Relationships

Real love is like natural diamonds. It takes years of strength, heat and pressure to shape the kind of authentic love which lasts forever.

Why real love is forged with resilience Inspiring stories of romance
Friday, May 22, 2020 - 12:05

Rakesh tucks a curl of Preeti’s hair behind her ear as he talks about how they first met. “She was assigned to be my test writer in college,” he grins. “And she would never help me when I forgot the answers!”

Rakesh has struggled with acute dyslexia all his life. Throughout school, he was considered to be a bad student. Teachers were harsh with him and soon gave up on him. His parents spent years fretting about whether there was something wrong with their son. “I sounded really smart when I spoke,” he explains, “but I couldn’t read or write to save my life. They all believed that I was stupid.” He says this with a jovial smile, but pain breaks through.

“He’d almost started to believe it himself, by the time he met me,” Preethi recounts. Their love story is the kind which defies stigma that crushes the forever-after dreams of lovers.

“You know what’s special about diamonds?” Preethi asks, and then answers, “You can’t make them happen. They are those rare gifts nature bestows on us, and you cherish them like a family heirloom because they hold intrinsic value which you cannot create artificially. Our love is like that.”  Couples like Preethi and Rakesh find love that is like a natural diamond in the rough – precious, real, miraculous, and relentlessly bright. For them, their love is not made of calendar events, but of unique memories which hold immense emotional value.

To love Rakesh, Preeti had to ignore a lot of things - sneers from college mates who said that Rakesh was "slow", opinions of her elders that he would never amount to anything, and the stigma associated with learning disability to stand by and support the man she loves.

She knew that real love is impossible to mistake, and is powerful enough to undergo intense heat and pressure, and come out the other side stronger and sparkling like a natural gem.

Rakesh’s parents wanted him to stop studying after school, but Rakesh wanted to keep learning. He convinced them somehow, and within a year, Rakesh was shocking them all by getting above average grades, doing better than many others in his class. All thanks to Preeti. “I had a professor in my first year who suggested I apply for a test writer. And that’s how I got to know Preethi. The first test that she wrote for me was-”

“Like magic,” Preethi cuts in. They have a moment of eye contact that could melt a glacier. She continues, “I felt the magic, too.” Rakesh's eyes sparkle as he tells me how he asked her to marry him. “It was one of the last exams I’d ever take. She was so used to writing for me by then that she didn’t even notice when I said, ‘And therefore, my conclusion to this essay is to ask Preeti to marry me.’”

Preeti laughs. “It took me a full minute to realise what he’d said! And then I wrote “YES” on the back of his question paper.”

She had to wade through the disapproval of several people, but the rare bond she had formed with him was so strong, that breaking it was never an option. “Sometimes, I can’t believe we’ve made it. That we’re finally getting married,” Preeti says, radiant in her red bridal lehenga at her wedding.

“I can believe it. I knew I would make you mine,” Rakesh tells her, looking dapper in his steel blue suit, “I may get my letters and numbers mixed up sometimes, but I’ve never been confused about you.”

Love that beats the odds

As the couple begins a beautiful waltz at their wedding, Murali and Anita sit down to eat near the buffet counters. Murali is Rakesh’s uncle, and Anita needs barely any prodding to begin narrating their story.

“It’s the same thing, whether it’s with me and Murali, or with our nephew and Preeti. Love is stunning and strongest when it’s true. You can’t go wrong when you have the real thing. It’s like a diamond - it becomes more precious due to pressure. When you know you can stick it out through the hardest of life’s moments, everything else becomes as easy as breathing,” Anita says.

“He and I were neighbours. My parents were new to the city. He and his family had lived there all their lives. He fell in love with me the day I moved in, or so he says,” Anita recounts. “It was her hair!” Murali interjects. “I’d never seen a girl with hair that long and shiny. I couldn’t stop looking at her.”

“I was only 22, and my parents were very, very strict. So, we had a relationship in secret. He would ride past my gate on his bike and rev the engine to tell me he was thinking of me. I would leave jasmine flowers on his compound wall every evening,” she recounts.

“We went on like this for two years. We knew that the rarest, most amazing things take time and effort. Real love too can take several years to shape up,” she says. 

“When Murali was 28 and I was 24, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, but-” Anita lowers her eyes. There is a moment of quiet before Murali continues, “My parents had found somebody else who they felt was better suited for me, because her family had status and money. My father… He threatened to cut me off from the whole family if I went against them. I begged them to at least meet Anita and her family. But they refused.”

“I told my parents they could start searching for a husband for me,” Anita says, sounding sombre. “I didn’t want Murali to give up his family for me. He’d still rev his bike as he rode past my gate but I forced myself to ignore him.” Murali laughs, “She didn’t get it! I was still doing that to show her that I hadn’t given up! I was still fighting for us.”

“Finally, one day, I told the truth to the other girl my parents had found for me, and I sat my father down and told him how I felt about her. It was hard in those days, there was a lot of emotional upheaval, but they finally accepted,” Murali says.

“And then he came for me, with an armful of flowers,” Anita says, touching her hair - an elegant bun wrapped in a string of fresh, sweet-smelling jasmine.

"I was the one Rakesh came to when he wanted to go against his father to marry Preeti," Murali confides. "That's another thing about finding real love and fighting to keep it, you get to pass it on to the next generation like a precious heirloom. I was able to help them find what I found with Anita."

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