Meghna, a girl from Lonavla, was like any other girl you would find there. And so were her parents. Well, to some extent. They were open minded in all aspects but one; marriage. Since her childhood they made it very clear to her that she could do all she wants, as she likes, but not marriage. That was the only string of her life they wanted to keep with themselves. Meghna, felt obliged and agreed. While growing up she very well realized that not all girls were given so much freedom as her.
She was 14 years old when she started watching American television shows and it would be fair to say that she literally grew up watching them. It was back in her 11th grade that she finished watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S and How I Met Your Mother, two of the most popular and amazing sitcoms of all time. After seeing the love shared in-between the couples of the show it broke her heart, to think that she would never be able to know and feel that in real life. Not that she was pretentious about it as she knew her parents story. They had arranged marriage and they weren’t just happy with each other but they even loved each other by all means and in all sense. They had recited their story to her when she was young and she precisely remembered that it took them no less than a year to fall so deeply in love. And she expected the same for herself.
There was one more thing other than before-marriage-love that Meghna grew fond of and this thing was in her hands; her marriage rituals.
Even though she was of Hindu religion, she had attended more of Christian Weddings. And now she desired the same.
So, before her final year in college, she decided to tell her parents what she was looking forward to and so she spoke one night on the dinner table
“Dad. Mom. I wanted to talk you about something.” She said staring at her plate. She was terrified. Not that she might be scolded but that her wish might not be granted.
Her mother saw the fear in her daughter’s eyes.
“What is it, Megh?” She asked sitting beside her with her hand on her shoulder.
“Something about my marriage” Hearing this, thoughts cluttered both of her parents mind. They exchanged looks and Meghna could sense the tension.
“I have never asked and never would why arrange marriage. You still have my word on that. I trust you both.” She cleared herself and both of her parents felt a little relieved.
“It is not the priority right now, Megh. Why are you bringing it up?” Her father asked.
“Exactly! Nothing before you turn 25.” Her mother spoke in agreement to her father.
“I know. I remember. It is something else. I-I want a Christian Wedding.” She spoke, looking at her parents with hope.
Nobody said anything for a moment. But it felt like a lifetime to Meghna.
“We’ll think about it. We need some time. It is a huge decision.” Her father said, occupied in his thoughts.
The rest of the dinner went in silence.
Since that night Meghna started praying every minute that her only say in her marriage would be considered by her parents.
It was 3 days later; her parents were leaving for their trip to Pondicherry. She left her college early and came to bid them goodbye. All her way she thought that today might be the day they will tell their answer. The suspense, was killing her.
“Happy Journey! Take care.” She spoke as she kissed both of her parents.
“We sure will. You also take care.” Her mother spoke while her father hugged her. And they sat in their car heading to the roadway.
No answer. No sign. Nothing! How can they do this to her? Don’t they understand how much it means to her? She thought to herself. Locking the main door behind, she headed to her room with coffee in one hand. There lay a letter on her side table.
With love from Mom & Dad,
The envelope read. Curiously she opened it in a haphazard manner.
We couldn’t have asked for a better child than you. Without question you agreed with our decision on one of the most important step in your life and put all your faith into us. What you asked us was so little in front of what we asked of you. We know this is going to be difficult; our relatives, the society will never be in favor of this decision. But if you could live your whole life without falling in love just because we asked you to, then we can do this much to live up to that faith. Your father and I have agreed to your proposal. Your marriage shall be arranged in Christian way.
Thank you for the trust.
Tears ran down her eyes, this was by far the best day of her life. A Christian marriage; she imagined herself in white gown and danced playing soft romantic music. Next day she went to the nearby park and dug a hole near the bushes. “You will be my something old” She spoke, keeping an oval shaped white marble locket, surrounded by small diamonds around and attached to a silver chain, into a small wooden box. She kept the box into the hole and closed it. Dusting off the mud from her hands, she headed back to her home.
An evening, 6 years later, her father called and asked her to be home as soon as she could.
So, she left her office immediately and drove back home.
“Hey! What happened? Dad called. Is everything fine?” She asked her mother, who came to open the door.
“Will you relax? Everything is fine, everyone is healthy. It is something else.” Her mother said. There was a tone of excitement in her voice and Meghna realized what this might be about.
“Oh my child! Come. Come. Have a seat.” Her father spoke with joy and wine in one hand.
There were was a picture of a guy on the table and something jotted on a piece of paper. He looked handsome and of the same age as her. She felt butterflies in her stomach.
“So, what do you think?” Her father asked.
“Huh? I-I don’t know. I need to meet him first.” She spoke gazing at the picture.
“Yes. Yes. He asked the same. Here, take his picture and the things we listed out about him. Take your time and let us know by tomorrow evening.” Her father said handing the things to her.
She quickly went into the room and sat down on the floor. Emotions started flooding in. Excitement, fear all at once. She looked at the picture again. He seemed pretty decent. Brown eyes, black hair, dimple on the left side, confidence in his smile. Just like that even his given information was impressive.
