Story 19. The Elopers.


Aasim and Pallavi were schoolmates and lived in the same, affluent part of the town. They used to play together as little kids along with the other children.. Like most of the middle class residents of that locality, their parents sent them to the best school in town which had two sections one each for girls and boys.

In due course, Aasim the older of the two was the first to go off to college in Bombay about 500 Kms away from the town where they lived. Two years later, Pallavi too did the same but went to a College for girls and stayed in the hostel attached to the college whereas Aasim was in a co-ed college and stayed in a boys hostel attached to that college.

Nature did its job and the two used to meet whenever possible in the big city and the childhood relationship blossomed into a great romance without either family back home knowing anything about it.

I came into the picture in the early seventies of the last century when I was a junior sales manager for my then employer. Pallavi’s father, Purushottam was a customer who used to visit my office often in those days when merchants had to visit the main cities to keep their supply lines open as a lot of cash deals used to take place in those glorious high taxation socialist government days of my great country. He would settle all his matters in the wholesale market and then come over to our office to keep us in good humour and to place orders or to complain about something having gone in earlier supplies. He was always a welcome visitor from who I used to gather a lot of market intelligence. On a few occasions, he had brought Pallavi to our office and I met her under those circumstances and would oblige the proud father by speaking in English with that smart girl and ask her about her studies and progress. As part of my market visits, I also had to visit Purushottam in his shop and we developed a good working relationship.

Aasim’s father too was a merchant but in a different line of business altogether and I had no occasion to meet him. I accidentally happened to meet the love birds once in a restaurant when the background to this story came out from the two of them. Aasim was about to graduate from the university and was planning to seek employment in the city after that. Pallavi requested me not to mention meeting her and about Aasim to her father and I obliged.

I was transferred out of the city in 1973 and returned in 1977 to a different role. Visits to our office by Purushottam had stopped by then as a branch office had been opened in the smaller market and he had no reason to visit the main city. Despite that however, Purushottam visited me once while he was on some other errand and informed me that he had lost touch with Pallavi in 1974 as she had, to quote his words, run away with Aasim without any forwarding address and neither set of parents had a clue as to what had happened to the couple. He further informed me that he would have nothing further to do with his daughter for having brought disgrace to him and his family.

A small piece of information that would be necessary to proceed with this story further. Asim was a Muslim and Pallavi a Hindu. Purushottam was a Sindhi who came to India during the great partition when he was a young teenager and like most such refugees had a total aversion to Muslims. It was galling for him that his daughter had run away with a Muslim and predicted that she would come to a miserable end.

I wish that I could end the story to prove that his prediction was wrong, but it turned out exactly like he had predicted. I met Pallavi in 1985 when she came to seek employment with us as she was in dire need. Aasim and she had run away to Bangalore before she could graduate and on the assurance of a friend of Aasim to get him a job in Bangalore. She converted to Islam and got married and in due course produced two children as well. While Aasim’s family readily accepted her, her life had become like other Muslim women, one of high domestication and confinement. Aasim could not keep a job and went back to join his father in his business and it did not help matters that Pallavi’s family would not accept her back. After seeing the marriage collapsing with no other recourse, Pallavi left behind her children with Aasim’s family and ran away back to Bombay and that is how she landed up at my office one day seeking my help.

I wish now that I could have helped. I could not then and had to advise her to go back to her husband instead of living precariously in the big bad city. Quite whether she took my advise or not, I do not know. I lost track of her and when I spoke to Purushottam on another matter six years ago, he too had no clue about what had happened to her.

I hope that she had successfully survived and even flourished. She deserved better than what she got for falling in love.

16 thoughts on “Story 19. The Elopers.”

  1. Astonishing that parents will put their religious culture ahead of the welfare of, and love for, their children. I commend the young woman that she followed her heart rather than submit to ‘custom’. Can’t have been easy for her to have her parents sever ties.

    Other than that it’s a ‘boy meets girl’ story. I too hope that she (and her children – her husband too) fell on their feet, again – life being ebb and tide.

    As an aside: I too had occasion not that long ago to run to someone for help (like the woman in your story turned to you). I don’t know which is the sadder scenario: Having to beg for assistance, or not being able/willing to give it.

    Ursula recently posted..Two peppers and a bunch of coriander later

    1. In India there are many sub cultures Ursula and in this story you saw two such. A third, if you could read between the lines was how Pallavi could not take the claustrophobic Muslim culture and decided to start anew. That is modern Indian youth exposed to urban values.

      I should imagine that both asking for and being unable to respond are sad.

      1. I always believe that this is a purpose driven life. I just accidentally discovered your site and OMG I am now hooked on it! What a great storyteller you are. You have got me so interested in stranger’s lives. Now my hubby does not get concerned when I go missing for over an hour to run an errend which usually takes just 5 mins. Every day I have a new story to relate to him on someone’s life-the newspaper-wendor/ security guard/ a garbage collector/a flowerseller etc. Every biography is a thrilling mystery. So please keep these flowing……. and thanks again

        1. I call accidents as synchronicity. I am delighted that you found my blog and am equally delighted that you found my writing interesting. That motivates me to keep coming up with other stories.

  2. I find this story Sooooo very interesting. And so different from living in the U.S. (Ursula-comment above- lives in England. Computers shrink the world.)

  3. This story stirred many feelings and reflections in me. Amazing and so typical at the same time. Some time ago I referred to my old Indian friend Shashie and Prem. They were the first exotic couple I met in my, by now very international, life. When they said that they were an arranged marriage I could not come to terms with it. And yet they were happy and normal, just like me and my husband even if they completion was different – more attractive. I believe that they are still happily married while my true love marriage got out of date some time ago. When I asked Shashie if she was not afraid to marry a person she had not known. She looked surprised at me and said – No, I have a very good father. At first I could not see the link but she explained that her father loved her and wanted the best for her and he had enough life experience to choose well. Perhaps better than her impressionable young heart would have been able to. Maybe Aasim’s and Pallavi’s lives would be less romantic but happier in the long run if they talked to their parents first or at least read Romeo and Juliette as a warning.
    I hardly can believe that I am expressing such unromantic views. Must be getting wise or something?

    1. Anna, when we look at life in retrospect, it often leads us to be unromantic. While it is happening however it is a pleasure to see like it was for me to catch them unawares in the restaurant. And, we do get wiser with age.

  4. Well that is another good story Ramana, but a very sad one. One of my sons is going steady with an Indian lass, & she will always be looked after & welcome in this family.
    Regards, Keith.

    1. Keith Aasim’s family, from all accounts did welcome her and looked after her within their cultural and religious value system. That it was unacceptable to Pallavi was due to her different background. Sad indeed.

    1. Exactly what Pallavi did. I hope that by choosing a hell of her own she finally found a heaven somewhere. Unless she was able to get back with her children however, I think that it would be highly improbable.

  5. One of my neighbours are an “arranged marriage” family and they have one lad – when I came here to live, their house was smaller and there would be regular shouting matches. I asked once about them and that is when I found out about the arrangement and she said “it is sometime difficult…we have a business and he wants this for our boy and I want this and so on” Hamish (great English name), just finished his Science Degree and you can see how proud his Dad is…and I know his Mum is as well as I see her from time to time…

    My landlord is also from India and I remember all the trouble of the 2nd daughter. The family have quite a few brothers and apparently daughter is too fussy – even though she went regularly to India for marriage reasons. She did get married, it took forever for the man to be granted permission to come here and then he died…I don’t know all the details but daughter has said “no more”
    Cathy in NZ recently posted..Labour Day Holiday

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