The woods were lovely dark and deep. Walking slowly beside her, in the damp mud road, was her husband whom she barely knew. He was very relaxed, happily watching a group of kids play at a distance. Her “mehndi” was still dark and smelling fresh, reminding of the excitements and tension 2 days back. “It cant work this way mom… please stop this”, she kept telling her mother till the last moment,who wouldnt listen but carry on with beautifying her. She had been crying all night and her make-up had to be patched up twice or thrice to hide her awkwardly swollen face.
It was too late now. She had to get married “NOW” to the guy. The guy whom she had seen once and talked thrice. The guy about whom she knew nothing at all but for his name and work. Everything happened in a hurry and everything was over before she could breathe again… here was she with this guy, all alone in this hill station… how can anybody send their daughter such a long distance with a stranger???
“Hey look at that….!!!” he shouted in excitement. She shrugged and looked where his finger pointed… Bright colored balloons dotted the sky. Children were jumping in joy and he seemed to be completely absorbed into it… colors are always exciting… but not now. She was not with her friends, not with her team mates, not even with her parents. This was not a 3 day tour or team building trip. This was her life and she has been forced to start off with this person.
Loneliness and discomfort with this stranger was sickening. She looked at him in wonder. Does he even realize that he has married me? Does he understand that he has to love me, protect me, care for me, a new girl, a stranger, all his life?
The marriage morning started like a daylight nightmare for her. The first time in life she felt she should have fallen in love and then married somebody. Some man who she would have felt more comfortable with, someone whom she could call by name and introduce to friends, someone whom she could trust. But marriage morning was obviously not the time to think all this. Her parents would never have said “no” if she had declared that she was in love. But she was not emotionally attached to anybody she met,especially guys. She was very friendly,playing,teasing, but never had second thoughts for any man around her. That brought the entire responsibility of looking for a groom on her parents’ shoulders. Her parents had a very bad time with this entire process. They started their groom search with unending “&” operation. The concatenation of “Horoscope matching” & “Decent family” & “Good looking” & “Good pay” & “same cast” & so on… that always gave 0 output. Now after all that 8 months hunt,they were not ready to hear her “ifs” and “buts” for this ‘good guy’. She had explained to her father. She does not feel anything for this person. He is nothing more to me than any other software professional. Like list of names she sees in the chat rooms. Distant and usual…Her father asked her to talk to him and even meet him and discuss their likes and dislikes.
That meeting started like the induction programme self introduction and ended like a 3 hour seminar.She was waiting to get away from that place.”So did you talk to him?”. “Yes”. “Was he polite and decent”. “Yes”. “Oh he got that special flavoured tri-color icecream…!!!”. OK. All her family and relatives discussed… She was given the chance to “understand her life partner” and that they have understood each other “well” and she is ready for the marriage now.
All arrangements geared up and it was 24 days after her first meeting that she was getting married to her man… perfect match as everybody else described. Marriage hall was full with excited people, kids got the chance to play, ladies got the chance to wear the silk saree. The smell of rose and jasmine filled the hall. Different poses for the photographer and atrificial smiles for the videos. The moment he had tied the sacred thread was unexplainable vaccum in the head. It was over. She was his wife. Accepted by the society and law. Her proud parents were relaxed. This was their duty they had been planning to fulfill since she was born. All this crowd will fade away, leaving her to explore her new world…
He pulled her hand gently to sit on the stone bench. The bench was wet and the chillness was indeed enjoyable. “So what are you thinking about?”… that was an unexpected ball. Should she reply? Should she be silent? She remembered the two hour presentation she had taken last month. Bold and confident, she kept answering all the queries with a broad smile. Now she remained silent. “Do you know honey… I was not for this marriage too…” Oh my God… what did i hear??? Did HE tell that or did i think aloud? What does he mean? Didn’t he like me? Was he forced into this? He must have noticed the quizzical look on my face…with a gentle smile he continued… “I wanted to look for a girl myself, buy her everything, care for her, argue with her, laugh and cry with her, then get married to her… Anything otherwise would be a drama. Traditional drama!! and i was not for it anytime. But my love for my work and also my stress would not give me time and mind to search that girl…When your parents talked to me 2 weeks before our marriage, about your fear of getting married, to a stranger, i could completely understand your mind. I could see myself in you and that was the moment i decided i will marry you. There was no time to prove myself to you, make you trust me, everything happened in a hurry. But there was this entire life before me, to please you, to love you, to make you trust me. This is no less than what i had dreamt, the girl i was waiting for, is you. Now tell me… will you love me???” Tears came down her cheek. Her parents had done more than their duty. They had found her the perfect guy. Thank you Mom!!! Thank you Dad!!! His question remained unanswered yet both knew the answer…