IT was the class of 1980...
He was a new admission in std X at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan School, Pune. He came from Nasik; with his father a cop by profession, regular transfers and relocations were a part of his life.
He sat on the first bench of his classroom. His smashing good looks immediately became the talk of his school. He however, remained untouched by the confusion he had caused, by the girls trying to attract his attention. Only one chirpy effervescent girl caught his eye.
But apart from some casual encounters in class, there was no other interaction between the two. Destiny played its course. The two went their separate ways.
He moved to Nasik once again. She continued studying in Pune. Three years went by. Destiny intervened once again. He ended up studying in the same college after yet another transfer.
It was at the Wonderland shopping mall that Cupid struck. He realised then that she was the one for him. He went to her and said, 'hi'. Love happened, blossomed into marriage and parenthood.
The sweethearts have now been married for 15 years and are blessed with an 14-year-daughter Sana and a ten-year-old son Karan.
"Pari and I were around 15 when we first met," Salil reveals. "Unlike other girls, she was unpretentious; that's what I liked about her."
"When Salil entered the classroom, it was like a breath of fresh air," Parinita remembers. "He was sitting on the first bench. I often had the feeling he was looking at me."
By the time they met again three years later, Salil was busy playing cricket for the Indian team. "We were 18-year-olds in the second year of college," Parinita goes on.
"He would miss lectures and lose out on notes as he played matches. Since I was the only person he knew on the campus, he would approach me for help. He kept me close because he needed notes," she says, tongue-in-cheek, adding, "But then, there were phone calls at home too. Soon, I knew he was beginning to take an interest in me."
But parental acceptance did not come easily. "I belong to a conservative Marwari community which strictly adheres to traditional religious and social customs and vegetarianism, whereas Salil comes from a typical non-vegetarian liberal Konkani family," explains Parinita. "But my grandfather who was a well-known figure in Pune, intervened and succeeded in bringing the two families together."
Salil and Parinita have been together for almost 20 years now. "From the beginning, I saw in him a wonderful person, someone precious, I looked beyond his good looks. He was simple, quiet, reserved and very down-to-earth. Just the opposite of what I am," says Parinita.
"In fact, he was shy to the extent that he wouldn't speak his mind even if someone hurt him intentionally or unintentionally. Even now, he will only open up when he gets to know a person well enough. The only change I have seen in him is thankfully for the better; he has become better able to express his thoughts. He has become more assertive. But he is still a kid at heart."
Even after 12 years and two kids, Salil maintains that the marriage is still exciting, like it all happened yesterday. "We are still like the teenage boy and girl who were first drawn to each other in school. We have seen each other pass through different phases of life, and grow. I have seen Parinita grow from early adolescence to youth, go from being my partner to being a parent. She has matured in many ways and tries hard to give her best to Karan and Sana."
"She hates it when I go away on work," Salil adds. "Of course, after marriage, our kids have become first priority, but wherever we go, we go together and we get on like a house on fire. The moment the kids are out of sight, we become the childhood sweethearts we once were — childish pranks and all."