Amma collected all the horoscopes to go to her family astrologer. Sharanya, her daughter was already twenty-eight and was not getting good alliances. she was a PhD in microbiology and a scientific author with many publications to her credit.
“Oh! he isn’t even a post graduate amma!” Scoffed Sharanya when amma tried to show her some photographs of prospective grooms.
The Iyer family had taken pains to advertise in the Hindu daily newspaper in the matrimonial column.
Appa, Sharanya’s father was a retired class one officer from the Department of Agriculture. His postings and transfers were mainly in Northern India and so though they all had imbibed the culture and language of Northern India; they never forgot their roots in Kerala and were conservative in their outlook. They had always hoped that Sharanya would marry a Keralite Iyer and go back to her roots though they had never loathed their opinion on her. Moreover, never in her college life had she ever expressed her desire to marry anyone to her liking. All this put together coaxed them to go the traditional way of match making.
Sharanya was tall and fair with sharp features. She had long hair which was wavy which she carefully and neatly braided into a single plait which dangled with her every movement. A small dimple on her left cheek appearing below her twinkling eyes broadened as she smiled. Born and brought up in Northern India, she loved to dress up well unlike the usual Iyer girls from her native village. She had a keen sense of aesthetics as she would match every fine detail of her attire with the paraphernalia that went with the same. Danglers and a matching round bindi for the saree and studs for other dresses. She would take care to paint her toe nails and do a regular pedicure.
“Sharanya! you are so pretty !!’her friends would sigh smilingly.
“The man you select would be so lucky!” another one would chirp in.
Her demeanour was often perceived as cold and serious by men; sometimes even defiant and audacious which kept her persona mystified and daunted and that was one of the reasons for her not getting hitched to anyone.
Most boys in college limited their friendship with her to only acquaintance as they were overpowered by a feeling of intimidation. Also, because Sharanya held everyone in awe because of her beauty and brains.
Though she was a nerd theoretically, deep inside she imagined that her knight in armour would come on horseback or give her a rose, or sing a romantic song for her, but nothing of any such sorts happened!
“This boy Dhruv looks good” Sharanya was interrupted from her editing work by her mother who looked quite enthusiastic by her revelation as if victorious.
Dhruv? Sharanya had a question mark on her face. Doesn’t seem South Indianish at all!!
Yes, he is Dhandapani, called Dhruv fondly by all
What names!! Sneered Sharanya and had a sly look at the picture.
“Amma doesn’t he look a bit………..”
Before she could complete Amma came down heavily on her. “It’s been some time now that you are nit-picking. Dhruv is a very well-placed Engineer. He has his own company which is doing very well. They have only one son and the family has a good standing.
Just think how would you live alone tomorrow? Without a mate?”
“But amma don’t you think I should like someone at least before taking the plunge? That name itself tells me his taste, his mannerisms, his attitude. Only being an Engineer is not everything for marriage”
Sharanya was continuously going on finding faults.
Anyhow the marriage proposal passed all its hurdles of examining the horoscopes and the biodata of both the girl and the boy and a meeting or “seeing the girl” was arranged at Sharanya’s home.
She chose to wear a brocaded pink sari which had zari motifs all over. Pairing it with a full sleeved pink blouse she looked gorgeous. Her shampooed pitch-black hair with some curly strands refusing to be tied up was held together by a pink clencher. Pink danglers and a big round pink bindi made her appear as an angelic, heavenly beauty from above. She remembered to smear her thin lips with a light pink shade of lipstick and spray her favourite perfume ‘Christian Dior’. Her danglers moved with a small tinkle, of the bead attached, and turned the aura into one of fantasy.
Dhruv was a simpleton who never realised that he had to wear dresses that match. He would not mind going out in the courtyard of his sprawling house in his comfortable flip flops or pyjamas or even in his “mundu” or dhoti.
The car screeched to a halt in front of the portico and Dhruv and his family alighted with some flowers and goodies in hand. He was dressed in the most ordinary fashion wearing a striped white shirt and jeans. Tall and fair, he did not have an exemplary facial feature which could label him handsome at the first sight. But his soft-spoken behaviour had captured everyone’s attention.
The elders talked and discussed and allowed the girl and the boy to have a tete a tete in the adjoining room.
After a looming silence for a few seconds, Dhruv cleared his throat and started the conversation.
“Well! do you want to know anything about me apart from my family or education which you already know?” He was smiling
Sharanya was analysing him in her mind. Does he look reticent? Is he caring? Would he have a sense of humour? Would he be romantic? Should I say yes or not?
She remembered how her friends Ramya and Sheena would tell her about the romantic dates they had with their partners.
After a brief conversation which encompassed sundry and quotidian details, they both came out of the room.
It was a “yes’ from both of them and Sharanya was looking forward to a more than ordinary married life.
With lots of fanfare with nadaswarams, “oonjal ceremony” and “nelangu’ a spectacular marriage reception was held and Sharanya and Dhruv declared man and wife after he tied the Taali or the mangal sutra.
For Sharanya it was like a matter-of-fact event with no proposing with a rose or dating or candlelit dinners.
