Folding one clothes after another and piling them, I was trying to clear out the mess and arrange my room in a systematic manner. There were gifts left unpacked with wrappers on the floor and some were still packed into those big and beautiful, dreamy boxes. I picked them up carefully cleaning them, with broom in one hand and the pallu of my saree in another as i was a newly wedded bride and it was mandatory to have the pallu on my head everytime. It is a custom that prevails in almost all the states of north India. I was new to this institution called ‘ marriage’ and thus didn’t know how to wrap a saree in a proper manner.
Sometimes, Charvi would help me out to wear it. Although Charvi was just a child of twelve years old, yet she knew everything as she was brought up into such household which taught her to behave ‘mature’ from a very young age. She used to teach me how to talk,sit and behave in front of elders with lowered head and no eye contact. She seemed trained by her elders in all such matters. Sometimes, I would laugh at her and make fun of her but she would simply reply with “uff oh! bhabhi, you don’t know anything.”, turning her face the other side with rage. She was a lovely child,a friend I would say who would happily accompany me to nearby shops as it was not allowed for brides to step out of the door alone.
“Tasha, why didn’t you iron my clothes? Seriously, you are of no use! Maa was right. Your parents haven’t taught you anything before getting you married. They have simply married you off. But remember! you have to take care of my needs and learn all the household chores. Next time, I don’t want to hear any complain from maa, against you. Did you understand? did you? speak up!” “yes” I said, lowering my head in a very low ,subtle tone. Kabir was shivering with utter rage. His wrath overpowered me and my heart was pounding. I was so anxious and was trembling from within. I had never expected someone like Kabir to be my husband. I had always dreamt of a fairlytale romance and a perfectly groomed husband for myself, like any other girl dreams off, but dreams are not reality and in my case my dreams were completely shattered, the very day I got married. I even feel that now I have got no right to dream as well.
One evening ,as I was serving tea all around the house, I heard a sound, a very enchanting sound, coming from the room next to the kitchen. I was thrilled by this sound. It was so familiar. So close to my heart. The rhythm, the notes and everything evoked and rejuvinated all my senses. It was the sound of ghunghrus. I went close to the room and to my astonishment, saw Charvi dancing so elegantly in those ravishing kathakattire. Her expressions and her moves were so enigmatic. I kept gazing at her, but she took no notice of me. It all made me nostalgic and reminiscent memories and flashback came rushing in my mind. The memories of my own childhood when I nurtured a dream, a passion of becoming a dancer and then as I grew a little older at a very young age, I was married off to Kabir. Silently, suppressing my feet, with an intention of not distracting her focus, I went to my room, where Kabir was engrossed into his laptop, doing some office work.
I went and sat beside the dressing table, just when kabir came pouncing at me enraged with utter wrath. ” Tasha!” he grabbed my arms suddenly in a controlling way which hurted me a lot. “Leave me. It is paining a lot.” I begged to spare me as usual in a fumbling voice. I was very scared of his anger this time. He started screaming and yelling at me. I looked into his eyes which were red with wrath. His blood was boiling n I kept quite as usual because if I would raise my voice, then perhaps the whole family would get together and throw me out of the house because that wasn’t a trend here and if I go back to my home then it would be perhaps, a shameful thing for my parents that their daughter could not please her in-laws because generally in india this is expected out of every women. It was the usual thing on which Kabir was mad at. The usual bitching that his mother had done against me and provoked him to fight with me. I do not understand what pleasure she would receive out of this.
That whole night, I could not sleep. I was weeping and sobbing in sheer grief and anguish lamenting upon the fact that I had no right to take the charge of my own life. Brooding upon such things I didn’t realize when the dusk ended and a new dawn evolved. I got up soon, went to the restroom and splashed some water on my face and rushed to the kitchen. As i was busy preparing tea, my senses evoked once again, with the melodious sound of those ghunghrus. Charvi was rehearsing and this time it was my favorite song ‘ panghat meRadhika,Naache Re.’ Listening to such classical music,early in the morning was such so blissful. It had surely made my day and also made me forget all my sorrows. This time Charvi noticed me, she came close and sat beside me. I offered her a cup of coffee. She said in a skeptic tone “bhabhi, why do you always stare at me so keenly,when I dance. I feel you, too have a strong connection with dance as I have. Don’t you? come on! u can tell me. It will be a secret. I won’t tell anyone. promise. after all,we are friends.” In this dark world, where I had entered I could see no one to share my feelings with.” Yes Charvi! you are right I love dancing. It was my dream. When u dance, I see my own reflection in you. The sincerity and dedication which you have for this art, I too had it once but then I was forcibly made to tie this knot.” saying this I was completely lost into my old thoughts.
Charvi, as confident as usual said ” Then run off bhabhi. Go and live your dreams. Don’t keep tangled yourself in this unwanted knot of marriage anymore.” ” No Charvi, I can’t do that. This so wrong. You won’t understand. All this is easier said than done. You are a child. You will understand when you grow up and get married that a women’s life is full of responsibilities which she can’t ignore. So many relations will be ruined if I take such drastic step especially Kabir, he will be so hurt and my parents will be ashamed of me”. I replied with an unset frame of mind. Charvi looked into my eyes deeply as if she knew the art of reading minds. ” So what are you going to do bhabhi?” She asked and without waiting for my reply, further added “spend your entire life with such a person who doesn’t value or respect you. You are thinking about everyone else but about yourself. Don’t you love yourself? Don’t you want to live? Do you want to waste your entire life in remorse, of not giving yourself and your dreams, a chance which it deserved? Listen bhabhi! every women should have the right to live their lives on their own terms and now its your turn. Make it happen.”
Charvi’s words moved me. It shook me from within like an electric shock. It is true maturity doesn’t come with age. Twelve year old, charvi was a glaring example. Her strong words left a firm impression on my mind. It evoked all my passions and dreams, once again which i had burried long back.
Next morning, I eloped from my home. Charvi supported me lot. After I had left, the entire family did all that they could to find me out. But I was beyond their reach. Charvi never revealed where I was and we even were in touch with each other confidentially. The family drama was never over, even after i left. Twenty five years had passed away, yet I and Charvi were in contact with each other. The little girl, who inspired me had turned thirty seven years old, still holding that bold personality. Kabir had married again just after a year, I had left.
I had realized my dream and it was the time to shape it up into reality. I set up a dance academy in Pune. I also received many prestigious awards in this field of performing arts. This wasn’t an overnight process. I had worked very hard to achieve this day. I had spent twenty five long years to witness my success. I am no more that poor women who used to shiver at the very thought of her husband or who was so suppressed by her in-laws. Now i am a confident women who stands for her own right. At the academy, I teach my girls to fight for their own rights, because if they are not going to do it themselves, then no one else is going to do it too. W e need to create our own identify and not rely on our man. I never found ‘an ideal man’ again or I can say I never looked for it because I was so busy in creating myself into a ‘self made woman’.