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She smiles now, thinking about that memory, about how he’d gently held her when she fell asleep on his shoulder as he read Gulzar's poems. She fell for him hard that day - especially because of his voice.
She smiles now, thinking about that memory, about how he’d gently held her when she fell asleep on his shoulder as he read Gulzar’s poems. She fell for him hard that day – especially because of his voice.
The house was bustling with activity. People were coming in, going out. The sounds of laughter and the delicate tinkling of bangles. For someone looking from the outside, it seemed like the perfect shaadi wala ghar (the wedding destination, if you may). But just one glance instead the house and more specifically inside the bride’s room would tell you that something was amiss.
Amyra sat on her bed, her hands covered in henna and tried to smile but it ended up looking like someone was forcing her. She picked up her phone to text Maahi but thought better and threw it back on the bed.
Her mind wandered and went to Aaradh, but she pushed her thoughts away from his beautiful voice, his hugs and just how much she needed to talk to him right then.
She looked around and wondered if running away was an option. No! Nothing good ever came out of it. Amyra was getting restless. She knew she had to do something before she lost her mind but she couldn’t go out, not with all the relatives around her, telling her to stay at home now that the haldi ceremony was over.
She decided to go to the terrace, at least there she could sit in peace and not think about anything. The terrace had always been her favourite place, she could see the little lake behind their house and that somehow always calmed her down.
As she sat there, looking at the plants swaying in the light breeze, her thoughts wandered towards Aaradh and this time, she let them.
Aaradh and Amyra had met in the elevator of their shared office building seven years ago! That day, everything seemed to go against her as she was running late for work. When she finally reached the office, she saw the elevator doors slowly close.
“Hold the door!!” she all but yelled, and thank god for little mercies because the door opened. And there stood the most handsome man she’d ever seen. She wondered if he looked handsome only since he was pretty much her knight in a light blue shirt but pushed that thought away.
As the elevator went up, they chatted, they had to go 27 floors together, after all. Somehow, by the end of it, they had plans to meet that evening, after work at a nearby Third Wave cafe. As they sat in the cafe, people came and people left, the day turned from light to dark and suddenly, it was already 11pm! They had plans to meet that weekend at a bar in Indira Nagar – close to both their houses.
Amyra had forgotten what a shitty day it had been. She could only think of meeting Aaradh and hearing him talk in that lovely voice tinged with a slight Australian accent. The next few days were perfect. Their next date, even better. She felt something when he hugged her goodbye and she knew he felt the spark too.
But it was their third date that was the best. It started terribly because she got her period just before he was scheduled to pick her up. So she had to call him to cancel. He sounded dejected and said, “I’ll see you later. Take care, okay?” She said okay and the moment they hung up, she burst into tears and called Maahi.
It was while she was talking to Maahi that her doorbell rang and assuming it was a delivery for the people across the hall, she opened the door and there stood Aaradh, his hands holding two grocery bags and a big box of pizza. She was stunned and told Maahi, she’d call her later.
When he saw her teary-eyed, nose snotty, he claims to have known that she was the one for him. For her, it was everything he did that day, from the fact that he remembered all her sweet and savoury period craving to the hug he gave her the moment he stepped inside the house.
And from then on, they were inseparable. Until… now.
Amyra never thought marrying Aaradh would be a problem – they belonged to the same community after all! And that was the only condition her parents had. Oh! How wrong she was! The fact that Aaradh was raised by a single, divorced woman was something that didn’t sit well with her parents and they were against it. But she refused to leave Aaradh simply because his dad and mom had had a divorce.
Her solution to that was not going back to Pune until they listened to her. For two years she continued living with Aaradh. They both knew they didn’t want to get married without her parents’ blessings but they also knew living without each other wasn’t something they wanted.
And now here they were.
It wasn’t that she didn’t want to get married, she did. She loved the idea of it but the way it was happening wasn’t something she wanted. Her mind drifted to a few weeks ago, when they were still in Bangalore, she’d missed her period by five days and was worried! The Dunzo guy was on his way with her pregnancy test kits and some other groceries. She got the test, did whatever was needed and waited hoping that only one line appeared.
To her dismay, there were two lines and the moment Aaradh came home, she collapsed in his arms, weeping and hyperventilating. Amyra knew she wanted the child. There was no doubt about that. They were financially independent but they didn’t want to keep this from either of the parents.
Aaradh’s mom took the news well and told them that she’d support them no matter what. Amyra’s parents, on the other hand, were a whole different ballgame! They cried, blamed her, blamed him before asking them to go back to Pune so they could talk.
When they reached her house, Amyra and Aaradh were shocked to see the house all decked up. “You’ll get married,” they said. “Have the baby after that. We’ve spoken to his mother. She agrees.” She didn’t even know how they managed to do it all within a week and didn’t bother asking. Neither did she know the reason they gave the relatives for such a hasty marriage. She didn’t care, really. She had bigger things to think about.
Her mind went back to four days ago when they’d arrived, they said nothing to her parents or his mom. But they ended in a HUGE fight that night and hadn’t spoken since. And with that thought, she finally broke down.
As she was sitting on the bench Baba had made for her, she wept thinking of everything that she was losing and everything that could’ve been.
This was what she wanted. This wedding was it. But it wasn’t what she wanted either. Yes, she was marrying the guy she wanted but this wasn’t it. She looked at the lake behind the house and focussed on the plants, she felt like the reeds, being pushed this way and that.
The breeze bullied the reeds forcing them to swish and sway to its vagaries, forwards and backwards, this way and that. Everything was as it had been yesterday and the day before. The cuckoo bird continued its ‘coo-coo-once-is-not-enough-here’s-another’, coo-coo call, pleased with its own poetics, its rhythm unfaltering. So much had transpired, yet nothing had changed.
She loved and trusted Aaradh. And she knew he’d be there, wouldn’t he? Even if he chose not to, she knew she’d be able to take care of the little bean growing inside her. Office wouldn’t be a problem and she had a good support system in her friends in Bangalore and in Pune. She would be okay. Her mind made up, she got up, wiped her tears and brushed off her lehenga. She walked downstairs to her wedding to the man she loved in a marriage, she wasn’t sure she wanted.
This story was shortlisted for our September 2021 Muse of the Month short fiction contest. Our juror for the month Manjul Bajaj says “The author starts by ‘showing’ us the climax and then ‘ telling’ the rest of the story. I would recommend starting at the elevator scene and showing the whole story happen in front of the reader.”
Image source: a still from the series Made in Heaven
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Reader, writer and a strong feminist, I survive on coffee and cuddles from dogs! Pop culture, especially Bollywood, runs in my veins while I crack incredibly lame jokes and puns! read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
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Homeschooling in India is having a moment. As families become increasingly weary of traditional schooling thanks to cookie-cutter policies and high costs, parents are opting for alternate methods of education
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