Rom said if I wanted to do a sociological study of people’s reactions, I ought to meet Harry Miller, a Welsh journalist who lived in Madras. Soon afterwards, I got a big job: To edit a Hindi soap called Bible Ki Kahaniyan for Doordarshan. Career switch would have to wait; I had to earn a living after all.The following months were hectic with high stress, little sleep, and many technological challenges. Getting an episode edited, music track laid, and couriered to Delhi week after week was a nightmare. By the end of my contract, I was worn out and close to breaking down.
Meanwhile, Rom had a successful trip to the U.S.; he had a contract from National Geographic Television to make a film about rats. Ana Lockwood, a mutual friend of ours working on the film, invited me to Croc Bank for rest and recuperation.
Although I spent time with Ana, it was then Rom and I got to know each other. Ana shuttled between the city and Croc Bank, and frequently, I had only Rom for company. He was fun: he cracked jokes, narrated his adventures, and took me snake hunting. I thought when love happened, sparks flew. So when I fell for Rom, I didn’t even know it. My holiday ended and I went back to the city refreshed.
I had an attractive offer from a new television channel. But I felt distracted, out of sorts, and disinterested. The walls of the editing studio crowded me, and the artificial lights made it seem like a prison cell. The mere sight of the editing console made me weary. My head was filled with thoughts of Croc Bank and Rom. All I wanted was an excuse to go back. Was it the open space of Croc Bank that beckoned, or was it Rom? There was only one way to find out.
There were no phones at Croc Bank in those days. Rom was surprised to see me, while my heart did a somersault when I saw him. I said I was going through a crisis and needed time out. He said I could stay as long as I wanted.
I hadn’t noticed how blue Rom’s eyes were. Or his long athletic legs. I appreciated how the golden hair on his arms glinted in sunlight. And I was mesmerised by his dimples. The more I caught myself looking at him, the more I became certain. I told myself, “Woman, you are smitten.” But was Rom?
He gave no indication he was attracted to me. I engineered romantic situations every evening, “Rom, come and see, the sea is glowing.” We sat on the beach and watched the bioluminescent waves until dinner time. Or I would drag him out to see the crocodiles. Or some flower in bloom. I hoped, “Maybe tonight he’ll say something.”
By this time, Rom was working on his next film project: the king cobra. I made suggestions on his draft script, and he asked me if I would work with him. I didn’t think for more than a second before accepting. Although I was excited to shift from editing soaps to producing wildlife documentaries, I was really waiting for another proposition.
He claimed he had been sending me signals all the time, but I wasn’t reading them. Had I known his feelings, I would have made the move. Later he admitted he was torn. Was he was too old for me? Was it the right thing to do? How would my parents feel? With these preoccupations, his signals were so muted as to be invisible.
I wasn’t aware of anyone else or any place else. I don’t remember how much time passed until one evening, he finally proposed. I had waited for this moment, but when it came, I wasn’t prepared for the depth of our emotions.
My life and career were never the same again.