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It is heartwarming to just to listen to this two individuals. Yes, they are a couple but that fact doesn’t smudge their individuality. They both got their backs of each other and it is evident from the way they drive this conversation. They both know when one needs to drive and when one needs to take the back seat. Their problems, their confusions and challenges are not unusal. But They surely spread the confidence that it is not impossible to shatter those problems. When Bala just wanted to lead his life alone, see what made him realize that he couldn’t afford to lose the companion he found in Aarthi. They fought the religious customs. They are strong decision-makers. They fight together but not costing their family and loved ones. Instead, they manage to find a way to hold everyone together and prove once again that love is the strongest thing in the world.
Aarthi and Balaji, Tell us, How did you guys first meet?
Aarthi: It was in 2013. I was studying in Coimbatore and Balaji was working there at the same time. I am from Chennai and hostel life might be filled with restrictions, so I rented a house during my time there. Balaji rented the house next to me. That was how we first met.
Balaji: Yes, I was initially staying in my employer’s guest house. So, I was looking for a house. When I got it, I didn’t know Aarthi had already taken the place. I thought of asking the place for my friend. When I got settled to the place, I realized Aarthi had rented thte place next to me. We are both from Chennai and our house owner was really sweet person towards us. Aarthi usually wouldn’t stay alone in the house during weekends. She would gather all her friends to her house. I used to notice her at those times.
Aarthi: I had noticed him back in the day. I was instantly attracted towards him. My routine was to water the plants on my terrace and I would notice him doing work outs there. But he didn’t seem to have noticed me back then. That kinda bummed me out. The first day, when I saw him, I talked about him all day to my friends. He made such an impact on me.
Balaji: I liked Aarthi too. But I had a very reserved personality. so I didn’t initiate any conversation. She used to walk to her college and I used to take the bus to my work. I used to wait at the bus stop to catch a glimpse of her while she was going to college.
Aarthi: One such day, I organized a birthday party at my house for my friend as she was feeling home sick. I thought I would treat her with a home made food on an important day of her life. I cook really well. And Balaji came to talk to me at that day as he thought it was my birthday. He said “Happy Birthday, Sister” and I was taken aback. It really hurt to hear him call me sister and I immediately told him that it was my friend’s birthday. So, that was how we first met.
Who proposed first?
Aarthi: He used to talk well with my friends than he did with me. We all used to go out together.
Balaji: I never really had a friendship with girls from my school and college days. I was really reserved and didn’t think it was necessary to draw any lines when the friend is a girl. I used to have a great rapport with her friends too but I missed if she was not around.
Aarthi: It went like this and I got placed in the year 2014. I had to attend my internship in Chennai before I was done with my last semester exams. He was not used to send SMS. He would directly call if he had anything to say. And during my internship, I had to go away and didn’t have a substantial time to see or talk to him. We were thinking we were just friends and got on with our life. When I was in Chennai, I got a SMS from him saying he had put on message pack. I didn’t expect myself to be that excited when I saw his message. That was when I realized how much I missed him. I wanted to see him right away. I even applied leave during my internship as I got my final exams to attend anyway.
Balaji: I thought I wouldn’t get a chance to see her. So, I thought I would celebrate her birthday on the last day of her final semester exam along with her friends. 2 days before that, on April 14th, my friends took me to Guruvayoor temple. I was half-hearted the whole journey. I even wished we would miss the train and the plan would cancel. I was thinking only about Aarthi even when I am physically away very far. Since it was Tamil new year’s day, Aarthi cooked something special and wore saree for the occasion. I kept texting her all the way till I saw her. As soon as I got home, Aarthi was waiting for me at home. And We took some pictures that day. We internalized the whole feeling. We didn’t dare to act on it at that time.
Aarthi: The intimate feeling I felt with him couldn’t be explained in words. I liked how he treated very little things between us. I used to watch him going to work from the terrace and text him from there. He stopped walking, he looked at the message, he smiled, replied and got on to work. I loved how he gave importance to the little things and I liked to observe him before I expressed how I feel about him. I enjoyed it. So, before I left, I typed a really long love letter on his laptop. I wanted to ask how he felt about me. On the last day, I planned to confess my feelings too. I bought him a cap that he liked and a card that carried my message. I called him to meet me at Gandhipuram and I went there with my other friend. I had told my friend that he had to go by bus from there as I had planned to propose my love to Balaji. Once Bala got there, I gave him the gift and told I loved him. I took them and stuffed it in his bike and asked me to get on the bike to drop me at home. I was dumbfounded as I expected some answer. He called my friend too to get on the bike as he planned a surprise birthday party for me at home. I was a bit disappointed as I didnt expect things to turn like this. We, three, went to my home in bike and I found a surprise party was waiting for me. I prepared Bala’s favorite Chicken Biryani. All of us went to terrace after I cut the cake. We were sharing the food and I once again tell Bala that I had a love letter saved in his laptop. I asked him to reply what he felt after he read it. To my shock and surprise, he told me that he had already read it. I expected a certain reply from. He might not feel the same way but I wanted to hear that he felt the same way too. But I didn’t expect that he would have already read and still not expressed anything from his side. Moreover, there was no change in his actions too.
Balaji: Yea, I was really keen on staging my surprise party successfully. So, I took her gift and focussed on getting her on time. I asked her friend too to come with us on the bike ’cause I didn’t want to leave him on the lurch. He should come to the party too anyway. So, to save the time, I took him along with us. And about the love letter, yes, I read it already. I understood how she felt and knew she expected me to address it. I read the message, after a little game with my friends, went to sleep.
How did you seal the love?
