Ria grew up believing what she saw in movies about Love! The hero would be a tender, star-struck lover who took care of every mood of his beloved. The heroine would have a bed of roses kind of life with no sadness, no discomfort and no pain.
After all she only had movies to turn to, in order to understand love. Her parents, though very loving and caring, were the regular Indian parents who shied away from such subjects. She grew up believing in fairy tales, princes, Shahrukh style romance and belonged to the DDLJ generation.
No one ever told her that this was love. No one ever told her that love was heart wrenching, could wring her heart out, could make her completely vulnerable to being hurt. No one ever told her that she would still feel that it was worth it.
Ria met Sameer five years back in a typical Bollywood style. She was travelling back to Mumbai after her annual vacation to her hometown, Delhi. They got into a conversation in the train and both didn’t realise how the journey ended. They decided to keep in touch even in Mumbai,
They meet regularly over coffee, movies and dinners. Soon, love blossomed between them. However, they didn’t take the conventional route of friendship, love and marriage. Ria, being the hopeless romantic, did want to get married to him, but was willing to wait and was in no special hurry. After all, they were together and that was all that mattered.
They decided to move in with each other. There was opposition from both sides of the family. But they couldn’t stop them, after all they were independent individuals. Ria saw her fairytale life coming true. Sameer was the perfect man of her dreams that she had seen in Bollywood movies. He loved her, pampered her like a princess, yet she never felt like she was being dominated or treated like a fragile doll. They had a relationship of equality. Sometimes, he would surprise her with breakfast in bed and she would surprise him with a candlelight dinner when he came back from work.
It was not that they never had fights. But they would calm down very soon and sort things out rationally. Life continued like this and they had now been living together for two years. Ria expected him to pop the question anytime now. Maybe, he was planning a surprise proposal for her on her birthday which was two weeks away.
Ria couldn’t hide her excitement. He had been hinting at formalizing their relationship since a few weeks and what could be a better day than her birthday. On her birthday, he kissed and wished her and both left for work as usual. There are no hints or any let-ons about a surprise birthday party for her. She is tingling with excitement all day long. He doesn’t call her or message her the entire day.
Ria starts to feel a little disappointed, but then consoles herself that he must have an exceptional surprise planned for her. He had a meeting in town today. Maybe, he got busy and was not able to speak to her. She left for home at 6 p.m. She had had a busy day too with constant client meetings on call. Internet access was limited to only office mail at her workplace. No Facebook, no personal e-mails.
Her client was from Chennai. She was busy in talks with them the entire day. Hence, she didn’t have a chance to speak to any of her colleagues and friends at work. She wrapped up her work and left office in a hurry, all excited for the evening. She was surprised at no calls from Sameer. She tried his number and it was unreachable.
She didn’t think much of it. Maybe he had switched off his phone if he was still in the meeting. She tried to recollect where his meeting was. She reached home, ordered for a special dinner and got dressed for this special evening. It was already nine p.m with no news of Sameer.
To while away time, she switched on the TV and then her whole world collapsed around her. It was 26th November 2008.