“Hey! Thank you so much. That’s just great! Sure, I’ll mail you my address, I’ll do it straight away…” Naina squealed into the phone, barely able to hold the phone properly in her excitement. Keeping the phone down, she took a deep breath to calm herself and pinch herself to check if she wasn’t dreaming. Her dream to see her name in print had finally come true, her story was going to be published in one of the country’s best selling anthologies and she would give Rajesh the best Valentine gift of his life!
It had all begun four months ago, when Naina came across an ad on the internet calling for short story submissions to the ‘Chicken Soup’ book series. It invited stories on the theme of ‘Love’ for their next compilation Chicken Soup for the Indian Romantic Soul. The entries needed to be non fictional in nature and based on true experiences. To top it all, the first version of the book containing the winning entries was going to be unveiled on 14th Feb, surely the best gift the authors could give their soul mates on Valentine day.
So armed with these twin motives, Naina had decided to give it a shot. Her own love life was full of twists and turns – beautiful moments, the pain of long distance and the joy of togetherness, the sweet nothings of the first few dates. They had both come a long way and their love had gone stronger with each passing day. They had braved it when being a thousand miles apart from each other had almost threatened to tear apart their relationship. But interconnected as they were ,their longing and love for each other had always emerged a winner !
Naina had no clue what to write. The theme ‘Love’ was like an endless ocean and could encompass a variety of topics — sacrifice ,the hands of Fate, beautiful romantic moments, longing and passion, timeless love — it could be anything.
Naina supposed that to each couple in love, their own relationship would be the most special, most amazing thing in the world. How could she make her and Rajesh’s own love story seem special in the eyes of the Thousands of readers, who, like her had grown up reading ‘epics’ of everlasting love in stories like Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet, Love Story etc? But she always believed that great things come in ‘small packages’. Therefore, she was hoping that in some way through her small story she’ll be able to spread the message of Love.
So how had Naina and Rajesh first met? Well, it was about two years ago. Before, she had only half heartedly believed in the ideas of Fate and destiny. But after meeting Rajesh, she was almost convinced about the Mills and Boons theory of being ‘destined to meet your soulmate’!! For their first meeting was so accidental, so strange. It’s true, sometimes love comes knocking at your door when you least expect it, she thought as she began to relive the memories of her roommate Saloni’s birthday two years back.
“Naina! Get up. We’ll get late for the show. You can come and indulge in your beauty sleep later.” Saloni yelled, shaking the figure on the bed vigorously.
Naina rubbed her sleepy eyes and groaned. Saloni was busy applying the last touches to her makeup before they left for the movie. She had persuaded her two roommates — Naina and Monali to sacrifice their Saturday nap to accompany her to a movie she wanted to see and most importantly, in the company of this senior from college she had a crush on. Naina wasn’t too keen on seeing the particular movie in the first place and that too in the company of some random guys! Urgg!!
“I don’t know why you couldn’t have gone to the movie alone with him. Why did you have to drag us along Saloni?” Naina mumbled as they sat in the auto rickshaw.
“Don’t make a fuss Naina. Saloni has no problems. I promise I’ll give you guys a treat later.” Saloni responded in a rather distracted manner.
They soon reached the place and were met by two guys — the spark in Saloni’s eyes as they approached the girls, left little doubt about their identities. Saloni’s hero, Sambit was accompanied by a ‘friend’ of his, who clearly looked as if he had been bribed and dragged along for company too. After a quick round of Hi’s the group proceeded towards the theatre.
The movie began ,and as Naina had expected it was a typical Bollywood soppy romance story. The hero, who in real life was in his late forties, still believed in playing a college student and running around trees. The heroine, was a newbie and had a svelte figure which made the guys drool, even though she could barely deliver her dialogues properly. The pair met in college, fought and hated each other at first, then a song came and the college gang was seen randomly taking a trip to exotic Thailand!!
At this point, Naina lost her patience and cursed Saloni in her mind. Saloni, however, unoblivious to Naina’s pain was blushing coyly as Sambit whispered something in her ear. Monali, sitting next to them was steadfastly looking at the screen, the hero being her favourite actor. Disgusted, Naina took her eyes from the screen of her mobile (where she was playing a game for last 5 minutes ) and looked around. Sambit’s friend, sitting four seats away from her caught her glance and smiled. Looking for a brief moment at the screen, he made a face and rolled his eyes. And that is how, Naina and Rajesh’s eyes first met…
Love has it’s strange ways! Naina always said to Rajesh later — “What if the movie had not been so absurdly boring? We would have all been absorbed in the movie, said our goodbyes when it finished and probably would have never met each other again.“
An hour had passed and Naina was waiting impatiently for the interval to come soon. Her stomach was growling in hunger as she had left empty stomach in the morning. The seat next to her was empty. Rajesh had left his seat and gone outside, probably to attend a call. Wise decision!! She was idly wondering if she could pretend to do it too and sneak outside, when she realised the seat next to her was occupied. “Getting bored too, I presume?” Asked Rajesh as he slid into the seat. “Mind if I give you some company?” He cheekily added, taking Naina’s silence for consent.
The rest as they say is history! Naina and Rajesh were soon giggling and cracking jokes at the expense of the poor hero and the overtly dramatic but predictable scenes of the movie. It earned them a stern, suspicious “Shh” was Saloni and several disapproving glances from poor Monali, who was trying hard to concentrate on the movie despite the distractions around her. Rajesh asked Naina to come with him outside as “he had seen enough of the crap anyway!!” They decided to sneak out of the theatre and go to Sunshine café across the road.
Over her favourite blueberry muffin with cold coffee, Naina discovered that she and Rajesh shared more than just disgust for the same kind of movies. They chatted as old friends, laughed on the same jokes and the remaining two hours passed quickly. By the time they headed back to the theatre, Naina had a wide smile across her face and feeling a warm glow deep inside her.
After three more months of late night chats on the phone, several “we are just friends” coffee meetings and a movie date (thankfully a fantastic movie this time ), Naina and Rajesh discovered they were true soulmates. Incidentally Sambit and Saloni, after two meetings itself decided “they were not each others’ types“!!
Thus, Naina penned down her first meeting love story and appropriately named it “Accidentally Falling In Love With You“….