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“We live in a society and we need to care about the society. Do you know that we all will be subjected to humiliation by everyone?”
“Amma, I am moving in with Raj.”
Meera’s announcement was followed by a spooky quietness. Amma fell into a chair, while shocked, Appa sat still in disbelief.
“Raj? the same boy who had come over for dinner with your team last month?”
“He seemed a nice guy. Are you both in a relationship?”
“Then why don’t you take this relationship to the next level and get married?”
“Amma, We both want to be very sure before taking that plunge into a serious relationship of marriage.”
“This is so ridiculous! We need to talk to his parents.”
“Amma please you are over-reacting.”
“Stop arguing with us. Have we ever pressurized you for anything? We have given you all the freedom in the world to choose, be it your career or your partner. But this live-in thing is just not acceptable!.”
“Appa, I am shocked to know that these words are coming from you. Appa, you remember, one evening, while driving around the town, you had stopped and had handed your wallet over to me to get some pastries from the store and Amma had tried to stop you as I was only 8 then, “I trust her!” – a simple statement from you, how I have learnt to value it over the years! You had trusted my capability to look after myself and my ability to make correct choices!”
In a choked voice, Meera continued, “Appa, It was the same trust that had left you unfazed when your baby chose to pursue her career in advertising and modelling, something, you didn’t know really much about. Then why now all this fuss about?”
“This is not a fashion show. We live in a society and we need to care about the society. Do you know that we all will be subjected to humiliation by everyone?”
“I am surprised to see you both worrying about society. It is my life and as far as my marriage is concerned, I will follow my heart. Appa please try to understand, I am not doing anything wrong. In fact, we want to know each other better and understand each other at a much deeper level. We want to evaluate the areas that we both may need to work on or if we really want to get married. Live-in relationships are a rising trend.”
“Enough Meera!” shouted Amma,”And what if it doesn’t work out? Then do you think any other boy would marry you? I agree that live-in relationships are a rising trend in India, but dear, our society is yet to accept it open-heartedly. It will be so difficult for you to find a good and understanding partner after being in a live-in relationship with someone else.”
The arguments continued for a week, but Meera was adamant to move out.
Hunting for an apartment was a daunting task. It remained an ‘Everest’ though, they could conquer it eventually. The houseowners were reluctant to rent it out to unmarried couples. It was like, “Sorry, we rent it out only to bachelors or married couples.”
At long last, they could pull through as one NRI owner of a fully-furnished flat agreed to rent it away. Soon Meera moved in with Raj. She had a faint hope that her parents would call her some time to tell that they are supportive of her decision but, to her dismay, they did not call her even once since she moved out.
“You are the only child. How can you be so irresponsible?”
“Why do you want to bring dishonor to your parent’s image?”
She could understand the elderly people judging them but was bewildered to see her own friends passing rude comments thus making the whole situation miserable. The same friends who would always cheer them on, had begun to look down upon them as if they were some criminals in front of the society. But both Raj and Meera had learned to take the bull by the horns.
Many a time, on some odd evening, there would be that slight tug at her heart, when she missed the times spent with her parents. But Meera was headstrong, she had thought this through properly and she knew what she was getting into. She believed in living life on her own terms.
4 months later
She bumped into her aunt.
“Hi Meera” The expression of displeasure was obvious on her Aunt’s face and words just flowed out of her mouth, “Your parents gave you everything. And this is what you gave back to them? What if you conceive and your partner leaves you?”
Trying to maintain her composure, Meera blurted, “Aunty, this is my life, I am financially and emotionally independent. We both are very happy in our lives. If I conceive and God forbid, if Raj leaves me I will grab the beautiful opportunity of being a mom. I will not let it go!”
Her answer left her aunt dumbfounded.
A year later
Meera came out of the shower and she jumped with joy as she saw a pretty red lehenga along with her favorite bunch of roses and a gift box. As she opened the box, WOW. Her happiness new no bounds to see two beautiful rings and a diagonostics report in it. YES…She was pregnant! She was going to have a miracle! She had never been so sure about anything else in life. She was ready to say yes to Raj, the love of her life, on their 1st anniversary of live-in.
Finally her live-in relationship would culminate into marriage. She was eagerly waiting for Raj to return.
Her heart skipped a beat when the door bell rang. She ran to open the door. No, it was not Raj, her partner. But someone with the news..
When life’s most beautiful dream was about to come true, destiny had some other plans. Those roses suddenly felt thorny. She virtually collapsed on the bed.
Next few days were dreadfully very hard for her. Her whole world fell apart, and it seemed like there was no one in it, who would accept and love her for who she truly was. But Meera knew she had to stand strong against the wrath of society. She wiped her tears as she hinged onto her own belief in herself.
Few days later…
“Meera, How are you?”
Meere couldn’t believe her ears, as she heard Amma’s voice.
“The news is heartbreaking, Meera, but what are your plans now?”
“I am pregnant. Amma.”
“What? Are you kidding Meera? Things would have been different if only you were married. Get rid of it soon.”
“Amma, how could you say such things? I want this baby.”
“What will the relatives and society think?”
“Amma please relatives, society or my marital status will not decide the fate of my baby.”
“Oh, So you remain as adamant as ever!”
Meera felt a myriad of emotions storming her mind. The terrible ache of Raj’s demise did not haunt her any more. It gave her strength. She knew the road ahead is not smooth, but she had learned to navigate it.
Looking at his photo, Meera replied, “You said it Amma, I’ll walk where my own nature would be leading. It vexes me to choose another guide.”
Editor’s note: This story was shortlisted for the August 2019 Muse of the Month contest. We are honoured to publish it, even though it wasn’t one of the winners.
Image source: a still from the movie Luka Chuppi
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