There lived a small Hindu family at ‘Pavitra Junction’. Luvneesh Khurana was in Standard III and his parents were both working professionals. They were quite rich, conservative, and full of themselves. Luvneesh was good at academics but his parents always wanted him to learn new skills and nurture his talent. So, one fine day, they took him to a renowned dance and acting academy in South Delhi and got his admission done there.
After a year, there were new residents who came into the house just next to the house of Luvneesh. It was a small Muslim family comprising a very young girl named Rumaisa Iqbal, and her parents, who were both in the business of printing and xerox. They had suffered huge financial losses in the past and were now living on rent. Rumaisa apparently got admission in Standard IV at the same school where Luvneesh was studying. Their session was about to begin soon. Luvneesh’s parents came to know that their new neighbors were Muslims and were reluctant to talk to them or extend any help that was required to settle at a new place!
Finally, the new session began, and coincidentally Luvneesh and Rumaisa got to be in the same section. They got good friends with each other and were enjoying each other’s company. They started sitting together on the same bench in the class, started having their lunch together, and were equally intelligent in their studies. They found a lot of similar interests such as studies, dance, creativity, etc. Further, they started playing together in the park during the evening time, and also began doing their homework together. However, their parents got deeply saddened on observing their close friendship.
One fine day, Luvneesh’s mother said, “Son, please stay away from Rumaisa. She is from a different religion and we can’t be friends with them.” Luvneesh replied, “But, why Mom? What is the problem? Those people are really good.” His mother warned him, slapped him, and said, “If I see you with Rumaisa next time, I will disown you. Just try to understand, you can’t be friends with her” and she walked out of the room in disgust. Meanwhile, Rumaisa’s parents scolded and slapped her for being friends with Luvneesh. Rumaisa’s father told her, “Rumaisa, please stay away from Luvneesh. He is a Hindu boy and you cannot afford to be friends with him. It is not acceptable. It’s better you understand it for once and for all.”
Days passed, and both Luvneesh and Rumaisa started talking to each other only during school hours as they were fearful of the warnings given by their parents. They stopped playing together in the evening and started avoiding each other in front of their parents. They were going through a lot of afflictions as they were being ignored and ill-treated by each other’s parents. All this continued for the next two years. After that, something tragic happened that changed the alpha and omega of the ongoing circumstances!
One night, both parents of Rumaisa, after having their supper and after ensuring that Rumaisa was asleep, left for their office to complete an urgent order that they were supposed to deliver the very next day. It was 2 AM. They reached their office and immediately started working. Everything was quiet and all the nearby work areas were closed. The night was completely dark and was indeed dreadful! Suddenly, the fire broke out in their office and it spread so rapidly that all the impetuous attempts made by the couple went in vain. They shouted, but unfortunately, none turned up for help. At last, they had to meet their doom and were no more!
In the morning, people reached their home and saw Rumaisa crying badly in search of her parents. Rumaisa’s family had no close relatives as everybody distanced from them owing to their recent financial downfall! Somehow, they got a number of one of her acquaintances and informed her about this unfortunate incident. Once all the rituals were over, her acquaintance took Rumaisa along with her to her dwelling at Shimla, where she was staying alone. She told Rumaisa, “Girl, I like the names that are easier to pronounce. Can I please call you Roma?” Rumaisa replied, “Yes, Aunt. Sure!”
Fifteen years passed. During this long time period, Rumaisa’s life witnessed some stark changes. Realizing the fact that her parents were no more, Rumaisa tried to move on in life, keeping almost no ties with her past. As soon as she came to Shimla, she got her name changed to the one that she was called by her aunt every day – ‘Roma’. She was now ‘Roma’ for the world! She was now a tall, fair, and elegant girl. She pursued a degree in fashion design at graduation level and was now working on a few projects in this field. She was quickly climbing the ladder of success as a fashion designer and a wardrobe stylist.
Meanwhile, Luvneesh was now living with his parents in Mumbai, where he was doing theatre since the time, he completed his studies at the National School of Drama. Along with the theatre, he was very proactive in appearing in auditions for a lead role in a movie of his choice. He soon got a conditional offer from a well-known production house for a two-year project. The Producer and the Director told Luvneesh, “We really like your personality, talent, and screen presence. We find you extremely suitable for this role as well as for this industry. We want to work with you. But the only condition is – you will have to change your name because your current name doesn’t fit well in this fancy industry. How about just ‘Luv’?” He finally agreed to this and changed his name to ‘Luv’ for his career.
