Fiction Park

Love is life

- Manju Bhatt, Kathmandu

May 25, 2019-

A few weeks ago, Nitu’s elder brother informed her about a possible partner for her. The man, her brother had said, lived in New Delhi and had a very well-paying job.

Her brother told her that the man also had a house in the Indian capital.

But Nitu told her brother she wasn’t interested. Having a well-paying job, owning cars and houses weren’t deciding factors for Nitu. She wanted somebody who was compassionate

and respectful.

Nitu worked at a school in Kathmandu. She taught Mathematics to Grade 7 and 8 students and was also the warden of the school’s girls’ hostel. In the same school there was an

unmarried male teacher, who taught English to secondary-level students. Many of their colleagues tried to set them up, and every time her colleagues talked about it, Nitu told them that she wasn’t interested. It wasn’t because Nitu didn’t like him. Nitu had no feelings for him, and had never viewed him as a possible romantic partner. One day, he asked Nitu out on a date, but she politely declined.

When his colleagues tried to set the two up, he had started to notice her. He began to like Nitu’s simplicity and how deeply she cared about her students. It was only after mustering up enough courage that he asked her out. When she declined, he was very embarrassed, and felt really bad for putting Nitu in such a position. But he still kept hope, and he was very confident that one day he’d be able to convince her. His own confidence took him by surprise.

In the days following his proposal, Nitu started noticing him too. She found herself observing how he conducted himself with his students and his colleagues. She learned that he was the favourite teacher for many of his students. She learned that he was also from Jhapa, her home district. She learned that he didn’t smoke or drink. She also learned that he lived a

very simple life, and cared deeply for his parents. Sometimes he would catch Nitu looking at him, and she’d shyly look away. Something was brewing, but Nitu didn’t know what it was.

One day, a fellow teacher at the school got married, and all the school’s staff was invited to the marriage. Nitu wore a beautiful reddish-yellow sari with big earrings. She looked beautiful. It was at that function that Nitu and the English teacher finally spoke to each other in earnest. The two talked about their likes and dislikes, and what teaching meant to them. That day they learned that they shared a lot in common. Both of them enjoyed exploring new places, loved gardening, and were passionate about animal rights. By the end of the ceremony, they had both decided to go for a coffee the following day.

It was during one such coffee date that he gifted her a small Nokia phone. And from that day onwards, the two started talking for hours every night. They also started exchanging handwritten notes at school. Sometimes Nitu would write down lines from her favourite Nepali and Hindi songs, and he would write poems of his favourite poets. They made sure none of the teachers knew about their note exchanges, and they both eagerly waited for

weekends so that they could meet and spend time without having to worry about fellow teachers suspecting what was going on between the two.

During the school’s Dashain vacation, the two decided to travel together to Jhapa. The 15-hour bus journey would allow them a lot of time to spend together and talk, he said. He allowed her to sit on the window seat, and the two talked as the bus left behind Kathmandu’s bright lights. By the time the bus stopped at Lahan, it was almost midnight. A few kilometres after Lahan, in a small town, the bus broke down, and the driver told passengers that they might have to spend the night in the town. Most of the passengers decided to look for hotels to stay for the night. Nitu got really worried. She had no idea where to go and what to do. He told her not to worry and went looking for a room nearby. When he returned after having booked a room, Nitu told her that she wasn’t very comfortable spending the night in a room. He told her not to worry, and Nitu trusted his words. As they sat on the hotel’s bed, almost about to hug each other, they heard a bus sounding its horn. He went out to check and learned that it was their bus. It had been fixed, and it was about to leave for Jhapa. The two boarded the bus.

The next morning when Nitu reached her home, she found that he had placed a few handwritten notes and his photo in her bag. She wondered how she was going to spend the next one month without seeing him every day. ‘How can one love a person one has known for only a short time?’ Nitu thought.

Nitu told her mother about him and even showed her his photo. “Everything is perfect but his moustache is a little too dense,” her mother said. They both laughed.

For the first time in her life, Nitu looked forward for the vacation to end and to head back to school. For the first few days of the school, the two got so busy that they hardly got time to spend with each other. It was only during the weekend that the two finally managed to meet. They took a taxi to Sallaghari in Bhaktapur. He told her that he had already told his parents about her, and that they were looking forward to meeting her in person.

When Nitu told this to her mother and brother, her brother said, “How will someone on a school teacher’s salary be able to look after my sister?”

“If we both work hard, money won’t be a problem,” she replied to him. She told her brother everything about him. Seeing her love for him, her brother agreed to meet him.

A few months later, both their family members met each other, and their marriage date was fixed. Everything went very smoothly on their wedding day. In attendance were friends, family members, and colleagues who had tried setting them a few years ago. After marriage, they rented a single room and moved into it. There they hugged and promised to love each other till the end of time.

Published: 26-05-2019 07:00

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