They say ‘distance makes the heart grow fonder’. When it comes to long-distance relationships, however, that’s not always the case. Here’s the story of how we made ours work.

Love, Long-Distance & a Pandemic

They say ‘distance makes the heart grow fonder’. When it comes to long-distance relationships, however, that’s not always the case. Here’s the story of how we made ours work. 

Ankit and I were neighbors for as long as I can remember. We went to the same school and attended family events. I wouldn’t say we were friends, but close enough to know each other’s board exam results or family vacation plans.

How we actually got together was very vague. Five years ago, I received a customary text message from him on my birthday. The typical ‘hope you have a good one’ type. Little did I know he was going to make sure I had the best birthdays for the rest of my life. 

I invited him to my party that night, and the rest is history. Our mothers, of course, were the happiest. Perhaps because they, too, had known our board exam marks. Just kidding. Familiarity made our relationship a fairytale, until there was a pandemic. 

Two and a half years into our relationship, Ankit asked me to marry him. We picked a cold December evening that aligned with our stars. The year was 2019. Ankit and I were super-excited about a new job he had found in Australia, we were all set to start a brand new life together. 

‘I’ll do the dishes, you do the cooking’, I had made that very clear to him. We would DM each other cute interior ideas we found on Pinterest. I couldn’t believe I was about to have a home I could call my own, in a different country altogether.

The universe, however, had other plans. Ankit’s joining was in January 2020, but I wanted to spend some more time with our four parents before we both took off. ‘You go now, I’ll see you in March’, I told him. We said goodbye teary-eyed, unknowingly preparing for the biggest emotional rollercoaster of our lives. 

Cut to March 11, the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic and Australia closed down its borders for what seemed like an eternity. Being newly married, we were full of hope and optimism, thinking it will be over before we know it. We stayed up all night talking, played games with friends on Houseparty, and waited for International flights to resume. 

But all-nighters eventually began fading. I mean for how long could we have gone without sleeping? The time difference began getting to us. This was also the time when India was under complete lockdown and Australia was partially open. So there were times when he would tell me about how he was hanging out with ‘new friends’ and that made me very insecure. The isolation was getting to me. 

I would often snap at him for not calling or making enough effort. I even accused him of ‘abandoning’ me when in reality, I was the one who asked him to go first. You see, when thoughts are clouded, we can become pretty unreasonable. But Ankit was very patient with me. Things were equally frustrating for him, but he did not let the situation overpower his faith. ‘We are destined to be together, perhaps not right now, but eventually you will be with me and that will be a whole new start to this relationship'', he assured me. 

So we stopped behaving like boyfriend-girlfriend and started behaving like a married couple. We picked out furniture and upholstery for the house online. Cooked meals on video calls. I would accompany him to grocery shopping too (thank god for technology). We saved money and planned for our future. The one we wanted to build together. 

And just like that, a one-month-old married couple, involuntarily spent a year and a half apart. Exploring the institution in unprecedented ways. I would say this was made possible because Ankit chose me over my situation-induced defects. ‘Because those were temporary, we are forever’, he replied when I asked why he didn’t argue back with me. 

I must add, when I finally did see him in Australia, I did get my butterflies back. Ankit was right, it was a whole new start to our relationship - and this time, we were determined to do it right, more than ever before.

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Teesta Rajan
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