Sharing Joy, Sorrow and Companionship
It is a love story of a Bengali girl and a Punjabi boy, holding top posts in the Telangana government. The couple, who first met during their training in 2000, will celebrate their 12th anniversary this year. On their first encounter, at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie, “We were just friends. This friendship turned into romance,” shares Akun Sabharwal, Director, Drugs Control Administration.
Both of them come from different backgrounds. In a regular context this disparity would have required them to deal with family pressure. But it was not the case here. “I convinced my father, who served the Indian Air Force. He took our marriage proposal to Smita’s parents. We approached through a proper channel. And that’s how we got married,” recalls Akun adding, “I just remember thinking that I had never felt more sure of anything in my life and that was a wonderful feeling.”
Akun was selected for IPS when he was just 23.
After his marriage to his batchmate Smita, an IAS officer, he joined the Andhra Pradesh cadre in 2004. “AP was more challenging than I expected, as I had to serve in some of the most disturbed areas of the state,” says the 37-year-old officer. “The first six months were tough as I did not even know Telugu. Violence was also high in the state those days,” he explains.
Secret to a happy marriage
The couple says the secret to a happy marriage is being tolerant of each other. “Learning your faults and letting the other person see your worst is what helps a marriage work,” says Smita, Additional Secretary to Chief Minister, Telangana, who graduated in Commerce from St. Francis Degree College. She is one of the few officers who cracked the Union Public Service Commission exam at the age of 23, secured all India fourth rank and opted for the IAS.
Sharing their favourite thing about each other, Smita says, “He has a great sense of humour and is a caring person.” To which Akun adds, “Her intelligence and ability to think clearly without emotions is what I admire the most.”
It is surprising to know that an officer who uses information technology in her administration has no personal accounts in any social networking sites.
However, there are at least 20 fan pages of Smita Sabharwal with more than five lakh followers on Facebook. She is the only IAS officer with such a huge fan base and is one of the most trending youth icons on social networks and media.
Striking a balance
When two people live together, they are bound to have differences of opinion and disagreements. Successful couples fight but do it skillfully.
“In our case, Smita is the silent one and I am more impulsive and emotional. So after disagreements, we go out and talk,” he says.
Dealing with ‘us’
It is not easy for a busy couple like Akun and Smita to keep the spark of love alive, especially after a day’s hectic work and dealing with children. Romance normally falls to the wayside, but this couple have found their way into each other’s hearts and know how to keep the romance alive at home.
“Listen to your heart and mind. Give the other person some space,” says Smita, and adds, “Sharing joys, sorrows and companionship. You get to spend the rest of your life with your best friend.”
“We make time for each other – even when life gets hectic, we dedicate time to us,” says Akun.
The couple, who has been married for 11 years now, have two beautiful children – nine-year-old son Nanak and seven-year-old daughter Bhuvis.
“We’re still growing and learning, and are pretty sure will continue to do so. It has been a sweet surprise and it is still fun to be together,” says Akun and Smita.