Continued from here
“If you want a peaceful life, break this engagement. There is nothing much that I have to tell you. Your life is getting inside a deep hole. Now don’t blame the God telling you weren’t given a warning”
“What happened?”Her mother ran to me almost snatching the cell phone from my hands.
“Hello, hello”She spoke loudly and then blamed it on the poor network.
And I sat there like a stone not knowing what to do.
My mouth went dry and my body sweated badly. My hands stank badly because of the sweat. In another few minutes I will get engaged to Dasan. I frantically searched for some water. The Cuticura talcum powder mixed with tears and sweat flowed into my already wet bra. Few drops of tears escaped through the space between the cleavage and my bra and flowed over my stomach line. I wiped them with my sari and rushed to the main door of my house.The tension came out through my blouse in the form of hot talcum smelled vapors.
The crowd which consisted of my family, relatives and neighbors and people from his family looked at me as if they saw an alien. My mother’s eyes and face turned red because of the brunt of indiscipline her daughter did on the engagement day.Her face went blank as she didn’t how to cover up this shameful act of her daughter.
“Aai, aai, she couldn’t even wait for few more minutes to see her man.” Somebody from the crowd said.
The crowd took things lightly and teased me. I saw a relief on my mother’s face. I ran into the crowd to tell that I don’t want this engagement.But, as I was taught not to tell my opinions in public,especially in front of men, my voice got stuck in my throat and only air came out of my mouth which made no sense. My head shook down in the embarrassment which they mistook for my disciplined coyness. The engagement went on by Dasan’s elder sister Sujatha and Priya’s mother Ragini wearing one bangle each on my both hands; the wedding happened exactly after forty-three days.
Post my wedding lunch after reaching Dasan’s house, Ragini chechi made me sit inside a room like an antique piece kept in the showcase. The room smelled the fresh paint and the wooden window panes looked sticky with varnish. The room was very small that the walls might collapse if four people stay inside it. The cot was new and the bed sheet felt like a starched saree. The only piece of decoration in the room was an old family photo framed inside a moderately thick black frame which hung from a rusted nail. Small black ants came out of a hole on the floor and made a drawing on the white washed wall.The ceiling fan above my head looked more like an ugly chandelier than a fan. The jasmine flowed reeked and my sweat made the smell of the room worse.Women from Dasan’s family came inside the room intermittently and talked about how they were related to me now. People poured inside despite the heat and suffocation inside the room. Some held my hands, some pinched my face and some pecked my cheeks. Some others patted harder on my arms and back to show their affection.I faintly smiled at everyone.I wanted to take off the saree,the jewelry and the smelly flowers.
I felt bad when they lied on my face telling that I am beautiful. I knew well that I am not beautiful and that is exactly the reason for marrying Dasan who is twelve years elder to me and who is unemployed. If my Father were alive, he would have at least married me off to a man who has a job. But, I cannot blame my Mother too. Till how long can she keep me in the house; I am already twenty-five years old. To make matters worse I am dark, I am short, I am uneducated, and I am unemployed too. When I told my Mother about what Priya told me over the phone, she sat on the floor massaging her knees and replied “If you were at least fair-skinned, we could have searched for somebody else. I hope you are aware that how difficult it was to get this alliance. You are lucky enough to at least get married. Be happy about it.” That was a valid point because every other girl in our neighborhood has got married. Girls who are younger than me have two or three kids now.Even I got fed up of looking at all those married girls and feeling inferior.
“Dasan is lucky”, most of them rhetorically said this while leaving the room. Majority of the crowd checked my gold ornaments and made various odious comments about why my Mother has given only four sovereigns of gold and the remaining twenty-five sovereigns were Priya’s gold which her mother lent me for the wedding.
My head almost busted with pain and I slanted on to the wall. The wall was cool and the smell of the wall paint plunged into my nostrils acting like a sedative. The noises around me faded and cool breeze from Bharathapuzha River calmed me down. I woke up hearing somebody shouting behind the wall of my room. Saliva was flowing through the sides of my mouth and I hastily wiped it with my saree. I opened the window wide and saw a girl slapping a boy. The boy looked helpless because of her nonstop slapping and I stood wondering what it could be.
The girl was shouting something in English which I didn’t understand. When her parents held her to control the situation I understood who she was.
Priya! I whispered to myself.
After calming down both the sides, when the crowd was about to disperse, she ran to him and slapped him hard and shouted “Never touch a girl without her permission” followed by something again in English. That night I heard stories about Priya.Every relative of Dasan had a story to tell about Priya. I learned that she shouts at everyone.I loathed her in the next second. What a terrible girl. I frowned.I saw Dasan smiling at me and my headache got worse.
Then, it took more than a decade to realize how true Priya was with her feelings and how she calmed down even faster than she raged.
“It is an expensive phone. I bought it only last week. That’s why I shouted, please Kuttiamma, I’m sorry.”
Her face turned innocent and I hugged her. I smiled at her and looked outside the car window. There stood a tall and huge arch and a big wooden board hanging from it. The name of the apartment was written both in English and Tamil. I looked at her and she said,”Chitra Avenue”.
“Chitra Avenue”, I repeated.
Behind us, Choolaimedu High Road woke up from its sleep and when Chennai smiled at me, I couldn’t help not smiling back.
*These are the first three pages of my first book – “378 Miles“.Do let me know your reviews.I will update about the publishing date later.