She swayed back and forth in her rockingchair, with her eyes closed. She loved listening to the old songs for the simple reason that it was associated with some happy times. She always said “One song and so many memories”. Her lips, although sealed, gave away a faint smile. All that she knew at this moment was that she missed him… terribly!
She was eighteen when he had come to her house with his parents. Their families wanted them to get married. She remembered how nervous she was. Everyone in the family was telling her to behave in a particular manner. “Do talk loud and clear Priya” ” don’t raise your voice at all” “hold the pleats of the saree properly or you will fall” “Oh ho Priya, don’t shiver like that” was all that she could hear.After some time, she was all alone in the bedroom. All her relatives and cousins were outside the main hall where the boy was seated. “I hope Baba doesn’t call me out. Hope he rejects me” she silently prayed. When her name was called out, she froze. Her hands turned cold. Her mother came in the room that she was in. “Come Priya, they are waiting for you” her mother ordered. She slowly walked out into the hall with her mother. She was made to sit in a chair which was placed right in the centre of the hall. “This is our daughter Priya. She has studied till 8th standard. She cooks very well and does embroidery too.” She heard her father say. She kept looking at the floor. Suddenly, she felt pain in her arm. She looked up to see her mother’s angry eyes. “Priya, namaste karo and go touch the feet of your future in-laws…go!!!” Her mother silently screamed. The pinch hurt her. It brought tears to her eyes. She got up slightly rubbing her arm and went near the father of the boy. She folded her hands in namaste, bent down and touched his feet. He blessed her. She then moved over to the mother of the boy. She repeated her stance and was blessed by her too. She then moved the young boy and bent down to touch his feet too. “Hey.. don’t. It’s ok…” She heard him say. She raised her head and looked at him. The boy was looking at her too. His gaze was fixed on her. His eyes were staring deep into hers.
“Priya…what are you doing? Get up you…” She heard her mother simper. She felt her mother hold her firmly by the hand and lead her back to the room. “Mad girl, what did you do? That is a very nice family. That boy is working in the city. Now all because of your foolhardiness, he will reject you. Kashi jhali ga tu ashi?” Her mother kept mumbling. She felt numb. She could not fathom anything. She only remembered the boy’s stare and his sweet smile. Suddenly, she came back to her senses. Her mother was pacing in the room clutching the pallo of her saree. “What happened ma? What wrong did I do ma?” She asked. “Nothing. Everything has to be told to you. Why can’t you just ……” Her mother stopped abruptly. She looked up. Her father was standing in the doorway. He signalled her mother to follow him. Priya’s mother followed him and they disappeared for some minutes. When her mother entered her room she looked perplexed. “Priya, the boy wants to speak to you. I don’t know why. Times are changing and I guess we must adapt to these changing times. Now be careful. Do not talk like a baffoon ok? Speak like a matured girl…..” Her mother kept giving her one instruction after the other but she was blank.
She was taken to the terrace of her house where the boy stood with his back towards her. He was watching some birds making a formation. “Ramesh beta, Priya is here” her mother announced. He turned. My mother smiled, totally showing how nervous she was. “Thank you Kaaki.” She heard him say. She was still staring at the floor and was making patterns on it with her toe finger. “Don’t worry Kaaki, I will only speak for five minutes with Priya. Trust me.” Her mother nodded and left them alone.
“Priya, look at me” Ramesh said. She shook her head. She was wondering whether he was smiling. “Priya, when you looked at me, all I could see were your beautiful innocent water filled eyes. With that one glance, you stole my heart. I only wanted to tell you to be strong and to marry me out of your free will. I don’t want others to influence you in any way. Think about it and don’t give into any pressure. Alright?” She heard him say. She raised her head and looked at him. He was indeed smiling. She blushed and ran down.
She did not know what happened after that. Her marriage was fixed. On the first night when Ramesh walked in the room, she knew she was nervous to her core. Her heart was pounding so loudly that she felt he could her it. He came near her and kept staring at her. “I love you Priya” he said. She blushed. “Say something. Won’t you?” He asked. She raised her head, looked in his eyes and after gathering a huge amount of courage she said “I married you because I love you too….” She could see the happiness in Ramesh’s eyes. He moved in and embraced her. She kept her head on his chest and…..
…. And from there began a wonderful journey. A journey which saw many happy moments especially after the birth of her three kids. Two sons and a daughter. A complete family. Over the years they all grew up to be successful in their respective fields. Seeing her children do so well made them feel happy and proud too.
“Ma…come for dinner. Everyone is waiting…” She heard her daughter in law call out to her. She opened her eyes and slowly got up from her rocking chair with the help of her walking stick. She was seventy five years old but she felt older than her age. It had been three years since the demise of her beloved husband. She indeed missed him. She placed Ramesh’s framed photograph back on the table. “I still love you Ramesh…wherever you may be. I will join you soon…” She promised him again. She turned and slowly walked into the dining hall…..