A Wedding To Remember
A Wedding To Remember18 mins 352 18 mins 352
“Make it a point to visit, Harsh. It’s my wedding- the most important day of my life and I want you here” said Tia, as she disconnected the call.
There has never been an instance in my life when I would have banged my head over something as much as this. As if the Facebook invite wasn’t enough or the temporary group created on Whatsapp to mark the wedding ceremony of Tia and Gaurav didn’t create enough ripples in my life, there came a personal invite via call by none other than Tia, herself. People were posting congratulation messages on social media, while I was either liking the posts or shooting idiotic smileys at them. Tia and Gaurav were my classmates in college and their college love had transpired into an eternal bond that would now be named as “Marriage”. They were pretty much the flamboyant couple in college and were expected to go the distance and tie the knot someday. Tia was a pretty girl with a flair for unique dressing sense and sharp wittiness while Gaurav was the intelligent, smart boy who can surprise you with his sense of humour and win you over in seconds. No wonder they set the college on fire, these two. And now, 6 years later when they are ready to take the plunge I am stuck in the biggest dilemma of my life. For all those of you who are wondering why attending their marriage is so difficult for me, here are a couple of things to ease you up:
A. I have been in love with Tia since that Goddamn college bus broke down and I had to take a walk to college with the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. Love at first sight, yeah you got that right!
B. I was knocked out by a punch for 25 minutes, when I decided to cross the line and propose to Tia on the day of farewell, a stupid idea that only my best friend Sonu could have given. And before you guess it right again, the person who knocked me out was Gaurav himself- the groom to be.
Now put yourself in my shoes and give me one good reason why I should attend this marriage. Were those 25 odd minutes of stardom not enough for me or was it that the embarrassment I had to go through didn’t weaken my knees enough to step into their lives again. There was no way on earth I would be able to face Tia after that incident and there was every possibility that Gaurav might have told her about it although the proposal never really happened. After a long discussion the previous night, Sonu had convinced me to go ahead and confess my love for her and yet did the unthinkable the next morning, by spilling the beans in front of Gaurav in a moment of rage. Expectedly, Mr. Groom-to-be decided to halt my march before I could reach the gate. An argument broke up and ended soon with a black patch on my right eye. So it was. Tia never discussed about it and things were always warm from her side, be it on the convocation day or on social media, post college. Maybe Gaurav had saved my dignity or maybe he saved his own image of a possessive boyfriend who punched a nerd on his way to victory march.
Time passed, stalking Tia was confined to days, weeks, months and then years. Now, stalking can be the wrong word, but following a girl from her tuitions to dance classes to gym to library to everywhere else, what else would you call that? The way I avoided suspicion, even James Bond would have been proud of me, had he existed. Time passed and I started thinking more of my life, the things to come rather than Tia. Every cloud has a silver lining and maybe things weren’t ever meant to be the way I wanted. It took me 6 long years to move on and 60 seconds to realise I hadn’t even crossed a mile. That call which lasted for almost a minute, dragged me right back where things had ended in college. God, are these girls meta-human or something? She brought those sleepless nights back and I was standing with a big question mark on my forehead! Pretty much the dilemma I was in. I thought about it for a good one week before deciding to give it a skip. No, not the thought, the marriage! There was no way I would be attending this marriage, if not for what happened, but certainly for what would happen seeing the girl I have always loved, get married to someone else. I wasn’t prepared for heartbreaks and there was no way I was going to attend my own funeral. I stopped responding to texts on that group and with 5 days to go for the marriage, people got busy and the group wasn’t happening anymore. It was clear- I wasn’t attending the marriage, come what may!
