Neeti was 18 now. Every elder in her family got married before this age. It wasn’t like that her family didn’t approach her earlier for marriage, but her brother always said let her study more, let her get mature. But now that she was 18, there was no denying the fact that she has to marry.
In that era, a government job and a government babu was considered more than enough to be the most eligible bachelor. But this was not true to be a fact. Guryog Singh, was the most eligible bachelor, keeping in mind that he was in government service for more than 12 years, he belonged to the same district, was of the same caste, had only a brother as his family, who too was married and living separate. That certified – No family drama. The only thing which wasn’t in his favor, he wasn’t fair. Namar Singh, Neeti’s father had been introduced to Guryog Singh through a common acquaintance, or the middle-man. He liked him since he was a babu. Apparently he was perturbed over a couple of things. Firstly, he was way too older than his daughter and secondly, if he is so old, why isn’t he married yet? But the fact that he was a government servant for the last 12 years eclipsed everything else. So now this job guarantee was the lone star in his profile, despite the fact that he was an eligible bachelor 10 years back too, when he had joined his job. But no one gave a thought to this.
Marriage was fixed. Neeti didn’t with whom she would spend the next part of her life. Nobody cared to tell her about her soon-to be husband. About his job, his personality, his likes dislikes? Does he smoke, or drink? About his lifestyle, no one told Neeti. Nobody cared to tell her who he was? The rituals started on both sides separately. The date was fixed for the last Sunday of July as Mr. Groom didn’t want to miss a single day from his office. The day kept coming closer and closer, preparations and rituals going on their full flow. Her curiosity to be in the arms of someone she didn’t know. The anticipation, the anxiety, the feeling to be in that blood-red dress, emotions were at their peak. She was sad and baffled. She had never ever seen her soon to be husband. She was happy and flurried. She was getting married.
It was the day. Her wedding day. Everything was beautiful, the lighting, the flowers, the new carpets, the draped chairs, and the bride. Everyone looked busy to receive the baarat. Namar Sing was the zamindar, and he prepared for a grand reception for the grander baarat. Sun was over the head. A yellow-black taxi stopped just outside the main entrance. It honked again and again. Namar Singh and others came outside. A man stepped out of the back seat, with a turban on his head. It wasn’t the usual turban, but much more grandeur and decorated. It wasn’t the turban. It was the sehra. And he wasn’t just the man. He was the groom.
Two more men stepped out, completing the baarat. Neeti was called and the wedding ceremony started. Neeti was seated alongside a 40-something man, a thousand shades darker than her and her would be husband, so she thought. She was scared, and angry and sad. She was crying. She was crying when circling the fire with him, completing her feraas. She was crying when her forehead was reddened with sindoor. She was crying when the mangalsutra choked her throat. She was crying walking out the door with him. She was crying sitting alongside him in the back seat of the taxi. She was crying waving goodbye to her family. She cried for the last time thinking she has to cry all her life.