Baba Mai Teri Mallika
Kanpur, 26th November 2012: As I entered the banquet hall, I heard the melodious yet melancholy music of Shehnai. The marigold chains were being tied to all pillars and doors. Bouquet of imported roses adorned the stage and the Mandap. The whole set up looked nothing less than a film set. There was an array of vibrant colours all around. But the most vibrant thing I noticed was Manvi, the bride to be. Dressed in her pyjamas and slippers moving around with a smile that resembled tranquillity. The prettiest girl I have ever captured.
”Suit pehen leti, Manu. Koi a gaya to?”( You should have worn a suit. What if someone from in-laws come ), said Shivangi her mother. ”Ye ghar hai uska aur wo bhi, koi kuch nahi kahega!”( This is her home and the in-law's place will also be like her home. No one will say anything ), her father replied while cuddling Manvi.
Manvi was the eldest daughter of Mr Vijay Agarwal, a businessman in Kanpur. She had done her schooling from Sophia College of Women, Mumbai. She used to work with McKenzie. She resigned from her job and came to Kanpur to settle down with her fiance Sameer. Surprised? I had the same reaction. But Love is blind. Sameer was a well-educated boy and he was the only son of Manvi’s father’s friend. It was arranged by parents and gradually they fell for each other. After two long years of courtship, dates and foreign trips finally, the D-Day had arrived when they will be announced the Man and the Wife!
As dusk embraced the Venue, the ambience looked all the more beautiful. There was music, smiles, laughter, jokes. Kids running from one side to another. With huge pomp and show Sameer, the groom arrived, he was looking like a prince in his embroidered pastel pink Sherwani, Sehra(headgear) and ruby strands hanging from his neck, adorning his chest. But then the Goddess appeared making everything look pale in front of her, a dazzling divine beauty. Manvi entered holding her Dad’s hand wearing a magenta stonework lehenga with an antique choker, chaandbalis and matha Patti. The big nath touching her lips seemed to be teasing Sameer. They exchanged glances and it made this bold girl blush.
Gradually ceremony started. Sameer’s mom was standing near the stage. One of the relatives came and said:” Bahu to badi pyari hai”(Such a beautiful bride). Manvi was eagerly waiting for her Mom in Law’s will shower her with praise.
”Shakal ka kya karna. Business me loss ho raha hai, health bhi kharab ho rahi hai. Abshagun hai. Ghar aeygi to kya hoga? Kya Jane?”( What do we do with the looks. We are having a loss in business, health is also declining. It is a bad omen, not sure what will happen when she comes to our home), her mother in law replied.
On hearing this, Manvi’s heart was flooded but she tried hard to control tears. But few managed to escape from her eyes. She wiped the tiny little drops with the corner of her nails. Then she saw two eyes gazing at her.
Suddenly, the music stopped. Manvi’s dad went on stage and announced ” Dear guests, thank you for coming today. I am cancelling the wedding. Please wish my daughter a great future ahead. Please take dinner before leaving. Thank you .”
He came down from the stage, held Manvi’s hand firmly and started walking towards the gate. ”Daddy, Daddy it is okay. I will adjust. I love Sameer.”
” No one will marry her, she will be lagnabhrashta”, said someone.
Shivangi came running, only to see his eyes flooded with tears. Manvi’s dad held Shivangi’s hand and kept on walking. Sameer only shouted from the back, ”What the hell? This is not done. Come back, Manu, if you love me”. But he did not move from the stage and reached out to her.
Walking away from the aisle holding her dad’s hand, old memories flashed in front of Manvi's eyes. How her dad laid cushioned carpet on the floor when she started walking. How he would run after her while she was learning how to cycle. Just to make sure she does not gets hurt. How he stayed awake whole night just to comfort her during fever. She was always her Daddy's Queen.
She leaned on his shoulder and this made her dad’s clasp grow stronger. I saw many hands reaching out to the eyes that day, even from the groom’s side. While walking Manvi’s Dad told her, ”Beta, I can see you crying in front of me for a few days. But I can not leave you lamenting in an abusive and stranded relationship. Marriage means family too it is not just Sameer.”
Eight years back, having two more daughters to marry. Stage all set for marriage and a hall full of guests. This dad decided to keep his daughter’s dignity before anything else in the world. Instead of walking his daughter down the aisle, he walked her away from aisle! That day it looked like the Sun rose in the West and set in the East!!.
Note: This is a true story, name and places have been changed. Marriage is a union of two families too. If all families can take stand leaving behind the stigma of what people will say. It will surely reduce the number of estranged marriages. Ultimately leading to divorce or at times suicide too. Let us stand for what is right rather than blindly following the crowd.
Then surely one day it will make a difference. And who knows the Sun might rise in the West!!
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