Rashi was just eighteen when she saw Sanat for the first time. She had got admission into a college where Sanat was already studying. Sanat was Rashi’s senior and the heartthrob of all the girls. He was everything a girl would want a boy to be, tall, good looking, a fantastic singer, a star tennis player and good in academics too. And what killed the girls was the deep, sexy baritone. Girls would approach him to hear his voice, and of course, he would gladly oblige. What made this package even more attractive was that he was Mr Richie Rich!! Son of a well-known industrialist he had all the money in the world, and that wasn’t all. He was humble to a fault. All in all, quite irresistible!!
His was the first name that Rashi heard when she entered the portals of her college. Professors, students, administrative staff everyone seemed to be mesmerised by him. Everyone talked about him, and his popularity amazed Rashi. So it was but natural for her to want to see this Greek God! And when she did see him, she too got swept by the Sanat Tsunami!
Sanat though not oblivious to all this, didn’t give it a lot of importance. He kind of accepted it and let it be.
Although there was no real reason for their paths to cross as luck would have it, it wasn’t long before they did. As Sanat was head of the Student’s union and Rashi was a fresher and an active one, they ended up bumping into each other quite often. And then Rashi became her class representative, and the interactions increased. Rashi was quite outspoken and though an enamoured junior wasn’t the kinds to keep shut when she wanted to say something. And so it wasn’t long before she started getting noticed by people. She would take part in discussions about various issues concerning students. She was an intelligent girl and genuinely cared about student welfare and issues related to it. She always had valid points to make which though not initially but gradually came to be taken seriously by most people. Sanat also began to notice her and slowly started involving her in their discussions. Not only that, with time, he started valuing her opinions too. All this led to more interactions, coffee sessions by virtue of which they began to get to know each other better, discovering shared interests along the way. Their love for music, books, travel brought them closer. And with time they became terrific friends. Since they were pursuing the same course, Sanat became more like a mentor, guiding her, helping her with various things, including her academics. There wasn’t a day when they did not meet or speak, and when they did, they had lots to talk about and share.
But it wasn’t all a smooth sail because Sanat had a girlfriend Sakshi who for obvious reasons did not take to the friendship very well. Sakshi was this hot looking girl, from a background as wealthy as Sanat’s. The two of them had known each other since childhood, and their parents were friends too. It was expected that they would carry this friendship further and get married. And because of this, Sakshi treated Sanat as her private property and did not like it when he interacted with other girls. So, therefore, when Rashi’s interaction with Sanat increased, and she came to be seen with him, Sakshi could not tolerate it and wanted to finish the friendship. It wasn’t as though she could stop Sanat from interacting with other girls, but in this case, she could sense that it wasn’t just a casual friendship. Although initially, she had taken it lightly with time she could see that this was different and so she needed to take things in her control. She hated Rashi for that and thus would not miss an opportunity to humiliate her, make fun of her and put her down. She would make fun of her clothes, her accent, of the fact that she travelled by bus, the list was endless. Most of the times Rashi would ignore all the jibes and insults, but sometimes things would get to her, although even then she would never let Sakshi see that. She would walk away without reacting, which would enrage Sakshi. Now Sakshi had this diva status in college with most people being in awe of her and hanging on to every word that she uttered. But Rashi wasn’t a part of that brigade. She didn’t like Sakshi and therefore, by and large, ignored her. Sakshi also had loads of money to spend, and because of that also she had many people vying for her attention. She loved being the centre of everything. She had had to have the best of everything which meant the best of clothes, jewellery, cars, holidays and even boyfriends and since Sanat was the best guy around, he had to be hers. This had been the scene until Rashi had come along. Rashi with her middle-class values and upbringing, Rashi who was average in most things as compared to Sakshi but for academics and intellect. And then this Rashi had gone and done the thinkable, the unbelievable and the unacceptable. She had become friends with Sanat.
