Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Love On The Wild Side

I remember it as if it were yesterday - Sushil standing there in his faded jeans, yellow t-shirt and dark blue jacket, trees swaying in the rain behind him and the soft sounds emanating from the forest’s gazillion life forms. But it all seemed to fade into the background when he smiled. His slightly tilted head, boyish demeanour and his inviting 1000 watt smile - I remember it all vividly; which is funny, because I also remember not noticing it then. I was 18 years old, tomboyish, vivacious, blatantly uninterested in members of the opposite sex and dying to make it as a wildlife biologist. He was 29 and as he confessed later on, very much interested in me.

The year was 2001. I was in the first year of college studying to major in Life Sciences at St Xavier’s College in Mumbai. At that point of time, “Life” to me was singing, writing, swimming, nature, wildlife, lots and lots of animals, boys to play kabbaddi with and one girl friend to share all my troubles with. I did not care to get romantically involved with anyone and it was definitely not on my priority list. I spent most of my free time at the Conservation Education Centre (CEC) of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), often spending days in the same old tattered pair of jeans, returning home at odd hours of the day after a LOT of birdwatching and not having a care in the world.

I had signed up for CEC’s year-long course on “Leadership in Biodiversity Conservation”, due to which my visits to their institution in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) at Goregaon, Mumbai, became more and more frequent. It was here that I first met Sushil. He had also signed up for the course and as it turned out we were batch mates. I remember chatting up with him at the first meet after we had finished one of our legendary trails in the rain. He told me about his job as a software engineer, his travels and his love for wildlife while I in turn regaled him with my animal and wildlife experiences, my ideas about nature conservation and so on and so forth. That was the only time we actually spoke face to face while in CEC. His visits to the forest declined in frequency due to various other commitments, while I charged ahead with continued gusto.
However I made it a point to keep in touch with him via e-mails. I was the self appointed thread which bound the entire group together (so I have been told) and as such, also kept Sushil updated with the various happenings at CEC. I was always the one to initiate the e-mails which would happen once in three months, but I faithfully got his prompt replies to them.
Then in July 2003, I heard from a common friend that Sushil was leaving to take up a job in Singapore. I made a call to him immediately to ask him to come to CEC one last time before he went, for a get together with the whole group. But unfortunately he said he couldn’t make it, so we all said our goodbyes and left it at that.

I was in my third and final year of my BSc degree when one day while returning home from college sometime in August, I decided to go to a local internet cafe to check my mails. While going through the usual e-mails from the other group members, I thought of Sushil in Singapore and decided to drop him a short “hello”.
As usual, I received his reply the next day and this time I replied to the mail immediately, asking him what the garden city was like and when he was planning on getting back to Mumbai. I got a reply from him the day after and before we knew it, we saw ourselves exchanging mails back and forth on a daily basis. Soon, our mails started becoming longer and longer and by September, we were writing two-three mails to each other every day.

Unknown to myself, I began looking forward to his mails everyday, and at one point I would go through the day mechanically, just waiting to get to the celebrated cyber café and read my daily email. Even my friends noticed the anticipation and excitement in my voice and general demeanour as every day drew to a close and some of them even began teasing me about it. I, of course, in all my ignorance, was unresponsive to their taunts and had no clue about the direction my life was taking. Sushil apparently had thrown many pointers and hints my way of his increasing interest in me, but I was oblivious to the fact and just thoroughly enjoyed my daily quota of gabbing with him. I realized he was the only friend, who did not judge me for my ideas and beliefs and someone with whom I could converse with about anything under the sun. It was thrilling to be able to talk to someone at that level. Before we knew it, we were sharing our joys, our sorrows, our accomplishments and failures, our broken dreams and future aspirations, our bravados and our hidden fears, our like and dislikes and before we knew it, it was time for his first visit to Mumbai!

He planned an elaborate day with me during his planned one week stay, while I spent my days feeling thrilled about meeting him after three whole years. When we spoke about our meeting during his upcoming trip to Mumbai, I felt butterflies in my stomach, but not knowing what was happening, I attributed it to too much of study pressure. But as his visit date came closer, my excitement levels went on increasing, till at one point it was all I could think about.

Of course, I still had no idea about his feelings for me. In fact I didn’t even realize that I had already started falling in love with him. The signs were all there…loss of appetite, waiting for his rare phone calls, dying to read his mails every day, thinking about him every waking moment – but I remained blissfully unaware of the possibility that I was indeed in love.

We decided to meet at Bandra station on 19th of October-Sushil’s birthday and he agreed that we would celebrate my birthday too (15th October) the same day over a cup of coffee and good conversation at Mocha’s in Bandra West.

As the day of reckoning drew closer, time seemed to pass slowly, but the Sunday finally arrived and I saw myself alighting from a train at Bandra station. We had agreed to meet under the time indicator on platform 1, and it wasn’t difficult for me to spot him. During one of our conversations later, Sushil told me that he was very nervous about meeting me that day. He animatedly narrated to me how he kept looking for me through the noise, the chaos and the crowd at the station and the moment he saw me, I was the only thing he could see, while everything else faded into oblivion. While we sat at Mocha, sipping coffee and discovering each other little by little, Sushil wished that time would come to a standstill. He kept hoping and praying that I would keep sitting there and not leave abruptly. I on the other hand was just enjoying his company so much, I did not care to think about anything else at that point.

