The children shouted with excitement, as the car screeched to a halt outside the mansion. Radha, the bride, got down from the car. Resplendent in a red Benarasi, the tinkling sound of the Meenakari danglers, the music created by the silver payel – she was a vision. Hidden by the pallu, she could not see much, but hear the commotion that greeted them. Following her was Deepak, her husband.
An arranged marriage, both had their own reasons for the hasty wedding. Deepak wanted an heir to inherit his grandfather’s property. Radha’s family needed a rich alliance to sponsor their medical bills. Theirs was a marriage of convenience.
The couple made their way to the entrance where the matriarch stood waiting for the newest entrant. Radha stole a look at the house she was about to enter. Huge and sprawling, it was one of those ancient structures that had a long story behind it. A strange unease filled her. By then, her mother-in-law had enveloped her in a huge hug. Instead of the warmth, she felt cold and numb.
The rituals followed one after the other. Deepak went through it mechanically. But, something was bothering the new bride. She was conscious of a pair of eyes constantly following her. Radha tried her best to concentrate, but failed!
By the time everything was over, she was exhausted. A quick nap, she was advised. She woke up with a start. It was completely dark. The feeling of dread and fear was back. She tried to reason with herself. The silence was broken as the children barged in to claim their beautiful ‘bourani’.
Dressed and decked up, she sat like a Goddess as people went past her, complimenting Deepak on his good ‘find’.
That was when she had another anxiety attack. This time it was intense. She was about to pass out when someone held her firmly. “Hello, is it me you’re looking for’, asked a deep voice. The unease vanished just the way it had begun – without any notice. In its place, was an indescribable feeling of comfort. It was as if those hands had held her forever. The strength, the love and the desire seeped into her body. Radha looked up to see a pair of intense brown eyes looking down at her. The eyes belonged to the hands that cradled her. The passion in those eyes was unmistakable. Her eyes closed, she reclined against the comfort. They brought back memories of a distant past -a past in which they belonged to each other, a past which had torn them apart, a painful past which had resurfaced once again. Yes, she remembered it all.
She was jolted out of her reverie, when someone called out. ‘Rohan, what happened to your sister-in-law?’ As Rohan left her, smoothening her veil one last time, she heard him whisper, ‘we are meant to be apart this birth, my loved one. I have been waiting for you and I will wait for you till eternity’.
*benarasi- a wedding drape from the city of Benaras, India
*Meenakri-coloured stone work on jewellery
*payel-a jewellery to adorn one’s feet
*pallu – one end of the sari (an Indian drape) which is used to cover the head
*Bourani – the new bride
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