Hidden behind the bushes, she kept an eye on the house with green window panes. It had taken her three years to discover his recent address after he escaped from the previous city. She had stalked him endlessly for the last two months to understand the pattern of his schedule.
Years ago, he had made her pay a heavy price for rejecting his marriage proposal. The police had failed to trace him while she fought for her life in the hospital. The attack had destroyed her physically but her indomitable spirit sought revenge.
As she touched the burnt skin on her face under the veil, she felt anger rising within her. The deserted lanes were an indication that her wait would come to an end today. As she heard a soft sound of the designated house door opening, her grip on the bottle of acid in her bag tightened. She had chosen the same modus operandi as her target. To see him suffer had been the sole reason for her survival.
Disha was packing the lunch box as her father Aravind Rao rushed inside the kitchen. She knew her father was a stickler for punctuality, “Appa, I’ve made puliograhe (tamarind rice) for lunch today.” Aravind smiled, “So I get to eat my favorite food on my last working day.”
Fifty-five-year-old Aravind worked as a postmaster in the only post office in his town. Disha had always been her father’s pet but it was the pain and grief of losing her mother that had strengthened their bond. Disha had just turned fourteen a month before her mother passed away due to cardiac arrest.
Despite not so favorable circumstances, Disha had been a meritorious student. Aravind had always been supportive of Disha pursuing a career although his friends and relatives had pestered him to get her married after she turned eighteen. Disha not secured admission in the only Engineering college in town but was also chosen for the scholarship.
In her final year, Disha was the first student to be recruited from the campus by India’s top IT company. Her job location demanded a daily commute of two hours from her native as she was unwilling to move away from her father. Once Disha settled down in her profile, she started convincing Aravind for voluntary retirement. Her father had struggled the whole life for her betterment. Now she wanted to let him relax.
Jane opened the door with her key. As she walked towards the sitting room, she heard sounds from John’s room. That idiot had again brought a girl home. Jane turned on the television to the maximum volume. Soon John came out of the room in a disheveled state with the fair and a voluptuous lass trailing behind him.
“Hey, didn’t hear you open the door. Meet my girlfriend Sandra. She is my colleague at the departmental store. Sandra, that’s my twin sister Jane.” Sandra gave a warm smile. Jane nodded curtly.
After John bade goodbye to Sandra, Jane asked, “It’s not even two months that we have moved here and you are already back to your philandering ways. I am really tired of this whole mess.”
“I like Sandra. I am hoping to make this work.” John assured Jane.
“I’ve heard this before. We have managed to escape twice but we might not be lucky the third time. Stop getting emotionally involved in relationships.” Jane was fuming. John shuddered at the recollection of the past incidents but he knew his heart was sold out to Sandra.
Myra woke up to the sound of the alarm. The outside world was submerged in darkness but she had a mission to achieve. Changing into a t-shirt and track pants, she took out the newly purchased running shoes. As she left, her father smiled at her mother “Hadn’t I told you that the day Myra gets the right motivation, nothing can stop her?.”
Myra started her warm-up exercises in the society gym. At 5ft 3inches, her 85 kg frame had always invoked ridicule and laughter. It had started as a toddler when any random person would seek an opportunity to pull her chubby cheeks. As she grew up, the remarks changed to fat and ugly with people asking her to lose weight. Sarcastic statements and rude remarks related to her body had become a way of life. Despite an academic record that could put her peers to shame, she lost out on opportunities because of people’s mindset related to her overweight frame.
The cruelty and harshness of the world bothered her initially. Except for her parents, no one really understood how much it affected her. As Myra grew up, she was tired of one too many instances of body shaming. Using the veil of dry humor, she started retorting to those caustic remarks. A high-profile and well-paid job kept her busy. She had a couple of affairs in the past which mostly ended because of her weight. Her mother had tried various routes of an alliance but in vain.
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.
We are already into February – the month of love. Do you remember the first February that we spent together after years of not being in touch with each other . The year was 2010 – you loathed traveling then. Yet you took a flight from Kolkata to Bangalore and then a bus to Mysore for a non-stop journey of ten hours only because you wanted to surprise me. You ended up proposing me for marriage as well. More than the beautiful orchids, chocolates and books that you got me as gifts, I remember you drinking cups of coffee just to give me company during those five hours that we spent talking to each other. I was a caffeine junkie while you were coffee intolerant. Yet you didn’t let your discomfort take precedence over my happiness.
The first time that I met T, I was coming out of my chemistry tuition classes. A lean fellow then, he looked way more arrogant than his seventeen years. Our twelfth board exams were due to begin in three months and he joined my tuition batch for joint entrance examinations. I had already lost my heart to chemistry and the only reason I was part of that group was because I wanted to pursue higher studies in the subject from a premier institute. I don’t remember ever interacting with him while he always nurtured an irritation towards me for consistently topping the class tests. I got through my dream college in Kolkata for pursuing Chemistry Hons. He got through the most coveted medical college there for pursuing M.B.B.S. The funny co-incidence was that our colleges were adjacent. The day we went to bid adieu to our Professor was the only time we spoke wishing each other luck for the future.