'Welcome to Melbourne' a voice echoed as the plane landed at the Melbourne airport.
There was a hustle and bustle as the passengers started removing their luggage from the cabin compartment. Pankhuri was delighted. She performed all the formalities of arrival, claimed her luggage, hired a taxi and left for the hotel. She had to stay in a hotel for first few days till all the formalities for her admission at the university were completed and the hostel allocated to her. She reached the hotel at around 10 in the morning. A blonde man with blue eyes, wearing a Grey suit who sat at the reception welcomed her.
'Welcome to the Melbourne Marriot, Ma'am. Here is your room card.' He said giving a swipe card to her.
'Thank you, Could you please arrange someone to fetch my luggage to the room?' she asked importantly.
'Sure!' he said.
'Thanks!' she smiled and left for the room. The room was scented with a sweet aroma. The luggage had been brought up to her room. The view outside was magnificent. She could see the entire city.
The first thing she had to do as she relaxed was to call at home. She fished out the mobile from her bag.
'Dad, I reached!' She said. He had placed the phone in loudspeaker mode. Both Raj and Megha were on the line.
'Everything is fine na beta?' she heard Megha's voice.
'Haan Ma!' she exclaimed.
After five minutes of talking, they asked her to relax as she was tired of the long journey. Moreover she had to go to university also the next day. Pankhuri was fresh though, yet feeling bored like anything, she decided to have a nap.
It was around three in the afternoon when Pankhuri woke up. Rubbing her sleepy eyes, she saw the menu card placed at the corner table beside the bed to order some lunch. After about thirty minutes she had the lunch, after which she took the shower and planned to have a stroll outside in a park nearby. She wondered how people lived there. It felt somewhat lonely out there. She saw some Indians having a stroll in the park; some were busy with their children. She stood there, leaning on a fence resting herself after walking for about quite a while.
'Hey!' someone patted on her back. She turned around to look who it was. An Indian around five feet eight, grey eyes, spiked dark brown hair was standing in front of her. He wore a black leather Jacket with blue denims that fit snugly on him and a red checked shirt. He donned small French like beard. For a moment Megha was lost in him. Seeing this mysterious look on her face, he looked down to check whether he looked alright or not.
'Y... Yes!' she sputtered breaking the errand of her journey of thoughts.
'Is that your mobile?' he asked holding a mobile in his hand.
Megha saw the mobile phone carefully examining it. It took no time for her to realize after a bit of groping her clothes that it was hers.
'Oh! Thank you so much. Where did you find it?' she enquired.
'It was lying few steps back. Maybe you didn't realize when it fell from your jacket!' he said in a monotone.
'Yeah, Thanks a lot! You really don't know what you have done to me by returning this to me.' she said.
The guy vamoosed before Pankhuri could say anything. She returned back to the room. He seemed sassy, she was talking to self. It was her first encounter with an Indian in a foreign land.
It was around ten in the night that she lay in her bed, staring at the ceiling. Someone she missed that day, of course she was missing her parents but somewhere she felt alone. She had called back home the second time, but still she didn't feel content. She brushed away the unbidden cloud of thoughts.
Taking out the photograph from her bag, she looked at him, Sonu, wish you would be here with me, she was wailing inside her heart. No doubt, she missed him so much that day.
Next morning she was standing before the university facade. She warily looked for her name in the list of classrooms allotted. A girl with black hair, green eyes approached her in the class.
'Is this seat taken?' she asked meekly blinking her eyes twice pointing towards the seat next to her.
'No, it's free!' said Pankhuri smilingly.
'Hi, I am Emily! Said she after she sat gingerly on the seat next her. She rested a few books on the table.
'I am Pankhuri!' she smiled.
The economics lecture was about to begin in few minutes. Professor Paul was allotted for the subject.
'May I come in sir?' everybody's attention was drawn to the entrance door.
Pankhuri saw the guy clad in brown jacket with blue denims standing at the door waiting for the approval of the professor. As he entered the class, on the way scouring for a seat, he swept across Pankhuri. He seemed familiar. She fished in her thoughts and realized that he was same guy who had found her mobile. She was gazing in his eyes all the time. She wanted to thank him for the mobile thing but was scared because of his unrelenting eyes. His eyes had a sense of melancholy in them, which Pankhuri read lucidly.
The day went fine. Lying on the soft bed in the hotel room she was again looking at Sonu's photograph, talking to him. You know, my first day was good at the university. I made a new friend, Emily. She is cute, genial. Did I tell you about this guy who helped me by returning my mobile yesterday? He is in the same class in which I am. She was excited now. Sliding the picture in her purse she wished him a very good night.
