There is a big gathering at Yadav residence today for their lovely daughter Prerna’s wedding. A big group of women is chatting in the hall, some men are engaged in decorating the place, sweets and gifts are flowing in. Prerna’s aunt Aarti just came inside the house with her luggage. Yadav ji’s wife Anandi came running to touch her feet after hearing the news of her arrival. Aarti gave her the blessings and asked ,”Where’s our little girl?”
Anandi replied, “Prerna is in her room. I will get you some water and then I will escort you to her room.”
Aarti: “Oh! Bhabhi, I know my brother’s place. Please get me a tea as well, I will go see my lovely niece.”
Aarti took the stairs to first floor and as she was about to enter Prerna’s room, she heard some girls talking.
Anushka: “Prerna, you are stupid to get married. You are 19. You haven’t completed your college yet. You barely know the man you are marrying. Don’t do this to yourself.”
Prerna: “What will you do after completing college? Your parents will also marry you before the results are out for the final semester. We live in a small village, this is our destiny. I am just getting close to mine a couple of years earlier. I have accepted this reality.”
Her aunt entered. Prerna saw her, so she pulled her dupatta over her head and touched her feet.
Aarti: “Oh! Prerna, girls don’t touch feet in our home.”
Prerna: “I am getting married today, I am no longer your girl. I belong to a different place now.”
Aarti (laughing): “You are an intelligent and lovely girl”.
Then she stared at her friends.
Aarti: “You better not fill filth in Prerna’s head. She is lucky to have being married in such a big household. The boy’s parents just settled for a car, they didn’t ask for any cash. Our princess will be very happy there.”
Prerna nodded and smiled. Anandi sent tea to Prerna’s room and asked her to come to her room. Prerna nodded and left for her mother’s room.
Anandi: “Prerna, have you packed your luggage and rechecked everything?”
Anandi: “Apparently the new make-up kit I got you is still lying here”.
Prerna: “Mom, I packed whatever is necessary. I don’t have space to pack this”.
Anandi: “Really? Where are your bags?”
Prerna: “In the lower shelf of your closet”.
Anandi pulled the bags, checking the items. She opened the second bag and smiled.
Anandi: “Prerna, your basketball is in here. Seriously ! You are not going to play around there. Here, I am putting this out and now we have the space for your make-up kit.”
Prerna said nothing. Her mother moved to the upper shelf and took out two pairs of sexy night wear.
Anandi: “I asked your aunt Shweta from Mumbai to bring you these. Which one do you like?”
Prerna didn’t react.
Anandi repeated: “Which one do you like?”
Prerna: “Whatever you like Mom”
Anandi: “This isn’t a joke. You have got to look good on your first night after the wedding. It is a woman’s responsibility to please her man. “
Prerna: “And how do you really please your man?”
Anandi: “I think you know by now. Every girl at your age knows.”
Prerna (sarcastic laughing): “Oh! Yes I know. I knew about periods when some guys in my school told me that there’s blood on my skirt. And , I freaked about it the whole day, until I finally shared with a friend and she explained it to me. I got to know I was molested at 12 only when I was 15, when finally the school introduced sex education. “
Anandi: “Molested? What happened?”
Prerna: “Oh! Don’t worry Mom, I am still a virgin. You want me to please my man and you can’t even utter the word sex in front of me.”
Anandi (staring in anger): “You shameless girl. Anyway, I think this black one will look good on you. I am packing this one.”
Prerna (sarcastically): “Don’t forget to put in some condoms as well”.
Anandi: “You have indeed no shame. Ask your husband to buy some.”
Prerna (laughing): “Oh! Thank God, you didn’t say, why condoms? Aren’t you going to conceive on your first night.”
Her mother stared at her in bewilderment and left the room.
Prerna sat down on the floor, looking at the night wear. Her eyes got wet, but she didn’t let the tears roll down. She was getting married to a 26 year old man, Rajeev, who worked at a renowned MNC. The proposal for marriage came in three months ago, when Rajeev’s mother got really sick and they needed a daughter-in-law to take care of her. The boy earned well, belonged to one of the richest households in their village, so her family said yes. She came running from college that day, telling her Mom that their team had won the district level basketball championship. But, apparently her mother had a greater news for her.
In the evening, Prerna got ready for her wedding. She was 19 but was looking twice her age with all the heavy makeup and jewelry she had put on. She wore a fake smile on her face and went to the wedding venue. She and Rajeev didn’t really make an actual interaction at the wedding. They were just performing like puppets and had their strings held by someone else. Prerna could feel that the marriage was forced on Rajeev as well. However, the crowd wanted a show, so both acted like they will finally have a “Lived happily forever after” ending.
Wedding went well. Prerna cried at her farewell, not because she was leaving her house, or her parents but because she was leaving herself. The girl she used to be wasn’t there anymore. Her dreams, her desires, all died as she stepped in the car and departed for her husband’s house.
Next day, after all the ceremonies ended. She dreaded walking to her new bedroom. She entered into a decorated bedroom, a white bed sheet with rose petals on it. Her husband was sitting on one side of the bed, glued to his phone. She pulled one of her bags, took out the night wear and went to the bathroom. Tears filled her eyes again but she knew crying was not in the script. So, she acted. She acted brave and sexy, practiced some poses in the bathroom mirror and came inside.
Rajeev looked at her and said: “Hey! Prerna, you didn’t have to. Just put on any one of my t-shirts from the closet and sit here. We will chat”.
Prerna (embarrassed and frustrated): “I don’t know what to say. I am not myself anymore. I am an actor, so give me the lines and I will play along.”
Rajeev: “You don’t need to. I know you can’t be yourself here anymore. But believe me I am not the director of this movie.”
He paused for a moment and smiled. Prerna took out his t-shirt from the closet and put it on.
Rajeev: “I know I am not helping and I don’t want to spoil your first day here by telling you that we are both prisoners in this relationship. And hey, if you want to complete your college, maybe I will have a chat with my mother and I will try to persuade her for this. But, no promises there as well.”
Prerna (smiling wryly): “Thanks. You really are a Mumma’s boy.”
Rajeev (smiling): “I don’t want to be but with her heart condition and the cancer alarm, I don’t want to give her any more stress.”
She kept quiet.
A long silent awkward moment later, Rajeev said: “I got a little present for you.”
He reached out to the closet, searched his wedding suit pockets. He took out a letter and a b’ful pendant.
Rajeev: “You might have a lot of jewelry by now and I don’t know what you like but here’s a small gift from me.”
Prerna took the pendant and remembered how she loved her soiled, sweaty body in the playground but eventually now she has to like gold.
Prerna: “Its lovely. Thank you”
Rajeev: “Here’s another gift, apparently for you only. Do you remember that tall, b’ful girl in blue saree , Rashmi?”
Prerna: “I met a lot of people at the wedding. So, I really don’t remember.”
Rajeev took out his phone and showed here a picture of Rashmi.
Prerna (pretending): “Oh! Now I remember”.
Rajeev: “Well! She is my girl-friend, sorry ex-girlfriend. She wanted me to give you this letter. I haven’t read it. Here, take it.”
Then he gave the cream colored envelope titled ‘Who is to blame’ in her hand
Prerna: “Can I read it now?”
Rajeev: “Only if you will later tell me what’s in it.”
Prerna: “Maybe I will read it out to you”.
I will soon publish the letter in the 2nd part of this story. Till then, please do let me know down in the comments, what do you think Rashmi has written in the letter. Who is really to be blamed?