When Neha met Kunal there was an instant connect. She walked into the room and felt as though someone was willing her to look at him. She looked up, saw him smile a smile that seemed warm and genuine and couldn’t help smiling back. She sat down on the sofa opposite to his. A few pleasantries and they got talking. It didn’t seem as though they were meeting for the first time. It was as though they had known each other for a long time. The conversation seemed to be flowing freely and naturally, a no holds kind of exchange. He was very easy to talk to and she felt at ease with him. There were no pretenses, no posturing. And the most important thing was that he had not sized her up when she had walked into the room as most men are liable to do. It had not seemed as though he was judging her looks or clothes or anything at all. It instantly made her feel comfortable. And what was more It hadn’t turned out to be like a regular boy-girl meeting as she had been expecting, (though they did not really fall into the boy-girl category at all, more like man-woman!!) Their conversation had been pretty much like what two friends would have had and in the course of it, they discovered that they had a lot in common which seemed to be a good starting point.
On her way back she kept thinking about what had she had liked about him. Was it the looks, yes maybe, was it his behaviour, yes definitely. She knew that he had left a favourable impression on her and she wanted to meet him again.
She reached home, parked the car and was climbing up the stairs to her apartment when she heard her mother call out to her and ask her, ” Neha, how was the meeting? I have been waiting for so long!!” Of her mother!!
And then Adit, “Mummy, what took you so long?”
Could they not wait for her to get in?? Apparently not!
She got to the front door and it opened as if on cue!! Obviously! Grandmother and grandson! Her world, the two loves of her life. She looked at them with love pouring out of her being. She gave them each a tight hug. They were eager to hear her story but she said, “ Wait! I need to shower and change and then I am all yours”
They were not too happy but nonetheless had to wait. She came out and then at the dinner table the inquisition began.
“How was he? Good looking? Nice? Do you think you could take this forward? Did you talk about Adit? “
Neha looked at her mother with a smile and a look of exasperation. “ Wait, one by one”
She told them that Kunal had seemed to be a nice guy, they had had a long conversation and had found that they shared many interests. They were both outgoing, loved meeting people but at the same time loved to spend evenings with their books and music too. Most of all they loved children. Neha couldn’t help feel the relief that seemed to just wash over Adit. She got up and hugged him, they both had tears in their eyes. Her mother, Shruti folded her hands and prayed for their happiness.
Happiness was something that had been eluding them for a long time. It hadn’t been easy for Shruti to bring up her daughter all by herself. Her husband had died when Neha had just been two. Shruti had not been very well educated so she had not been able to find a job which could give her enough money to support the two of them. As a result, she had had to seek help from her parents and later on from her siblings too. But in spite of all hardships, she had managed to educate her daughter well and enable her to become independent in every respect. Then Neha had fallen in love and decided to get married to this boy Vikram who had seemed to be a nice boy but had turned out to be quite the opposite. Neha had been married for two years to him but those two years had been sheer hell for both mother and daughter. He had left her after subjecting her to the worse possible physical and mental abuse. The brief marriage had left Neha in a state of shock, disbelief and some very painful memories. The only good thing that had come out of those painful two years had been Adit, her son though at that time Shruti had not believed that. At that time and several times later as well the mother in Shruti had wondered if finding someone else to get married to would have been easier for Neha if she didn’t have a child.But then she would look at the little, innocent Adit and curse herself for harbouring such thoughts.
Life had never been easy for Shruti but she always had been hopeful about Neha’s life but her hopes had got dashed. And after the divorce, their problems had only grown. Thankfully Neha had continued to work during the course of her marriage despite her problems. And so when the divorce had taken place they had had something to fall back upon.But even with a job surviving in metro with an old mother and a young child had been not easy at all. In fact, each day had been a struggle. And with Adit growing up and Shruti growing old the struggle had seemed never-ending.Her own life had never been easy and she had always believed that God would give Neha an easier one but sadly that had never happened. Money, security all had been a problem. Though Neha earned quite a bit it was never quite enough. Added to that was Shruti’s greatest concern. She wanted her to get married again as she did not want her to lead the lonely life that she herself had had to. But that was easier said than done. Though she had tried various means to do that she just couldn’t find the right person for her. And if she did then that person didn’t want the son. But now after almost seven years, a ray of hope seemed to be emerging. She could only keep her fingers crossed.
