – retired teachers who now taught the many unprivileged and helped them out in many other ways.

The Sulekha family had migrated to the city from central India, hoping for a safer and more liveable environment. The city was new, but the language and people posed no barriers and they had support of Aabid’s family. They hoped to get a roof as soon as the daily bread issues were resolved.

Sulekha attended the street evening classes conducted by Aabid and his family and learnt to appreciate the written word. Like a hungry childlike adult, she read everything that she could lay her hands on.

Permitted to stay in the shop at night and getting support in several other ways, Sulekha and her family settled down, in a way that pavement dwellers define “settling down.” And Sulekha started dreaming… She saw in Aabid her savior, partner and lover. A dream she kept close to her heart though her mind raised all the troubling doubts.

Aabid loved Sulekha. He loved her form, which, though well – bundled, had revealed to him her natural womanliness on many occasions of constant nearness. He loved her heart which, though socially-disciplined, had shown her tenderness, her boldness and her ability to respond spontaneously. He feared her mind, which was sharp, independent, touchy and always offended about her social condition.

Sulekha and Abid needed an event to trigger the acceptance of their love.

That week Aabid’ s aunt and her distant cousin had come to visit them and Sulekha was saddled with running the shop, as Aabid spent time touring the relatives. Every evening they would come to the shop after the day’s outing.

“Aabid beta, I have never seen so many places before; Simran never stops talking about things you have shown and explained to her.” spoke the Aunt, eyeing Aabid as a potential suitor for her daughter.

“I’m glad Simran enjoyed the city; I hope it was not very tiring.”

“Oh! I love this city and would want to live here, forever.” Blurted the already enamoured young lady in a worshipping tone to Aabid.

The “ouchh” from Sulekha was, to most, the reaction to a thorn piercing her finger. Or was it something more? An outburst of anger maybe.

So the week went on. The daily descriptions from Simran, her glorification of Aabid and the presumptive possessiveness of the aunt, making Sulekha increasingly silent and distancing herself from Aabid.

To Be Continued…

5 am. The rattle of shop shutter opening, the switching on of front light and Aabid’s humming were signals for Sulekha to decent herself in the public washroom after the usual night on the pavement. The waning winter made her family cuddle up, waiting for the warmth of early dawn.

“Good Morning, Sulekha.” Greeted the early riser, ready with the clipping, sorting, watering of the first batch of the flowers and converting the multi colors into magical combinations. He liked her sweet response, every morning….

“Gud Moorning, Aabid.” Attempted the unlearnt Sulekha, bringing the boiling tea from the street vendor; a daily drill with exchange of street happenings. She liked to follow Aabid and his family to make her learn about a different life. She admired their simplicity, love for people and zest for life.

And Aabid selflessly helped. As did his parents, who had almost adopted the pavement family. It was the richness of mind that made them what they were – retired teachers who now taught the many unprivileged and helped them out in many other ways.

The Sulekha family had migrated to the city from central India, hoping for a safer and more liveable environment. The city was new, but the language and people posed no barriers and they had support of Aabid’s family. They hoped to get a roof as soon as the daily bread issues were resolved.

Sulekha attended the street evening classes conducted by Aabid and his family and learnt to appreciate the written word. Like a hungry childlike adult, she read everything that she could lay her hands on.

Permitted to stay in the shop at night and getting support in several other ways, Sulekha and her family settled down, in a way that pavement dwellers define “settling down.” And Sulekha started dreaming… She saw in Aabid her savior, partner and lover. A dream she kept close to her heart though her mind raised all the troubling doubts.

Aabid loved Sulekha. He loved her form, which, though well – bundled, had revealed to him her natural womanliness on many occasions of constant nearness. He loved her heart which, though socially-disciplined, had shown her tenderness, her boldness and her ability to respond spontaneously. He feared her mind, which was sharp, independent, touchy and always offended about her social condition.

Sulekha and Abid needed an event to trigger the acceptance of their love.

That week Aabid’ s aunt and her distant cousin had come to visit them and Sulekha was saddled with running the shop, as Aabid spent time touring the relatives. Every evening they would come to the shop after the day’s outing.

“Aabid beta, I have never seen so many places before; Simran never stops talking about things you have shown and explained to her.” spoke the Aunt, eyeing Aabid as a potential suitor for her daughter.