The first day of her married life was with her in-laws. There were innumerable rituals and poojas and every meal was dined at a different house of their relatives who were a closely-knit lot.
A small party was held at Dhruv’s house too with all his friends and relatives.
Sharanya was smilingly getting used to being called “Bhabhi” by his friends, who in her eyes, were very well groomed. She could feel, and she enjoyed, the palpable appreciative looks the men in the gathering were giving her.
“Dhruv! Bhabhi is so beautiful” said one while the other, seemingly a bachelor added “hey Dhruv! does she have a sister?”
All this was giving Sharanya a subtle thrill where she was being noticed, appreciated and recognised for her looks.
Sudays were booked mainly for visiting friends and while Dhruv was finding it tedious Sharanya looked forward to it with careful planning about what she would wear to get her those looks, which made her full of feminine pride. Soon she became the centre of attraction of every party or gathering. Dhruv, the simpleton he was, also started enjoying his wife’s instances of small fame
Time started flying with Sharanya gradually adjusting to her new life. Though there were no major issues Dhruv was a man of very few words. Sharanya was disheartened to take pains in getting dressed, with no look of appreciation from her man.
“Look at those Pants!! Dhruv! You are the boss of your company. The way you dress up is the way you are addressed “were the usual rants of Sharanya with no results.
With time Sharanya became more beautiful and vain. Dhruv started having a receding hairline and even developed a paunch.
“Ufff Dhruv! Can’t you do something?
Just look at you…My friends have started laughing at me because of you”
Poor Dhruv would just laugh it away.
Dhruv had employed a cook and maids and would see to it that Sharanya was relieved off all sundry chores.
He had given her a debit card so that she could shop to her hearts content without having to ask him.
Donning on the newly bought blue chiffon saree Sharanya ambled into the hall on Sunday where Dhruv was buried into his newspaper.
‘How do I look?”
There was silence.
Oh! Dhruv !! look at me also sometimes!!! Love is not just the absence of cruelty or harsh words!!it has to be expressed with flowers, with appreciating looks, with dates and lots of romance!!
Dhruv looked up briefly and smiled at her. He was back into his newspaper again.
Sharanya was feeling pained and ignored as there was no one to look longingly at her sex appeal or take her into arms.
She was messaging her close friend Meena
“My marriage is loveless. There is no spark. My husband does not even look at my beauty!! I feel so ignored and dejected”
and Sharanya started sobbing going on a trip of self-pity.
Meena messaged back
“Aww my dearie!!!All your beauty gone a waste!!Your husband should have been proud taking you for dates, giving you gifts. Mine still goes wild with romance” This was enough to make Sharanya feel forlorn.
Most of her free time went in chatting and telling her friends about what she was missing in life.
She was missing Love!
It had been some days since she felt uncomfortable wearing her dresses. She talked to her friends who suggested her to go to the doctor for a routine check-up.
The gynaecologist was a beautiful smiling lady who put her to ease immediately.
As she started examining Sharanya she watched her changing expressions.
“Well”! The Doctor announced,
“There are a few tests which are required and then see me after you get the results. But please get someone with you.”
As she returned home with anxiety and unexplained fears, she was surprised to see Dhruv home.
Sharanya couldn’t hold back her emotions as she cuddled him tight and spoke her fears.
Dhruv was gentle and comforting. He made her sit and brought her a glass of water. He consoled her after she told him about the visit to the doctor.
Dhruv was at home the next day, and the day after, too. He was in a new avatar boosting up Sharanya’s shaking confidence and trying to do what he could best do-listening patiently!
Today was the day they were supposed to get the lab reports.
Collecting the reports on their way to the hospital, Dhruv pulled up his car in front of the famous eatery. Sharanya was not her own self. She was jittery and wanted to meet the doctor as soon as she could. What an irony it was!
All these days while she longed, she could come on a date like this she never could and now when Dhruv brought her here, she was on tenterhooks.
The bombshell dropped.
It was a fateful day and she was diagnosed with cancer.
A radical surgery of the breast made her confidence shatter over losing feminine attributes that she boasted of. The following chemotherapy sessions made her bald.
The hair, the curls, the long plait was all gone .
“Oh my God”
she couldn’t look into the mirror… and threw a pen at it to shatter the glass.
As Sharanya was waiting for her turn in the chemotherapy unit of the Cancer hospital, Dhruv was holding her hand and constantly pepping her up.
” It’s nothing. just see how you come out fit and fine.
And don’t you remember? You cannot go now…we have a long life to live together…
Here! take this marriage picture of ours. And think of those beautiful days”. He was going on and on to boost Sharanya.
Dhruv embraced her wiping her tears.
Holding her close…he was saying…who needs those so-called womanly features?
We are Soulmates…and I am still your biggest admirer….my Princess….as he went on his knees to present to her a beautiful rose…. he started repeating the wedding wows…
“Until death do us part…….”
Sharanya was crying incessantly understanding the true meaning of love.
Love doesn’t only mean expressing it with roses or dates or laughing together.
It also means holding hands and saying “I’m there”
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