Build­ing a life to­gether

Simply Her (Singapore) - - Beauty News -

“My grand­mother was a pil­lar of strength; while she did not have the ca­pac­ity to fight my par­ents, she gave me a lot of love and af­fec­tion.”

With San­jay in Dubai and Alisha in New Delhi, stay­ing in touch was a chal­lenge and the cou­ple was mis­er­able at be­ing kept apart. “In­ter­na­tional calls were very ex­pen­sive in those days and San­jay had just started work­ing. We would sched­ule a phone call ev­ery week for just three min­utes – six, if we were feel­ing rich. We’d write each other ev­ery day; I prob­a­bly have over a thou­sand letters that we ex­changed dur­ing that time.”

When San­jay’s par­ents saw how in­tent their son was on mar­ry­ing Alisha, they gave their bless­ing even though they felt it was too soon, as San­jay was just 20.

“My fa­ther threat­ened to an­nul the mar­riage be­cause San­jay was un­der­age, so we waited. On the day San­jay turned 21, I called my par­ents and told them I was get­ting mar­ried in a week and if they wished, they could at­tend. At first, my mother said they were busy, but they made it to Mum­bai for the wed­ding,” says Alisha.

Wed­ding bells

It was an in­ti­mate tem­ple wed­ding, at­tended by San­jay’s en­tire fam­ily and friends, Alisha’s cousins and friends from Mum­bai, and her par­ents.

On that day, the years of ten­sion be­tween Alisha and her par­ents some­how melted away – they had a change of heart and said they were ready to ac­cept their daugh­ter back into the fold.

“They are still my par­ents and I love and care for them. While I con­sider their be­hav­iour atro­cious, I now re­alise it was a bless­ing in dis­guise. What they put me through strength­ened me tremen­dously.”

The newly-weds re­turned to Dubai af­ter the wed­ding, stay­ing at San­jay’s par­ents’ home, which they had to them­selves, as the rest of the fam­ily was still in Mum­bai. “Those two weeks were a beau­ti­ful time that I of­ten re­fer to as my hon­ey­moon,” jokes Alisha. Dur­ing their first year of mar­riage, San­jay quit his job and the cou­ple started their gar­ments busi­ness. They worked around the clock, rou­tinely toil­ing from 9am to 3am the next morn­ing.

“I re­mem­ber the night of our first wed­ding an­niver­sary,” says Alisha. “We got up from our ta­ble, cut a cake, ex­changed a quick kiss and went back to work till nine the next morn­ing.

“We worked re­ally hard in the early years but hon­estly, I can’t say it was dif­fi­cult. We were both young and full of energy. I have never re­gret­ted my de­ci­sion to stand by San­jay.”

Re­new­ing ties

Alisha’s par­ents con­tin­ued to make ev­ery ef­fort at rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. “I think their ini­tial ac­cep­tance was be­cause they had no choice – I was al­ready mar­ried. It was only a few months later that they re­alised their mis­take in judg­ing San­jay’s char­ac­ter and were ashamed of how they had be­haved to­wards his fam­ily. They apol­o­gised to us and our re­la­tion­ship grad­u­ally im­proved, though the wounds were still quite raw then.”

Alisha’s mother called her ev­ery day and in­vited them over for din­ner at least twice a week. While Alisha was re­cep­tive, San­jay had his reser­va­tions.

“He was al­ways civil to­wards them, if a bit cold at times, as he found it hard to let go of the past. My mother-in-law al­ways en­cour­aged me to re­spect my par­ents and in­sisted that San­jay ac­com­pany me when I vis­ited them. It took some time, but San­jay even­tu­ally for­gave my par­ents. I think what helped was when they in­vited my in-laws for lunch and apol­o­gised pro­fusely to them. We both re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated that.”

To­day, the tough times are well be­hind them. “I can hap­pily say that my par­ents have the ut­most re­spect for San­jay, and my re­la­tion­ship with them has only grown stronger.”

Given what the cou­ple has been through, they of­ten re­mind their chil­dren that a per­son’s worth lies in what he is, not in what he has. “We’ve also re­alised that some­times ad­ver­sity can­not be avoided. It’s how you re­act to the sit­u­a­tion that mat­ters; if you don’t let it break you, it will leave you stronger.”

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