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We were back to our daily routines, and this time we planned for another holiday trip. In the meantime, we wanted to upgrade the van, we also insured our vehicles and families. we added a trailer as a storage space. Now our water and sleeping problem was resolved. A trip to goa would be our plan.

On the day of our journey, we were excited, our parents were worried about what we would bring up this time? Still, we left the place with warm goodbyes. Our first stop was Yanam, a small coastal town in AP. It used to be occupied by French people. We reached there at night, so we had ample time in the morning to kickstart our stall.  We were busy all day as there were tourists all over.

From there we entered the highway towards Vijayawada. Our business at Vijayawada was amazing, due to the culture there our sales went up and we were first time introduced into the limelight. A reporter spotted us and shared our story in local news. Our parents also saw the media coverage.

From Vijayawada, we moved towards Kurnool, by the time we reached there I convinced my parents that this idea was feasible. Thanks to the support of the media brothers. I broke the news with my friends. That night we were so happy. It was my turn driving, we decided to park at a beautiful place for the night.

Since Kurnool was Ramu’s hometown, we made our way to Konda Reddy fort. Although the site was closed it was an awesome camping place with shops nearby. We bought veggies from a local market and Ramu was cooking them. Out of nowhere came a van, which looked like a campervan similar to us. They parked just beside our vehicle.

As I moved towards their van to investigate, she came out. It was the first time I saw her. I immediately felt a connection. She was Anita an investment banker from Hyderabad on a solo trip. She was also moving towards goa. She lit a campfire, and we shared our food. The day was beautiful. We decided to team up and enjoy the rest of the trip.

We stopped at different tourist places along the way. She also became a part of our group. While we sold our stuff she used to work remotely from her van. While we barely managed to break even, she was making profits while traveling. Looking at her work, I always thought “if I had a daughter, I would want her to be like Ankita”. She was so engulfed in her work I could hardly muster enough courage to disturb her forget about expressing my feelings.

It was about 15 days since our trip started, and we were one day away from goa when PM Modi announced that a lockdown would be there, and everyone had a day to return to their homes. We heard the news on a local radio station and decided to stop our journey and head back. Heading back meant a lot of loss for us as our food stock would be wasted and we won’t be generating enough sales. Still, we decided to head back home.

I had butterflies in my stomach when she asked me to join her, as she was heading towards Hyderabad. Madhu would drop Ramu in Kurnool and leave for Vizag. They were furious with me but still, I convinced them. I would be spending the next 24 hrs in her presence. I was so happy I told my parents that I met someone I like and all that’s left is me expressing my feelings for her.

She was so warm, it felt safe to be in her presence. We talked a lot about various topics. Hours turned into minutes and before I knew we reached outer ring road. It was a now or never movement. We hardly had 2 hours among us. I tried my best but couldn’t muster enough courage to talk to her. She dropped me at my home, I introduced her to my parents, and she left for her home.

After that, I enquired if my friends reached home safely. PM Modi announced a complete lockdown. For 5 months we were completely confined. I tried talking to her, but she used to be busy doing other things. Slowly things started to unlock, and I move back to my office base location, Madhu and Ramu were back in their offices. Both were getting married this year. Seeing them settle bugged my brain and I finally decided to ask her for marriage. I planned a surprise and directly landed at her house. She wasn’t there so I was waiting in her house awkwardly looking at my mother-in-law.  She came after some time with her father. Her eyes weren’t filled with excitement as I expected, it was a disappointment. She clarified, she never wanted to be in a relationship with a mobile tiffin seller and sell tea tiffin on the highway. She was looking for a well-settled remote worker.

Her words were harsh, anyway, it was her decision. Then I told my parents to look for a bride. Condition there also was similar. Most of the women wanted a man who could provide consistently, they weren’t interested in taking any risks. Those rejections at that time completely led me to compromise, I told my parents anyone was OK.

Chapter 4: A new beginning??

Then they bought me a match from an orphanage. Unlike me, she had realistic goals. She wanted a family, and we were ready to welcome her. We were just a normal couple who married each other. I started indulging myself in my career, she also did the same.

We were sort of happy. We worked hard for 3 years, managed to settle financially. Life was almost going as it goes for everyone with a bit of twist here and there. It was my 30th birthday, we were having our lunch when I heard someone knock on the door, I opened the door; it was a parcel. I collected it and placed it on the table and resumed my lunch.

She was discussing with my parents; what steps can we take for the next stages of our life. My father bought up the idea of my failed food truck and she said it was not a bad idea. She was an intelligent and strong woman. Sometimes I feel she deserved more. Someone with whom she could be happier.

The next day morning, she woke me up before sunrise. Told me to get ready in 30min. we ate our breakfast; my parents were also there. She took all of us out.

There was a truck waiting for us. A food truck.

She restored the old truck and arranged for a trip. She also convinced my parents to come with us.  I immediately asked her what about my job?

The smile on their faces gave me my answer,

life on a food truck was not what I need, Spending time with friends was what I longed for.

A remote solo adventurer partner was not what I needed, A partner who understood me was what I needed.

I never realized I had people who loved me so much in the place I never looked for; my home

I onboarded their food truck as a driver. Four of us turned into 6. In 6 years.

This is probably our last trip on our food truck. Children will be married this year. My parents want to spend their life with all their relatives and friends. I just wish to stay beside her. She has sacrificed a lot these 20 years, now it’s time for me to surprise her.

If I hadn’t met her at the crossroads, I wonder if could have reached this far in Highway to Heaven.