Samar stood on the balcony smoking. He had given up cigarettes long back but today was different. He was both stressed and excited. Shikha had been noticing her husband for the past few days. Between the two of them he seemed the one most affected by Myra’s wedding. She decided to take a momentary break from the list of things to be completed before the rituals started in the evening.
“Samar, do you want tea?”
Samar turned around. His eyes were moist.
“How will she manage without us? And how will I stay without her in our house?”
“She’s getting married. You should be happy for our daughter. She would be broken if she knew what her father’s going through. Tirtha is a great guy. He is surely going to ensure that Myra stays happy and pampered.” Shikha held Samar’s hand.
With a grip on his emotions, Samar went out to attend to his fatherly duties in a while as Shikha continued with her instructions over the phone.
The wedding was planned as a private affair in Goa. The bride and groom had decided for a registered marriage. Neither believed in social customs and rituals. Only handpicked relatives from Myra and Tirtha’s extended families were invited. Few of their close friends had been called. They had thought of throwing a reception party afterwards. Royal grand resort was one of the few five-star resorts with the facility of a private beach. Today the beach area had been converted into a wedding venue.
Myra had chosen a baby pink gown while Tirtha picked up a blue Tuxedo suit. The guests had started arriving. Samar went inside his room to bring Shikha. The gorgeous red Mysore silk suited Shikha’s plump and dusky frame. She had chosen to wear her own wedding saree on the day their daughter stepped into a new life. Samar gently touched the wheel chair. Her eyes and smile still managed to make him fall in love. They hugged briefly before Samar wheeled Shikha out towards the venue.
As they started welcoming the guests, the live band performing at the wedding started playing soft romantic numbers. The stewards went around serving snacks and drinks. The groom arrived flanked by his friends. And then the beautiful bride made an entry with her bridesmaid friends. Samar walked her down to the dais.
Samar took the cordless microphone as Myra smiled radiantly.
“I’ve been told by my darling daughter that all of us present here need to give a small speech related to Myra, Tirtha and their big day today. As a father of the gorgeous bride sitting here, I am torn between pride and helplessness. While I feel overjoyed by the fact that Myra has found her love in a responsible and caring man like Tirtha, it breaks my heart to even think of the empty nest that I will be returning to very soon. You’ve been my sunshine and you will always stay my princess. On you special day, I only wish you and Tirtha abundance of love, trust and togetherness. ” Samar choked with emotions by the time he finished.
Shikha followed suit. And then one after the other, Myra’s grandparents, Tirtha’s parents and grandparents and the group of seven friends who had flown down to the wedding gave a short speech. It was now Tirtha’s turn to speak,
“The first time I met Myra was when we moved to Bangalore after Dad got his transfer posting there. I’d taken admission in class 7 and Myra was the class monitor. It was difficult coping up in a new city and new environment. And I wasn’t the kind to make friends easily. I would have continued staying lonely and unhappy if Myra hadn’t chosen to befriend me. Her compassion and empathy won me over and they surprise me till date. We studied together until plus two and had become the best of friends. The families had become close as well. But it wasn’t until she moved to Delhi for her graduation that I realized about her becoming the centre of my existence. It took me two more years to propose Myra. It’s been eight years now that we been together and I’ve been asking her to marry me for the past one year. I feel extremely lucky that my best friend is going to become my life partner. Thank you for coming in my life Myra and enlightening me about what it means to be head over heels in love.” Huge round of applause broke in the audience.
The bride was the last one to speak. Myra stood at the centre-stage,
“This was actually my idea that we ask everyone to share moments so as to create beautiful memories on our special day. Tirtha has been supportive throughout the entire process of planning this wedding though I am aware the families would have preferred to make this a gala affair. But there’s a reason that we wanted this to be private and thus invited only the closest of friends and immediate family members.
All of you have met my parents, the neurosurgeon Dr. Samar Dixit and his beautiful HR manager wife – my mother Shikha D’Cunha. It is time that I tell you about their love story as well.”
Shikha led out a gasp and looked at Samar with fear in her eyes. Myra couldn’t do that to herself, she hoped. Samar was equally stunned but he had strong faith in his daughter.
“Mom and Dad used to be classmates in school just like Tirtha and me. They grew up together with my introvert father nurturing a liking for my highly social mother. She used to be the most popular girl in her batch. They were not even friends because Dad was hardly the kind who could fit into Mom’s circle of friends. After school, Dad moved to Delhi to study at one of the top medical schools in the country. Mom moved to Mysore for higher studies as her father got his last posting before retirement in that city. After finishing his M. B. B. S, Dad moved to London to finish his M. D. and eventually moved back to Bangalore to join Global hospitals. Mom had moved to Goa to finish her MBA after working for a couple of years. That was not an era of Orkut or Facebook. Dad had been in touch with few of his classmates through letters and phone calls. Sometimes he would get snippets of information related to Mom from his friends.
