The Unseen Fate
The Unseen Fate
Priyanka was the incarnation of beauty. She looked as delicate and poised as a swan. But she was simple and modest and she had no airs about her. Every one took a second look as they went past her. The waist-length hair appeared finer, and shinier than Chinese silk. They came down like soft waves in the placid sea, when the gentle breeze stirred them up. Her complexion was shell- white, but her cheeks and lips reminded one of the satin pink rose buds. The gentleness of her personality, coupled with the honesty and goodness of her character, reflected in the large innocent eyes. But being so attractive, she had too many suitors trying to win her hand, and too many boys interested in gaining her attention. These advances she not only ignored, but also abhorred. She was not interested. She had given her heart away, and for her, it was a life-long contract.
Her friendship with Raj was from their school days. They were in the same class, and as both had common interests in music, acting, and writing, they bonded together. Raj was not very handsome, but he had a tall, well- structured body. He was fun-loving, and brimming with wit, and humor. Both were young, and eager to indulge in the innocent joys of life. They loved to loiter for hours in the parks, admiring the foliage, the butterflies, and the birds. They would glide down the Rabindra Sarobar in their paddle boats, each keeping time with the other, for smooth sailing. Sometimes they would visit museums, and sight-seeing places. There was fun in everything they did together. Even the moments sitting by the lake, and munching peanuts, and drinking ginger tea in earthenware pots, were to be treasured. They felt they were made for each other, and looked forward to a dream-like future. She would sometimes ask Raj if ever they got parted, how he would deal with the separation. Raj would immediately assure her that nothing in the world could sever their close friendship; they would be each other’s through thick and thin.
Priyanka’s father was working in an International Hotel. He was a Cashier, and was drawing a good salary. But it so happened that because of some error in calculation, there was a discrepancy of six lacs in recording the hotel accounts. Prakash Agarwal was the Managing Director of the Hotel. Priyanka’s father Narendra Dey was summoned by him and asked for an explanation. Narendra was able to convince the latter that the mistake was not intentional. It had happened as he had reported for duty after a visit to the ophthalmologist. His vision was not clear that day due to the drops administered by the doctor. Though this explanation was tenable, after summoning Narendra to his office a couple of times, he started intimidating him. He threatened that he would issue a letter, asking him why a criminal case should not be filed against him. After threatening him in an aggressive tone, he approached him in a more cordial way about his son’s marriage. He said that he had heard a lot about his daughter being very attractive, and wanted her hand in marriage for his son. Narendra then apologetically informed him, in a very courteous manner that it would not be possible, as his daughter had already fixed up her life partner herself. The Managing Director then added in a very matter of fact way, that what he wanted was a beautiful wife for his son, and so only if Narendra was agreeable, he would forget the recent episode which had transpired, and not file a case.
When Priyanka’s father told her about what the Managing Director had said, she heard all the details without uttering a word. In the morning she told Raj about the problem which had cropped up for her father, and the consequences which he would have to face; his reputation would be tarnished for ever, and he would have to serve a jail term of at least five years. After a lot of deliberations, Raj said that there was no other option for them but to sacrifice their life together, at the altar of their true love. They had to be for each other through thick and thin, as her father needed her desperately. So after trying to be very brave and mustering all the will power possible, they decided on the only right course. After that, they clung on to each other like small children, and wept.
Preparations for the wedding started in full swing. Priyanka’s mother had expired when she was a girl of six, and there was no one to help her father at this crucial time. Besides, he was too depressed and down, knowing fully well that his daughter and Raj were making a very big sacrifice for him. He had lost all energy, and even the will to live. Seeing the need, and feeling that Raj should come forward to help, he volunteered to buy Priyanka’s trousseau, and the other requirements for her marriage. But every now and then, his eyes would fill up with tears and he would gently wipe them off unseen. Priyanka was less restrained. She would lock herself in her bedroom, and contort with paroxysms of weeping. But outwardly they presented a brave, cheerful front, and cherished each moment of their treasured companionship. He would assure Priyanka that though now she would be somebody else’s wife, he would be there for her in all her needs, all through her life.
On the day of the wedding, every arrangement had been executed to perfection. Priyanka’s father-in-law, Prakash Agarwal had gifted a brand new BMW red limousine to the newly-wed couple. It had been decorated with multi-colored flowers. Traditional ‘Shehnai’ had been blaring on the mike. The Groom, Ravi was dressed in his immaculate, white embroidered ‘Kurta –pyjama’. As he stepped into the car, his special wedding thermocole head gear hit the car roof and fell off. One would take it as an inauspicious, bad omen! His arms were placed around his wife in a possessive close embrace. He seemed to be whispering some intimate magic words in her ears. Raj looked at them from a distance, through the shutters, so that he would not be seen. His hand was clenched in a tight fist, his posture taut, tears streaming down his cheeks unabated. At times it is difficult to retain one’s masculine identity!
