From bumping into each other in a Yahoo chat room to becoming life partners, Shivangi and Mayank’s Bollywood romance really proves that “love conquers all”! They battled distance and family disapproval, and now call each other “family”. Here’s their beautiful love story:
“In the April of 2002, I was 17-years-old, finishing my school and had just gotten my first computer. Yahoo chat was a big thing at the time and I ‘met’ Mayank in the Goa chatroom! We started talking and within a week of chatting everyday I told him I loved him - I was just 17! His was a more sensible response,” How can you love me?” I was heartbroken.
My father - who is an IPS officer - was posted in Gwalior at the time. I had to go to Delhi for a few days, and since this was pre-3G and pre-cellphone days, we didn’t speak to each other. When I came back, he told me he loved me too! The distance made him realise how much he missed me. That’s when I first called him on his Bangalore hostel landline and we ended up chatting for 45 minutes. I loved speaking to him and we called each other every day after that.
He asked me to come to Bangalore to meet him but I was a very sheltered girl. Plus, I’d shaved my head off (all the beauty magazines told me that the hair will grow back stronger and thicker afterward, and it did!) and was very conscious of my weight. So I kept putting it off. Mayank decided to take matters in his own hand and, on the way to his Delhi home during the college break, he decided to stop in Gwalior for a day.
By this time, the humongous Rs 70,000 phone bill had tipped my parents off to my late night phone calls - and they were furious! There was a lot of drama, including me (like a typical teenager) locking myself in my room for 2 whole days. For an entire month, I didn’t speak to Mayank either via chat or phone. Finally, my mom asked me, “Are you going to marry him?” I said “yes” though I was unsure. At least it allowed Mayank to visit me!
The train from Bangalore to Delhi halts at Gwalior at 5 am and my father had sent his whole constabulary to pick him up. I was still very conscious about my weight, my lack of hair and refused to meet him. I told him that my grandparents were furious about my behaviour and I had been packed off to Allahabad. Still, I did get a peek at him and my parents were very happy after they met him. For his part, Mayank also told his parents about us - they were also flabbergasted when they first heard the news.
It was only a year-and-a-half later that Mayank and I finally met each other for the very first time. My mom escorted me to Bangalore and accompanied us on all our dates! In 2004, I came to Delhi for a 3-month internship. Mayank was also here. It was only then we actually started ‘dating’ and became a couple. We would take long walks in CP, hang out at Rodeo (does anyone remember it?), watch movies etc. We decided we were both going to apply to the same universities for our further studies so that we could be together.
So in 2005, we both made our way to the University of Warwick in the UK, took up off-campus accommodation and moved in together. While he’d kept the news of our relationship quiet from his parents, mine were (again!) furious about us living together. It was only four years later, when Mayank had to come to India to renew his visa that I gave him an ultimatum, “Let’s get married or break up.” Mayank’s parents wanted us to have a big do with the entire khaandaan but we were returning to UK soon after.
We really didn’t have time to organize a big ceremony and I was determined to be wed due to family pressure. So Mayank gave in, we had a court wedding and a small ceremony without their knowledge.
We returned from the UK after finishing our studies and moved to Delhi. But since our wedding was a secret from his parents, we couldn’t live together. I felt very alone at that time - there were family troubles, health issues I had to deal with and I was living apart from my husband. His parents’ only condition was a “proper ceremonial wedding.” And I was determined to look perfect on my own wedding day. So while I was working out and eating healthy, I kept pushing the wedding date off. This was a very trying period for us, as you can imagine, and we even contemplated marriage counselling.
Finally, in November 2010 we tied the knot - for the second time - in the presence of all our family and friends. Though we had lived together before, our relationship was rocky enough that the first year of being ‘married’ was a bit difficult for us. We were not immune to tensions created by job pressure and family troubles. But we found our love again.
Mayank and I have now been together for 15 years - we really are each other’s best friends, we even work together now and are a family.”
As told to Garima Gupta.
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