There were three of us in this marriage. Even before we took the saat-pheras around the holy fire to become one.
You were honest and upright right the first day you came to see me at my parent’s house. “My heart is already taken, and you will always come second in my life. Think well before saying yes,” you said.
Disarmed by your honesty and charm, I had taken no time after your departure to convey my eagerness to be your wife to my parents. For I was in love — truly, madly, deeply. I was ready to come second in the life of my first love, or so I thought then.
Yet I was unnerved when you received a phone call on the first night of our wedding and told me you had to leave. You took me in your arms and told me how sorry you were, but she needed you. “You will be in my mind until I come back,” you assured me. Not mind, I wanted a place in your heart. I then realised the gravity of your words in our first meeting. Oh, how I hated her then!
Time procrastinated as it passed its days at a slow, languid pace. Your house became my home and your parents my confidants as a strange new city became a familiar ground for me. But I felt incomplete. A part of me was gone with you, and no one knew when you would return. And if you will.
But return you did. I thought I would die of all the love and care. “I missed you so much,” you said before declaring after a pause, “I never thought I would say this, but I love you. With all my heart.”
“More than her?” I asked. You then sealed my lips with your mouth.
With you by my side, I gradually made peace with your divided loyalties. I made my own friends in your circle, took an interest in your work, and learnt what to do with my time on the days you left me alone for her. That others were sharing my fate helped.
Moreover, your love for her was contagious. I also accepted her presence in our lives and started liking her, though I never admitted it to you.
Then one day, three years into our marriage, you went to her to never come back. The last I saw you, your body was draped in the tricolour. They told me you fought valiantly with the terrorists before getting martyred. Our motherland had taken you away from me—this time forever.
As I watched your remains immerse into flames, I vowed not to allow death to come between us.
Following in your footsteps, I, too, embraced your first love—our country. The day I passed out of the National Defence Academy as a commissioned woman officer, I felt I had solemnised our union again.
Our country, your memories and me. There were three of us in this marriage.
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