During the last year in Goa, Mom fell in love with the owner of a hotel. Let’s just call him Raymond since there’s no point in revealing his identity today. Raymond was a very good-looking and smart gentleman. Immediately after finishing her studies, Mom was married to Raymond. My grandparents were happy that their extrovert daughter had finally agreed to settle down. “
By now, most of the guests looked shocked. Shikha felt as if everyone was staring at her, judging her choices. She looked away. Tirtha placed his hand on Myra’s arm. Myra continued,
“The initial few months were high on romance and finances. But the bubble burst very soon. Raymond was a man with a bad temper. He would get angry at the drop of a hat and start abusing people. His behavior led to the downfall of his hotel as word spread around and he turned to alcohol for comfort. Very soon, Mom and he started having regular fights. By then, Mom had come to know that she had conceived. She was hoping that the baby would bring back happiness in their lives. Unfortunately bringing her into the world turned out to be a bigger mistake.
Raymond hated the baby girl. He never picked her or comforted her. He had started drinking heavily again. And then the fights turned into physical abuse as Mom tried protecting the infant from his anger. She considered leaving him quite often but had no means or money for survival.
Few months later he brought another woman home at night. Mom couldn’t tolerate anymore and threatened to leave him. He lost his cool and hit her so badly that she fainted out of pain. The wails of the hungry toddler alerted the neighbours. They took Mom to the hospital and informed her parents. My maternal grandparents who were under the impression that their daughter was happily married was in for a shock. My mother couldn’t move a single muscle of her body. She was referred to one of the leading neurosurgeon in the country – Dr. Samar Dixit.
Can you imagine my father’s reaction when he saw Mom in such a state? He had loved her so much that he had chosen to wait for a miracle to bring them together someday. But this was definitely not what he wished for. During the next few months, Dad kept trying to get her body to normalcy through medication and exercise. While he was partially successful, her lower portion of the body had been paralyzed forever.
My grandparents had lodged a fir against Raymond and he was caught. During the course of treatment, Dad had grown to love the little toddler who came along with her grandparents to meet her mother. The child who was used to only being beaten or getting screamed at grew attached to this tender and loving man.
Before getting discharged from the hospital, Mom had learnt about Dad’s feelings for her over the years. But she had been scarred. As she moved back to Mysore to live with her parents and restart her life, Dad realized the vacuum that engulfed his life now. It took him three more years to convince Mom about marrying him and he did it with the help of that little girl who had started loving him like her own father. “
The place had grown silent except for the sound of sea waves. The band had also stopped playing.
“I’m sure you understand that the little girl is me. Dr. Samar Dixit had chosen to be my father twenty-three years ago. My Mom and I would have never known what it meant to be loved if it wasn’t for this man here. He has taught me the true meaning of living and giving. A lot of people say that I am a replica of my father but I am still learning to be like him.
As Tirtha said, I took a year to say yes to him. It was because I kept thinking about what would happen if I turned out to be like my biological father! I would end up ruining his life. But as I kept analyzing about the probability, I realized that my father’s upbringing would have overshadowed any flaw that my genes might have carried. It was then that I knew I was ready for commitment.
The reason that I chose to share this story with all of you today is to let my parents know how proud I feel about being their daughter. Both of you have been my role models for your individual traits and I continue to look up to you and your love story.”
She looked in the direction of Samar and Shikha with tears in her eyes. They were holding hands as Samar tried to comfort an emotional Shikha. The audience sat mesmerized.
Tirtha decided to walk near the sand in the open. He collected a handful of it and signalled Myra to stretch her palms. He filled her palms with sand as Myra looked at him surprised. He placed the gold rings with diamond solitaires on top of the sand and placed his palm under hers, touching them gently.
“Myra, look at the sand on your palm. The particles of sand resemble the moments in our lives. Just as the grains would fall down eventually, the moments will also keep disappearing. We need to let go of the ones that hurt us and preserve the happy moments. Those particles that stay back in the palm are like memories that stay on forever in life. The ring on the sand is our love and respect towards each other. Whatever be the situation, these qualities will help us sail through. My palms that hold your is the trust and understanding that will help us create the bond of togetherness. Will you let me create such memories with you for a lifetime? “
Myra smiled through her tears as Samar walked up wheeling Shikha towards them. Together they had successfully taught their daughter the essence of love and happiness through their actions. Today they were relieved to find that Tirtha reflected the same values through his words and actions.
It was time to call the marriage registrar on stage.