Like many romantic stories which begin on a journey, the origin of my ‘Jab We Met’ story can be traced to a bus journey. However, let me clarify it wasn’t love at first sight. No spark kindled, no fireworks, no violins played in the background, no butterflies fluttered in my stomach when I met him for the first time. It was just an encounter that remained etched somewhere in my subconscious mind.
It was a cold Monday morning, when I caught a bus at the crack of dawn from my home town Jalandhar to reach Chandigarh where I had recently joined as a lecturer in a college. Midway through the journey, the snoozing passengers of the early morning bus were shaken as the bus came to a halt with a thud. Anxiously, the passengers alighted from the bus and started waiting for an alternate conveyance to reach their destination. Among the stranded passengers, I happened to notice a handsome young man wearing a dark green hand-woven pullover with a matching cap. Not the ‘Mills & Boons’ hero kind, but the man who caught my attention was definitely fair and handsome. While he was dressed smartly, my attire couldn’t have been weirder; I was wearing a pure white sari, the dress code for Mondays for the teachers in my college during those days in early 80s.With my class starting at 10 o’clock, there was hardly any time to change from a casual-comfortable dress to a sari and hence, the awkward six-yard white drape on a cold winter morning.
As I waited anxiously, a Roadways bus passing by, almost full, stopped. There was a scramble to get into the bus. Desperate to reach the college in time, I dashed to board the bus with a bag in my hand. As I was struggling to get into the crowded bus, the young man intervened, “Don’t board the bus. It’s too crowded. Wait for the next one.” Brushing aside his sound piece of advice, I embarked upon my onward journey while he stayed back. A fleeting glance and we departed as strangers.
I had almost forgotten about the man and the episode until we met again. Though arranged by our parents, this time again it was a chance meeting, in fact, a surprise for both of us. There he was a prospective groom who had come to meet me. As we sat face to face with each other, the memory of the fleeting encounter flashed across my mind. Not just I, but he too had vivid memory of the incident.
Oh yes! We were destined to be together for life. Though we stumbled upon each other as strangers, parted as strangers but met again to become life partners and now happily married for almost four decades. Ours was definitely not a love marriage, but an arranged marriage with an air of romance.
( Published in Woman’s era ‘ November 2022 issue )