Now the fact was that in Sakshi’s world, people like Rashi had no reason to exist. And since Sanat belonged to her kind of a world, she couldn’t comprehend how and on what basis could they connect. On the other hand she and Sanat had so much in common, their families were friends, they had grown up together, were neighbours and in fact, they were expected to marry each other at some point. So when he was all hers, how could he even look at someone else?? What was wrong with him?? And to add fuel to the fire Sakshi’s so-called friends couldn’t stop rubbing this in all the time. As a result even though initially she had not given so much importance to the friendship but with her friends pointing it out to her all the time, she had got bitten by the jealousy bug and started picking up fights within Sanat over this. Though the first few times Sanat had tried to calm her and to explain to her that her fears and concerns were baseless with time he got sick and tired of all the explaining and accounting for his movements and eventually got so fed up that he decided to break up with her. What Sakshi did not realise was that by insulting and humiliating Rashi in the presence of Sanat, she had pushed Sanat towards her. He felt terrible whenever she did such a thing. He felt guilty about it and then to make up to her, he would spend more time with Rashi. There was this particular incident which Sanat could never forget. They had all been sitting in the college canteen when he had had to step out for a bit. And when he stepped in, he heard Sakshi arguing with Rashi in the course of which she not only said some hurtful things to her but also called her names. He was livid when he heard her call Rashi a gold digger. He walked up to them and in an extremely calm manner, looked at Sakshi and said,” I think you are insulting and mean. You have no business to speak to Rashi in this manner, and I believe that you should apologise to her.”
Sakshi had looked at him in disbelief and anger and had said,’ Nothing doing!! She is a gold digger, out to get you and you are a fool for not being able to see through her. You will regret this.’ With that, she had turned around and walked out but not before giving a murderous look to Rashi. But what happened as a result of this and all the other incidents before this was that Sanat was able to see through Sakshi and realise that he could not have anything to do with someone as shallow, as arrogant as her. He realised that he could not be even friends with her and definitely could not get married to her. As a result, he decided to break up with her. Though the breakup had more to do with Sakshi’s behaviour and attitude than anything else, Sakshi blamed Rashi for it.
However, the breakup meant that Sanat no longer had to feel guilty about spending time with Rashi. In a way with Sakshi now being out of the way, he started feeling freer and started gravitating even more towards Rashi. The bond started deepening. They became inseparable and began to spend more and more time with each other. What Rashi liked about Sanat was the fact that though he came from a moneyed background, he never made it obvious. He had none of the airs which could be expected from someone like him. And this was a refreshing change from Sakshi and her friends. In fact, though he had a well known last name, he never revealed it if he could help it. He did it only when it was necessary. He was polite and courteous with everyone. And with Rashi, he made it doubly sure that his background never came in the way. He cared a lot for her and could not imagine doing anything at all to hurt her. And what made the relationship stronger was the fact that even Rashi never got deterred by Sanat’s money or status. She was a supremely confident girl to whom these things never mattered. She liked Sanat for who he was as a person, and it had nothing to do with his money or social status. Sanat, on his part, loved her bubbly personality, her belief in herself and her values. She was very different from most of the other girls that he had come in contact with, and that made her pretty irresistible to him. It was as though they fitted into each other and with that being the case, people like Sakshi had no hope in hell.
Time moved on, and before long, it was time for Sanat to leave college and go abroad to pursue further studies. His father wanted him not only to study abroad but also to work there for sometime before heading back to join the family business. This meant that Sanat and Rashi would be separated and the period for this separation was not definite. But there wasn’t much that they could do about it. They parted ways but with promises to stay in touch. And they did that. They spoke whenever possible, met whenever possible and kept the love alive. Sanat completed his course and started working in New York. Rashi also having completed her graduation enrolled for her Masters. By now, their families had got to know about their relationship and were not too happy about it. The reason was obvious. There was a huge and glaring difference in the social and financial backgrounds of the two families.
