As the crepuscular rays of the sun shone on her face Ria got up with a start. She rubbed the vestiges of sleep from her eyes. She was still in a kind of trance. She had kept cursing her fate but today she was full of gratitude. Period
Her thoughts raced back in time. It was forty years ago to be precise. Prakash and she were immediate neighbours. As kids, they played together and were chaddi buddies. Their parents too were good friends. Ria's father had his own business while Prakash's father worked for a private company.
Both families celebrated all festivals and happy occasions together despite of being from different parts of the country. Ria's family was from the North while Prakash's family hailed from the South.
Ria was a Punjabi while Prakash was a Tam Brahm or a Tamilian Brahmin. Caste or language had never been a barrier in their friendship.
As soon as they hit adolescents the friendship started taking a new meaning. They started falling in love with each other. This fact hid from their parents. Only their siblings were bribed and taken into confidence as they were the ones who acted as messengers both at home and in school.
But one day their affair came to light and Ria's father forbade her from interacting with Prakash. Both Ria and Prakash were lovelorn, but they couldn't go against their parent's wishes.
Ria was sent off to her uncle's place for her graduation. Prakash got admission to an Engineering college, and he too left home for his higher studies.
Once Ria had graduated her father got her married to an NRI boy based in the US. Much against her will she got married to the boy her father had found and moved to the US.
Ria's husband had got to know about her past and had become quite possessive of her. In that state of possessiveness, he started harming her.
He had sudden outbursts of anger. He would hit Ria and once he calmed down, he loved her like a maniac. Ria didn't know how to get out of the situation. But soon she embraced motherhood. She hoped maybe with the birth of their child things might normalise. She was wrong in her thinking.
Ria became busy with the kid and had no time for her husband, This irked him and he started turning into a beast. It seemed like Satan had entered his soul and he would push and hit Ria for no rhyme or reason.
Ria was terrified but found it difficult to live with him. Before finding any permanent solution to her problem, she found out she was pregnant with her second child.
She had no choice but to compromise with her circumstances. While her husband Nitin would be normal, he would see to her comfort but the moment he had an anger outburst, God forbid! he would become violent.
She tried to convince him to visit a counsellor, but he wouldn't agree. Days turned to months and Ria bore the scars of mental and physical torture.
But that Sunday it seemed Nitin had lost his senses. He ordered Ria to make him a cup of tea. Being busy with the kids the cup of tea got delayed. Nitin got worked up and being in wrath tried to strangulate Ria.
Her battered body and soul could no longer take the mental and physical torture. She managed to hit Nitin with a vase to save herself. While he lay unconscious, she took her children and rushed out in the middle of the night.
She took the help of the local police. They saw her bruised body and gave her shelter. They helped her contact her parents in India. With their help, she managed to reach India.
Now she could no longer tolerate the maniac. Her life was in danger. On reaching back Ria's parents realised their mistake. But it was too late.
Her case was " marry in haste and repent at leisure". With her parent's support, she filed for a divorce and started working in a private company. She knew she had to give a better future to her children who were now in their teens.
Meanwhile, Prakash too had left no stone unturned to locate Ria but unfortunately, his efforts turned futile. His parents got him married to a girl of their choice. He had no other option but to comply with their wishes. Soon he had settled into matrimony. Their relationship too turned sour after their kid was born. His wife decided to separate taking the kid with her.
Soon she too filed for divorce making life miserable for Prakash. He felt lonely and that this juncture one of his close friends told him to join Facebook hoping he would connect with old friends.
Gradually he tried to piece his life by joining social media as suggested by his friend. What a twist of fate when he saw Ria's picture in the friend list of his friends.
It was a ray of hope and without any further ado, he sent her a friend request. Ria being busy with projects wasn't able to browse through her FB account for two months.
Prakash on the other hand lost hope. He felt all was over between the two and she may not be wanting to connect.
But that May morning Ria by chance browsed through her FB account and was taken aback to see Prakash's friend request. She immediately responded.
Within minutes Prakash responded. He wanted to meet her immediately but being in two different cities he had to wait for the weekend.
He visited her and the two love birds being separated from their spouses wanted to unite. Ria's parents and children were happy with their decision. They valued her decision.
They had decided on a small ceremony with a close get-together comprising a few close friends and family members.
Today was the big day when due to a twist in fate both had come together again. They wanted to begin life anew.
Ria's train of thought was broken when someone called out to her. The room reverberated with laughter and happiness. The sounds of the dholak and relatives singing Punjabi folk songs reached her ears.
It was time for her Mehendi ceremony. Her daughter adorned her hands and feet with intricate henna designs. Her mother was looking after the catering services while her father was busy instructing the decorator to do a perfect job.
Her eighteen-year-old son Shrey ushered the groom into the living room with a lot of reverence.
Ria became emotional and tears of happiness coursed down her cheeks.
The bedecked bride was two months shy of fifty and the fifty-plus groom made a lovely couple.
It is said, "And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."