By Roli Mahajan
Aaradhya*, a 30-year-old Delhi professor, reminisces about how she had to lie to her parents to spend some ‘exclusive’ time with her partner. However, it wasn’t a choice she made willingly.
I was in college when I fell in love. It was our last semester and my boyfriend, Sujal, and I really wanted to spend some alone time together. We wanted a future together but weren’t sure about life outside the college gates. We would meet but not often enough. We would talk but not as much as we wanted.
There were always friends around, and I was awkward. Not to forget that my hostel gate closed at 10 pm, so I had to be back before the deadline. As the semester drew to a close, Sujal became desperate with his desire for us to spend some time alone.
I think it was this desire and the fact that he had never been to Ladakh before that got him to propose a trip for just the two of us. I was excited and so wanted to say a yes, but what would I tell my parents?
My parents, who wouldn’t allow me to stay at a friend’s place for a night, had only allowed me to come to Delhi because my course was prestigious. They could never imagine their daughter having a boyfriend, let alone her wanting to go out with him.
We were always looking for ways and means to spend some time together, and the city had very few options. One evening, while sitting at one of our favourite place, Dilli Haat, Sujal was trying his best to convince me to agree to his Ladakh plan. He was talking about arranging everything if I agreed. However, I was not very sure about how to make it happen.
Sujal and I were mulling this over a plate of hot momos. In his attempt to woo me, he was even actually feeding me lovingly. I too held his hand as I explained to him how strict my father was and it would be difficult to build a strong case for Ladakh. And suddenly then, I heard the women behind us speak out loud, ‘Aajkal ki generation ko kya ho gaya hai! Jahaan jao wahin haath pakad ke chumma–chattiyan kar rahe hote hain!’ (What is wrong with the new generation? Anywhere you go, you will find couples holding hands and kissing/pecking each other.)
I will never know if she was speaking about us or not, but we suddenly jumped apart. Neither of us had thick skins and we did not want people to think ill of us just because we were attracted to each other. I liked touching Sujal, especially while talking intently and felt quite uncomfortable about the remarks.
But, suddenly, I was ready to go to Ladakh. The women had kindled something inside me. I now wanted to spend time with Sujal and at a place where our love would not be a bother to random strangers.
One of Sujal’s friends, who was a radio jockey, took the responsibility of convincing my dad. In exactly four days time, my father called me and asked, ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ I had no idea what was he talking about!
He went on to say that my professor had called him to tell him about my project in Ladakh and how I should have told him about it! Of course, he trusted me to go with my classmates, even if there were boys in the group that he hadn’t met! He ended the call by telling me that he had even transferred some money in my bank for travel expenses!
I was stumped. I didn’t know whether to celebrate or feel guilty. Of course, Sujal’s friend had convinced my father that she was my professor and somehow it had worked. There were no loopholes, and my father would never find out that the real purpose of my Ladakh trip!
I just wanted to go now that my dad had said a yes. So I went. Our trip was awesome. We had fun. Till date, I often think about the ifs and buts of the situation. I wonder if the ‘aunties’ had not done what they had, would I have had the courage? Did I do the correct thing?
But let’s face the truth. Going out with Sujal and spending some time with him made me more confident about him. If I had not gone then would I have been as sold to the idea of marrying him as I am? Honestly, I don’t know. All I wish is that there were some spaces in our country for young love to just enjoy their feelings. In the absence of these spaces, young people like myself will always have to lie just to be with someone they love.
This article was first published on Love Matters India website here.