It was 7 in the morning. Mrs Kumar was busy in the kitchen. She was preparing morning tea for herself and her husband Mr Vishwas Kumar. In the next 10 minutes, she brought two cups of tea in the drawing-room and sat beside her husband. Before she could open her mouth to say something, Mr Kumar said, “Let me have a cup of tea in peace. I don’t want to begin my day with a debate.”
Though Mrs Kumar, who was already stressed, felt bad, she chose to stay quiet and sip her tea. Once the couple had their tea, Mrs Kumar spoke, “Do you even know how people taunt me? They all just want to know if we have found a match for Priya.”
“I know, Priya should have gotten married by now. But you see, these days people want a modern girl. Our daughter is not at all like those fashionistas.”
“Do you think I don’t understand the mentality of the people? It was you who wanted Priya to dress up in those age-old outfits. You never allowed her to even wear jeans.”
“Wearing western clothes doesn’t make one modern. One should have progressive thinking to be a modern person.”
The couple argued for 15 more minutes on how people say things about their daughter, the amount of dowry asked by prospective grooms and the way their daughter has been rejected seven times. The couple blamed each other for their daughter’s reserved and coy behaviour.
Priya, who was listening to her parents’ discussion, took a deep breath and looked into the mirror. She always kept her long hair plaited in braids. For all her life, she never wore any western outfits or went on any trip with her friends. There were times when she wanted to go to engage in some fun with her friends but she wasn’t allowed to.
Every time she met a potential groom, they would mock her oiled braids and pastel-coloured clothes.
Priya wanted people to see her inner beauty and talent. After all, she was a qualified music teacher and was also working in an NGO. But no one would look beyond her physical appearance.
It was only Arun, who admired her inner beauty as he knew Priya was a person with a golden heart. Though Priya knew Arun was a good person, she could never think of considering him. She never wanted to hurt her parents’ sentiments by finding a groom on her own. Arun was her colleague at the NGO. He had tried speaking to Priya so many times but she chose to maintain distance. He had often asked her to come for a cup of tea or coffee so that they may initiate a friendship. But Priya used to deny his offer.
Today she will be meeting another match. Though she isn’t interested in meeting anyone, she has to do this for the sake of her parents. Moreover, she resented the way people judged a girl on the basis of a cup of tea. In the evening, she was ready in her usual getup. This time she thought of putting on lipstick but then she felt uncomfortable as she had never applied lipstick so far.
Finally, the people arrived. They had tea, snacks and discussed various things. Soon Priya walked into the room. She saw her potential match who was accompanied by his father and mother. Priya saw that the guy wasn’t interested in her as he was constantly busy on his phone. In fact, when the duo was sent to interact in person in another room, the guy didn’t say anything. He just walked out after five minutes. Priya knew that she was rejected once again.
The next day, Priya’s father told that the guy had denied marrying Priya as he was looking for someone who is modern and beautiful. Priya felt bad for her. Soon she received another message from Arun, “Hey, a new cafe opened last week near our NGO. Wanna go for a cup of coffee?”
Priya didn’t reply. She ignored him once again as she knew that Arun had true feelings for her. But since she didn’t want to break his heart, she couldn’t muster the courage to reciprocate his feelings. She knew that if she replies to Arun, he may take it as a positive response. It is not that Priya didn’t like Arun. She did but she feared if her parents would agree and the judgements that people would pass on them. She never wanted the neighbours and relatives to pass comments on her parents.
But the neighbours and relatives didn’t spare her. As soon as she walked out of the house, people started asking her if she made it this time. One of them said, “Try doing things to woo men around you. Else you will remain unmarried forever.”
“I guess, you have nothing special in you and that’s why people reject you the moment they see you,” said another neighbour.
“Why don’t you try to find a groom on your own. Have some pity on your parents. They get to face rejection as well,” said one of her uncles.
Priya sat in her room while a tear rolled down her cheek. She was broken inside and had no self-esteem left. “Why don’t people like me? Am I that bad?” thought Priya.
“It would be better if I end my life, at least my parents won’t have to worry about my marriage,” Priya told herself.
Just then her mobile beeped. There was a message notification on her mobile.
“Listen to your heart once. I will always be there for you because, for me, you are so far the best person I have met.”
Priya understood why she isn’t able to have a match. Her destiny had other plans for her. She closed her eyes and tried listening to what her heart says. It was only one name that she was able to hear. She picked up her phone and replied, “So when are you taking me to the new cafe you were talking about?”
“Tomorrow, at 5 PM.”
“But what makes you like me. I am not that modern. People call me aunty and behenji. Won’t you feel embarrassed to be with me?”
“Priya, I have loved you for who you are. You look as pure as morning dew and you don’t have to change for anyone. Just take this leap of faith and let yourself be happy.”
“Thanks, Arun. I never knew someone would admire me and make me feel special.”
“You are special and I love you for who you are. Let us meet tomorrow so that I can say this while looking into your beautiful eyes.”
Priya felt happy and confident for the first time in all these years.
Also read: An Empty House
Prerna loves to write and shower love on animals. She enjoys reading and exploring places. Though sweet in her pictures, at times, she is difficult to understand. Being a strong believer in hard work and karma, she loves solitude and peace. Apart from this, she loves petrichor and harmony and wishes to achieve her one and only ataraxia for a lifetime.