“Now that the mehendi has begun to wear off my hands, I guess I’ve started to accept the fact that my sister is now married, and happily so” said Mira with a content and nostalgic look on her radiant face. Remembering that night still brings in countless memories that make her eyes moist even now. Because that’s the thing about memories, they warm you up from within and break you a little inside, all at the same time.
Wedding, a word that we all come across every now and then, but never really realize its meaning unless it’s the wedding of our very own sibling, our son or daughter, or our own self for that matter. This one single word has the power to change our lives forever and if we are lucky enough, this change can be really really beautiful. And for Mira this change turned out to be pretty great in its own sweet way.
21st February 2016
During a regular otherwise monotonous hour long phone conversation with her little sister Mira, Ananya finally broke the news. Yes, she was engaged. Dhruv and Ananya had been dating for almost four months now and that day Dhruv had finally proposed to her. Mira jumped in joy hearing this wonderful news, trying to be happy for her sister, but deep down her heart was sinking. She was taken in for a shock and she maturely hid her emotions in front of Ananya. Mira and Ananya more than sisters were best friends, each other’s confidants, and everything else. Both of them were a close knit circle themselves, sharing everything right from clothes, bags and shoes, to food and even each other’s lives now on phone and skype, the two sisters had never been away. And suddenly this news had shaken up Mira from the inside. As much as she was happy for her sister’s fairy tale to have come true, she was overwhelmed at the same time. She kept down the phone and cried hard, unable to know how to react and what to feel. All she knew was that this was huge, and no matter how much we talk about being progressive and modern, her priorities will change. Yes, she will now be married.
Dhruv was just the exact guy Ananya had always wanted in her life. The sensitive, caring and understanding man that almost every girl aspires of, Dhruv was all shades of the ideal prince charming we all have dreamt of since we were little girls listening to our grandma’s anecdotes. Being a shy and simple girl that she was, she hadn’t been into the dating world much before. She had had her experiences with guys that never turned out the way she wanted to and when she was least expecting it, love knocked her door. And you know what love comes with, well it comes with sweet romantic dates, lots of surprises, late night phone conversations and tonnes of understanding and support along with, a fair bargain at twenty four, life had been kind to Ananya.Breaking the big news to mom dad was not as hard as it seemed. Luckily their parents were receptive to their daughter’s beliefs and supported her throughout. And having met Dhruv, their doubts and inhibitions too were easily catered to. As they say, when it’s right, it just is and everything falls perfectly into place.
And finally the D-day arrived, it was all happening, for real. It was dreamy and unbelievable and still so with the flow. Ananya woke up in the morning and felt a little jittery. Staring at herself in the mirror she realized it was her last day as Ananya Sharma and soon she is going to be Ananya Malhotra, the thought gave her chills. And right at that moment her phone beeped and the screen displayed ‘Dhruv’ she grabbed the phone blushing away.
“Heyy you! “
“Hii darling! How’s my prettiest doing this morning? All set for the big day? “ said a gleeful Dhruv over the phone.
“I don’t know. I am just surprised that this is actually happening. Let’s just run away. No big ceremonies. No people staring at us on that hugeass stage. No pretentious smiling and no 100kg outfits and jewelry. Phew!” exclaimed Ananya worriedly.
“Hahahaa! Let’s escape this drama and get married, naked in the fields ;)” Dhruv played along.
“You’re imagining this already, aren’t you?” said Ananya in a flamboyant tone.
“Well you know how to read my mind, love. One of the reasons I’m really marrying you.”
“You bet, Mr Malhotra. And this isn’t going to be all fun and flirtatious forever, you know that right?”
“I know exactly what I need to know and that is- I love you. And I can’t wait to see you in that beautiful wedding outfit dressed up like a dream.” said Dhruv calming her down.
“I love you too. Shit. I’m so gonna trip over that never ending lehenga in front of the entire flock of people staring at me. Dhruuuvv I am scared.”
“And I’ll be the first one to burst into the loudest laughter.” giggled Dhruv.
“I hate youuuu” screamed Ananya.
“And I love you. And I am gonna hold your hand so tight, I won’t ever let ya fall, never ever. And certainly not over one lousy lehenga on our wedding day.” Dhruv comforted her.
“We’re gonna be alright?”
