Love is truly a mysterious force. We're not entirely sure what draws us to certain people, but when it happens, there's nothing we can do to stop it. This is a story about love. The type of love that was written in a young man's stars at a very early age. The type of love that most of us wish to find in our own lives. Keep reading to find out how absolutely nothing could get in the way of how these two people felt, even if that meant crossing borders and traveling thousands of miles.
In his country, Mahanandia was considered "untouchable." He was shunned by his entire community, and sadly, wasn't even allowed to sit in the classroom. "I was below the dogs and cows. The moment I went near the temple, [people] started throwing stones. Those things, I never forget," he recalled during an interview. Mahanandia was ordered to listen to the school lessons outside, until one day when the school received some visitors.
The inspector gave a garland of flowers to a girl in the front, but his wife gave her garland to Mahanandia. "She could see I was an outcast. She touched my head and said: 'Your lovely curly hair!' I was happy, but at the same time I was crying. It was like a little light for me in the dark cave," Mahanandia recalled. He immediately ran home and told his mother that he was in love with a white woman. What she told him that day would stay with him the rest of his life.
She told him that he would marry "a white woman, from a faraway land." She also informed him that the woman would be a Taurus, she would be involved in music, and own a jungle. Mahanandia would carry that prophecy with him in the back of his mind throughout his life.
More often than not he would have to sleep inside of phone booths, or at bus stops. Eventually, Mahanandia made a name for himself by drawing portraits of celebrities and politicians, including Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. Thanks to his growing reputation, Mahanandia was allowed to draw portraits in Delhi's central square, Connaught Place. This is where his life would be changed forever.
She had a passion for India and wanted to see its beauty. She spent 22 days traveling along the "Hippie Trail," a cultural highway that followed much of the Silk Road, in order to see the India of her dreams. It was on this trip that she met Mahanandia.
She approached him and wanted a portrait done of herself. The portrait he did for Charlotte certainly wasn't one of his best. "It was a little bit shaky! We said we'd come back the next day," she said. The entire time he was drawing he couldn't help but think that Charlotte was the woman from the prophecy. He decided that when she returned the next day he would ask her a few questions.
He found out that not only was she a Taurus and a musician (she played piano), but she also owned a forest in Sweden. "I became shaky. I said: 'It's decided in the heavens, we are destined to meet each other.' She was shocked!" he recalled. She decided to trust her instincts and went with Mahanandia to meet his father, where the couple would receive tribal blessings. "I didn't think, I just followed my heart 100%. There was no logic," explained Charlotte.
Mahanandia had one year left of art school, so he had to stay in India. Most couples will fail under the strains of a long-distance relationship, but their relationship would only grow stronger. In January of 1977, after a year of being apart from one another, Mahanandia wrote to Charlotte and told her that he was going to ride a bicycle from India, to her home in Sweden.
While on his journey of over 2,200 miles, Mahanandia painted portraits along the way. It was an unbelievably long journey, but he was committed. Some days he would ride over 40 miles on his bike, but some days it was much easier. "Sometimes you'd get two or three hitchhiking offers and you'd have to choose! I bicycled for love, but I never loved biking," he said. When Mahanandia arrived in Sweden, thanks to artistic talent, he had over $800 in his pocket.
Some of their friends thought that their romance wasn't going to last, but they were definitely wrong about that. As of today, the couple has been together for over 40 years!
The couple has two children together, named Sid and Emelie! They've also spent their lives helping out others in the Dalit caste system. They promote indigenous art and provide scholarships to Indian Dalits.
Not only has been awarded an honorary doctorate from his state university, but he was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005!
The local government put Mahanandia in a helicopter and brought him into the city. "I landed on my old school's football field," he said. That's one way to return to a place that used to shun your very existence.
"When I was with her, I felt taller than the sky. I was no longer an outcast. It changed my attitude to myself inside," said Mahanandia. "Love has given me the power to forgive the people throwing stones at me. They need education. I'm glad that our story is giving people hope." he said.