“But Sudha! This is unlike you. You and arranged marriage? I can’t believe this! When did this happen?”, exclaimed Tina.

“Yeah!”, smiled Sudha, “Expect the unexpected from me. It has been 4 years now.”

Sudha and Tina were friends, who had been inseparable in college. They were sitting in a cozy corner of the upscale restaurant. They were meeting after 6 long years and had a lot to catch up. Sudha was a designer and had her own boutique. “Sudha’s Creations” was a label that had the mark of quality with style. Her dresses were liked by both young teenagers and older ladies alike. Sudha had made quite a name for herself.

Tina was a travel writer. Apart from newspapers and lifestyle magazines, she had a travel blog and a travel vlog. She had become quite popular too. Her travels kept her on her toes, and so catching up with her old friend got inordinately delayed.

Tina was a part of the delegation that had come to Sudha’s city for a seminar and so they were able to snatch a dinner date.

“So tell me how did this come about?” asked Tina.

“Well, I met Chirag on my parents’ insistence. He seemed to be a nice guy. His parents too seemed to be good people. So I had no reason to say no.”

“But, Sudha!, you were such a romantic! You had declared that you would marry only if you loved that person! This is indeed a surprise. Do you love Chirag, Sudha?”

“What a question to ask,Tina!” said Sudha. She avoided answering the question and changed the topic. The rest of the dinner date went on fine. They promised to meet as often as possible and to stay in touch.

On the way back, as she was driving home, Sudha was haunted by Tina’s question. Did she love Chirag?

When she was in college, she had an idea of how a lover should be, and what he should do. She wanted to be wooed with flowers and chocolates and teddy bears and cards and gifts. He should remember all birthdays and anniversaries. He should plan and execute romantic candle light dinners with the whole floor booked just for them, with a music band playing her favourite songs. She wanted to be loved in the filmy Shahrukh style. She loved the that scene in Rab ne banadi jodi where the hero lights up the town declaring his love to the lady and they watch from a hilltop. That was her dream.

She did not get that ideal lover realised. Chirag was definitely not a romantic hero of her dreams. He would forget birthdays and anniversaries. In fact, Sudha had put in all important dates in his phone as reminders. He would wish her on her birthday in the morning after getting up, and not at the stroke of midnight. Sudha took care of organising all the events in their lives, Chirag was pathetic at them. He relied on Sudha for all day-to-day matters. He never remembered Valentine’s day. It was just another day.

So, is Chirag a bad guy? Do I not love him?” Sudha kept wondering.

Sudha thought back on all the 6 years they had spent together. She remembered how Chirag made sure to book travel arrangements in advance so there would never be last minute hassles. He was the reason for her opening her boutique. He had run around the banks with the proposals and got them the loan. He went around the town scouring for the right shop for her to start her work. He took care of all the paper work, including bills, payments, reciepts all such sundry matter, not just for her boutique but also the household matters. He never restricted her in any manner. The decor of the house, the clothes that they wore, the food that they ate, were all of Sudha’s choice. She was free to do what she liked.

Of course, there were things about Chirag that annoyed her no end. “I am sure even he has complaints about me” she thought. “But he has never really told me anything. How surprising we have never had really huge fights, just tiny arguments“. “The truth is,” she told herself, “Chirag is the most kind-hearted , caring, and accomadative guy in the world.”

Life does not require the town to be lit up for love, but needed an understanding partner who would be with you for all ups and downs of life.

Yes, I do love him, said Sudha aloud.