In 2013, I met my now fiance at a training camp organized by the big MNC (which I cant name for its irrelevant) we both were working with from our respective ad agencies. It was mid summers, the heat was naturally at its peak and the training activity was taking us all the way up to Mishkpuri top, high up in the mountains I imagined it would be cooler.
We trekked, him & I, oblivious of the other’s existence (even though we rode in the bus together almost next to each other) He was quiet the entire bus ride and kept smoking or looking out the window not giving two hoots to anyone around, earplugs on, listening to his music. We trekked to the mountain (mission) where we were to camp out for the night, he was in a team of 6 and I was in a team of another 6, there wasn’t much chance of us mingling given his anti social attitude and my ignorance of such people.
I reached the camp side a few minutes past midnight and since we were the first one’s to the site, we had to figure out how to put up a camp, find fire wood, start a fire, everything for survival that night and in pitch darkness only with eenie weenie flash lights stuck to our ugly p caps (given to us by the training company). We managed everything in an hour or so and by the time other teams came to camp site, we had eaten, were about to retire to bed and turn off our fire (ahem, the fire we had started to cook). Gladly, the main men in my team were all chilled out guys, no high expectations from the only female in their team to cook up a feast and most of them retired to bed, satisfied, after only fried potatoes and quarter cup of tea. Some of the teams had collaborated and were cooking proper meals by combining their resources (which were diff for each team). There was one team with whom no one wanted to combine their resources, they were bunch of lazy people and worse off they were last to the mountain top. The female in their team, went to sleep in her tent as soon as she got there, so did three other lazies from the same team, which left one overly active leader of the team (my now fiance) and his sidey, hungry as hell and no energy or help from any other teams. Everyone else had eaten by now and were ready to go to sleep. This is the moment that put me face to face with my then not so fiance, let alone friend. He came up to the corner of the fire, with a white towel on his head, I couldn’t even make out his face in the dim light of a dying fire. He sat down and as nicely as he could requested, if I can let him use our fire, I said “Sure, Ofcourse”, which made him so happy I could only wonder with the competitive behaviour all other teams were showing, this must be such a relief to him. I was about to leave my spot near the fire, so his team can cook, when he returned with a big hollow stainless steel cooking pot and made a desperate face, politely requesting me to help him cook as well if it wasn’t too much to ask. I sat back down and asked him to show me what resources his team was given, apparently they were lucky in that department, they got rice and had this big cookware as well, something my team wasn’t blessed with.
Anyway, I did the best I could, with a little help from a local friend, an aged man provided by the training team to watch over us in the wilderness (he he, the winning team got reinforcements when they successfully finished tasks such as putting up camp and cooking etc). He chopped up the vegetables and my not so fiance back then emptied the entire rice bag into the boiling water, I slapped my hand on my forehead in disbelief, explaining to him how the rice will suck all the boiling water and still be too dry for the rice to be cooked properly, he told me it is no worry because he had plenty of water too and every time the water dried out, he would throw in big amounts of water, I kept going on in disbelief as this guy was hell bent on consuming all of their three day resources (for 6 persons) in the first night. The vegetable rice surprisingly cooked quicker on open fire, compared to any cooking oven at home or perhaps it was that gallon of water poured in so frequently, the more the rice sucked in the sooner it was ready.
I have to admit, it wasn’t the best I’ve made and certainly not the ideal moment to judge if I’m a capable candidate to become a successful home maker, but it was no less than a french cuisine cooked to perfection for him and his sidey, who were by now starving to absolute death. I then left them to it and retired to bed, accepting his shy thank yous.
When I woke up the next day ready to take in the day’s activities and my back aching mad, I remembered the guy from the night before and not being able to remember his name or his face. (I feel like the prince from Cinderella the morning after, as I reminisce). If at this moment someone had asked me if I saw for myself engaged, committed, or even so much as liking someone in the near future, I would have gagged. I had steered clear of men, romantic relationships and had completely married the three jobs I was holding, my earnings potential was all that mattered to me, I had plans of going around the world, maybe even venturing out, mostly though I was stuck in a rut of sorts. Enrolled in MBA, reaching my GPA potential, working three jobs, my idea of a good time was being at home, in bed and watching the gazillion seasons I was following.