“We’re gonna be just fine. Now cheer up and send me a happy bride to be selfie. Okay? Can’t wait to see you tonight.”
“Neither can I. Bye.”
She hung up and definitely felt a lot better after this little cheer up session. At the same time Mira stormed into the room screaming “Come on it’s your wedding! Go take a shower. We need to start the haldi ceremony” Her little sister was the most excited and lively one in the family. Dancing around the house since morning she was certainly the life of the house.
The Sharma house was dressed up like a bride itself. Ferrylights, flowers and scents adorned the entire place. A big basket of fruits, lots of boxes of mithai and a huge plate having all the pooja essentials along with a medley of haldi and other necessities required for a typical Indian ceremony were scattered around the room in the most perfect manner. Ananya’s friends and cousins had come over and the entire house was full of life and fervor. The moment Ananya walked through the door, everybody stared at how magnificently beautiful she looked. Dressed up in a yellow saaree, her beautiful long dark hair flowing across her face and the slight shy smile on her face, she was glowing away like the perfect bride. Little did people know how terribly nervous she was, the prettiest smile hid it all.
The ceremony began and all the girls started to apply haldi on her already glowing skin. Smiling, laughing, chatting, teasing, singing and dancing they all were more than happy to see Ananya ready to embark upon the most beautiful journey ever, a journey of a lifetime, the most anticipated moment of every girl’s life.
Mira stood at a distance and her eyes got numb seeing the merry group of people all around and an absolutely gorgeous Ananya having a content look on her face. Everything around was moving, still she felt as if time had frozen right there in her sister’s innocent smile, in her laughter, beaming with radiance. And right at that moment Ananya’s eyes began searching for her little sister. And there she saw her crying silently. They shared an eyelock and Mira wiped her tears immediately and hopped towards the bunch of girls around Aananya. Mira dipped her hands in the haldi paste and applied it gently on Ananya’s cheeks and arms. The two sisters looked at each other and no words could ever express the sheer vehemence of the moment. One look and each time they could simply speak more than a million words.
The morning was spent in the solemn haldi ceremony and finally it was time for Aananya to get ready for the event of her lifetime. Mrs Sharma dropped Mira and Ananya to the salon, making sure they were doing fine, she left for the wedding venue to make the last minute arrangements. Being the mother of the bride, she was stressed with the never ending responsibilities and chores. Mira was in charge of ensuring that her sister looked like the prettiest bride in the world. Before getting started the stylist asked Ananya to wear her outfit first. And Mira and Ananya got into the room to change and what happened next is quite hard to believe considering the fact that the wedding was in the next two hours.
“Push it. Try to zip it. Come on ”
“Wait let me strech it from here. Hold on tight. Put the hook. “
“Oh come on how can you put on so much weight overnight”exclaimed Mira.
“Mira, I’ll tell you something promise me you won’t tell mom. She’ll torture me for a decade for this.”
“Tell me. What is it?”
“Promise me first”.
“God damnit tell me already. We are running late. “
“Spit it out” screamed a tensed Mira.
Baffled, Ananya finally said “I didn’t try the blouse earlier. Mom was pestering me to try it since two weeks, but I didn’t. And now I hate myself for this”
“What!? Are you freaking kidding me! What a dumbass are you? It’s your wedding. Do you even realize this. What are we going to do now? The baarat will be at the venue within two hours.”
“I am sorry. What do we do now? ”
“This is insane… Okay wait. You get your make up started. I’ll get it altered from somewhere.”
“Are you sure?” asked a terrified Ananya.
“Do we have any other choice? Okay don’t stress out. You can’t look stressed and tired on your wedding. I’ll fix it. Relax. I got you.”
Assuring Ananaya that everything will be fine, Mira left the salon.
She had no clue where would she find a tailor’s shop? How’d she go? The driver was at the venue. She couldn’t tell mom. She was dumbfounded. And then to her rescue the salon guy offered to drive her to the tailor’s shop somewhere near. And she knew she had to do this for her sister. She hopped up on the bike with this random guy she never knew, uncomfortable and awkward she rode with him and strolled across the streets everywhere at six pm in the town. Night was setting in and it was darkness all around. She felt unsafe, she wasn’t sure if this was right. But all she knew was that it was her sister’s big day and she’d do anything it takes to make it all work. After twenty minutes of futile attempts at searching a tailor’s shop, they finally came across one. Mira jumped off the bike and rushed into the shop and pleaded the tailor “Bhaiyya ek ghante me baarat aa rahi hai. Jaldi se is blouse ko ek inch altar kar do”
“Pehle try nai kara!?” asked the tailor guy surprisingly staring at her.
