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His Past & Her Future

Updated: 3 days ago

Cover Photo by Ravindra Patoju

A few years into their relationship, Karan finished his Master’s before asking Supriya if she was willing to lead her life with him. Even though they were emotionally invested since they met, this was the first time they approached the topic of marriage. Before each of them could truly answer the question of leading a life together, both of them had to address their insecurities and muster their strength to respectfully disagree with the very people who created, raised and helped them shape their lives.


“His Past & Her Future” by Rajiv R Nair is the story of a couple coming from different cultures and religions with strict orthodox families and the stages they had to go through to lead a life together. Dealing with the idea that defiance isn’t always necessarily an act of disrespect, this novelette talks about how standing up for a few decisions in life is worth it, even if it comes at a cost.

 
 

Chapter I


In the candlelight, I couldn’t stop looking into her twinkling eyes while sitting across from her on a romantic cold evening. Her beautiful eyes often expressed so much more than her words did and on that special evening, she couldn’t stop showing me how happy she was about my achievement. What I loved the most was that she didn’t even say, “Congratulations!”


I mean, why would she? It was her success too as much as it was mine. On that pleasant evening, I was finally relieved of the responsibility that I had accepted when I stepped into this foreign land referred to as Italia. I was finally a graduate in the field of Computer Science from the Sapienza University of Rome and it had taken me three years to get to that point. Though the journey wasn’t easy, I hadn’t just earned a degree but also met the girl who struck my heart with her thunder.




 

Chapter II


It was the day I arrived in Italy and there I was standing with fellow students who were still strangers to me, waiting for the clock to hit 8 a.m.


The plan was that three students from the university would take us on a city tour and show us around. Though I would have preferred to sleep for an hour more, my dorm mate Lavanya couldn’t stop knocking on my door from 6:30 a.m. I don’t know if she was insecure to travel alone or was panicking on her first day in the city but she couldn’t help herself from waking me. Freshening up, we tied our ponytails, wore thick coats and put on our fancy boots to start our morning. In a hurry, we reached about twenty minutes early but so did many other freshers. In the cold, cursing myself, I stood at the city centre, just waiting for the clock to reach eight.



 

Chapter III


Looking at the hills and dead trees passing by, being dressed by snow that was descending from the dark skies, as I was resting in the train, I couldn’t help but relive the ethereal experience from the day before. The music, the church and the attire of everyone in the chamber. God, that’s how it should be done if you ask me. The elegance and class in the event were unparalleled and the bride and bridegroom felt like they were made for each other.


Our train was rushing from Florence to Rome with an hour delay, I still could not get over it. Supriya was listening to songs sitting right in front of me with her eyes closed. Though she kept complaining before the trip that she will be losing an entire week during her thesis and would only like to attend at the weekend, I straight out issued an ultimatum that she just had to attend the entire week. In the end, she was much more glad than I was that she attended the entire event.




 

Chapter IV


At sunset as leaves slipped from the branches, I walked along with Karan underneath an arch formed by trees. It seemed like he was bugged being alone at his place after Seby and Lavanya left for their first date and he thought since I would be alone too, it would be a good idea if we took a stroll. At least, that’s what he told me and I couldn’t help but pretend to believe it.


For a while, covered in our hoodies, as it got cold every passing minute, we walked in silence until he hesitantly asked, “So Supriya, I was curious to ask you if you are seeing someone?”




 

Chapter V


On that particular cold evening, as it drizzled, I was accompanied by Supriya and before me were my parents in a video call. After a lot of to and fro, we had reached an impasse and I was asked to make a choice. A choice that no matter what, would shatter the hearts of one side. In that chaotic moment, time seemed to have paused and everyone looked at me expecting an answer.


At that moment, I couldn’t help but recall the story of Norma Jean. The story that made me realise my father wasn’t a superhero but was just any other man bound to the social norms of his time. Though it wasn’t a pleasant realisation, sooner or later all of us must accept the reality of such an idea. At least that’s how we grow beyond them and be one step ahead. However, it isn’t to say he wasn’t my hero.



 

Chapter VI


Years after I was thrown away from the very man who created me, I stood before him at his home as the sun was about to set. If not for the message from my uncle to return home as soon as possible, I would have never wanted to see him again.


He continued gawking at me from the moment I got off the cab and if my uncle wasn’t accompanying me, he would have exercised the best way he knew to educate children by striking them irrespective of their age.




 

Chapter VII


Sitting on our comfy sofa in the cosy common room, I stared at the grey clouds and the shrubs at our window.


Though the moment was exactly as I envisioned, I was more disturbed than contended. Ever since our discussion with my parents, I wasn’t myself. Now that I was done achieving what I had set out to do, I wanted to return home, but how could I? Should I go alone? Should we go together? Would Supriya agree to accompany me? Would my parents agree to let us stay in their place together? What if they insult and embarrass us at their doorstep? Should I continue with my life without meeting them? Can I live with myself if I marry Supriya without my parents’ blessings? How would my parents react knowing about Supriya’s family?




 

Chapter VIII


On a sunny morning, at eight, I stepped into the church after nearly three years hoping to talk to the God I supposedly was to believe in. Sitting on one of the benches and looking at the crucified Christ, I held myself for a moment before saying, “I want you to carry a message for me to one of your companions, Holy Christ. I know, I’m a sinner and it is the devil that guides me but the receiver of this message has been your staunch ally all her life and after everything, I think she deserves to hear this from me.”

Clenching my fists and holding my tears, I took a deep breath before continuing, “Maa, I’m sorry for choosing to not come and pay my last respects. Unfortunately, I don’t possess the strength to live with the image of a fallen you in my mind. For me, you are always that happy soul who made the best of every situation and tried the hardest to raise me properly.”




 

Chapter IX


It had been three years since I visited home. Nothing really changed except my parents. It was surprising initially that my father let us stay at his home. He even offered Supriya and me to stay in the same room though I politely refused and since our arrival for about two days, no one spoke a single word.


In the beginning, I thought their silence was a way of expressing their anger but with every passing day, it became evident that they didn’t have any intentions to deal with me anymore. They heard what I said and they offered what they had. Except for that, there was nothing more.




 

Chapter X


Lying on my bed, I thought about how Karan would react about not being informed about my mother. The last time I saw him was at the airport when I left to meet her and ever since we have only been in touch via phone but I didn’t think he needed to know. As a matter of fact, I didn’t think anyone needed to know. Neither Lavanya or Sebastian knew and I had no plans to tell them either.


For forty days, I hadn’t attended a single class. I locked myself in my room and didn’t even care to open the shutter but opened the window once in a while for fresh air. I left my part-time job and killed my days by eating junk and watching anything I could find.



 

Now with that said, we make it evidently clear that our happiness is a consequence of our defiance and commitment to our combined values. We have in fact, led our lives holding up to our beliefs and following our respective faiths. We were blessed with twins, prospects, health and prosperity. At our age now, we are even being called outdated and the times we come from are no longer prevalent. The world we started in isn’t anywhere to be found and the value systems that our children have, are alien to us. As it is said, change is inevitable and our acceptance isn’t of any significance.

However, before we truly conclude, we feel it is important to accept and share our failures just as our successes. In our self-belief that we are doing the right thing, both of us have alienated our lineage entirely. In the pursuit of not being dictated by an unseen legacy, we were left with no legacy at all. It is reprehensible that our children not only fail to celebrate most of our festivals but haven’t gotten a clue about our ancestors or motherland.



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