When he dropped me off at the station, his nervousness kept increasing and when he asked me if I would like to meet him for the much awaited day-long date on Tuesday, his nervousness peaked, for fear of being turned down by the girl who he was slowly falling in love with. Of course I said yes, because the thought of traipsing around the city with a long lost friend was a much more attractive prospect than attending boring biotechnology lectures. Sushil was relieved and looking back at it, he often tells me that the joy he felt at that moment was “unparalleled”.
When he came to pick me up from my college on Tuesday, he was bubbling with excitement, just as I was. Unbiased onlookers would opine that we were acting like a couple of teenagers falling in love for the first time. Well, it certainly felt like it! There was an adrenalin rush I couldn’t explain, excitement and anticipation that I couldn’t account for and a thrill in my insides that I had never experienced before.

The day was perfect. We had coffee at Mocha in Churchgate, followed by a train ride to Andheri, a movie, an autorickshaw ride back to Bandra, herbal tea and great conversation at a quaint little tea shop called Lemon Grass, a walk and auto rickshaw ride to Juhu Beach, sitting by the sea, playing with the sand and talking about life.

I vividly recall the golden orange sunset that evening while we sat there staring out into the vastness of the ocean. I remember remarking on the beauty of the setting sun, to which Sushil replied “Yes, I can see it in your eyes.” Of course at that moment I did not grasp the true meaning of his words, and all I could think about was the wonderful evening I was enjoying. After the stars came out, Sushil surprised me with fine wine and great food at a cozy Itlaian place nearby called Litte Italy. We laughed and chatted over dinner after which, he dropped me off at the railway station.

I waited all Wednesday for a call from him. He did call me late at night and asked me to meet him at Xaviers again the next day. I probably began sensing his feelings at this point, but was not sure. Anyway, we met up, had some snacks and lemon juice at a nearby Parsi restaurant before walking along marine drive, where we sat down in silence watching the ocean.

The beauty of the ocean, Sushil’s company, the excitement stemming from the fact that I knew something was happening, albeit not knowing what it was, all culminated in such a mixture of emotions inside me, I find it hard to put it into words. And before I knew it, it happened. Sushil held my hand and sang me a John Denver song before finally saying “Shreyasi, I am wholly, completely, fully, totally, absolutely in love with you!” Blame it on the ocean, blame it on Denver or blame it on the sweet guy proposing to me – I succumbed!

Since he was flying back on Sunday, he met my parents on Friday as an official “I’m going to marry your daughter” visit. Having successfully charmed my parents into agreeing to the relationship, he flew back to Singapore over the weekend. The heaviness inside my heart the day he left, was also a brand new experience for me. I found myself feeling a yearning for his quick return, the minute he left my sight. That is when the intensity of my love for him hit me in the face with a wham I will never forget.

I was hurled from the sublime state of singlehood into the chaotic but brilliantly blissful state of being “in a relationship”. Sushil wanted to wait for a few years before tying the knot and I also wanted to finish my master’s degree before getting married. So we decided to wait till 2006. But in a couple of month’s time, Sushil had changed his mind and preponed the prospective time for marriage to 2005. By January 2004, we both realized the futility of the pain associated with our long distance relationship, and decided to get married that same year. We got engaged in June and on 24 November we had the pheras, sindoor, mangalsutra etc. It was a small but beautiful temple wedding, although in my heart I had already married him the day he sang to me.

This November we celebrate 5 years of marital bliss. I have been fortunate to have found in Sushil, the most adoring and loving husband, friend and companion I could ever have dreamed of. Earlier we used to write to each other swapping life stories. Now we share our lives and a spiritual path that I would probably never have tread upon had it not been for this wonderful man by my side.

Sushil and I now enjoy a beautiful relationship, a wonderful home, and the undiluted adoration of Kishmish – our German Sherpherd-Chow Chow cross. He is the centre of our lives, the apple of our eyes and we have shared some of the best times together.

My husband has of course grown handsomer with each passing year and I seem to fall more and more in love with him every day. But I will never forget that charming young man in the blue jacket, the beauty of the forest surrounding him and the smile that will light up every day of the rest of my life. I completed my BNHS Biodiversity course, but Sushil never got his certificate, because he couldn’t finish the course. But he often looks into my eyes and says, “I think I got more out of the course than anyone else - it looks like I went there only to fall in love with you.”

----------Shreyasi Majumdar.


  1. very touching,rare these days, m so happy for u2...

  2. I realized he was the only friend, who did not judge me for my ideas and beliefs and someone with whom I could converse with about anything under the sun...
    I am hurt...

  3. awwwww....other than YOU of course...thats a given and anyways I meant only "guy friend"...besides ur in a whole other league altogether... ur the "best friend" :-)

  4. awww shreyasi ... this is sooo beautiful ... makes my eyes moist :) :)
    way to go ..... wish u many many happy years ahead :)

  5. I'd just read this blog Shrey...It is truly romantic and Wish you both many happy years together!


Halloa! I'd be happy to hear from you so please feel free to drop in a word or two about this blog post. Cheerio!