“Nahin. Nahi kiya. Aap apna kaam karo jaldi” said an irritated Mira in a stern voice. For all it was, there was one thing about Mira, she never took shit from people. She knew how to be unapologetic and sternly confident about any and everything.
The tailor fixed the blouse in ten minutes and Mira rushed back to Aananya.
“I got you. Take your blouse. It’ll fit you now” screamed Mira rushing towards her sister.
Ananya ran towards her and hugged her sister affectionately. Yes she was her saviour. Not just today, but many days. They both were each other’s saviours. Standing strong like a rock for each other.
“Blood certainly is thicker than water.” said Ananya. “Nobody else could have done this for me today. “
“Hahhaa. It is, darling. I am your sister. I signed up for this. Well now you owe me big time, baby. Today after this fiasco all my guilt for not having been able to do much work for your wedding is gone.”
“Hahahaaaa” both the sisters giggled and made their way to the styling room.
Some odd two hours later, Mrs Sharma came to pick them up, Ananya got out of the room and Mrs.Sharma’s eyes got wet. Seeing her little girl turn into a breathtakingly beautiful bride, she was awestruck, and so was Mira. Mrs. Sharma removed a little kajal from her eyelid and applied a small black dot behind her daughter’s ear to protect her from all the evil. A typical Indian mother of two young girls, Mrs Sharma was overwhelmed to see both her daughters grow up into such beautiful young women. The three ladies finally got into the car and the chauffeur drove them to the venue.
The farmhouse was decorated aesthetically. It looked like the entire place was dancing in joy, celebrating the unioun of Dhruv and Ananaya. Ananya finally reached the altar, Dhruv was anxiously waiting for her, secretly a little tensed about how she was doing. As she started walking down the aisle towards Dhruv, cladded in an off white gold sherwani with a royal turban and a classic kirpan at the side, he looked like the perfect groom. Seeing her walk towards him beneath the extravagant phoolon ki chaadar in all the bridal glory, Dhruv was mesmerized. He couldn’t believe his eyes. A while back she was his girlfriend whom he was madly in love with and now she was going to be his lawfully wedded wife.
Finally the moment was here, Ananya stepped up the stage, Dhruv lend her his hand to help her out like the most perfect gentleman. They exchanged garlands on a huge stage that went up as soon as they exchanged the flower garlands. Both of them surprised by what they were put through they held each other’s hands to comfort each other in this life changing moment.
“Why is this weirdest stage in the world going up, what’s wrong? I am already nervous.” whispered Ananaya to Dhruv.
“Chalo chand pe chalein. ” said Dhruv in a playful manner.
She laughed a little. And seeing her laugh reduced his nervousness.
“People are staring at us and this stage is going up right into the sky, what is this, are we really getting married?”
“People are looking because we make the most terrific couple ever. And as far as this stage is concerned, If I were to die here, I’d happily do so with you close to me. Because I have you. I’ve achieved everything in life.”
“But I want more of you. This is just not enough. I want a lifetime.”
“And we do have a lifetime. Now smile people are looking. I don’t want them to know what a sloth am I marrying.” exclaimed Dhruv.
All the jokes and all the failed and not so failed attempts to make her laugh and lighten up the stress, Dhruv certainly had his way with his girl.
While the couple was busy on the stage getting clicked and meeting the serenade of people all anxious to get a picture clicked with them, Mira was finally feeling a lot better seeing things go the right way. She was with her friends and cousins, the bridesmaids squad. All dressed up in beautiful lehengas and saarees glittering away, laughing, giggling and twirling to the beat of the quintessential music that filled the air, they looked like one happy bunch of bridesmaids.
“Hey! Look at that hottie in black suit” said Vidya , one of Ananya’s friends.
“Hahaha! Yeah he has got some killer moves as well to compliment that sauve beard and the rugged sex appeal!” exclaimed Shanaya.