Priyanka knew that she had to be tough. She was not supposed to be emotional. She was not a child anymore, and had embarked on the new venture, fully knowing her responsibilities and duties. She smiled at him, and reciprocated his embrace by moving closer to him. The car picked up speed and villages and fields flew past. The couple were going on their Honey Moon to Gangtok. All through the journey, Ravi was in high spirits and regaled his newly wedded wife with amusing anecdotes. Priyanka seemed to be enjoying the conversation, and was careful not to make it apparent that though she was laughing, her thoughts were somewhere else, and she was sobbing within. As the sun went down, Priyanka feeling tired, because of her not sleeping for the last two nights due to the pangs of separation, dozed off. All of a sudden she was catapulted out on the rocky road, and she felt a sharp pain, and found blood squirting out from her mouth. She had been thrown out on her face, and she could not see anything, as blood and debris was covering her eyes. There had been an accident. A few pieces of glass shards had pierced her hands which were bleeding profusely. Her nose and jaw were throbbing with pain. Her body was trembling with the impact of the fall. Slowly she felt she was losing consciousness, and knew nothing after that. Their car had crashed with an on-coming truck. Her husband had escaped major injury, with only a few bruises. But immediately an ambulance had been called and she had been removed to the nearest hospital.
It was only on the third day after the accident that she came to her senses. When she opened her eyes, she was all by herself. After a short time the nurse arrived in her starched milk-white uniform. Priyanka asked her to bring the mirror to her, so that she could see the damage to her face. As she saw herself, she got a shock. She had been disfigured beyond recognition.
Ravi did not visit her even once during the week she was all alone in the hospital. Prakash Agarwal rang her up, and told her that Ravi would apply for a divorce as soon as she was out of the hospital. He was not willing to spend his life with her, as she had now lost her beauty because of which he had married her. But Ravi’s father would make arrangements so that she could go back to her father’s house.
Raj and her father were waiting for her, at the entrance of her house. As soon as the ambulance came to a stop, both of them rushed to welcome her. They greeted her with love and affection, which acted like a balm after the shattering trauma. They did not show pity, or shock on seeing her battered face. They accepted her with open arms as she was. Her father opined that Ravi’s behavior was despicable in not having visited her even once in the hospital. It was not at all like a respectable gentleman, nor was it very kind, to have intimated to her when she was in that state, that he did not want to continue with the marriage as her face had become disfigured. He felt she was better off without Ravi, a low- down personality. Her father took her in his arms. He tried to console her, but her pent up tears had to have an outlet. Raj stroked her head gently and told her that God in His kindness had given his Priyanka back to him. He said her appearance was of no consequence, as she was still his very same Priyanka. She buried her face in his strong arms, and forgot her pain. His words were so comforting and soothing! She realized how much he loved her.
Next morning when she woke up, the first thing she did was to look at her reflection in the mirror. Indeed she looked ugly, and grotesque. Her nose was no longer straight. It had become bent to the right. There was a big blister- like red scar on her left cheek; her jaw had also lost its shape, and protruded in a large lump. Both her eyes were swollen. Looking at her image in the mirror, she came to the decision that it would not be just to marry Raj after the divorce, as no man would feel comfortable having a wife looking like a freak.
When Raj came to see her the next evening, she told him about her decision. Raj tried to talk it over with her, but she was adamant. Raj seeing that she had made up her mind about not tying the knot with him, did not pursue the topic any further, and changed the subject. He told her there was a letter for her, which had arrived through courier service. Priyanka was in no mood for letters, and asked him to give it to her dad. Her father was intrigued that a letter should come for her through a courier. It seemed very strange, unless it was pertaining to the divorce.
It was from Ravi’s father. As Priyanka’s father opened the envelope, three of them crowded round with curiosity to see what it was all about. Prakash Agarwal had sent a cheque for Six lacs, so that Priyanka could get her plastic surgery done, and get her former beauty back. He was sorry about his son’s behavior, but wished her luck in her next marriage.
When Priyanka came out of the hospital after completing her Plastic Surgery Treatment, no one could believe that it was the same Priyanka who had had the nasty accident a few months back. It is needless to say that Priyanka and Raj got married immediately after the divorce had come through, and lived happily ever after.