Avi and Anu had met each other on Jan 2020 after their families had set them up for an arranged marriage meeting. On the first meeting, Avi found Anu to be a very chirpy and bubbly girl. Avi, on the other hand, was a much more introverted, grounded and composed person. But to their surprise, both of them hit it off quite well. Avi felt a strange sense of comfort and security around Anu. By the end of their “date”, both were laughing and joking around as if they had known each other for a long period. As they bid each other goodbyes, Avi had a wide smile on his face. He did not want their conversation to end and wanted to know more about her. But that looked less feasible as Anu was travelling back to Mumbai the following week to resume her job. When Avi’s family asked him about the meeting, Avi replied, “It went well, and she is a very fun loving and nice girl. But both of us need some more time to understand each other if we want to take this forward”. That very night Anu texted Avi and said that even she had told a similar thing to her parents. Both of them started chatting and talking over the phone a lot. They used to gossip about their friends, office work and the occasional Delhi v/s Mumbai debates. Avi was planning to visit Mumbai and meet her so that they could have a real conversation (unlike the virtual ones).
Meanwhile, the Corona news was all over the place, and a complete lockdown was inevitable. Avi, on Anu’s advice, cancelled all his travelling plans and started working from home from 1st week of March itself. The government finally announced a complete lockdown on 24th March. A strange sense of panic, uncertainty and fear was spreading across the country. Avi was really worried about Anu who was all alone in Mumbai amidst this chaos and madness. Now that WFH was made compulsory for everyone, weekdays and weekends felt the same. The daily chats and video calls between Anu and Avi were now reduced to once or twice a week. Avi’s company decided to enforce salary cuts owing to loss of business due to the pandemic. He worked 14 hours a day and had started to become a little irritable and cranky. He started having frequent fights on petty things with Anu. Anu was unable to make him understand what he was going through and that she was actually trying to help him. The lack of time, the distance and the pandemic had slowly started to affect this blooming relationship. Anu finally broke down one day and said “Avi, you seriously need to handle your shit first, only then can we think about us. Even I am all alone in a city working my ass off and with the fear that if I get COVID, then who will take care of me and what will I do?.” She hung up the phone and stopped picking up Avi’s phone. Avi decided to give Anu some space and did not disturb her further. But Anu’s words had had a deep impact on him. He realised that he had become so obsessed with his life and his work that he had completely overlooked Anu’s problems and had started to take her for granted. Avi could not sleep for days, and it started affecting his health. His parents were worried and wanted him to take some rest. As he was sitting on the couch one day and staring at his phone waiting for a message from Anu, his grandmother sat beside him and said “Kya hua Beta? Dukhi lag raha hai beta tu bahut. Did you have a fight with Anu?” Avi looked at his grandmother and laid his head over her shoulder as tears dropped from his eyes.
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Looking at her grandson’s tears, Daadi could not control herself and asked,” Kya hua Beta? Kuch to bata. “Avi looked up at his grandmother and replied “I am a very bad guy. I have let down Anu when she needed me the most. And iss Corona ko bhi abhi ana tha. Wo mera phone bhi nahi utha rahi hai. How can I solve this Daadi?” Daadi smiled and replied.” Beta agar tu bura hota na to aise aansu nahi bahata. At least you guys have a phone, and you can talk to each other whenever you want. But in our days we waited weeks and days for letters to come especially during the times of partition and the emergency period when your grandpa was out of town for weeks”.
Avi wiped his tears and was curious to listen to Daadi’s version of “Long distance relationship”. He asked, “To fir ap logo ne kaise manage kiya? How did you solve the issues when you had no other means of communication and when Daadu lived so far away from you?” Daadi replied, “Time and distance is temporary, but trust and love lives on forever. Whenever we had fights or arguments, I knew that come what may; your Daadu would never stop caring for me. Despite our fights, we ensured that we wrote letters on a weekly basis even if it was just one line or even a word. The number of words or letters did not matter for us. What mattered was our commitment towards each other and the promise to always have each other’s back no matter how bad the situation was.” Avi was spellbound listening to this amazing bond between his grandfather and grandmother. He further asked, “Didn’t you guys ever get fed up of each other?” Daadi laughed and replied, ”Daadu ka to pata nahi but I never got fed up of him. The little mischiefs, the fights, the roothna and manana, the silent support are all that made our lives worthwhile. In any case, don’t you think if everything is always lovey-dovey all the time, you will actually get fed up of each other? Don’t be too hard on yourself even when you have done something wrong or if you have hurt your partner’s feeling. Accepting it and making an effort to make a relationship work is the most important thing to do.”
As Avi was listening to his Daadi, he realised that this was the longest time in months that he and Daadi had spoken to each other for such a long time. The lockdown had finally done what he could not do for months- a good long chat between a grandmother and a grandson. His head went down, and he hugged his Daadi. He added, “I am sorry, Daadi! I could not be there for you always, and thank you for always being there for me.” Daadi with teary eyes, replied “Chal chal ab rulayega kya? You are my grandson, and I always know that you will be there for me like Daadu was for me. Ab rona bandh kar aur ja apni Anu ko mana le.”Avi learned that day that lockdown, partitions, emergency, distance and different time zones can not damage any relationship. A relationship becomes strained due to lack of communication and ego. If you really care for someone, you will always find ways and means to love each other. Situations and times might be testing, but love always prevails.
After a series of sorries, Anu finally replied and apologised as well for her rude behaviour. Avi, from then on made sure that he not only took out time for Anu but also for his first love- his Daadi.
About the Author:
My name is Abhishek Chaudhuri – a Bengali by birth and a true Delhiite by heart. I work as a credit analyst at a UK based Bank in Gurgaon. The lockdown proved to be a blessing in disguise for me as I could rekindle my love for writing which I had lost in the rat race of getting into a good MBA institute and then getting a decent job in a reputed firm. Apart from my mundane day job, I love writing poems and short stories in my pastime. Writing and travelling both take me to unexplored places and add different colours in my life. One day I would love to write a thriller as I have always been a big Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Felu Da fan.