The next day she told her parents that she was ready to meet this person. Calls were made, information exchanged and finally a date was set on the coming weekend.
The boy insisted that he and Meghna meet alone in some café or restaurant and not with all the family members in her house.
She was happy to know this. The remaining week went without her notice. She planned her dress, her hair, made sure everything was perfect.
The venue was a café near the beach and the time decided was 4:30 P.M.
Meghna saw her watch and smiled to herself for being on time. But to her amusement, the boy was already there.
“Hi! Meghna” She spoke with her hand stretched out.
“Hi! Raghav” The guy spoke shaking her hand. He was more charming in reality.
“I’m sorry. Did I make you wait?”
“Oh! No. No. Don’t worry. I was excited so I came in early.” He said with a smile.
They talked for hours, telling each other everything about themselves. He confessed that he had 4 girlfriends before this and when love did not work out for him, he settled for arrange marriage. To his shock, Meghna wasn’t offended to know this. She told him her reason. They both discussed their fascination for Christian wedding. It all went well.
“So? How was it?” her mother asked with curiosity.
Meghna stayed silent.
“Was he not good? Did he say something?” Her father asked standing up.
“Ah! I loved it and well, liked him.” She finally spoke smiling. Her parents started to laugh along.
Soon after the date was decide. It was 5 months from that day.
Meanwhile, Raghav and Meghna kept meeting each other went on dates, dinner, movies. Did everything a normal couple does. All this was new to Meghna and she swore that nobody would have understood her situation better than Raghav. He did everything to make her feel comfortable. She even caught him smiling to himself when he saw her getting excited. The situations were new only to Meghna but this feeling was new to both of them. But something happened to her bubble of happiness.
Two weeks before her wedding, she went to the same park where she had buried her locket 6 years ago. She dug in the location she remembered but found nothing. Then she started digging nearby to it but still found nothing. Finally after an hour, she gave up. She felt scared now. Was it stolen? Or did she forget the location? It doesn’t matter. For all she knew this wasn’t a good sign. With her head held low she walked back to her home. She started having doubts about her relationship. She started to behave differently. Her parents and Raghav noticed and they tried asking her many times but she wouldn’t answer. She knew she was being superstitious but it was just something she believed in. They wouldn’t have understood her reaction. Just because she lost a thing does not prove that Raghav was not a worthy man. She knew it, they knew, everyone did.
It was finally her wedding day. She hadn’t seen Raghav since the incident. She was excited to meet him but wasn’t allowed until the wedding began.
With her bridesmaid she entered her dressing room, in the hotel.
“Get ready. I will come to take you within an hour.” She spoke, closing the door behind.
Everything was perfect, from the arrangements to the groom. Her parents were happy, relatives, friends, everyone. So was she till 2 weeks before.
She sat on the bed gazing out of the window and thought how perfect it would have been if she had found the locket. She would have absolutely no doubts.
Finally she sat to get ready.
Wearing that white gown, she couldn’t help but stare at how amazing she looked. As she took her veil to wear, she heard a knock on the door.
“Get in” She said.
It was Raghav. Who now was just staring at her.
“ You-well, You look beautiful.” He said, still staring with a silly smile on his face.
“Thank you. But aren’t we not supposed to see each other?” she said playfully. She was so happy to see him at this point. It seemed like all her doubts went away with his smile.
“Yes. We aren’t. But I had to see you. Actually I wanted to give you something.” He said taking a box out his pocket.
Meghna sat down in astonishment. “How did you? But I did not” she spoke not believing.
“Remember our first date? You told me about having something old.” He said sitting next to her.
“And after it was final we will be getting married. I started to collect more information relating to this out of you. Wasn’t an easy task, to be honest.” He said, now smiling and being proud of himself.
“I thought it was lost. When did you get it?” She asked.
“I know. 3 weeks before.” He answered.
“Why did you not tell me, then?” She wanted to sound angry but couldn’t. She was all melted by now.
“When you started to behave weird I understood that you went to find it and came back disappointed. I wanted to tell you but then I wouldn’t have seen this smile.” He said, giving the locket to her. She gestured him to make her wear it and so he did. There in front of the mirror they stood holding each other’s hand.
And now she walked down the aisle holding her dad’s arm. Everybody looked at her and praised how amazing she looked. The ceremony began. Raghav did his vow and she was already on the verge of crying. It was time for her’s.
“Raghav, all my life I believed that I would never experience love as I wanted to, as I had seen it. That it would be long after my marriage, my husband and I will even start to feel it. But here I stand and accept that I couldn’t be more wrong. In you I found a friend, a life partner and in you I found love as I wanted it. Your presence not only makes me happy but it also makes the 16 year old Meghna happy. I wish I could go back to her and tell her that she is going to get something bigger than she dreams of. That she IS going to experience a love so pure way before her marriage. And also, she should be ready to be proven wrong in the happiest way ever.”
Her voice cracked as she finished. She clutched the locket in her hand. Never could she think that, her small belief could bring to her everything she ever wanted.