“You guys! Come let’s dance!” sighed Mira, to change the topic because the same guy in black had been pretty much staring at her since a while now. Yes she was attracted to his charm as well, but she didn’t want to make any move nor did she want him to do so, it was her sister’s wedding and she didn’t want to steel her thunder or by any means create any trouble. But as they say, the heart wants what it wants, and when the situations conspire, no human efforts really work. The DJ began announcing – “Ladies and gentlemen! Now let’s fill the air with some love and romance. Some heat and some passion. Since we are celebrating the love of Dhruv and Ananya let’s all pay an ode to love with this beautiful dancing game we have up next for all you amazing guys and girls on the dance floor. I have a bowl of the names of all girls and another bowl of the names of all the guys. Each girl will pick up a chit and the guy and the girl will have to dance together. So give it up everybody.!” The crowed started cheering and howling in excitement.
“Oh I am not going to be a part of this rubbish game! How these people make weddings all sexy and fun, it’s weird. Aren’t weddings supposed to be a little more cultured and traditional. Are we really having couple dances and shit?!” said Mira.
“Well sweetie it’s 2017. Weddings are fun. Alright? Stop being a spoil sport. You are playing! That’s it.” said Shanaya and shut Mira up. Shanaya was Mira’s best friend who had come to the wedding just for Mira. She knew Mira was not really in the happy fun zone yet, but Mira and Shanaya were more of soulmates than just best friends. She knew how to handle Mira. She had seen her at her best and even at her worst. After a while of persuasion Mira agreed to play the game. A while later everybody started picking up chits and started meeting their partners. Mira went ahead and picked up the chit. It read “Aditya Khanna”. She read out the name and wondering how fancy the name was, she started looking here and there to find out who was this guy and to her utter surprise a man dressed in black suit with the sauve beard walked towards her from the crowd. And yes it was the same guy her friends had been gossiping about, his demeanour just as fancy as his name.
“Hi! Aditya Khanna!” he said in a husky yet charming voice.
“Hey! Mira Sharma. Glad to meet you.”
“Ahh! Pleasure’s all mine.”
Mira was trying to hide her feelings, and failed at it terribly. And there he was six feet of raw sexiness and charm standing in front of her, staring right into her eyes.
The music began playing and all the pairs started to get comfortable on the dance floor.
Aditya extended his hand forward “May I?”
Mira placed her hand in his and they both walked towards the dance floor. He held her waist and his eyes, deep and brown gazed right into her eyes, sparkling with passion, she had never seen before.
When your legs don’t work like they used to before
And I can’t sweep you off of your feet
Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love
Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks
And darling I will be loving you ’til we’re 70
And baby my heart could still fall as hard at 23
And I’m thinking ’bout how people fall in love in mysterious ways
Maybe just the touch of a hand
Oh me I fall in love with you every single day
And I just wanna tell you I am
So honey now
Take me into your loving arms
Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
Place your head on my beating heart
I’m thinking out loud
Maybe we found love right where we are
The song seemed to have perfectly fit into their little situation over there. There was an electrifying passion in that moment, none of them being able to understand what that really was. All they knew was that they were lost in each other’s eyes. Aditya tightened his grip on her waist, it sent a shiver down her spine. She too held his shoulder firmly, they came closer and closer. The song stopped abruptly drawing them both out of their meditation of each other. Seeing how things get heated up a little too much, they both decided to get off the dance floor. Still exchanging glances from across the place they both knew that they were already so into each other. Finally Aditya gathered courage and walked up to her.
“Hey! I think I have a thing for you. It was a nice dance. Mind talking a little walk with me? We can atleast get to know each other a little after all this,don’t you think so?”
“Well! It’s my sister’s wedding you know. I mean you’re amazing but I don’t think now is a good time.”
“Oh come on! The happy couple is up on the stage getting clicked and meeting everybody around here. You can spare a few minutes for me, can’t you?”
“Umm okay. Let’s go!” she said a little hesitantly. She knew she was attracted to him and no matter how much she tried to avoid it, this feeling wasn’t sinking in.
“You look beautiful” he said looking at her.
She tucked her hair behind her ear and smiled sheepishly.
“And you’ve got really dreamy eyes” she said in response.
“Yeah I mean your gaze can pretty much melt anybody then and there”
“Woah! That’s quite a compliment. So did I melt you?”