3 days later-
“Sir, would you like something to drink?” asked the pretty flight attendant as I put my seatbelt on. I nodded and asked for a pair of earplugs instead. Yes, after all that hullabaloo about me and my stand on not attending the marriage, here I was on the flight to Delhi to attend the biggest event of my life- Tia’s wedding! But before you guys label me as an idiot, you might as well hit the last paragraph. For all patient readers, well let me continue…
The flight took off and I got busy with a novel. Halfway into it I lost interest and started thinking about Tia- something I was really good at. I realised how much things have changed in the past 5-6 years and if I was doing the right thing attending her marriage or not. The last time I had seen Tia, she wore a blue crop top and a black denim jeans. She was waiting to fill the form in the administrative block of our college and I was standing 50 meters away in the parking lot trying to get a glimpse of her. She looked beautiful, as always and there was no reason why I wouldn’t be mad about her. I had spent four years of my engineering college staring at her, in the most decent way possible of course and that’s the way it had ended. There was a sense of defeat and I had spent a couple of days in sheer depression. That took a toll on my studies as I barely managed to pass my final semesters with a CGPA that was equivalent to a moderate reading on the Richter scale. It was as if I was living a dream that never really happened. But times change, people change and there was an inevitable sense that I would move on. At least, that’s how I consoled myself. I got a job, moved to a new city and poof! Love vanished into thin air while I became the lost soul in a crowd. Damn, time really flew.
I landed in the airport and took a cab to the given address. It was a half an hour drive to the Hotel, where I stood for almost 10 minutes deciding whether to step in or not. It reminded me of the time I had to attend the Thermodynamics exam in my third semester and I stood in front of the exam hall for a few minutes deciding if it was really worth entering the room. I could have run away then, but I didn’t. I can run away now, but maybe I won’t. I took out my phone to dial Tia’s number. Nobody responded and then I saw Gaurav speaking to a few decorators near the reception. I went inside to greet him with a smile to which he responded in the subtlest way possible. He seemed to have gotten over our last altercation and didn’t show any signs of discomfort. He sent a couple of his cousins to guide me to the visitor’s lounge where I met the rest of our college mates. Everyone was pretty excited to catch up after such a long time and this was the best possible reunion they could have imagined. Around 13 of us had assembled in the lounge and 2 more were expected. Upon a few rounds of discussion, things went from college to job to CTC and what not! Thanks to this reunion, I also discovered that I was the lowest earning individual from this group, something that was embarrassing. But I was least bothered about the people discussing upon the country’s economic policies or their chances of going abroad. My eyes were fixed on my phone expecting a return call from Tia. Aditi, Tia’s cousin, came down to greet us and informed us that Tia will be late since she was out for a pre-wedding photo shoot on the outskirts of the city. How romantic! I picked my bag and left for my room, which was on the fifth floor. I was the lucky one who didn’t have to share the room with anyone since I didn’t inform anyone about my arrival and nobody expected me to turn up.
I took a short nap before waking up to the loud music from outside. I looked out through the window to see a music band playing Bollywood songs besides the pool. I could see Gaurav looking suave in a black sherwani along with the rest of our batch mates. My eyes still searched for Tia, but she was nowhere to be seen. I jumped onto my bed to check my phone, if there was any missed call from Tia, but there was none. Maybe she was really busy, so I decided to take a bath to join my friends for the Sangeet celebrations. I took a hot water bath and dressed up to meet the rest of the people downstairs. Aditi informed me that Tia’s get up was kept under wraps since she was about to perform on the stage and she wanted to surprise us all. That would be one hell of a surprise, I said to myself! We went through a few speeches from the excited relatives who had turned up in anticipation of free food and drinks. Their speeches were so badly constructed, they reminded me of the several times the Grammar Nazi in me had woken up to destroy whatever little social life I had. I kept quiet and went through the speeches. Small kids were forcibly pushed onto the stage and asked to dance when one of them suddenly started crying. Many of us saw the funny side of it while I knew that the inevitable was about to happen soon. Tia Sharma would be on her way to slay me all over again.
