Chapter 1: Disillusion
Ruhi saw Debo examining her curiously and realized that the sari had slipped off her shoulder while tending to Anu.
“What is up, dear? Where is your mangalsutra and sindoor? I noticed earlier but didn’t bring it up.”
“Umm…the chain broke. I have given it for fixing.”
“Then what about the sindoor?”
“I…The whole thing fell on the carpet yesterday and made a mess. I have to go get some more.”
“Ruhi look at me.” Debo gently propped her face up by the chin. “You consider me like your elder sister, right?”
She answered with an apprehensive nod.
“Then there are certain things, which are essential for a married Indian woman. It doesn’t matter what your husband may say, but you should not take them lightly. You should never go without your sindoor because it is an auspicious symbol of your marriage and also a sign that indicates your love will prosper. Therefore, even if you don’t have your wedding necklace, you should at least wear your sindoor.”
“Yes, di, I will try to get some as soon as possible.”
“Soon? Why not now?”
Ruhi felt trapped as Debo dragged her to a tiny shrine and picked up a small silver receptacle full of the vermilion powder.
“I can put it on, di, give it to me.”
“Here… lunch.” She pushed a box towards him.
“I don’t want it.”
“I feel awkward.”
“But you never felt that way before, so why now?” You took me for granted. She stared reproachfully at him.
“It’s different now.” My perspective has changed. I behaved like a slave master, it’s humiliating. He stared right back.
She pretended to appear disinterested, “you can eat it, give it to your friends or throw it away. This is all I can do to pay you back right now.”
“You don’t have to worry about paying me back. It’s the least that I can do to make up for what I’ve put you through.”
Her chair knocked sharply against the wall, as she jumped to her feet. “What? You think that’s compensation enough? Nothing you do will give me back what I’ve lost! Yes, I agreed to marry you because I was blind and innocent! But who gave you the right to destroy my life, especially since you were having an affair and there was no hope for us? You treated me as if I was a disposable
“Yes I know I’m the worst kind of cad! But my hands were tied! My grandfather was on his death-bed, I had no choice!” He snapped back gripping the counter till his knuckles turned white.
Walking up to him, she said softly, “Yes you had a choice. You could have walked away. You could have been a man.”
Ruhi Sharma was a blushing bride, practically a newlywed, locked up in this glittering cage for almost a month, twenty-nine days to be exact; an object of envy of all her friends and family.
Twenty-nine days ago, she had signed her name beside his on the marriage certificate. She had gone through all the miscellaneous ceremonies associated with the typical grand Indian wedding—the engagement, the Mehendi, the Sangeet, the Haldi, and the grand finale (her father had spared no expense) until finally her betrothed had staked his claim by placing the Sindoor on her forehead and tying the Mangalsutra around her neck, and she had quietly and blissfully followed him around the sacred fire carefully listening to and reciting the Saath Pheras in her mind.
She was the very beautiful and accomplished daughter of Amrit and Devyani Sharma, the apple of their eye, and they had left no stone unturned in raising her the best way they possibly could.
Friends and family were surprised for not only had Ruhi been provided with a very good education, she held an MBA from a leading institution, but her parents had also made sure that she was adept in all other various skills, which a well-bred traditional Indian girl is desired to be proficient in. Therefore, nobody marveled when marriage proposals came pouring in from all directions.
But the Sharmas were choosy; they wanted only the best for their golden child, and they did get it, or so they surmised.
Oh how she wished he would rather be screaming mean and nasty. At least that would bring some excitement into her not so-happening life! She laughed, pausing as she brushed her long black hair, rather hysterically.
The bombshell had dropped on their wedding night. He had walked into the room late as she sat there, a shy bride in all her wedding finery waiting, nervous yet excited at the same time, to meet the man she had hardly spoken to or looked at. What would he say, talk about, or do?
She had heard a lot of stories about what to expect, some factual and some fabricated (her friends had prepared her well), but she wanted her own to be special, unique, and it was…
Sitting down on the bed in front of her, he had taken her hand in his and said very gently, as if to tone down the trauma, “I bet you are one of the most beautiful brides in the world, but I’m sorry I cannot make love to you. There is someone else.”
Not sure if she’d heard right, Ruhi had watched puzzled as he lay down on the mattress and turned his back to her. Is that it? A plain and blunt dismissal of her dreams, her life? Was that all?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Simi K. Rao was born in India and has been living in the United States for several years. This book is her first foray into writing. The inspiration for the story came from what she has seen transpire among and within the immigrant community.Some of the experiences included are her own; some have been garnered from friends and casual conversations with acquaintances. She also writes poetry, is an avid photographer, loves to travel, and is a practicing physician. She currently lives in Denver with her family.
You can connect with the author and read more of her work on her website at http://www.simikrao.com