It was the year of 1994. It was an important year in the history of the country of Yemen. The country saw its southern and northern armed forces up against each other in a major civil war. Amidst perpetual battle and terrible terror, people living in Yemen were constantly battling all odds to survive.
Among the many people, were Aman and his wife Aalia, who had moved from India to Yemen in 1993.
Aman and Aalia had been married in the typical Indian way – the arranged marriage. Parents choose the respective life partners for their children after an exhaustive search. Then after mutual acceptance from both the families of the would-be bride and groom, they are tied together in the sacred knot of marriage – of lifelong harmony.
Aalia was by nature bright and cheerful. She was generous and kind, giving and forgiving. Although never totally wild, she was open and expressive. Aman on the other hand was an introvert. He was brilliant at work but nowhere good when it came to expressing feelings. He failed miserably when it came to express the loving person he truly was. Despite this he gave Aalia something very precious – heartfelt love. It is the love that stems from the heart and doest not need the words “I love you” to be spoken out loud.
Aman was desperately forgetful with dates. Once he forgot his own birthday. That night when the clock struck 12, Aalia was ready with her surprise.
“Happy birthday to you..Happy birthday to you…..” she came singing to their room carrying a cake and a T-shirt as a birthday present.
Aman looked up surprised. “It’s my birthday? Is it 21st today?”
Aalia shook her head, bemused. “You are really something” she said as she started lighting a candle and handed over a plastic knife to her husband.
Aman moved to Yemen shortly after marriage for an office project. Aalia was in India. There were no cell phones at that time and they kept contact through letters. She looked forward to these letters. Although they contained mostly stories at work, they told her that her husband was all right in a foreign country.
When they had their first real argument over something really trivial it came down upon Aman’s shoulders to make up with Aalia
“I have got toffees for you.” He offered as an attempt to say sorry and make up with her.
She understood this and accepted immediately.
They discovered each other only after marriage. But in the end what mattered was that they loved. They accepted each other with all their flaws and all their virtues and found in each other their mates for life. Both felt lucky that they had each other for the rest of their lives.
During the war in Yemen, the only thing that kept the two of them slightly optimistic and sane was the fact that they still had each other.
The Indian embassy in Yemen was making arrangements to send all the Indians safely back to the country. They were sending all the ladies and children back first before sending the men.
It was Aalia’s turn to go. But she was adamant.
“Go” insisted Aman
“GO. Don’t worry about me.”
She looked him straight in the eye. “I don’t want to go back without you. What if something happens to you? I can’t. If we are going to die, then we are dying together. And that’s my final decision”
They were in it together.