“Could you be anymore direct?” laughed Mira.
“Hhhaahaa! Just playing my odds.” he said with an innocent smile on his face that gelled perfectly with the rugged persona to make him look irresistibly hot and charming.
“Well wasn’t that question a little too soon?”
“Caught up in the game of words, haan?” she said playfully.
“Ahahahaa not really. Maybe it’s just that probably you make me fall short of words. And FYI I am a good speaker otherwise.”he said clarifying himself.
“Hhahahaa such justifications” she smiled.
“Always good to be safe” he smirked.
“Right. So what do you do?” she tried to drift the conversation.
“Well I am an investment banker by profession. I did my schooling in Delhi and went to engineering college and then took CAT and I passed out of IIM Ahemadabad two years back. Since then I am into investment banking. And currently I am settled in New York. Hometown has always been New Delhi. Dhruv is my childhood friend and hence I am here at this wedding. How about you?”
“Woah! IIM and all.That’s interesting. Infact even I am pursuing B.tech and yep even I plan to take CAT.”
“So that makes us pretty similar.”
“Yeah for that matter it does.”
Without having realized they had walked quite far away towards the backyard of the resort. It was a quiet and secluded place with no people around. Aditya and Mira were talking and then suddenly they came closer to each other. Breathing in each other’s scent Aditya started tracing the trajectories of her neck with his lips, slowly and tenderly his lips started moving across her cheek bones and he whispered slowly “Tell me if you want me to stop.”
“Keep going” said Mira, trying to catch her breath.
Finally he reached out for her lips and began kissing her tenderly but passionately, she kissed him back and in no time their tongues were into each other’s mouths. He grabbed her waist and pulled her closer, then caught hold of her hair. The jingling sound of her bangles created a mesmerizing music that filled the air in between them. It was magical and mystical. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him like there was no tomorrow. They licked, sucked and ate each other. She grabbed his mouth with her lips and kissed him hard. Her heart was beating faster than ever, her veins throbbed. She experienced a rush like never before. He calmed her and caressed her hair, massaged her back and shoulders. She buried her face in his chest and inhaled his addictive smell. She felt high, she felt passionate and more than anything she felt alive like never before.
He picked her up in his arms, held her waist and kicked open the door of the guest room. He made her lie down on the bed and began exploring each part of her body. There was an electrifying energy in between them. She smelled like lavender and tasted like heaven. He gently removed her dupatta and placed it aside, then grabbed her bangles and slowly removed them all, one at a time. He then caught hold of her feet and removed off her stilettos and began placing tender pecks on her feet moving up to reach out to her legs and thighs exploring each and every part of her body. He was in awe of her, tracing her stomach, belly button and finally the hip line with his hands he moved forward to reach out for her breasts. She unhooked her blouse and he removed her bra and began massaging her breasts. She unbottoned his shirt in haste and her hands began sliding on the back of his chest. He began licking her nipples and she moaned, experiencing pleasure that was out of the boundaries of this cosmic world.
Some half and hour later-
“Hook my blouse up! We’re late. I need to be there.” said Mira in a slightly tensed tone.
“Don’t worry! It’s all just fine. We’re gonna be there in a moment” he said helping her get dressed back again.
They both got out of the guest room and walked away in opposite directions.
The pheras were about to begin and Mira was with Ananya.
“Are you okay?” asked Ananya seeing a lost Mira.
“Yeah. Ofcourse. What’ll happen to me.” Said Mira fighting to hide her real self in front of her sister on her big day.
The solemn ceremony finally initiated. Ananya was sitting next to Dhruv and the priest was chanting mantras in front of the holy fire. The couple along with their parents were praying and reciting prayers.
Among all this while as much happy Mira was for her sister her eyes were still searching for Aditya. The man who literally took her breath away, the man she can never ever forget in her entire lifetime. She didn’t know what it meant, she didn’t know what he felt for her. She didn’t know how it would affect her life once she is out of this place the next day. All she knew was that she longing for him. And while she was lost in her meditations of him, she suddenly felt someone tapping her shoulder. She turned around to have taken in for a surprise.
“Heyy!” said Aditya in his smooth baritone.
“I was…” she couldn’t complete her sentence.
