I was nineteen, a fresher in college, still deciding what I wanted to do with my life and trying to make sure that I didn’t fall for the wrong guy. But then ‘It’ happened. I perhaps have too many happy memories attached with this one, so I am going to tell you a story of how I met a handsome cadet at the National Defence Academy. Apparently he was going to change my life up-side down. The NDA ball and the ambiance of love and youth just filled the dance floor and I ended up having him as a ball partner. Here was a boy of twenty one who pulled out a chair for me and asked me what I would like for a drink- complimented politely on my smile while gazing quiet intently in my eyes, hoping for some sort of connection that we could have. The night was getting a little chilly then- no he didn’t offer me his coat as you hope- he just held me close when we danced without ever touching me. The hours flew and it was time for dinner. I was supposed to use the fork and a knife while eating my bread and it took me a while to realize that I had it all wrong. I was still trying to look dignified and totally prepared for this kind of treatment. Formal dinners with guys were really new to me. Still this quiet young man, just encouraged me to try desserts that looked like mashed cake in custard and it tasted like heaven. I was always a fussy eater but here I was experimenting with food. Something in him made me want to be a little more than the shallow me. I saw couples all around me, some dating seriously and some just filling in place for another but everyone were having a good time. He asked me to wait outside at the steps and I left to do his business. I roamed around looking through the menus attended by dignitaries of various countries. Half an hour passed by and still no sign of him. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be. I must have sounded silly to him. The thoughts were still going through my head. He came back, panting a little, looking off.
“I asked you to wait. I thought you left me”.
“No. I couldn’t leave you”.
I didn’t know how true those words were. With a shy smile, we resumed towards the dance floor.
It was time for a last dance and we did a waltz on ‘Pehla Nasha’. Since I was no Beyonce, I compensated with wrapped my arms around his neck and moving with the music. He was surprised, I could see that but totally enjoying the attention I was giving him. But then, he didn’t know that he had treated me like a lady all evening and this was the first time I had nothing to give in return for his kindness.
The clock was soon to strike twelve and Cinderella had to go home. But he wanted me to see where he lived. When you are in your teens, you really take decisions by your heart and I went along with it. The squadron was huge, no girls allowed rule was still on. So we followed it like good little children. I took time to look around, waste time because I was so reluctant to leave him. Our steps dragging when he had to drop me home and the last thing we did was exchange numbers.
I was perhaps too much of a cynic back then to accept a permanent commitment but when you have to fall in love, you do. And that night became the foundation of a long distance relationship that we continued for the next three years. Writing letters to him on a weekly basis till he completed his training, talking over the phone after a long day just taught us that love means patience. When he proposed- he asked me to be his girlfriend and I refused.
“Then be my wife”. I was zapped at his eagerness and sincerity.
That happened ten years ago and today I am married to this wonderful army officer, confident and loving- who still pulls out the chair for me and makes me feel like a woman.