Neha helped her mother wind up for the day. It had been a long day, she wanted to get into bed but before that, she wanted to spend some time with Adit. She could see in his eyes that he had a hundred questions to ask. So after finishing her work she went up to him. He looked at her and asked, ” Mummy, will you be getting married to him?” She could sense a variety of emotions in that question. There was an element of fear, of insecurity, of anticipation along with happiness for her. She said, ” No beta, it’s too early, I need time to decide”.
But though she needed time, Kunal didn’t have the luxury of waiting for too long. For one he had to get back to Sydney which is where he lived with his five-year daughter and second of all he had fallen in love with Neha. Though it felt odd to be feeling that kind of emotion at the age of forty he did not want to let go of an opportunity which would bring happiness into his life. He needed a wife, his daughter needed a mother. And if Neha agreed he could be a husband to her and a father to her son. It could all fit in very well. But though he was sure, he could see that Neha wasn’t. He could understand her apprehension as he was wanting her to uproot herself and move with him to a strange, new country.Being a caring person he could see that she needed time and so he decided to go back and give her that time. Meanwhile, they could keep in touch.
And they did exactly that. For a year and a half they spoke, they did video calls and whenever possible they even met. In fact, Kunal persuaded Neha to visit Sydney along with Shruti and Adit so that all three could get to understand him and his life in a better way. So during Adit’s vacation, the three of them planned a trip to Australia and though Kunal wanted to pay for their tickets, Neha flatly refused, she was way too independent for that. They reached Sydney and both the families spent a lot of time together, sightseeing, shopping and exploring the place. It was a wonderful experience for all of them including Shruti who wouldn’t allow herself to be left behind. What was truly heartwarming about this whole thing was the manner in which Kunal ensured that he included her in everything. He also made sure that he got to spend time with each one of them individually as well. He wanted to get to know all them better and each one was equally important. He took care of everyone’s interests. What was most encouraging was the fact that both the children got along really well. Life had dealt some tough blows to them as a result of which they had matured beyond their years but it had made them turn out to be sensible and sensitive kids who cared deeply for their respective parents. Shruti also liked everything about Kunal and his life. And she simply adored the now six-year-old Amaira who seemed to follow her and Adit wherever they went.
For Neha too being with him was in sharp contrast to what it had been with her ex-husband and later on with all the other men she had met or dated. Her husband, of course, had been a different ball game altogether. He had left her traumatized and she had needed a tremendous amount of willpower to bounce back. Thankfully she had had the support of her mother and son. All the other men had been more interested in what they could get physically out of her and really could not care about her emotions, her feelings or about the fact that she had a child. Before meeting Kunal she had in fact reached a stage where she was quite done with men and had accepted that she would have to forget about finding the right person to spend the rest of her life with. But then Kunal had come and though initially, she had had trepidations about him as well she was now coming around and could feel that the two of them could build a life together. He had proved to be a dependable and loving person who cared for her and for her mother and son too. She could visualize a life with him where all of them could be happy which was what she ultimately wanted. His daughter who was just a little girl who wanted a mother’s love and having been told that Neha could be her mother would not let go of her. Thus in a way the trip to Sydney kind of sealed the deal. On the flight back home she had a heart to heart chat with both Shruti and Adit to get their views and they both seemed pretty upbeat about the idea. In fact, Adit was quite looking forward to the idea of living in Sydney. He was tired of leading a life where people could not stop asking questions about his father. Also as he was growing older he was missing the presence of a father figure in his life and he could see a father in Kunal. Kunal on his part had made the effort of spending time with him, trying to understand him, getting to know him better. Shruti, of course, couldn’t stop raving about Kunal. She felt that he was just the right person for Neha and for Adit too. Somewhere Neha too felt the same and so decided to accept his proposal. With a smile on her face, she went off to sleep.
On reaching back she immediately called Kunal and said the much awaited ”Yes” much to everyone’s joy and relief. Kunal’s joy and relief on hearing this was palpable over the phone connection. They quickly moved to a video call and the happiness in both the households had to be seen to be believed. Amaira was jumping with joy, Adit was grinning away and Shruti couldn’t stop hugging her daughter. Everyone wanted to talk, say things to each other, there was total madness. And most of all there was happiness, pure, unadulterated happiness. All of Shruti’s worries, concerns, insecurities seemed to be melting away. The one thing that she had wanted for her and her daughter all her life was now coming to them. They were going to be happy and start life afresh.
Shruti immediately started preparing for the wedding and though both Kunal and Neha wanted it to be a low key affair she wouldn’t hear any of it. And so three months later the two got married. Six months on and the family of Shruti, Neha and Adit moved to Sydney, lock, stock and barrel.
And the so….the love story of Neha and Kunal ended with a happy ending and they all lived happily ever after.