“I’m glad Simran enjoyed the city; I hope it was not very tiring.”

“Oh! I love this city and would want to live here, forever.” Blurted the already enamoured young lady in a worshipping tone to Aabid.

The “ouchh” from Sulekha was, to most, the reaction to a thorn piercing her finger. Or was it something more? An outburst of anger maybe.

So the week went on. The daily descriptions from Simran, her glorification of Aabid and the presumptive possessiveness of the aunt, making Sulekha increasingly silent and distancing herself from Aabid.

Continued in Part 2…

At the end of the week, Abid’s 5 am routine resumed…

“Hey, why no morning greeting? ” Aabid reacted to Sulekha’s indistinct murmur to his vibrant “good morning.”

“Aabid, my mornings are the same as they were all of last week; though, I’m sure, yours were more enjoyable in her company.” Quipped the irritated, just woken-up Sulekha.

“I missed waking you up; but daytime used to be hectic with the ladies. I can be your guide next time.”

“I’m not interested; I can see on my own.”

“Oh oh, my princess is mad at me. I’m sorry I burdened you with too much work”

“I’m not your princess; my name is Sulekha.”

And Abid experienced the sullen Sulekha. A need based exchange of words and limited eye contact. Both families noticed but kept silent as all guessed, excepting the two young hearts, who knew but were new to it. Love is easily felt rather than understood by those who live simply and feel intensely.

Aabid, while sipping the morning tea, now homemade by Sulekha, could no longer control after a week of her maun-vrat.

“What have I done? Everyone looks at me as if I have committed a crime. I treat you as a family; so what ails you?”

“I’m only your worker. I thank you for giving us your support. We are under your debt. We will always wish for your happiness.”

“I like your company and yes, you are a great worker. You are brave, eager to learn and do new things and very caring. I respect you.”

“I don’t want your respect. I am a human like you and like your cousin. I can be as free and funny, maybe not as smart.”

Realising where the shoe pinched, Aabid enjoyed teasing her. But he was afraid of stretching it too far, knowing her fiery temper and spirit of rebellion.

“It’s about you and me; why drag the cousin?”

“You dragged her whole of last week; and every evening, telling me, me…my…me…about all those outings and shopping places,” the suppressed heart was pushed by Sulekha’s agitated mind.

“You never like to waste money on all that, so why get mad if someone likes it.”

“I like, but I won’t waste your money. I have very little of mine; only what you gave me.” She murmured softly. “Whatever I am is because of you.”

“So why quarrel with me, when we know we are so dependent? I need you as much, don’t I?”

“Anyone will do my work; I won’t remain here forever.”

“Now, my princess, what plans have you made behind me?”

“I told you I’m not…! I have my own plans to settle down as you have.”

“I thought u are never going to leave me; remember you said once?”

“That was to show my kindness when you gave us work and let us sleep in your shop. It just came out.”

Sulekha remembered how that night and every night after that, she would go to sleep preparing for her special dream. A dream which unfolded its many wrappings in a pleasantly surprising way.
And now, she wept inside. Uncertain, fearful, hounded less by the inevitable return of pavement shadows, but more at the thought of never being a part of Aabid’s life.

Abid looked at her dismal face, lifted her chin and looked into her wet eyes.

“I’m going to marry you, not her.” Abid, took her hand and softly spoke to her.

“Don’t make fun of me. I can never be what your cousin is. Not educated; can’t control my temper; will fight with you always. So don’t tease me with false hopes.” Said the irritated Sulekha, angry but still intrigued as never had they talked in this manner.

“I’m serious, come here. Don’t fight so much.” With that he, for the first time, held her close in his arms.

Aabid had always admired both her amazon-like spirit and grace. There were many accidental and a few not-so accidental starings and touches. Both understood the subtle exchanges but both underplayed its significance externally.

His closeness, seeming absurdity of his proposal, dawning reality of how much she loved him with a gnawing fear of losing him, broke her strong will and she burst out crying.

“Please remove your arms. I can find my way in life but you will never find a truer love than I.” Her rational mind spoke but her heart and body clung to him in hope.

Aabid slid the shining band on her ring-finger, putting to rest all her anxieties, making her weep more but now with released joy.

She dreamt that night her special dream once again.

Early next morning, Sulekha, totally sure of her destined future, was up and ready with her eager smile and a beautiful red rose to welcome Aabid, her love.

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