The stage lit up, the crowd erupted when Tia walked onto the stage with a smile that can be a potential weapon for mass destruction. Those beautifully aligned teeth and those lips that were no different from rose petals; this was a smile that I’d kill for. She was handed over the mike as she started to speak in her sweet voice, thanking all of us for attending the wedding. I tried my best to hold my composure but this was expected. I got cold feet and I had to rush to a corner on the pretext of getting a drink for myself. I stood by one of the counters and listened to every word she said. Soon, she started performing to a song and I could see the wonderful dancer in her that we always knew about. And there I was, standing in a corner yet again staring at this beautiful princess that would never be mine. Our friends rushed onto the stage to shake a leg with Tia and it was a pleasant sight. Gaurav watched me standing in the corner and sent a couple of kids to pull me out onto the stage. It was sweet of him to make me feel so comfortable and it looked like the possessive boyfriend was nowhere to be seen anymore. That eased me up, a bit. Instead of going onto the stage, I took a seat next to Gaurav and we started laughing at the horrible steps on display at that moment. It reminded us of our college functions and all those wonderful times we used to have. Soon, the Sangeet came to an end with dinner being served and I helped myself to some chapatis and chicken. I heard someone calling out my name and found out that it was Aditi who was searching for me. “Tia is looking for you and she is waiting in the lobby with the rest of the gang”, she said. I washed my hands and took those heavy steps towards the lobby. There she was standing with brightly lit eyes and speaking to some relatives. I picked a flower from a bouquet lying nearby and managed some brave steps towards her.
“Where the hell have you been dude? Why didn’t you come on the stage?” she asked me and gave me a warm hug even before I could utter a single word. Oh this was the moment I lived for and the least I expected it to happen at her wedding! “Well, I was not sure the audience could have digested the food after getting to see me dance, Tia” I chuckled as I gave her the flower. “Congratulations on the marriage, it couldn’t be any more pleasing to the eyes than to see you get married”. There was a clear case of disorientation between my words and my feelings, but I held my emotions to greet her warmly. She asked me to accompany her to the reception and I obliged. I met her parents and her sister and we ended the night with a groupie on my phone- the only pic where Tia was standing next to me. “Ah, couldn’t have been a better day than to meet her once again”, I said to myself before breaking down into a deep slumber.
The wedding was in the afternoon and I woke up late to find everyone else already in the main hall where the marriage was scheduled. The baraat was running late, as always and the bride’s army was relaxing. All this while, I had a note in my back pocket which I had written for Tia and I wanted to give it to her today. It would be impossible to find her alone on the day of her marriage; hence the question of handing over this paper was absurd. I knocked at her door and a whole army of little brides dressed in salwaars and sarees greeted me. Tia looked stunning in a red bridal lehenga in a corner as I entered the room. “Stop staring at me, Harsh; at least now” said Tia as she burst into a laugh. This wasn’t funny as I sheepishly looked at her and flashed my dimples for a few seconds, giving the expression of a 10 year old caught stealing cookies.
“Well, for several years I never really had anything else to do, apart from staring at you Tia… err can I have a moment with you, alone?” I asked.
Tia seemed perplexed as she looked at me and asked her cousins to leave.
“You got something for me, Harsh?”
“Yeah, It took me quite some time to pen it all down but I believe I have done my best.”
I handed over the paper to her and tried to avoid eye contact. “Please read it for me since I wanted to take everything out of my heart and it will be a big relief for me” I said as I turned behind to leave the room. She held my hand and looked into my eyes.
“I don’t want to read this, Harsh. I’d rather hear it from you. All these years, I know there have been things inside you, which never saw the light of the day and trust me, being a girl, it’s easy for us to know when someone stares at us for hours. I always knew why someone would stare at me the way you did. I have seen you follow me on your cycle everywhere. I have seen you deliberately miss your bus so that you can share mine even though it would cost you additional bucks to take a rickshaw home from my stop. I am not blind. I have always known it. And now, on the most important day of my life when you have decided to share your feelings I must appreciate the sheer timing of it, if not anything else. But no, am not going to act pricey. I never have. Today, I want to hear you. I want to hear more than you could have managed to include in one sheet of a paper, I’m sure there’s more than that. And I’m doing this only to make you feel better. That’s the least I can do for you, Harsh.”
This was my moment. I had been a coward all my life and even when I had managed to gather all my courage to confess my love for her, I had resorted to a piece of paper, something that even school kids have stopped doing. Tia’s words calmed me down as I gulped a glass of water.
