The soft tinkling of her anklets accompanied her as she took her steps on the petal-ed path towards her future. Wondering. Wondering if the path continued to be the same. Or would it prick her feet? She saw the kids playing around, running after each other oblivious to the brimming emotions. Perhaps they were playing Catch Me If You Can? She smiles remembering her childhood; running around in the garden, hiding behind trees, portraying her artistic skills on the freshly pressed lavender colour cotton frock with white frills her mother had so patiently cleaned the very last week, and how she always won with her brothers; how they’d just miss to catch her. She’s the youngest in the house. Her eyes filled with tears, threatening to spill. “No. No. Not now.” she moaned. The poor lady worked so hard on her makeup, and she was rather fond of the way she’d highlighted her hazel coloured eyes. No, she wasn’t going to drown the world right away. That could wait till the bidai. God, it’s going to be Noah’s Ark all over again. She’d heard the baarat come in all their glory; dancing, singing, celebrating. What’s that song the band’s playing? She can’t recall it now but she can’t stop her feet tapping to the beat, the anklets’ singing drowning in the celebrations sent to the heavens; they reminded her of the vacation in Dubai during the World Record New Year. The last New Year she spent as a princess. She took a few more cautious steps. A few more baited breaths.
They were all there. Extended family. Future family. All of them geared up in bonding, radiating excitement. But where were they? The faces she’d registered first? The one whose shoulders had carried her through the marigold gardens, made her 7 feet tall at zoos? The one whose eyes got bordered naturally thanks to all those nights of her early singing stages? Those faces which glowed with warmth? Look! There. Together. Matching in blue; he in a caribbean sherwani with a subtle work of stitches in bottle green and she in an elegant navy blue saree with white, red and yellow katha stitch work of peacocks and flowers. They were wearing the pair watch that she’d gifted them on their 25th anniversary with her first salary. Catching her eye, they radiated warm tenderness that had a silver lining of sadness.
“Don’t cry now itself otherwise your makeup will get spoilt.”
“And then there’ll be your groom running out of the doors.”
Her brothers- dressed in maroon and mauve sherwanis- were grinning at her like they always did; ready to tickle away her annoyance whenever they took the liberty of pulling her leg. All these years of pulling her leg and yet she’d still never grown past their chins. She choked on her tears and managed to give them a teary smile, but not before giving them a nudge each at the ribs.
She suddenly heard herself give out a low, sharp breath. She didn’t realize she’d been holding onto it till she saw him. He seemed to bask her in his gentle grandeur that enhanced the intimacy of the event. The warmth on his face with his dimpled smile made him radiate in his golden outfit and look like a prince come right out of the fairytales her grandmother would tell her when she was tiny. Her prince. She felt her cheeks reflect the colour of her lehnga and decided to focus on her feet instead.
Taking cautious steps towards the mandap; towards her future, she couldn’t stop herself from marveling at the beauty of everything. Biting her lower lip, she wondered, though involuntarily as to whether this beauty would go on till the end. It was a silly thought, she thought. She knew him. Everything was looked into before the relationship was fixed. He’d made it very clear that neither him nor his family were for dowry, be it personal or general. But still. Weren’t there so many cases where everything changed once married? The butterflies in her stomach were flying up to her head, she ridiculed. Finally taking her place beside him as the rituals began she stole a look at him and saw him gazing at her. A gaze so potent yet delicate that what he said next made her heart burst into the flames in front of them that lit up her future.
“I promise you two mountains to every valley in our life together.”