It happened on the morning of Friday, May 6th, 2022, somewhere close to Sector 135 Noida. We had recently moved to this part of the world due to our professional necessities. As a part of my morning routine, I sometimes used to go to drop my wife to her office. It is close by, the road is quiet, there is greenery around and it is a slow ride in an e-rickshaw.
That morning on my way back, the e-rickshaw driver stopped at a small juice shop to fill his water bottle. There they were, a young boy and a girl, sitting on the edge of the pavement, having juice from one glass. At first, I didn’t pay a lot of attention as it seemed normal to me. As we were about to leave the place, they boy waved at me, considering me to be a ‘firangi’. I would usually not do this, but because I liked his gesture, I got down from the e-rickshaw and started moving toward them, for some funny reason. They, I think, got intimidated at first, but held their composure. I got close to them and shook hands with the boy and in my colloquial dialect told him that I am an Indian, to which the girl burst into laughter, telling the boy she had said so.
As I was in no hurry, I started talking to them, starting with what they do as the boy was wearing a uniform of a blue-collar job, while the girl was dressed in daily wear. This was the beginning of a wonderful 10 minutes or so, narration of love, companionship, and career planning.
Suraj and Rekha, are a couple, got married last year. Suraj is 24, from Baliya and Rekha is just 20, from Ghazipur, it was an arranged marriage. Rekha was not happy and ready to get married as she was very young and wanted to study. Suraj, on the other hand, fell in love with her the moment he saw her picture, in his own words and had decided he would convince her to marry him.
Rekha told me, she didn’t want to talk to him either when initially their phone numbers were exchanged. She had to do that under family pressure as her family liked Suraj. It was after 3 months of relentless convincing by Suraj that she agreed for marriage, but with the condition that Suraj will not ask her to stop her studies and would not ask her for a child. Suraj interjected and said that he immediately said yes as he was ready to do anything for her, both looked at each other with sparkle in their eyes and smiled.
They got married, and Suraj also convinced his family not to ask for dowry, however, since Rekha’s father had already bought a motorcycle for dowry, Suraj has taken it from them and wishes to pay for it over the next five years. He works as a housekeeping staff in an IT company. Since the time they moved here, Suraj has got Rekha admitted in a regular B. Com course, so he goes to drop her to her college before starting his shift at 12 PM. They stop at the juice shop every day and have juice, one glass, they can’t afford two, but have half of it each, as the other wouldn’t have the full glass alone.
They stay in a small one-room kitchen house, get up at 5 AM, Suraj goes to deliver fresh milk for a nearby dairy. Rekha prepares food for both and gets ready for her college. Once he comes back, they have breakfast and leave for her college, that is when they stop at the juice shop for that glass of togetherness. Suraj comes back, rests for a while, washes utensils and clothes and goes to work. Rekha comes back on her own in the afternoon and after lunch starts her studies for her Banking Entrance Examinations. Yes, she wants to get a job in a public sector bank, for which, she has also enrolled in an online coaching class in the evening.
Suraj’s shift gets over at 8 and he is usually back latest by 8:30, then he cooks the dinner as he wants Rekha to concentrate on her preparation. She told me that once she gets a job in a bank, she will have Suraj quit his job and complete his graduation, which he hasn’t. He earns only 9 thousand rupees from his housekeeping job and a few thousands more from the part time milk delivery job. To arrange for her coaching classes fee, he rides his bike for Uber on his week-off, that day, Rekha cooks special food.
I didn’t take their picture or anything to post this story on social media, I was speechless. She has taken my number though and will call me to get an account opened in her bank when she gets the job. I am not sure what is there in store for them, but I am sure, they will lead a life of their choices. What it taught me is that dreams, aspirations are not only those that are woven around attaining the position of a CEO or something in a huge corporate, but it is to rise above your situations and focus on attainable goals without compromising on life. May God bless Rekha and Suraj! 😊