“Wondering where I was” Aditya said completing her sentence, looking in her eyes.
Dumbfounded Mira pulled away and tried to concentrate on the ceremony. Both Aditya and Mira were watching the aesthetic pheras being conducted. The preist was explaining the meaning of each “phera” necessarily the rounds the couple getting married are supposed to perform around the holy fire for seven times. Each time taking a vow for a life long relationship of togetherness, respect, love and longing.
With the first phera, the couple invokes the gods for the plenitude of pure and nourishing food and a life that is noble and respectful.With the second phera the couple prays for physical and mental strength and to lead a healthy and peaceful life.The third phera is taken for the fulfilment of spiritual obligations. The gods are invoked for blessing the couple with spiritual strength.The fourth phera is taken for the attainment of happiness and harmony through mutual love and trust and a long joyous life together.
The fifth phera is taken to pray for the welfare of all living entities in the entire universe and for begetting noble children.The sixth phera is for bountiful seasons all over the world. The couple prays for bountiful seasons and seeks that they may go through these seasons together, just as they would share their joys and sorrows.With the last phera they pray for a life of understanding, loyalty, unity and companionship not only for themselves but also for the peace of the universe.
THE PRESENT DAY –
“And Now that the mehendi has started to wear off my hands, I guess I’ve started to accept the fact that my sister is now married, and happily so” said Mira with a content look on her radiant face, sipping coffee in the porch of her farmhouse in Lonavala watching the rain with nostalgia hitting her harder than ever.
“The mehendi has worn off your hands, Mira. But the memories will never wear off your heart. Because that’s the thing about memories, they warm you up from within and break you a little inside, all at the same time, but never really fade away. Look at us, who knew back then that I’d meet this wonderful wonderful girl at a wedding and end up being with her finally. It all still seems surreal. That you’re mine now and we’re here, together. The memories of that day are still afresh in my mind. For you it was your sister’s wedding and for me it was the day I found the love of my life. I am so glad to have found you.” said Aditya stroking her hair.Mira smiled gently and they both hugged each other. The warmth of their bodies, pushed against each other made the chilly rains of December a lot less colder. They were lying with their arms wrapped around each other, basking in each other’s scent and warmth. They both were at peace with each other. The pitter patter of the rain combined with their throbbing hearts beating against each other created a music their souls danced to.
Finally Aditya stood up and began saying “So, Ms Mira Sharma! Brace yourself. I am going to say something that might really sweep you off your feet. Umm okay, I am really going to say this now” he chuckled. Her forehead clinched, unaware of what he really was going to say, she sat uptight. He held her hand and bent down on his knee. “I think I am in love with you. I am in love with you since the day I first cradled your face in my hands. I am in love with you since you first read out my name from that chit. When we danced together and when we kissed for the first time. I can never ever think of letting you go now. My entire universe revolves around you since that one single day. That day when the priest was reciting prayers and conducting the solemn pheras around that holy fire, all I could think of was that why aren’t WE there getting married and having a life together, forever. I don’t know anything else except the fact that I am in love with you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to grow old with you, build us a house, have kids with you and finally die when I am a hundred and ten years old in your arms. That’s all I want from life. You, you and just you. So Ms. Sharma, (after a long pause of silence) WILL YOU MARRY ME?”
Mira fell silent. Her world stood still. She wasn’t expecting this. A lone tear escaped her eyes and Aditya reached out to wipe it. Still holding her hand, he said “There’s no rush. I know this is a little too fast. But that’s how sure I am about us. And it’s all right. Take all the time you need. I am here, waiting for as long as you want me to.
“Yes!” exclaimed Mira “A thousand times yes!”
He sighed and took a deep breath, and finally drew her in his arms.
“I love you! “ she said burying her face in his chest.
And before they both knew, another wedding was out there awaiting the two of them but this time the tables were going to turn. Instead of watching the pheras and the gaudy ceremonies, they were going to be on the other side of the shore, witnessing it all, for real, with each other. After all as they say, life is a complete circle. It all ends right where it begins. And for that matter this ending is nothing but the start of an even more beautiful journey that lies ahead of them.
Because sometimes if you have the faith, fairytales do come true. The prince charming might not come riding on the horse but he will come, all you need is a little faith, a little patience and a lot of hope.