The Wedding Night
The Wedding Night7 mins 10.5K 7 mins 10.5K
She closed the door behind her with a soft thud and gently balanced a cup of warm milk on one hand and her saree on the other. She hated this entire ritual, but as a newly married bride, couldn’t help but follow it. The wedding had been in the morning just like any other South Indian wedding and now here she was, alone in that huge room to spend the night with a man she’d known barely known for three months. After walking in a few steps, she slowly lifted her head, embarrassed, hoping to find a billion rose buds stuck on the walls and a truckload of petals strewn on the bed; but to her utter surprise, there was no trace of a rosebud and nor was the so-called nuptial bed pampered with loud bed covers or fragrant flower petals. The room was painted soft pink; the thick curtains drawn across the windows were in a contrasting blue shade; the lights were dim and warm and the room was filled with a musk fragrance, not too sweet, but enough to relax anyone. While she took in these details of the room, she realized that her husband was not in the room. Confused and perturbed she placed the glass of milk on the table near the bed and waited a while listening for footsteps outside. In a few minutes, she heard the door open softly behind her and shut with a thud. She could feel the footsteps advancing towards her; the musk smell of the room was now replaced by a strong, men's cologne. As the footsteps became more distinct and close, she felt her stomach tighten and a sudden shudder ran through her body. Now, she could hear him breathe behind her, his breath hitting on the nape of her neck.
He gave a gentle tap on her right shoulder, enough to scare the hell out of her. She turned around so abruptly that even he took a step back on reflex. They stood facing each other one whole minute and then out of nowhere a gift wrapped package stared at her, seated cosily on his hand. Her eyebrows furrowed in surprise, inquisitive, at the same time, to know the contents of the pack. Suddenly she was gripped with an inexplicable fear — a million thoughts flashed in her mind, from a box of chocolates to lacy lingerie that might peep at her from the pack any moment. He thrust the package on her hand and waited patiently for her to open it. She ran her hand on the package to feel it and gauge what was inside. It wasn't heavy; light neither. She looked at her husband searchingly, to which he just returned an assuring smile. Slowly, she unwrapped the package, removed its content and found a hardcover copy of Jane Austen: Seven Novels, one of her favourite authors, staring at her. She beamed with delight and smiled, completely ecstatic and excited. She couldn't believe her eyes! After turning a few pages in utter joy, she found a small note stuck at the back of the book — “Pick up the key on the table beside the bed and open the cupboard adjacent to it.”
Once again she looked up, this time locking her eyes directly with his, inquiringly. He gestured at the keys on the table and asked her to open the cupboard. Still amazed with the entire turn of events, she took the key from the table and proceeded to open the cupboard. Just when she put in the key to unlock it, she noticed another sticky note on the cupboard — “Welcoming you to a writer’s abode!” She looked at him, blushing slightly, still mesmerized to check out the surprises awaiting her. Upon opening the cupboard she was totally taken aback to find five new, leather bound notebooks, a multitude of fancy pens, pencils and other stationery, and a cute coffee mug. She was extremely elated, but all she could do was smile.
“Would you like to accompany me to the terrace?” he asked. She nodded her head in agreement and they took the stairs to the terrace, slowly; her heart thumped loud enough for her to hear. The moment she stepped on the terrace, nervousness, ecstasy, perturbation, and a million questions in her mind enveloped her enough to make her go weak on the knees. He noticed her apprehension and gave her a warm smile to put her at ease.
“Are you feeling OK?”
“I am totally tongue-tied with all these surprises! Thank you so much for everything!”
“Don’t thank me. You are really talented and I won’t let that go down the drain.”
“Well, I am an amateur writer, that’s all. Nothing very great.”
“I have read all of your blog posts, your short stories and poems that were published on various online magazines and websites. Either I am lucky to have you or you are too modest.”
She blushed and smiled wide.
“I really want you to take up your passion as your career. Of course, it is just a suggestion. But I would do anything to see you as an established writer.”
“It’s really sweet of you to say all these things, but I know I cannot take it up as my career. And I don’t regret it.”
“I agree that I know you only for three months, but I do know enough about your abilities.”
Suddenly, he pulled out an envelope from his breast pocket. The same turquoise blue one she had hidden inside the thickest note she could lay her hands on at her house. She was flabbergasted to see the same envelope that she had buried a month ago, along with her dreams. She had fought tooth and nail with her dad to take admission in a renowned university for a Master’s course that she had applied for. All her pleas fell into deaf ears as her parents were more keen on convincing her to marry the guy they had chosen. Those sour fights and fury-filled verbal exchanges still resonated in her ears.
He could see the glint of a tear at the corner of her eye, which she fought hard to prevent from falling.
“That is done and dusted long back. I am not going for that course. Please just let it be that way.”
“I am sorry. I really am. After going through the admission letter, I saw that you still have 15 days more to get enrolled. Had I been aware of it earlier, I’d have never let you brush it off aside for this marriage. I still don’t want you to miss out the opportunity. I just wanted to let you know that I and my family are completely fine with your joining the course.”
“You spoke about this to your parents too, is it?” she enquired, unable to believe her ears.
“Yes. I did. And they are equally interested in letting you pursue the course.”
“This is all too much for me to gather. I need some time to think.”
“Oh sure you do. Think and let us know your answer. I think you should get some sleep now.
I know you are too exhausted. You sleep on the bed, I’ll take the couch in the drawing room. Don’t worry, just make yourself comfo … ”
“I wanted to ask you something,” she said, interrupting him.
“Did you call off the decorations that were planned for the wedding night?” she asked and winked at him.
He laughed gently and replied, “Yeah. Found it too intimidating and uneasy. I was too embarrassed to even imagine entering such a room, let alone sleep in it. I hope you were fine with my idea.”
She chuckled and nodded in approval. They stood looking at each other, wrapped in the night’s silence and drenched in the warmth of the golden moon. After a few minutes, she turned to the door and motioned him to follow her.
Lying down on the soft bed alone, she thought through the entire day’s events: the elaborate and exhaustive marriage ceremony, the rituals that followed afterward, the lunch, the temple visits and now the surprise-filled wedding night. Too eventful a day; but now she was happy, content and strangely at ease.