Rashi and her parents lived in a modest apartment in one of the modest localities of Mumbai while Sanat lived in the swankiest apartment in the poshest area. Sanat’s father was a well-known industrialist who had business interests in different parts of the world while Rashi’s father was a government official who had spent all his life in Mumbai. More than anyone else, it was Rashi’s father who was dead against the friendship. He wanted his daughter to be happy under all circumstances, and he was sure that this relationship would not let her be. Therefore he wanted his daughter to nip the relationship before it became difficult to do that. But that wasn’t meant to be. Sanat came back, and the first thing he did was to propose to Rashi who madly in love with him accepted the proposal. Then he announced his decision to his parents who though aware of the friendship, had not expected this, not wanted this but there it was!!
Sanat’s mother, in particular, was not willing to accept someone from a background like Rashi’s. She tried every trick in the book to finish off the relationship, from trying to convince her son to discouraging Rashi, to speaking to her parents, her husband, but nothing worked. As a last resort, she spoke to her daughter, who was married and lived in Bangalore and who was close to Sanat. She wanted her to somehow make sure that Sanat would change his decision and marry someone like a Sakshi who was from a similar background. The daughter Neelam was a sensible girl, and she knew her brother very well. She knew that once he had made up his mind about something, he was not going to change it no matter what. Therefore before doing anything at her mother’s bidding, Neelam decided to meet Rashi. And when she did that she found she quite liked her and could see that she would be a great life partner for her brother. Yes, she was from a different background, yes her parents were not as wealthy, and life would be difficult but so what!! Everyone had issues, problems, and she believed that with the right kind of an attitude, everything could be sorted. Money was necessary, but it wasn’t the only thing needed for a relationship to work.
On meeting Rashi, Neelam also figured that her mother’s behaviour had quite unnerved the girl and she was having second thoughts about her future with Sanat. She couldn’t understand how she and Sanat would be able to live happily with each other if his mother was so much against them marrying each other. Now Neelam was quite aware of her mother’s dominating nature and her ability to unsettle people. So, therefore, she decided to pacify Rashi and calm her down. She assured her that with time, her mother would come around and consequently she had no reason to be doubtful. The only thing was that she and Sanat needed to be patient until the time that happened. But all the same, being a practical person, she also apprised Rashi of what it could be like when she married her brother, how her life would change. But she did all this more to prepare her than for any other reason.
Moreover, she also told her that as long as the two of them were together, nobody could come in between them. This conversation had a significant impact on Rashi who managed to get back the confidence in herself and the relationship. Sanat couldn’t thank his sister enough for having counselled Rashi, which was something that he had not been able to do. He, on his part, was very clear about his feelings for Rashi and was willing to stand up to anyone who had an objection.
But the standing up was not easy at all. He first had to convince Rashi’s father about his intentions and his love for his daughter. While he agreed with the objections, he felt that together they would be able to deal with them. He agreed that Rashi would have to adjust and adapt to a lot of new things and new ways of doing things, but he was sure that it would all work out. He spent hours with his prospective father-in-law, who eventually could see how much Sanat loved his daughter and would do anything to ensure her happiness. He was left with no reason to doubt him, and so ultimately he had no choice but to give in. But before doing that he looked at Sanat in the eye and said, ‘ Rashi means the world to me, and I will not be able to see her unhappy. It will break my heart to see her sad.’
Sanat looked at him and said, ‘ I will make sure that she is happy no matter what. This is my promise to you’. He walked up, touched his feet and asked for his blessings. By then, Rashi’s mother had also come out, and both the parents with tears in their eyes blessed the two. Their blessings meant the world to the two of them. But now they had to handle Sanat’s parents. Sanat decided to first speak to his father, who he knew would be more open to reason. As expected his father, Suresh was initially opposed to the idea, but his objection stemmed mainly from his belief that Rashi would have a tough time adjusting to an entirely new way of living which would be made more difficult by his mother and her circle of family and friends. All the same, he agreed to meet Rashi, and when he did that he could see very clearly what his son had seen in her. She came across as a sensible and level headed girl who was very different from the daughters of all their friends. She was smart, well educated and aware of the world around her.
