Posted February 21, 2011on:
“Why are you not ready yet?” shouted Meenu’s mother with irritation. Meenu’s eyes welled up yet again. She was going to be subjected to the torture once again. She went into her room and stood in front of the mirror to assess herself, which she did a lot more often these days.
What she saw was not comforting, especially just minutes before the prospective groom’s arrival. She heaved a deep sigh and started getting ready for the circus. She took out a mustard coloured kurti with crimpson patyala salwaar and crimson dupatta with golden border. It was a beautiful dress and accentuated her pleasingly plump frame. She put a small red bindi between her well shaped eyebrows, applied a little lipstick and let her beautiful, dark, long tresses loose. She appraised her reflection in the mirror again and smiled a bit. “Not bad”, she thought.
As soon as her mother saw her, annoyance showed on her face again.
“How many times have I told you not to wear such bright clothes! Look at your colour…” she scoffed her off.
Meenu tried not to be perturbed, and in any case, this was not the first time that she was ridiculed by her mother. She always sought her mother’s approval and the quest continued in adulthood, though in vain. She stood there with downcast eyes which made her mother even more irritated.
“Now just don’t stand on my head and hope that this man likes you else…” her voice trailed off as she rushed to open the door. Her mother’s voice modulated to a sweet melody as she received the guests.
Meenu knew the routine by now. She had to wait till she was called for and go with downcast eyes and not to speak much. She sighed again and looked up as if asking God, why he had chosen her for such torture. She shook her head in resignation.
She used to be such a happy child. Her mother was always like this but her father loved her a lot. He used to make up for all the hurt her mother bestowed upon her. He never compared her with anyone. He loved her as she was and she basked under his love. She was an intelligent child too, did well in school and went on to become an engineer. Her father was ecstatic when she won gold medals in university examinations. Her mother was hard to please though. She could never come to love her. She chided her father for his affection for their ugly duckling.
“All these medals and certificate will not help in marrying her off!” Meenu had heard this line so many times that it lost its edge, so to speak. Her father would kindly smile or wink or make faces after her mother to make her smile. It was also his way of telling her that don’t take her seriously, you are doing fine. And her heart would swell with love for her father. He would hug her and they would go on to discuss something about current affairs or politics or something silly as which boy was after which girl in the college or how stupid boys were! They would laugh together and her mother’s venomous words would be drowned in their love.
Meenu was awakened from her reverie by her mother’s harsh voice.
“What are you doing standing like a wooden doll?” Meenu smirked at the word “doll” and followed her mother to the lounge.
Even though she was told to keep her eyes downcast, she stole a look at the prospective groom and she froze in her track. Was this a joke? Had he not seen her picture before coming over (she no longer looked at the pictures since she thought it was a futile exercise)? What was the problem with him?
Her heart started beating faster. He looked like a Greek God to her. He was fair and handsome, polite and soft spoken. She cursed herself for not looking at his biodata. She hoped he was not just good looking. As she was floating in the air, her eyes fell on her mother and her jeering look brought her down on earth. She looked at the man in front of her and compared herself with him mentally.
“What is point of coming here and mocking me? One look at me and he will be out of this house. Why insult a girl like that?”
But by the look of it, he was still having polite conversation with her father and stealing looks too. He did not seem like he is going to run away. Their eyes met and he smiled softly at her. Meenu’s pulse quickened and she blushed. His smile broadened at her discomfort.
“Did he make out that I am blushing? Oh come on, Meenu, whom are you kidding? With your colour? Keep your feet firmly on the ground.” she reprimanded herself mentally.
She was startled when she heard her name. He was standing and she knew the meeting was over. As usual she was rejected because she did not fall in the conventional category of being beautiful. No one noticed her delicate features, beautiful coal lined eyes or long, flowing dark hair. No one was interested in her intelligence. It did not matter that she was witty and could make a guy laugh till tears ran down his cheeks. It did not matter how beautiful she was from inside. All that mattered was that she was chubby and dark. She had all the qualities to make a good wife, she had it in herself to turn a house into home, but no one was bothered about it. Her eyes welled up again and she sat there with her head bowed.
She was startled again at her mother’s sweet voice calling her and she looked up to see that he was still standing and looking at her with a quizzical look on his face.
“Shall we?” he asked. She was bewildered as to what was going on. She looked at her father and he smiled at her with his usual soft smile. “Go, talk to him” he nudged her towards him.
More that surprised, she was shocked at the turn of events. “He really wants to talk to me? ME?” she could not believe it but here she was, following him in their garden to find a suitable place to talk.
What followed was unbelievable to her. She could not believe her luck. They talked as if they knew each other always. They seem to share common tastes in music, books and even food. It seemed like a fairytale to her, too good to be true!
“I think I am fine with this match. What do you think?” he asked her. She could not believe her ears. When she did not reply, he went on.
“I can understand if you do not want to answer right away. You do need to sort out by yourself if you would want to spend your entire life with a stranger. A stranger who has a three year old paraplegic daughter!”
In the last two minutes, this was the second time that she could not believe her ears. What did he just say? A three year old paraplegic daughter?
He was saying something and stopped in mid sentence when he saw her shocked face.
“You knew about my daughter, didn’t you? I had told your parents at the off-set.”
She was no longer with him.
She wanted to look into her father’s eyes just once before saying yes.