Heart Under Construction-Part1

Heart Under Construction-Part1

6 mins

Decked up from top to bottom, I gazed at my reflection in the mirror. I was wearing an off-white and gold colored lehenga with matching gold jewellery. My mother had insisted that I wear off-white for my cousin Sunaina’s engagement as it looked good on my dusky skin. Trust me, being a single successful woman at the age of 28 is not easy in India. After you cross the age of 25, people start bombarding you with one question every single man or woman is fed up of hearing. When are you planning to settle down? No one wants to know how well you are doing in your career. Frankly speaking, now I have gotten used to it. Earlier, I would get irritated very often.

It’s not that I never tried to settle down. I’ve had my fair share of rejections in arranged marriages. I was rejected everytime for the same reason. Either they would say I was too educated or too dark. Even though I was dark-skinned, I had sharp Indian features and a slim figure. But nowadays, people want an educated, fair and slim girl who is ready to sit at home. I didn’t seem to fit in the criteria anywhere. As far as love was concerned, I gave it a try once and failed miserably. After breaking my heart, I never tried again.

I dreaded this day. Not because my cousin was getting engaged but because I would be the centre of attraction of all the uncles and aunties who would try looking for a match for me. Even my parents were of no help in this regard. I would be scanned from top to bottom by everyone around. I was very close to Sunaina, my maternal aunt’s daughter since childhood. More than my own younger sister Anushka. Sunaina and I were of the same age and we always got along well. All my cousins’ from my dad and my mom’s side were already married. I was the only one who was left out. Not to mention that my younger sister Anushka was already married.

She dated Raghav since she was 18 and tied the knot with him last year at the age of 24. My mom was reluctant at first, but later agreed to the marriage. She was very tense as Sunaina was getting engaged. She now wanted me to get married as soon as possible. I just planned on having a good time enjoying myself. I admired myself in the mirror for a while and took a few selfies until my dad called me.

“ Ashima!!!!! I hope you are ready. We are getting late.”

“ I am ready, dad. Just give me two minutes.” I had one last look at myself and stormed out of the room.

We reached the engagement venue right on time. Sunaina looked regal in a pink colored lehenga saree and seemed pretty excited. We were waiting eagerly for the groom and his family to arrive. They were actually running late by a good 20 minutes. Sunaina was getting engaged to Rahul who was a software engineer like herself. They both met and fell in love at work. I had heard from my parents that Rahul belonged to a wealthy family who were into import-export business since the last four decades. Rahul, being an engineer, was never interested in the family business but his younger brother assisted his father.

When the groom’s family arrived, I observed that they looked dapper in their stylish and expensive clothes. For a minute, I actually felt like I was at a mini-wedding and not an engagement. After exchanging mutual greetings and formal introductions, the bride and the groom were ready to exchange rings. As they were exchanging rings, I noticed the groom’s younger brother staring at me from a distance. I had to admit, he was strikingly handsome. He was tall with a lean frame and had a wheatish complexion. Both of us exchanged a few glances at each other whenever we got the chance. First, I found him attractive and second, he seemed pretty familiar to me.

I spent a good ten minutes trying to recollect where I had seen him before. I tried to think of all sorts of places of where I may have met him before, only to realise that he was my college batchmate who I once had a crush on. Shit! No wonder he was staring at me. I hope he hasn’t recognized me yet. It is better if I keep my distance. I thought to myself. I remember not even having the courage to say a simple ‘hi’ to him. While I was a sincere student who would always sit on the first five benches, he was a notorious student who would mostly sit on the last bench. Actually, his friend Alok was more mischievous. Aarav Saxena actually seemed like an angel to me when he wasn’t with his friend. We had a common set of friends. Hence we knew each other even though we never had an interaction on a personal level.

Before I could think of moving to some other place, I saw Aarav coming towards me. He smiled at me warmly and I smiled back at him.

“Scholar Ashima Khanna, if I am not wrong. a pleasant surprise. What are you doing here?”

“Hi Aarav.” I smiled awkwardly. Seeing him so close to me made me nervous. “Actually, I am Sunaina’s cousin.” “That’s nice to hear. I guess beauty runs in the family. I am Rahul’s younger brother. So, what are you doing nowadays, Ashima?” He stretched my name in a flirtatious way and I couldn’t help but blush.

“I am working for a media firm since the last five years.”

“Oh! That’s great. Which field are you in?”

“I work for the advertising department. What do you do for a living?” I asked immediately even though I actually knew what he did.

“I help my father with his import-export business. You know, the same old boring stuff. We are mostly into textiles and eatables. Nothing exciting unlike what you do? Do you meet any celebrities?” He asked with a strange enthusiasm.

“Sometimes. But not always.” I gave him short answers purposely to avoid a longer communication with him. “ I see. I always knew you were meant for great things. If you ever get a chance to meet Mr. Bachchan, please convey him my message. Will you, Ashima?” He asked me while eyeing me from top to bottom. His eyes showed a glint of mischief in them. But there was no escape now.

“ What is it?” I asked him. Aarav kept one hand in his pocket and stood in a classic Amitabh Bachchan like pose. He even mimicked the perfect voice.

“Rishte mein toh hum tumhare lagte hain. Naam hai Shahenshah, haaain?” Aarav raised his eyebrows and waited baap patiently for my response. I stared at him for a second in wonder and then ended up laughing endlessly.

His confident demeanor successfully managed to break the wall of silence between us for years. Well, I was certainly impressed with his new-found confidence.

“So, I guess I’ll see you around, Aaaa……….shi……….maa.” He stressed on my name again, while his eyes played with mine. After Aarav left, my mother and Anushka, who were observing us since a long time irritated me with their questions. I told them that he was just a college batchmate and nothing more. It was just a mere coincidence that I actually met him. I was sure of not meeting him again until Sunaina’s wedding. Or so I thought.

To be continued...

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