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She lay awake, with bangles still dangling loosely from her wrists. The hina smelled fresh, as if she had just asked her sister to put them on her palms. Her makeup, although a day old now, was enough for her to walk into another party without causing notice. Her long and well ornamented lehenga flowed less gracefully from when she sat on the bed last night. Her room was decorated in red and green. Flower petals were crushed under their bodies where they slept last night.
Last night was a blur to her. It went by with immense speed and obsolete clarity. If she thought long and hard, she might be able to remember some things. Little screenshots or moments. There was a party. A wedding. She was the main guest. The bride maybe? She signed a paper. She agreed to holy matrimony. She had food. She walked down the aisle. She cried. Her parents cried. A man held her arm through it all. She sat in the car. She walked in a house. She sat on the bed. She slept. It all came back to her slowly and gradually, the blur solidified into vivid pictures that ran their course through her mind. She was someone’s wife now.
She looked over her shoulder and on the ashen colored side table her phone blinked silently with different colors of the rainbow. Notifications. She picked up her device and sat up right, her bangles clinking together, making thin music in the dense air conditioned room. She slid her finger across the screen and the phone clicked to an open. With only the air conditioner humming, the click sounded like a drum in the room. She turned to see if her new husband was awaken but he rested peacefully beside her.
The light of her cellphone blinded her temporarily and as her vision cleared, she eyed dozens of notifications lined up across the notification bar. She went through them. Facebook was like a volcano that had erupted photos of only her wedding. She saw herself in selfies and group photos, tagged by friends and family alike. She had smiled in these photos, she was happy. She didn’t remember being happy.
She locked her phone again and it rested on her stomach. In the quiet room, words of his promises echoed loudly. She tried to block them out. She covered her ears with her hands. She sunk her head in her pillow, but the voices remained. When she saw no retreat, she gave in. She sat up and began to listen to them again.
I will marry you. You’re the only one for me. I won’t let this happen, I promise you. These words aren’t empty, they mean something to me.
As a tear made its way down her face, her lips curled and she smiled. “Lies,” she whispered to herself.
Six months ago, when Rehan had sent his proposal to her family, her boyfriend had made those vows. He had promised her the world, that treacherous little boy. She believed them, as much as she could and made sure that he knew she believed her. She stood her ground against Rehan, she stood her ground against everyone.
I told them no, she texted him one night. My mother is hurt and my father won’t talk to me. Drama antics. They’ll melt once they see how much I love you.
They will, he reassured her. He sat in his room, flicking through three different chats. Why are you replying so late, one of the chats asked.
Oh I’m just going through my university group projects, nothing big. The other two chats lit up on his phone. She had texted back in eager curiosity.
Are you busy? You’re replying fairly slowly, she noted.
I’m just going through my university projects babe, I’ll talk to you soon. He shut her up and went to the third chat where a girl was sending her photos.
That’s nice girl, send some more, he texted as he slid his girlfriend’s message notification bar across the phone.
She stood up and walked towards her dressing table. She took her bangles off with care. She didn’t want to wake her husband up. They clunked together only to be set down on the table. She rubbed her wrists where the bangles were and saw that the colorful dye had caught on her skin. Her scar on her left wrist seemed to be colored in by a toddler. She touched her skin where the stitches had sown her wound together.
She found out too late, when things were almost irreversible. Rehan and his family had revoked their proposal and she had slipped into depression. Her boyfriend’s friend called her up one night in a burst of guilty conscience, when everything was already in a downward spiral. He told her with a heavy heart and a lot of guilt what he was doing to her. He told her everything, from where it started to where it ended. He told her more than she wanted to know, and more than she could handle.
Before his phone call ended she already had the blade in her hand. The blood spread across the sheets like a water stain. And she fell immediately on her back. She remembered very little afterwards. Her parents’ screams. The ambulance. The IV drips full of somebody else’s blood. In one of these days, Rehan had come to visit her. She saw his silhouette once before she fell into a deep sleep, and that’s all she remembered of him. When she had woken up, she smelled his bouquet of flowers on her bedside and she read his letter that wished her well.
She declined his proposal when he sent it again. She didn’t want him to have someone as damaged as her, someone as broken as her. He heard about this and called her but she never picked up. He messaged her but he never replied. So he wrote her a letter and at the end of the letter he wrote this:
‘I have walked on this earth for twenty nine years, each year less different than the last. I can say with utmost clarity that there have been some years where I felt crushed and some years where I felt like a God. But what made me today were the chances that people gave me when I was crushed and the love they gave me when I wasn’t. I won’t sit here and claim that I can give you that chance, but I can give you that love. But it would be a sin if you don’t give yourself that chance.’
She heard a shuffle of the sheets behind her and she turned to see Rehan waking up, yawning. He saw her and smiled and to her surprise, she smiled too. In the moment of dense silence, she felt happiness. She walked towards the bed, with her heart full of ache but her eyes full of hope. For better or for worse, she was his wife now.
Note: This story has been inspired by true events.