Aarthi: He neither answered me right away nor asked time to think. The next morning, we had a plan to attend an engagement party of a friend. I went to wake him up. I like waking him up, annoy him when he is sound asleep. He leads a very regulated life. He goes to bed at 9:30 sharp. He works out and eats well. So, I kinda like to annoy him when he is asleep. I have tortured him on many occasions. We both go to this party by bus and got back. I was angry he didn’t answer anything yet for my letter. He consoled me. He asked me how long I can wait for him and I thought our conversation took a course towards future. But then again, I didn’t know what hit him. He said it wouldn’t work out for him. He wanted to live the life on his own, travel alone and not being tied to any responsibility that might hinder in his way. Though I had many friends, I was never really close with anyone. No one really knew me anyway. So, I always pursue a sense of detachment and try to be pragmatic. I thought I would handle this rejection too in a more practical way. But it hit me more than I had expected. I never cried for anyone before this. I liked him and I knew he liked me too. I was baffled what could’ve possibly made him say the things he said. And then one day, he saw me crying at my home and asked me if he could talk to me. He said he needed a month to think about it. And I told that I loved him and I would be loving him after a month too regardless of his answer. I realized he liked me too and guessed he would come around.
Balaji: Yes, Aarthi is really matured. She is very good at decision-making. I liked Aarthi but I was confused about the big decisions about life. Aarthi’s parents are really supportive of her decisions as they believe in herself. Maybe I was scared about the big decisions in life. But I realized I can’t lose Aarthi. I gathered the courage to take a step. I let my father know about it. He was a little taken aback but came around at last.
Aarthi: I let my uncle know about it. He gave me a go right away. And we got the advice from my uncle to see where this went for at least 2 years and then asked us to take a tangible decision. This is how our love was sealed.
How did you guys get married?
Balaji: Our love is really strong and we felt the same. When Aarthi vacated the house in coimbatore, her family came to take her. I helped with the large luggages and her mother grew a good opinion about me. They felt something is right about me and right about Aarthi’s decision.
Aarthi: We were back in Chennai and it was as usual as with any other couple who were in love. We spent the weekends going out and making memories. Bala has to go abroad for his work and we spent few months in the cruel long distance relationship. It really tested us. He was very wary about his sleep timings. He still went to bed at his 9 o clock but to spend a little time with him I had to stay awake till 1 AM. I was disappointed that he wasn’t being considereate and not making a choice for my sake. We even started to grew apart and decided not to talk as it always ended up with a fight. I was really low-spirited. I would call this was a rough phase in our relationship. And My mom got what was going on with me. She advised me not to put my life on hold over something that might make you low. Now, the cat is out of the bag with my family. I realized this was a big thing as it is getting serious. I knew I was gonna marry him at that moment.
Balaji: After some days, we started to talk well to each other. We even planned to do MBA course together and applied for it. At this point, Aarthi’s father realized that there was something different with her behaviour. She acted differently when I was around. Aarthi’s father likes her very much and I thought he was just mad at me for taking her favorite daughter away from him. But he got a good vibe about me.
Aarthi: We decided to get married in 2019. I had a plan to set my family up financially. And My family started to like Bala.
Balaji: I had taken Aarthi once to my home too for my birthday and they liked her too. We got engaged in 2018. So, we decided to let our family in on our decision. Aarthi brought her family to a temple and I planned to confess my proposal. Except her father, everyone in Aarthi’s family knows about us. I was very nervous to speak out. He sensed what I was about to say. And when I finally got it out, I was out of danger. He wasn’t reluctant about me. I sensed I was welcomed. We planned to got married in Feb 2019.
What were the challenges you faced?
Balaji: We did face a little problem from our relatives. Not everything was a smooth process. There was a little clash with the customs that both our family follow. Our families found it a little hard to be together with each other. But we overcame them. I stood the ground most of the time to hold the family together and be assertive when the time demands. So that’s how we got to the stage to get married. After we got married, our responsibility was increased towards our family. We planned to take a vacation once for her Birthday and for mine. We afforded our time to our family and tried to make them feel not left out. We overcame all the clashes and tried to work things out between us too. It was all new and we didn’t first know what to prioritize. We felt that we were not being considerate to each ther when we took care of the family’s needs. Now, We are in a peaceful phase where we know how to handle the issues. The issues are still there but we are matured to handle them now.
What is the secret for your happy life?
Balaji: Understanding is the foundation. I realized my behaviour towards the relationship changed once I got married. And I realized I wasn’t like how I used to be. I felt I was being pressurized by the customs that surround me. I learned not to be affected or polluted by it. I begin to learn understanding each other and letting go of things that are not that important.
Aarthi: How big the issue is, talking things out is the easy solution for everything. We looked down at our ego of knowing things. We begin to listen to each other. We begin to accept each other’s flaws. I grew up with an atheletic nature since my chilldhood. I played football and I take my coach’s advice to my every living day. Accepting our faults and listening to someone enlighten us will always help in the long run. When we cut down that opportunity and hold on to our ego, only make us ignorant.
What is love according to you?
Balaji: Selflessness. Love is not sacrificing your desires for someone you love. Love should be unconditional. Unconditional love is always rewarded in the end.
Aarthi: Yes, Adding to it, Accepting the person, not only for their strength, but also for their flaws. No one is perfect. It is essential to respect each other, giving space to each other in the relationship. Their privacy and freedom shouldn’t be costed in it. There is no need for Bala and I to share everything that’s happening within ourselves. We tend to go with the flow. We do share but it is not under absolute demand. We both got our freedom for ourselves.
Their love is very infectious and it couldn’t be contained. They end their conversation with a brimming love for each other.
As told to Anjali Raga Jammy
Lakshmi is a scribbler by night who wants to experience all sorts of emotions the silver screen offers for once and pens them down to reflect upon them time and again. She also finds talking about herself in third person amusing as it lets her conscience to think that she actually believes in herself.