The alarm rang and she let it shine brightly for a while before turning it off…
Aarthi was tired. She hadn’t slept a wink the whole night, even though she saw her mom, aunt, second cousins, the neighbour aunty and the third cousin of the same neighbour aunty advising her to catch some sleep before the arduous day ahead. Even the crushing pain in her legs after the ceremony of the previous evening couldn’t cajole her to sleep. She believed this to be the biggest day of her life.
A day she was led to believe would never come. A sentiment shared by her father and mother too. But yeah, the world sometimes does work in mysterious ways and now she was on the cusp of a union that she believed would give a new direction to her life.
She saw people scurrying about their jobs and the “chief” gesturing everyone to ensure everything is going like clockwork. She saw the whole place filled with hordes of people and a commotion that immediately reminded her of the Mumbai trains. Aarthi’s cousin then came to call her to ensure that she gets ready in time, which kind of actually took a couple more hours.
She slowly stepped out into the limelight. Dozens of cameras were focussing on her, gesturing her to look into them, while she was happily strutting around posing to every lens on her. Aarthi genuinely and rightly felt that she was the most beautiful girl present there. She sat in the allotted pedestal and saw her knight in
shining armour a veshti and angavastram walk into the hall smiling with his entourage of friends. He came and sat beside her and gave her a reassuring hand…
Aarthi was beaming and could see the eyes of her parents , friends and well-wishers all welled up. She saw the head priest signal the instrumentalists to “Start Music”… She saw from the corner of her eyes the guys on the Tavil (A Musical Instrument) giving it a nice beating while the ones on the Nadhaswaram (Another musical instrument) exercising enormous breath control. After scanning the entire hall in one swoop, she locked eyes with her love and couldn’t resist the tears that trickled down her cheek… Most of the cameras were locked in this emotionally stirring moment which was telecast across the hall, so that the guests could also reach for their handkerchiefs.
Finally, the ceremony got over. There were customary hugs and handshakes being distributed around and she noticed the guests were all clapping. She had yet another of her bitter-sweet moments… Understanding her thoughts, Aarthi’s school friends gathered up near the mandapam, signalled out to her, raised their hands and waved it in the air.
All the guests joined in this act and started waving their hands in unison. Aarthi looked at the people who were present to share her happiness. She then raised her hand to express her feelings, while her brother stood nearby translating her every sign to the less informed guests, who were still clutching on to their respective handkerchiefs.