After the strenuous two years, it was the day of his movie launch. The event was scheduled at ‘The Mapple’ hotel in Mumbai. Luv’s parents arrived in time to witness the event. The entire hall was full and the grandeur of the place was spectacular. Luv and his Director were in an office nearby and were heading towards the venue. When they were just about to reach the venue, the hotel came under the deadly saws of the terrorist attack in which all the attendees present at the hotel were ruthlessly slaughtered. Luv became an orphan in a span of just two minutes!
A few more years passed and Luv established himself as a superstar in the film industry. Meanwhile, even Roma emerged as a well-known fashion designer, after having worked with a plethora of production houses and fashion events. Luv got a new project from a very big production house and serendipitously, Roma was hired as a fashion designer and wardrobe stylist of Luv. They both worked very closely with each other for almost two years on a variety of projects and became good friends with each other. They started enjoying each other’s company and then began dating each other. When Luv was facing a few professional setbacks, Roma gave staunch support to him both morally and emotionally. Soon, they both realized that they were made for each other!
“They were both strangers who became more than just friends to each other, but they were completely unaware of the fact that they both were childhood friends, who were bashed by their parents for playing together, admonished for doing homework together, and beaten for talking to each other. They were strangers who were cloaked by the masks of their pseudo names and mature personalities.”
This was indeed a turning point in their lives. Luv said to Roma, “Let’s get married now. I just want to let you know that I don’t have a family. I am an orphan. My parents died in a terrorist attack in Mumbai.” Roma got a bit emotional and she replied, “Oh! I am so sorry to know that. By the way, even I am an orphan. I lost my parents when I was just 10 years old. But I have forgotten my past.” Luv got dumbstruck and somehow couldn’t express himself. They didn’t ask anything further and decided the date of marriage.
Following the recent trend of some of the weddings happening in Mumbai, Luv and Roma mutually decided to get married at a Church. Luv called his few friends and Roma called her aunt to attend the wedding at a local Church in Mumbai. The board at the entrance read ‘Luv weds Roma’ but who knew that it meant ‘Luvneesh weds Rumaisa’!
All the ceremonies and parties were now over, and Roma came to Luv’s house in Mumbai. Roma entered the house with great gusto and zeal. She immediately looked up at the wall and she couldn’t believe what she saw! She saw the photo of a man and a woman each held in a photo frame. There was a festoon of flowers placed over each photo. She turned towards Luv and immediately asked, “Luv, who are they, in the photo?” Luv replied emotionally, “Roma, they are my parents who were killed in a terrorist attack.” Roma got astounded on hearing this. She replied, “I know them.” She took a long pause and asked in a toned-down voice, “Are you Luvneesh?” He very astonishingly replied, “But, how do you know them, and how do you know my real name?” She said, “Luvneesh, I am Rumaisa. I hope you remember Rumaisa. Classmates, Homework, Dance, Evenings, Playground, Pavitra Junction.” Luv was not able to believe what was happening at that time, and instantaneously they both started crying and hugged each other tightly. Their masks were finally unveiled!
They offered each other a glass of water and shared their life journey with each other thus far. Luvneesh said, “Had our parents been alive, we would not have been together. I was always told and taught to marry a girl from the same religion and was tortured very badly when I became friends with you in my childhood. But destiny has its own charm! I never asked your religion before getting married as I see love above all these stereotypical labels that society imposes on individuals. I think I made the best decision of my life. I am proud of you and I love you so much, Rumaisa.”
On hearing this, a spasm of emotions and feelings passed through Rumaisa’s face. She said, “I completely agree with you Luvneesh. Our parents would have never agreed to this. I think with the death of our parents, all stereotypes also died for us. I am extremely elated at my decision of marrying you!” They started living happily and continued to prosper in their respective professions. After three years, there was a baby boy born in their family who was always taught to live freely without paying heed to any redundant norm or stereotype that the society offers in a decorated plate. There was a reform that got started in their family and everyone enjoyed the peace, fun, and beauty of life! They lived happily thereafter…!!
The saga of these cloaked strangers reveals a lot about the human mindset. They valued love, emotions, traits, feelings, and support above religion. They proved that love has no roadblocks, no hurdles, no ordeals, no hindrances! It is a pure connection and must be accepted the way it is!
Sometimes, one must follow one’s heart and unfollow the so-called societal norms for the better good of oneself, and for bringing a radical change in one’s family and later in society!
“Break the shackles of society’s every stereotype,
Accept the love, be it simple or be it a hype!
Freedom is enjoyed the most by those,
Who have their mindset open, not closed!”