Anjana was surprised by Karthik's offer to help her with a homework assignment. She remembered her brother mentioning that offering-to-help-with-homework was the standard operating procedure to woo girls during M.S. Anjana was going through a tough first semester in the U.S (she had just started M.S in Electrical Engineering) and she was finding it hard to adjust to Teaching Assistantship work, homework, quizes, grocery, cooking turns and roommate politics. She hated half the Indians, found them superficial and extremely immature. Her brother specifically told her that she would fight with her roommate some day because according to him (a) room mates always fight and (b) 2 desi women as room mates will always fight. She wanted to prove him wrong. But her room mate was a horrible person who talked behind her back (incidentally her roommate thought the same about her).
So in the middle of all this tension, she found Karthik's straight forward and uncomplicated approach pleasing. He rarely talked. When he talked he talked sense. He never tried to do anything 'extra' to impress anybody. He was just himself. She found that refreshing. Anjana was an extremely beautiful, voluptuous and a stunningly beautiful girl. Heads turned when she walked. She had received several i-love-you letters and proposals in the last 5-6 years. From teachers to classmate-turned-rakhi-brother-turned-psychopaths to road-side-romeos to but-i-thought-you-were-my-friend - everybody had proposed to her. She had seen it all. She now knew that anybody whom she talked to (even married men) would/could propose to her. But Karthik was a surprise. When her presence made boys behave wierdly, Karthik was different. He treated her like a normal person. In a funny way she did not like it (being treated like anybody else) but she also liked it because she was challenged for the first time. Given this context she was surprised when he offered to do her homework. If it were anybody else she would have thought "hmm..step1 in a 10 step process where step10 was proposal" (with step2 being get-RA-funding, step 3 being help-with-grocery-shopping and step 6 being lets-see-a-movie-together). Her brother had told her all this.
Something told her Karthik was different. That something persuaded her to work with him on the homework. She would later recall it as magic. But slowly they began to take the same courses. He spoke to his professor and got her a research assistantship. He helped her do groceries and in 3 months they saw their first movie together. She quite enjoyed it all. She never felt so lost in such a magical world. Karthik was so different from the rest of them. Their love was so different. It was a dream come true. One evening while walking back from a movie, Karthik began to talk. He told the story of his life. His story was touching. It separated him from the rest. In Anjana's eyes, Karthik stood distinguished from the rest. she had seen no other boy like him. Karthik's father was a Public Relations officer of a prestigious firm. His father developed a skin disease which caused his appearance to change. Over time, the disease became the reason for his father's job loss. The family struggled when the father failed to get a job because of the disease. Karthik worked part-time to fund his high school and later his B.E. Now he sends $400 every month to support his parents. He said "I have seen the ups and lows in life. I know how people turn mean when you are down and how they crave for you when you are doing well. In the end they are all superficial. I have seen the dark side of life. I know how to support a family. I have told you my life's story. Now that you know everything about me, I would like to ask - Will you marry me?". Somehow she wasn't surprised. It appeared she always knew this would happen.
She said yes.
He talked to his parents and they were delighted. Anjana's parents wanted to match horoscopes, they weren't happy with Karthik's family status, especially his father. They tried reasoning with her. Anjana wouldn't budge. She knew he was the one. She knew this was it. Karthik's parents were precious gems of people. They waited patiently. They promised that they would take care of Anjana like their own daughter (And in the long-run they did). Finally, Anjana's parents relented and the marriage happened. Karthik & Anjana walked into the sunset like the way John Wayne does in his movies. To her delight she found that Karthik was a genuinely good person. His parents were such wonderful people. It was so perfect. How could the society shun them. She wasn't superficial. The society was superficial.
The Bloody society.
( To Be Continued )