Several days passed, Pankhuri would see him enter the class occupying the last seat most of the time. Seldom had they talked. He had told his name as Siddharth. They exchanged glances usually. Pankhuri faced myriad of problems in the university, every time he came to her rescue. Some kind of bond had been forming between the two. Pankhuri had asked many times about his anguish, but he would just laugh it off. One night Pankhuri was talking to Sonu about Siddharth. You know today Siddharth helped me making the presentation; He also helped me completing my assignment. Wait, But why I am telling you all this? You are getting jealous right? She bantered. But you don't know it's only you who have conquered my heart! A tear trickled down her cheek from her rheumy eyes.
She had completed a year in Australia. Everybody was in a mood of celebration. The class had organized a party. Pankhuri was delighted. Emily and the sorority were planning to get wasted that night. Pankhuri after sensing the plan had firmly refused for attending it. As she walked out of the hostel to get some fresh air, she saw Siddharth sitting in the campus garden alone. Surprised to see him there she walked towards him.
'You aren't going to party tonight?' She asked crouching beside him.
'Nah! I don't like this hustle and bustle! I live my life in tranquil.' he said in a monotone again.
'You seem so mysterious. Sometimes you know, I am confused about...' she paused.
'Well leave about me, what you are doing here?' he interjected.
'All the girl gang is drinking tonight. I am not into this stuff.' she said removing the pieces of grit from her dress.
'So, what would you do tonight?' he asked her.
'Umm... I want to see some old Bollywood movie. It's been a long time I have watched one.' she said.
'C'mon let's go to my apartment. I have a huge collection of them.' he jumped in excitement.
Pankhuri was surprised first. She was reluctant to go at a guy's apartment at that wee hour but somehow his magnetism intrigued her to say yes. They entered the apartment after walking for about fifteen minutes. In their plan, he forgot about the dinner.
'Oops! There is one big problem Pankhuri.' he said.
'What happened now?' she asked eagerly.
'You just wait here and start the movie, I will get something to eat in a few minutes.' he made her comfortable on the couch. He seemed hysterical. She agreed to this as she was feeling very hungry herself too. In the meanwhile she started moving in his apartment. She saw some of his photographs with some trophies in college. Then he was with some Indian girl. Beautiful she is! Sure would be his girlfriend! Sid.....! She was talking to herself. Her view went towards a wallet placed on the table besides the couch. Oh no! He had forgotten to take the wallet with him. Gosh!
She bent over to have a look at it. She opened the wallet out of curiosity. She found nothing much except petty cash, some one or two credit cards, and Indian driving license in the wallet. She fumbled with another pocket only to find one photograph. She turned around the picture to look of whom it was? A little girl, around six years of age standing in small pink frock, her hair tied in long plaits, innocence shimmering from the small cute little eyes. Old memories started flowing in Pankhuri's mind. What she could never have imagined had happened that day. Her eyes were filled with tears, but this time these tears were of happiness. Suddenly, the door was pushed open. It was Siddharth gasping for breath.
'Sorry, I forgot to take the wallet with me.' He walked inside looking here and there. He saw wallet in her hands.
'How could you, Sid?' Tears started rolling down from her eyes.
'What happened to you, Pankhuri?' he asked curiously. 'And why are you crying?' he brushed off the tears from her rose pink cheeks.
'How could you love a girl for so long time even without contact?' she asked with a hoarse voice.
'What are you talking about?' he asked scouring his wallet for something.
'It's here!' she said giving him the photograph.
'Oh Thank God! It's safe!' he snatched it from her hands cautiously placing it inside her wallet. 'She is my love. I can never forget her.' He said staring at her.
She could feel the anxiety, caring in his eyes, the same composure she felt fifteen years ago.
'Pinky is still waiting for you Sonu.' she said softly.
Hearing those names made him quiver. He turned around facing her. He had a million questions in his mind. He leaped over the couch and held her.
'How do you know Pinky? Is she your friend?' he jabbered.
She held her face in between her palms.
'Sh..... 'She said and hugged him tightly.
Today after two years of their marriage, they are living their life in happiness. Some believe, some don't but there was serendipity in Pankhuri's visit to Australia. It was not arranged by his parents, not by her friends, but this love story was arranged ............by God!
This is the last part of the story, the ending or we could say the beginning. The first part of the story can be found here. The second part can be found here. Finally the third part can be found by clicking here.
This is my fifth official entry for the contest 'Love Marriage Ya Arrange Marriage' hosted by Indiblogger and sponsored by Sony Entertainment Television.
The first entry for the contest can be found by clicking here.
Don't forget to check out the link Love Ya Arrange.
Image Courtesy: Google Images!
For more, tune into Sony, Monday to Thursday, 08:30 PM.
P.S. Whether Love Marriage or Arrange Marriage, it does not matter. All depends on trust and compromise one is willing to make for keeping the relationship going. Sometimes, one has to make more compromise than the other. But hey, don't lose hope. Life is a bumpy ride and so is the marriage. So, best is to enjoythe bumps and keep the ball rolling because Shaadi hi ek aisa laddoo hai, jo khaye wo pachtaye aur jo na khaye .............wo bhi pachtaye!