Moreover, she was in love with Sanat and was getting into the relationship, knowing fully well that it wasn’t going to be easy, but she was still willing to take on the challenge. Moreover, she was incredibly respectful and courteous to him. He could not find any reason to say no to his son, and so he gave the green signal. But he warned him that convincing his mother would not be easy. However, he promised to do whatever he could to persuade her.
But as expected Urmila, Sanat’s mother proved to be a tough nut to crack. She was not willing to even discuss the topic. She was very clear that she did not want Rashi as her daughter-in-law, and that was that. Though Sanat, his father and sister tried to make her see reason she was adamant. And to make matters worse, Sakshi who was still smarting from the rebuff filled Urmila’s ears against Rashi. She told her that Rashi was an uncouth girl not fit for their family at all. She convinced Urmila that Rashi would be a total misfit in their sophisticated and cultured setup. So whatever doubts Urmila had were put to rest by Sakshi, and she decided to put her foot down. Sanat had no choice but to agree, but then he was also his mother’s son, and if she was stubborn, he was no less. He stopped talking to his mother and cut down on all his interaction with her. He decided to immerse himself in his work so that he had no time at all. But in spite of all that he did not let go of Rashi. He made it clear that no matter what he would marry her only and if he could not marry her, then he would not marry anyone at all. This stalemate continued for the next six months with both the mother and son refusing to budge. Things got awkward for everyone because there was absolutely no communication between them. Sanat’s father eventually got tired of all this and also lost his cool with his wife as he felt that she was being unnecessarily stubborn. He also thought that this sort of a situation spelt disaster for the future when Sanat eventually got married to Rashi because he knew that that was inevitable. Since he could not understand how to deal with the situation, he made a plan with his daughter to take Urmila on a holiday where apart from the three of them Urmila’s father would also be there. And between the three of them, they would try and make her see sense. This turned out to be a good idea because the three of them in a way managed to corner Urmila and leave her with no choice but to agree.
Many years later also Suresh remembered the way his father-in-law had handled his daughter. His words had remain etched in his memory for many, many years. He had asked his daughter point-blank as to why was she not letting Sanat lead his life the way he wanted to. He had not let her utter a word until he had said what he had wanted to.
He had gone on to tell her that she was behaving like a spoilt child and though somewhere she knew that she couldn’t get her way, she wasn’t prepared to accept the reality. Her objection was unreasonable and made no sense. He had reminded her of the fact that even when she had got married to Suresh, their background had not been that great either. Therefore he told her very categorically that she had to stop behaving the way she had been and give in gracefully to her son’s wishes if she wanted peace and harmony in the house.
Neelam also had a heart to heart chat with her mother and told her very clearly that she could end up losing her son if she continued being that stubborn. She told her that she had met Rashi many times and could not find any reason to reject her like that. She explained to her mother that she was letting the so-called background issue blow out of proportion and she should stop listening to people like Sakshi who had a vested interest anyway. Since Urmila was away from her friends and their influence, she could also be a little objective about the situation and could see sense in her daughter’s words.
Suresh also spoke to her and tried to convince her to agree.
Finally, all their efforts paid off, and the inevitable happened. They were able to make her see sense, and after a week of this sustained effort, Urmila agreed. Somewhere her father had been able to do what they had been unable to. They all came back happy and relieved. Sanat could not believe that they had managed to pull off the impossible. He immediately called up Rashi and shared the news with her.
The next three months were full of joy and happiness. They all got together to prepare for the wedding. Urmila met up with Rashi and apologised for her behaviour and welcomed her into the family. Rashi also decided to let bygones be bygones and move on. Her parents were hugely relieved at the development and looked forward to a happy future for their daughter.
But how happy was the future??? Was it easy for Rashi to settle in her new environment?? To know more wait for Love is Beautiful….Part 2.