Gayatri looked at herself in the trial room mirror. For a nice change, she found herself looking pretty, except for a few flaws ‘hair’ and there. đŸ˜› She immediately decided to buy the dress, and even before she had done the payment, a thought crossed her mind. She could wear the ensemble to her best friend’s wedding! She got inside the car, and wished the drive would never end.She was suddenly travelling somewhere else now, ’cause she was looking faraway.

For the first time, she would not have to spend a lot of time thinking what she would wear, and when she would wear. This time, she was all set. She was too excited about her best buddy’s wedding. Gayatri had worked hard at the bride’s place-helping the guests, managing the ever-increasing population, and most of all, keeping company to her nervous-yet-gregarious bestie, Juhi. After 3 days, Juhi would get married to the man of her dreams. The best friends had chosen the terrace, because all the rooms in the house were occupied by relatives. Juhi loved to sleep on the terrace. Gayatri loved to sleep under the stars. They loved to talk to each other. Most conversations revolved around the nervousness Juhi would hide behind a swarm of giggles. This was the best place to laugh out loud. Nobody would tell them to shut up and ‘behave’. “No one should look better than the bride, and I’ll make sure this happens!”, assured Gayatri to Juhi. Juhi nudged Gayatri, “Ahem. Enough about me. Let us talk about you now”. Gayatri did not know what to say, so she merely smiled. An impatient Juhi popped the question, “So how are you liking it here, spending time with my folks?” Gayatri smiled and answered, “Oh, I’m loving it! I called Mum and Dad today to tell her about all your rituals. I’ve been following them closely.” “And, ahem, someone has been following you as well, am I right?” asked Juhi. Gayatri blushed. Juhi said, “I am your best friend. What’s going on? Out with it.” Gayatri answered truthfully, “Nothing”. Juhi was aroused with curiosity now, “What do you mean nothing? I’m getting married! Spill the beans. Swear on me!”. Gayatri maintained her calm. “I swear on you”, she said. “My parents are on a groom-hunt. I do not need to work hard there, you see đŸ˜› And don’t you think too much, I get to see him because he’s here for your marriage. We have the same purpose. There can be nothing more to it. We’re just being ‘professional’ and cordial during the whole marriage scene, you see. Both of us have to, right?” Juhi nodded. They talked for another five minutes and then Juhi fell asleep. Gayatri was wide awake.

Gayatri wished something was going on. She REALLY wished for it. But if wishes were horses, beggars would ride..She had met him after a really long time, and she could not help noticing that her gaze would always shift in his direction. She could not lose him in the crowd here, but she had lost him years ago. She wanted to look beautiful on her best friend’s marriage. She wanted to make a mesmerizing entry, but she wanted to mesmerize just one of them. She did not wish to leave this paradise where she could dream, because once this marriage got over, she would have to embrace somebody else. Somebody who did not have a head right now.

The D-day was here. Gayatri helped Juhi transform into a gorgeous bride for her special day, and after she was done, she had about half an hour to get ready herself. Gayatri locked the door from inside and pulled the clothes out of the cupboard. It was an elegant maroon-coloured blouse teamed up with an orange skirt, and an orange dupatta. The whole ensemble was made of silk, and she loved it. She got dressed for the occasion, applied the subtlest make-up, and wore her best perfume. She wanted to wear her favourite piece of jewellery,a maang-tika, but according to custom, she could wear it only after she was married. Sigh. She suddenly discovered the urge to get married. And this time, the person in her mind (and heart) was not headless. She met him downstairs. She smiled her prettiest smile at him, straight from the heart. And she got it back. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw him glance at her. She sighed. She wouldn’t have to second-guess his thoughts if things were better. She hoped he thought she looked ravishing. And she hoped he didn’t have eyes for anybody else. But she sighed again. She was being too hopeful.

They soon found themselves sitting beside each other near the auspicious mandap, where they could see their friends taking the vows for a lifetime. Did she see that look in his eyes or was she daydreaming? This was too sentimental a moment for the two of them. Gayatri wished she could run away and hide somewhere. Most of all, she wished to hold his hand, tell him things she had never uttered and then…then what? She could not move on. She stopped her imagination there. She saw the fire in front of their friends and spoke to herself inside, “A woman indeed dresses for a man she loves. She realises she is in love with him when she is told to dress up for someone else but her heart wishes to be admired by ‘him’. Each time I would see myself in the mirror, I would see somebody else glancing over my shoulder instead of my spouse. I would not want to have a baby, because I would want to give that baby a different father. I would not care about winning the hearts of my in-laws because, well, I may not care about them at all!

…I would say ‘no’ to everything that doesn’t include ‘him’. I wonder what kind of a marriage would that be where my wishes would never end because all of them would comprise of just one person; where I would be with someone else, but I would be somewhere else. I wonder how ‘loyal’ this is supposed to be, where I would constantly have someone else on my mind, even if he would be out of sight. I wonder how ‘just’ it would be to my spouse, my life-partner. I wonder if such a marriage could be called a ‘happy’ marriage simply because two people who have been brought up in a similar fashion take vows in front of the sacred fire. Is a lifetime commitment really that simple? What about a sacred love? Also, can any marriage survive without friendship? We’re human beings. We’re not robots. We thrive on feelings, emotions, lack of them, and so on. Ok, I am selective about my friends. What if I don’t feel like befriending my spouse? Where minds and hearts are not married, would the association be called a marriage? It would be unfair to everybody.”

She felt choked inside, as if some toxins were suffocating her. She looked in front of her. Her long drive was about to end. She was reaching home. But this epiphany-cum-daydream had finally made her realise how a marriage is supposed to be. She may be wrong, because she was inexperienced. But she knew that most of the people would agree with her in principle. She did not know why she loved him, but she knew why she wanted to marry him. She wanted to marry him because each time she met him, she felt ‘at home’. And home is always a person we go to..



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