This trip had us all moving indoors at a vacation spot for honeymooners, the next night on wards where our training would continue for the rest of the days. The training organizers concluded as a people we were too unfit and incapable of surviving or learning anything out in the wild. Even when we put up our best playing paint ball in the hills (I cant recollect my Cinderella interacting then either, wonder why he was so anti social). We did end up talking at the training session organized within the hotel, but it was too brief to be memorable and when I spoke with him by pure chance I remembered he was Cinderella from that night. His introvert, uncommunicative attitude wasn’t really encouraging to develop any kind of friendship, yet there was something about him that was magnetic, maybe it was just an independent woman’s secret fetish to help a man desperately in need assuring her of the ability she has to help a man and the man being secure enough in his masculinity to seek out the weaker gender in time of need.
Later in this training session, we had a bonfire, I got to know from everyone there that he was very funny and very friendly, also he was a very good dancer and very confident in showing off if asked. Basically he was the life of any party and contrary to my impression of him, which was that of a shy, quiet, antisocial, perhaps even rotten guy. I would like to mention here, he had long hair, a big beard and looked extremely tired and angry throughout the trip but I did catch glimpses of him smiling, though I reckon they were genuine smiles. He was probably just keeping up appearances.
With brief encounters at training sessions later and social events, we got talking properly like two strangers would on a personal level en-route home on the 6 hour long bus ride back. Of pets and perfectionist’s, obsessive compulsive disorders and photography, music and movies, we remained occupied the entire time engaged in conversation. When we got off our bus, three consecutive earthquakes struck and here I was thinking its just my head spinning from all that exhaustion. My Cinderella had disappeared and I went in a circle, full 360 degrees to find him and say goodbye. Disappointed when I couldn’t find him, I gathered the passengers who were hitching a ride with me and loaded the luggage in the trunk of my car, when I turned around there he was “Okay then, goodbye”, as casually as I could i said “ye you too, bye” Big smile on my face. Did I overdo it? It was just a frigin work trip, don’t make too much of it! He probably has a girlfriend, nice guys aren’t waiting around for the likes of me. OMG I’ll have to work with him probably in the near future, might as well be a professional, stupid feelings, what a girl, uff. What is wrong with you, Maha? Its just an average guy! Stop obsessing weirdo!
I go home and instead of sleeping, I unpacked happily and thought of every little thing we talked about so I don’t miss out on any conversation that could have potentially ruined my chance of being liked. Weekend ahead for everyone, exam for me. Wow, how easily I forgot about my GPA and any chances to prep for the exam were long gone. Next day I wake up, I was so fresh and singing happily going to take an early morning exam. I don’t even remember the pain of the cramps in my limbs or what I felt when I rammed my car into a drug addict, I only remember feeling happy and without a care in the world. Something I seldom ever feel.
Fast forward to 2014, transitioning from strangers to friends to romantically involved, past quarrels, compromises and learning of one and another’s threshold. We were now officially engaged to be married and a month or two later our wedding dates were set and what I thought was a highly over rated ritual and extremely wasted time by many couples planning, I was buried under major stress because I was all alone in the planning process and so far in the execution as well.
Unlike everyone else I’d witnessed going through this time, I did not want to be buried under the stress of clothes and ‘shadi ki tayariyan’ nearing the D day. So my plan stated, putting all things into motion before Summers even begin. And so I began, searching for the ideal bridal dress, it was by far the most stressful task Ive had to perform as a female. Whatever another person wore was theirs, my mind told me I have wanted to wear red on my wedding since as far as I can remember, but my heart kept liking lighter shades. When this search activity caused my breathing to be hindered, I asked friends and colleagues and friend’ friend’s sisters also, basically anyone who would brainstorm with me. No one can obviously even imagine what a bride to be is going through, because its all in her head and she has such a hard time expressing her feeling of restlessness, helplessness weighing heavily, like a shy kid in a park feeling odd and alone.
