I didn’t know what to speak.I was not sure whether I will be able to utter a word.It had been more than half a century that I have talked in front of a crowd.I was becoming more nervous as the seconds passed.My hands were sweating..The tissue which I was crushing inside my hands became torn after getting wet.I held it tight as if I was holding it for a support.In spite of the air conditioner,I could feel a drop of cold sweat flowing behind my neck through the backbone channel and then getting lost somewhere in my saree.I having been looking at the floor,more precisely at the designs of the carpet,from the moment the function started.I was completely ignorant about the happenings on the stage.The bright light fit on top of the stage made me uncomfortable.Why do people do this?I cursed the ones who initiated the idea of celebrating 40th Wedding Anniversary as a grand function.We could have celebrated at home.Why on earth I have to sit on a stage like this and be nervous.
‘Eh?’,I shivered when somebody touched me.I felt like I woke up from sleep.
‘Mrs.Prasad…Mrs.Prasad please share the beautiful moments of your married life with us’.Sekhar who was hosting the function was announcing my name which I failed to hear because of my very timely nervousness.
‘Please come..Please be comfortable’,Sekhar said,’Looks like she went back to her 19 years age by hearing Mr.Prasad Natarajan’s speech’.
Prasad did a speech?When?How come I didn’t hear even a single word of it?
I stood behind the microphone.The crowd was small,comprising our colony members and their families and then my family too.I could see more than a hundred eyes looking at me waiting to hear from me.I stared at them.Even though my sons taught me the speech I couldn’t remember a single word.
‘Good Evening All,Thank you for this love.This one of the happiest moments in my life and rest of the happiest moments were with Prasad.Thank you’
I could hear a loud applause which made me nervous even more.I looked back on the stage.I could see Prasad laughing and blushing.I felt relieved.I came back to the seat.I didnt have the courage to look the crowd once more.So I kept looking at the floor;no,the carpet design again.
The dinner was great.I felt like my wedding day in this old age.Some friends gifted us.Some ladies made it sound like I did some courageous and adventurous thing by living with Prasad for 40 years.I smiled at everybody’s comments.I thanked them for coming for the function.
It was then Sekhar came to me and gave a comment.He said”Rathi,you are lucky to get somebody like Prasad.I am sure that he must have not hurt you even once”.
Those words made me uncomfortable.I gave him a fake smile.
I was feeling tired,I just wanted to hit the bed.I was waiting for the guests to disperse fast so that I will get a good sleep.I looked out for Prasad but he was busy with his friends circle.All my friends have gone after the dinner.I searched for my family to see both my daughters-in-law discussing about the kids’ health and on the other end my sons were having fun with their friends.The hall was nearly empty.I saw a staircase next to the front door and went towards it.
I slowly escalated through the steps which took me to the terrace.The cold breeze made me wake up from my gloomy mood.I saw our colony lighted with dim night lamps.In some villas there were no lights at all.Lucky fellows,having a nice sound saturday night sleep.
“I am sure that he must have not hurt you even once“.
“I am sure that he must have not hurt you even once“.
This sentence echoed in my ears.I was scared whether Sekhar will tell Prasad that I was not even a tinge happy when Sekhar told me this.
But the truth is that there are some wounds which time cannot heal.
I happened 40 years back.I was 19 then and Prasad was 26.I liked Prasad the very first moment I saw him.He has also told me that for him too it was love at first sight.We talked for two minutes,the time granted for us to decide on on lives,but both of us felt like not even two seconds were in need to decide.We felt close to each other in a matter of seconds.I hid behind the window while he was leaving after the coffee.He looked back searching for me and finally caught me looking behind the pale purple window curtain.
Wedding preparations were going on and everybody was excited.My blushing didn’t stop from the moment it started after seeing him.Though the groom doesn’t come to the bride’s house before marriage, Prasad came home unexpectedly.I didn’t go in front of them as I was overwhelmed with joy ,shyness,blushing and God knows what more.But in five minutes I understood that things were not fine.I went to the kitchen looking for mom.She was crying keeping her head on my aunt’s shoulders.I rushed to the front door verandah to know what was happening.I could hear Prasad talking.He said,”I don’t want your daughter even if it is one rupee less than Rs 25,000“.It was a huge amount those days.I felt like the room was collapsing.I felt that the one who built the house has done mistake that the house was going upside down.I went blind.I fainted.
I opened my eyes to see my parents and brothers standing around me.My father told me that he will be somehow giving the required dowry and I will be getting the one whom I liked.I was collapsed in such a way that I couldn’t reply him.I was hurt.I was in pain.I couldn’t digest that he was not willing to take me to his life without dowry;his words were so sharp that it went deep inside my heart to make a cut.
Our wedding went on well.I was happy when I got him next to me.I forgot about what he has told to my father that day.But then I realized that it was not easy to forget about it that fast. Every time we fight or argue,I was forced to think about those words.Not even during our bad times,even while lying down after making love,I used to stare at him thinking that it was this person who told my Dad that he doesn’t need me if it’s a penny less.
But life went on and on.We had two sons,then my life was around them.Now they got married.I got my grand kids to play with and read out stories.But that wound left unhealed by time.Or was it because I wanted to keep that cut without healing?I am not sure. Prasad has given me all the love that a man could give to his wife.He has been always considerate and caring.But why do I still have a pain deep in my heart when I think about that incident which happened 40 years back?
I trembled and looked back to see Prasad.
“What are you doing here?That too it is cold out here.Come on..“He came up to me and took my hands.
I didn’t move a bit and he looked back.
“Prasad,I love you..“,I said
“I love you too Rathi..But lets go..It’s cold..“,Prasad replied hurriedly.
I hugged him tight and the warmth of his body made me get rid of shivering.
“I love you Prasad..“,I said softly.
Let that wound get healed now.Let it get healed by by our love.