“I don’t want things to look ugly”, said Tia as she opened the door and made me sit in front of her on the bed. “So are you going to speak now or do we have to wait for Gaurav to come down and make you feel better”, she said, flashing that million-dollar smile of hers. I mustered all my courage and so I spoke….
“I never expected you to know about it, Tia but yeah that’s the sad truth. I have been madly in love with you ever since I have known the meaning of love. The neighbourhood girl doesn’t count as love since she was just a crush and 8 years older to me during school. But on the second day of college, when I saw you for the first time as we walked together to college, there was nothing else so beautiful I had come across in my life till that point of time. You reminded me of Mary Jane coming into nerdy Peter Parker’s life. But as luck would have it, I had no super powers to impress you and neither did I have the least amount of courage to speak up to you about it. We became friends instantly and I still remember those endless discussions we used to have about each other. I regretted for not having shared my feelings with you when I discovered that you and Gaurav were pretty much seeing each other. Maybe things would have been different; maybe you would have been mine.
Today, I am here to attend your marriage and trust me there is no ill feeling. I have always been your well-wisher and will always pray for you. I didn’t come here with any bad intentions or with a stupid thought that I’d win you over at the nth moment before your marriage. Gaurav is a wonderful guy and I believe he will do anything to keep you happy and safe. As much as I envy him, I respect him a lot. Things didn’t end well between us, but the way he has made me feel yesterday, he has gained all the respect he deserves. A few days back, I had no plans of attending your marriage and I did my best to avoid it. But at the last moment, I decided to come and share your happiness on the most important day of your life. And it was then that I had decided to confess my love for you. All these years, I couldn’t say it. Maybe this is the only chance I’ll ever get. I didn’t know how you would react, but today when you have given me the courage to stand in front of you and speak my heart out, my love and respect for you has only multiplied. I have admired you not only for your good looks, but also for what you are deep inside. There’s more to you than what meets the eye and I have been a very good observer all my life. The way you spoke to everyone, the way you looked up to all of the sweet gestures- you easily stood out from the rest of the crowd. If I weren’t supposed to fall for it, then who else would have? I come from a small family where values are respected and goodness is appreciated. I saw these traits in you and this intensified my feelings for you. But I never spoke about it, until today.
I love you, Tia. I always have. Even today I am prepared to do anything for you. If I have to see your hand in Gaurav’s hand, so be it. Even if it means serving sweets to your guests on your wedding, I’d still do it. The point is I am prepared to do anything to see you happy. Not all love stories are mutual and there is no point in crying over spilt milk. Some place, some day, some life, far away from the realms of this world, you would be mine, Tia Sharma and trust me, I’d stand beside you till the last breath of my life.”
There was an eerie moment of silence for a couple of minutes before I decided to look into her eyes. They were red as she was finding it difficult to hold her tears. Probably, I had soaked a lot of emotion into my speech and made it awkward for her. She looked at me and hugged me in the warmest way possible. My hands reached out to her as I embraced her and hugged her tight for the first and probably last time in my life. I didn’t shed a single drop of tear and neither did she! The sounds of trumpets were audible now as her cousins swarmed into the room to inform her about the groom’s arrival. She got up and handed me the paper, “I don’t think you need this anymore. I’m sorry for all the trouble, Harsh. I have been at my best with you and will always be. You were one of the best people to have come into my life ever and I apologize for any turmoil that I have caused. As I said before, I wanted to make you feel better and I hope I have done so. Now, I’d expect you to walk with your head high and move ahead in life. And I steal your own phrase here- there’s more to life than what meets the eye, Harsh. Be happy, today and forever. I’ll feel good about it.”
I smiled and shook my head in affirmative. I walked out of the room with a sense of accomplishment. I was not the same timid Harsh anymore; it was a different person who walked out of the room. I wasn’t feeling sad about anything anymore, I was happy that I could empty the baggage I carried on my shoulders all this while. I turned back to see her once and there she looked at me in the mirror’s reflection. She blinked her eye and smiled at me as she tried to fix her nose ring. I smiled back and walked out to the entrance.
Now that things were better, maybe the baraat did deserve to see a few mind-boggling dance steps from my end now.
Phew! This was certainly “a wedding to remember”…