Saturday, May 21, 2022
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Love Story: We Filled The Voids In Each Other’s Life

We became friends on Orkut and fell in love when we were in Mumbai for our work. We came close while living under one roof for three months and decided to tie the knot.

Love Story: We Filled The Voids In Each Other’s Life
Rajeev Bindiganavale Ramagopal(left) and his wife, Shilpashree Jagannathan (right). Rajeev Bindiganavale Ramagopal

We became friends on Orkut, the now-defunct social media site, and met in Mumbai on a hot summer evening in 2007. I had arrived in the city to work as a computer graphics and visual effects supervisor. She was a business journalist. We both came from different cities and were trying to make a new life in Mumbai. After hanging out in crowded pubs over the weekends, we decided to move in together. Unlike in the movies, however, it wasn’t love at first sight. It was about being at ease with each other. We found we were comfortable discussing anything under the sun. Besides, there were common interests we shared such as travelling, exploring new restaurants, watching movies and living life to the full.

When I met Shilpashree Jagannathan, she was already looking for marriage alliances. Her parents had posted her profile on all the possible matrimonial sites. During those days, the most frequent conversation we had was around her annoyance in finding the right guy through the arranged marriage route. She had met about 24 odd men who made her feel that she might end up in an orthodox family where she would be expected to play the stereotypical roles of a traditional wife.

When the Cupid Struck

I was in my late 20s then and was looking for a companion. In my mind, I had decided that my perfect woman would be like what I had seen in the movies: a good-looking woman meant someone with beautiful hair, fair skin, an athletic body and, of course, a lot of money. While Shilpa was and is beautiful, she isn’t like what I had seen in the movies. But every time I spoke to her, something in me kept saying that she was the one for me.

Life in a new city, especially in Mumbai, was tough and staying away from home for the first time was a big challenge. She is extremely independent and outspoken. I hoped for a day when she would make the first move, but that never happened. So, I mustered up the courage and wrote a long SMS, explaining why I felt I would like to be with her. She turned me down, saying she didn’t think of me as the guy she had been looking for. But she continued to hang out with me and we both enjoyed each other’s company.

The Part Where We Moved In

Later that year, circumstances forced us to move in together. Mumbai is an expensive city to live in. It was not easy to find a good house. As per the arrangement with her workplace, she needed temporary accommodation for three months. After this period, she would be leaving Mumbai. However, when we lived together, we discovered each other’s true selves. We started to change as people in order to accommodate each other and to know if we wanted to spend our lives with the other person. I, for once, realised how independent and compassionate she was. I don’t know what she saw in me though. I could not make a cup of tea or chop vegetables. We discovered so much about each other that it became pretty clear what we needed to do next.

Building Family Ties

The three months we were to live together was coming to an end. By then, Shilpa, too, had developed a liking for me. When I ask her now what changed her mind, she says she could see us leading a life together and that she felt safe with me. Unfortunately, it wasn’t clear for me at all then, but we had a decision to make. Do we become one or should she take the flight back home? I was scared to commit and kept her waiting for a few more weeks as I was unsure of myself. She did go home three months later, but only to visit her family and tell them about me. It happened during Diwali. I, too, went home to tell my family about her. We couldn’t stay apart for long. We took the flights back soon after Diwali to be with each other in a city that became our home. Nine months later, we had our wedding ceremony in Bangalore (now Bengaluru).

Complex Jigsaw Called ‘Us’

What worked between us were the goals we built together, the interests that we shared and the difference in our temperaments. She acts and stays in the moment. She is impulsive. All this adds to some craziness and excitement in our lives. I am more of a planner; everything has to be scheduled and executed as per the task list; this lends a semblance of stability to our lives. It does get crazy sometimes as we have to deal with each other’s tantrums, but then we both know it is these qualities only that strengthen the bond between us. In many ways, we both filled in the empty areas in each other’s lives — it is something we couldn’t have achieved as individuals.

We now live in Toronto, with our two children; our life centres around them. She has played a vital role in building our world. She brings compassion, her feminist approach and fierce independence into our lives; she has changed me in ways that I never expected to. She has been a great teacher to our children; she has raised them in a manner that has made them aware of the importance to be chivalrous, aware and kind to everyone around.

We have had our rough patches, though. There were times when we had our differences and would get into terrible arguments. Today, however, if we have to argue, we try to wait it out till it’s time for our children to go to bed. By then, our anger boils down. We just sit together then and come up with constructive feedback to make life more functional. Looking back at our life together, I am glad that I heard my inner voice that kept saying she was the one for me.

(by Rajeev Bindiganavale Ramagopal)