A Valentine Love Story: A bride in search of love (2)

Chapter 2

My sister Nita threatened to elope with her lover which my parents dismissed as empty threats. It was the day of her marriage, I came home on the scooty after doing my hair for the wedding at the parlor. Our bungalow was sparkling with lights and decoration for the wedding where everyone got busy, attending to various tasks of supervising food, decorations, welcoming guests, sweets arrangement and new clothes. 
The groom arrived, riding mounting on the white horse and, trumpets were blown, Shennai blew our ear drums. We were so happy. After our parents welcomed the groom's family, the priest stepped in the mandap and called the groom who sat, impatiently waiting for his bride. I walked upstairs to call Nita who was getting ready in her room. The door was left open and I called for her. The room was empty. I kept calling for her but the room seems empty. I started getting jittery and called Mom.
She looked around but Nita was nowhere to be seen. Then, I stumbled upon a letter, in Nita's hand writing. I couldn't believe my eyes and was crest fallen. I showed the letter to Mom and she nearly collapsed. Mom was in tears. Nita eloped with her boy-friend.
The house turned upside down and the doctor was called since Dad got some fits and his BP shot up. s We didn't know what to do. What happened was going to turn my life upside down. Looking at Dad's state, I was ready to do anything so that nothing ever happen to him. The priest spoke calmly to me as my cousins escorted me inside Nita's room, "Shefali, my daughter. The honor of the family lies in your hands today. Your father can never bear this pain of humiliation. It's up-to-you."
I couldn't make out what the priest was hinting at. Finally, he spoke, "You will have to marry Anand to save the family honor."
My world crashed. I wanted to protest and yell but was too shocked to react. I froze, my energy level dripped and started feeling dizzy. Couldn't believe what was happening to me, I secretly hoped that it was nightmare and would soon wake up, relieved that it was was a product of my thoughts. But, it wasn't. It was a reality that I was living. I complied when I saw the face of my Dad, defeated, bruised and humiliated. Tears dropped from my eyes. I couldn't comprehend what was happening to my life.
I wanted to say so many things. What was my fault? How can I be blamed for the mistakes of someone else. After all, why should a girl always pay for a crime she never committed. I hated this life, this society and prejudice where a girl has to sacrifice her happiness, having no right to make an independent decision. It's sickening how we have to pay such a huge price for something. I mean, it's so ridiculous where reason has no place in our society and elders decide what is right or wrong.   What's the point of being educated and earning degrees when you are not treated or respected as an adult, mature enough to make choices.
I slowly walked inside the mandap, like a piece of furniture good replacing a defect one inside the house.  On that day, my parents wanted to pack me off as swiftly as possible as if I am some decayed item, an amputated limb and an out caste. I hated Nita that day. There are so many things I wanted to tell her.
That night, Anand didn't make love to me. May be, he fulfilled his rights over me as a husband and it was forced sex when he entered me, a grim reminder that I am his legitimate fuck, an object he will use when needed and discard like a pack of condom. I sat throughout the night and wept. How I wished the wall could speak to me! He would ignore me for all the years.
Shefali's coffee became cold and she wept on Siddharth's shoulders. He just held her hand and didn't utter a word. The young lover realized that she needed a friend to listen and give a sympathetic ear to. He hugged and kissed her forehead. She felt peaceful that there is someone who is offering her comfort and an inner strength that flew inside her body. Shefali knew now that she was ready to fight any power that shall come on the way of their love. Nothing would stop Shefali and Siddharth to become one, be it Anand, their parents or society.

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