Mithil looked at the fire burning in front of him in the marriage pandal. His dreams seemed to be licked by the orange flames.
Beside him, sat his soon to be bride, radiant and happy.
Looking back at the past few years, he realised his life wasn’t his own. He had never lived for himself. He was born to serve others: family, society, religion, boss. Did he have any rights on himself, he questioned? After coming to terms with this harsh reality he had agreed to the marriage.
On the other end, sat a handsome youth, wearing a gold coloured turban. Mithil’s heart seemed to explode with love and passion for the lad.
What an irony, Mithil thought. I am madly in love with my soon to be brother in law. He had met Nirav when he had gone to see his prospective bride. He was transfixed at the sight of the lithesome lad. Mithil suspected that subconsciously he had said yes to the proposal only because of Nirav.
He went through the marriage rituals in a daze. After its conclusion, Nirav hugged and congratulated him. Mithil felt overwhelmed by his touch, feeling the bile rise in his stomach.
He made an excuse to go to the restroom and walked away forcing a smile.
In the restroom, he looked at himself in the mirror and felt a stab of pity. “How will I fake through this my entire life,” he thought panic-stricken.
He emerged from the restroom to find Nirav waiting for him.
“Jiju. Is everything ok?” he asked with concern, holding Mithil’s hands.
Mithil’s body burned at his touch, “I…I am ok.”
“Everyone’s’ waiting,” Nirav grinned, “Lets hurry.”
“Wait,” Mithil said. Silence ensued as he gazed at Nirav. Mithil lifted his hand and caressed Nirav’s cheeks. Nirav was taken aback and looked askance.
“How do I tell you that I love you and not your sister?” Mithil thought in consternation.
Forcing a smile, he said, “Salae sahab, you are my aadha gharwala”. No sooner he said it, it sounded lame to his ears. He guffawed and back slapped Nirav to cover the slip. Nirav laughed too.
After the exhausting marriage rituals were finished, he was ushered in a room to spend the wedding night.
His coy bride smiled, looking at him expectantly. Feeling dread at what he was supposed to do, he excused himself to freshen up.
Locking himself in the bathroom he slipped his hand in his kurta pocket and withdrew a small bottle of pills. He rolled out the blue pills on his palms and stared at them. He would need these for the rest of his life. He gulped one, washing it down with water. Tonight, would be the first in a long line of anxious nights. He needed all the help to go ahead with the act of consummating his marriage.
Composing himself, he opened the door and walked to his waiting bride.