The Forbidden Love
The Forbidden Love
Masud took out his leather wallet. Very carefully he extricated a piece of paper from a wad of rupee notes and kissed it two or three times. Something was written on it in feminine handwriting. He had a contemplative expression, but his whole face lit upon reading it. He was going to get married. He and Rupa had put in their application for marriage a month back. It had to be only in front of the Registrar, in his office, as it was going to be a mixed marriage. At last, he would be able to hold the Love of his Life close to his heart. Society looked with disfavor when a Hindu girl proposed marrying a Muslim boy. Many times they had been told not to mix around as they would have to face dire consequences. But their love was so overpowering that it would brook no opposition.
Rupa and Masud were classmates in College. From the beginning of the academic year, their attraction for each other became evident. Rupa admired Masud’s well-built muscular body, taut and straight, and his sharp intelligence. He was always quick with his witty comments which Rupa appreciated whole-heartedly Masud noticing her response was drawn towards her. From a distance, he would admire her tapering fingers, which he compared to the blossoming elongated buds of the Lily. He liked everything about her, especially the way she laughed, which to his ears seemed like the gurgling of the flowing stream, on its bed, strewn with pebbles. She seemed so simple, so unaffected! It seemed her large, innocent-looking jet-black eyes, were a reflection of her soul. She reciprocated to all his witty comments with an appreciative laugh.
Gradually they started meeting each other out of college. They went to the riverside together, sat in the shade of a sprawling tree, enjoyed the breeze, and narrated all the landmarks and interesting episodes of their lives. It seemed that they knew each other from their very childhood. As the days passed, their love grew in such intensity that they just could not live away from each other. Their love had woven such an inextricable bond that the difference in religion did not seem to have any impact at all. For him, Rupa was his world, and for her—Rupa’s world rotated around Masud.
He came out of his house with a light step and a song in his heart. He had worn an impeccable white starched kurta and crisp white churidars. He was so excited that at the thought of at last tying the knot with his beloved, he almost emptied out the whole bottle of Eau-de- cologne on his kurta.
But unfortunately, people had come to know about the registered marriage for which he and Rupa had applied. Masud saw was a mob of two hundred people were coming towards his house, crying out slogans. They were flaunting banners and looked as if they were in an aggressive mood. In front of his house, they came to a stop. The leader asked him, “Hey, Mullahji, where are you off to in your dazzling attire? Are you going to marry the Hindu girl?” Defiantly Masud replied that he was.
Immediately all of them pounced on him. Then with barbaric cries, they started stripping him of his clothes. His tall muscular body gleamed in the sunlight and his impeccable white kurta pajama came under the feet of the blood-thirsty mob. They howled and they whistled in delicious enjoyment and deposited strokes after a stroke on his bareback with wooden rods. With each stroke, they asked whether he still wanted to marry the Hindu girl, and hit harder every time he told them that he did. They tied him up and pulled him along. They told him they were dragging him to Rupa’s house where they would also teach her a lesson. Masud had no option but to go along with them, with his back bruised and bleeding, with inflamed red strokes prominently showing on the light complexion. He was like the Roman gladiator on show, to appease the tenacious, beastly predilection for the cruelty of the spectators.
When they came to Rupa’s house, they came to a halt. With a twisted smile, the leader rang the bell. As soon as Rupa answered the door, he asked her whether she had made up her mind about marrying a Mullah. Rupa’s eyes fell on Masud and even before she could reply, she tried to rush to Masud to come to his aid. But the women in the crowd, held her in a tight grip so that she could not move. Again they asked her whether she was determined to marry a Muslim. Rupa seeing Masud in that condition, her mental equilibrium was lost, and she felt like exploding with all the pent up desire to hit back like an atom bomb and reducing the whole assembled lot into smithereens. She straightened her back and with her chin up, she told them that it was none of their business who she married. Again they insisted that she had to tell them and if she did not, they would break Masud’s bones, and reduce his body to a pulp.
Rupa answered loud and clear that Masud would be her husband before the sunset. As soon as she had answered their query, the women took out black paint and smeared her face with it. The men did the same to Masud. The chemical they had used caused a burning and stinging sensation. Then the women, laughing in sheer vicious enjoyment, started snipping off her hair, till finally they shaved her head entirely, and joked in the merriment that she would make a beautiful bride! Then somebody from the crowd shouted, “Strip her also of her clothes. It will be a wonderful sight and so much fun.” Then like vultures, or more precisely like wild dogs, they bared their teeth, to humiliate and insult their victim, and demean womankind. Rupa shook like a helpless, solitary leaf, on an already broken tree, braving the fiercest hurricane all by herself or else she was like a lone deer, deserted by the herd, trembling with terror at her impending doom.
All of a sudden they heard the loud siren of a police van, and the rough rumble- tumble of their jeeps. A caravan of six jeeps screeched to a stop in front of Rupa’s house. A posse of policemen smartly jumped out. On seeing them all the merriment came to an abrupt stop. Evidently somebody had informed the police. They arrested the leaders and peremptorily ordered the crowd to disperse. The agitating blood-thirsty hounds, howling and hooting, turned their backs, and in mute resignation confronted by the police, who meant business, fizzled out.
The couple saw that it was already time for their appointment. The Registrar had specially specified that if they were late they would miss him. The Police Inspector escorted them in his jeep. He handed over to Masud a set of his clothes, which he had kept with him in the jeep so that he could dress up in his casual attire to visit a relative when his duty hours were over. So the bridegroom in borrowed attire, and black paint on his face, signed the marriage contract. But that did not in any way detract from his pride and happiness in marrying a Hindu girl. Rupa was also blissfully happy, and as she signed the papers, whispered to him under her breath; “Masud you are far superior to all the Hindu boys, and I will be proud to be your wife, for we, as human beings love each, religion cannot keep us apart.”