In the almost 2 years we’ve known each other, I have embraced his passion for music, trance to be specific. I have watched him flourish, I have seen him break down walls mine and his own, I have watched him tired and stressed and I have experienced moments where he had nothing to say to me, sitting nearby it felt like he was farther away. I have watched him come closer to becoming the man I know he can be, his successes and his disappointments, his travel tales and secrets, Ive been right where I was 2 years ago watching him and I’d not change anything about it. Maybe if I had the ability to influence I’d have paid more attention to the two of us than just his individual successes. I wish I’d shared more of my aspirations with him, I wish he had made more effort to get to know mine. I wish we were better at communicating about difficult things long before I had to experience them on my own and recognizing a problem he knew would exist. I wish he was better at coming up with solutions than drowning with me in sorrow. I guess there is much growth yet for both of us as an entity, many good and bad days to test how invested we are in this partnership. But as the days get closer, I get more and more worried, less about him more about me, as a default I’m built to support and sustain others which is plenty fulfilling in the short run but for the long run when I revisit my actions and investments, I hold myself accountable for ignoring myself. I do genuinely enjoy his music, share in his world view, we seldom have any differences of opinion about things but when it boils down to it I feel estranged from everyone and not just him. Maybe its the blues of leaving my comfort zone (Abu ka gher chorna, as they say in our culture), perhaps its just simply the need of the hour for me to become a woman and do things I’ve watched my sisters do happily for years, while I preferred being little less than perfect in my casual overalls. Or maybe its the addition to my usual to do list which is pretty hectic as is so management is becoming a problem. Orrrrr, its all of those and some more reasons combined into one big giant ball of stress, my list grows but hardly anything comes off executed to completion. It is scary, the thought of depending on another person for all your emotional needs and not being able to function without them. It is scary when you decide to set out on an adventure not alone but with someone else. Your every move and every decision cant be made independently anymore, another life is affected by it and you have to be taking care of this person and this person has to take care of you so you should let them. Scaaaaaryyyyyyy thought, because what if you suck at being a partner? worse what if they think youre too difficult. How does a bride to be keep from drowning in negativity?
Woke up in the morning and out of habit, walked straight to the bathroom, used the loo, flushed, moved on to the sink, turned on the water, grabbed my toothbrush and poured shampoo on my toothbrush, when it came close to my mouth I smelled shampoo and gladly figured out my absent mindedness before the toothbrush went into my mouth. Embarrassingly, I shook my head at my instance of foolishness.
Later that day at the office, was leaving for a meeting when the entrance manager attending asked me where my phone was and I inquired if he was trying to reach me. He handed me my cell phone, telling me I left it on the hood of my car when I came to parking earlier to put something in it. I apologized for my second instance of embarrassment that day.
I need a vacation. It’s like my mind has refused to work.
I thought I’d be more excited on finally finalizing that I am ready to settle down with a good man. But as the days go by, i freak out a little more than yesterday and I question everything that brought me here to this day and what all i thought then would take me forward.
From the preps, to the day and then on, thoughts of something / anything / everything going wrong, LOOM LARGE. What if he stops loving me like he does now? Was 2 (or so) years enough to be sure I was ready to settle down? Have all my past disappointments left my fear factor? I have no doubt in all my thoughts that my fiance is THE BEST MAN I could hope to find. He is patient with me, he is loving, he is gentle (sometimes too much), he refrains from saying much to avoid saying not enough – his only fault., hes not a man of words. He listens to me and he tries to ease all my pains. Then what am I so afraid of? He’s never going to strip me of my freedoms! FACT. It’s not like I crave for financial independence or cant share my fortunes or compete for an upper hand or like to control this relationship or have a lose character. Its not that at all, I have the freedom to my thoughts (wild and imaginative as they may be), freedom to pursue any and all interests, freedom to have kids or not have any, work or dont work or work from home or never at all, he couldnt care so long as I am content, he loves without condition. Then what am I so afraid of? I ponder but the only answer that pops up is that I love him enough.
How will I live without my car? my dog? my sister(s)? my mother? NO GOD DAMN IT!!! Is it too soon to back out? But what about my fiance? I love him alot, I want him to stay. Cant he just come live with me? Its wrong for me to leave my comforts and go embrace his, why cant he embrace mine. Ill keep him very happy. OH WHY OH WHY do the emotional ones get made to leave their everything? IM GOING TO LEAVE everything behind but him for this marriage. OH. MY. GOD. I am so sorry to God for ever enjoying freedom from all this attachment I am not ready to let go of just yet. Training myself to let go in 8 months. How will this get any better if I’ve cried to sleep three nights in a row thinking the same thoughts?