This is the third part of Dare to Love trilogy, after Inconsistent Love. Aarush and Radhika move into Aarush’s new apartment in Mumbai after their wedding, and start their married-life with a good hope.
Aarush and Radhika were married in a fairy tale wedding. Aarush gifted a home to Radhika, and after the post-wedding rituals, they both were dead tired. It was 06 am in the morning, and no one had energy to utter a word.
‘Come Radhika, let’s sleep.’ Aarush murmured.
‘You can’t!’ his mother intervened.
‘What now? We’ve done everything you asked for…’ Aarush yawned, yearning to sleep.
‘Son, don’t you know? The bride and groom cannot sleep together!’ his mother looked at him with alarming eyes.
‘Who made this fu…rule?’ Aarush somehow controlled his ‘real’ emotions in front of his mother, and Radhika was smiling in a corner.
‘For the first night, son. Just for the first night!’ his mother said in an assuring manner.
‘Thank God. So where we have to sleep then?’
‘Here!’ his mother pointed at the living room which was full of guests and had mattresses spread on the floor.
‘Are you joking, mom?’
‘I think you haven’t attended any of your cousin’s wedding in a long time.’
‘I have! But I never stayed for all this drama.’
‘Don’t call this a drama son, it’s a part of our culture.’
‘Really?’ Aarush rolled his eyes. He didn’t care anymore as he was dead-tired already due to the ceremonies and rituals. He changed his wedding dress into a comfortable piece of clothing, and lied in a corner on the mattresses along with a dozen of his relatives who were more concerned about their ‘space’ being invaded, than anything else!
‘Where will Radhika sleep?’ Aarush got up as he was reminded of his new-bride.
‘With the women, in the other room.’ his mother said.
‘Fine. Good night Radhika…’ Aarush blew a flying kiss at her, she lowered down her gaze, while his father stared at him with a killing glance! His little cousins and relatives were laughing and booing Aarush for the sweet gesture.
‘Thanks mom.’ Radhika changed her heavy bridal clothing, and joined the other women in the room, where she thought she would get some sleep.
‘As Radhika laid down to get some sleep, she was interrupted by one middle aged woman.’
‘Hello Radhika, I am Aarush’s bua (paternal aunt), and I think I couldn’t properly introduce myself last night.’
‘Oh, Namaste bua-ji!’ Radhika pretended to respect her, though she wanted to break her skull at the moment.
‘I know you are tired, but this is the right time to talk you know, because God knows when we will be together and alone the next time, isn’t it? Aarush might not have told you about me, but I am his favourite aunt, you know! He just can’t do a thing without discussing it with me.’
‘But he married me, and that was a shock for you isn’t it?’ Radhika said, and as she thought she was being too rude and blunt, she immediately tried to cover up, ‘I mean, our marriage was not pre-discussed with you I assume, is it?’’
‘Yeah, well kids grow up. He’s a grown-up man now, and it’s the right time to start taking your own decisions in life.’
‘Okay bua-ji, can I please sleep? I don’t want to sound rude, but I am seriously having headache now.’ Radhika pressed her forehead hard.
‘Oh sure! I am sorry…’ the lady went away, and as she got up, another woman came and sat by Radhika, asking her from where did she complete her education, and how did she find a guy like Aarush?
‘Oh God!’ Radhika was pissed off inside, but helpless. Her mother-in-law was deep into her comfortable slumber, but she was being interrupted by every lady in the room one by one. Being the new-bride and member of the house, she was the centre of everyone’s attraction.
‘Only if these people treat me like a celebrity after some days!’ Radhika was talking to her inner-self now. Barely listening what the aunties had to say, she managed to nod her head at everything and anything, and to her surprise, the ladies didn’t care either! They didn’t want answers to anything, they just wanted someone to hear them, that’s all. Poor women!
The same night, Aarush woke up and rushed to Radhika’s room, where ladies were gossiping and Radhika was sitting in a corner, black eyes, rough hair, her hands covering her face every other second and her sleepy face narrating the story of her insomnia.
‘Fuck! Don’t tell me you didn’t sleep?’ Aarush sat next to her in a room full of ladies.
‘How restless! The first thing he needs after waking up is his wife, I wish my husband was like that…’ someone commented and the entire group burst into laughter.
‘I feel like killing them, seriously.’ Radhika whispered.
‘Why? What happened?’
‘Nobody let me sleep the entire noon, Aarush. I wonder how did you manage to sleep and rest?’
‘Well, I filled everyone with enough alcohol in my room. Men, you know. Plus I myself had good enough amount of tequila to keep me unconscious till at least eight hours.’
‘Wonderful! You could have thought about me a little, you miserable person!’ Radhika snorted at him.
‘I did! But how could I slip alcohol in here? Some of my aunties are so religious that they’d have forced you to take vows with them to never touch alcohol in life.’
‘God! They have already pissed me off since this morning.’
‘Welcome to the family, Missus Radhika Choudhury!’ Aarush winked at her and got up.
‘Can we both be together if the stupid rituals are over now?’ Aarush asked his mother, who was chit-chatting with some women.
‘What’s the hurry? We are leaving now, you can take her to your bedroom later!’
‘Leaving? Awesome, thanks for attending my wedding, have a nice day!’ Aarush smiled as brightly as possible.
‘Aarush! We are not going anywhere, you are going with us.’
‘What? Where? Why? When?’ Aarush let out a stream of questions.
‘Yes! To Ganga-ghats, for the prayers of your healthy and prosperous married life, and then to Vaishno Devi for blessings from the divine Goddess, and we all are leaving today, in a few hours. The flight is at night, from Mumbai to Varanasi. We will stay at Radhika’s home, don’t you want to see her home and her city? We will enjoy the city in the day, and then we will go for Ganga-Aarti tomorrow evening. After that we are leaving for Gurdaspur, our village. Don’t you want Radhika to see where you were born and where you grew up?’
‘No! I don’t…’ Aarush rolled his eyes and asked God for some help.
‘Of course you do. And from there we will leave for Vaishno Devi after which you can take a flight directly back to Mumbai, and we will stay home.’
‘Thank you!’ Aarush loved the last part, for obvious reasons.
‘And how many people are going with us? A hundred?’
‘No, son! Only we are going, you, Radhika, your father and me, your mother.’
‘Are you sure Chinkee bua is not coming with us?’ Aarush eyed his aunt, who was again talking to Radhika about something stupid.
‘Yeah, Chinkee will come with us till Vaishno Devi, after that…’
‘That means the entire trip mom, I can’t tolerate her!’
‘How can you say that Aarush, she’s the only sister of your father.’
‘I don’t care! I need to spend time with my wife, I haven’t planned a honeymoon yet, and you are dragging us to this trip on which I am least interested to go. And have you seen Radhika? Nobody let her sleep the entire day, and you expect her to take a flight tonight. I am not coming!’
‘You can’t say no to this, you have no idea how mad your father will be at me!’
‘Mom, I am not traveling with Radhika in such condition, and that is final. Either let her sleep for one day and then I will listen to you!’
‘It’s okay, she can sleep in the flight.’
‘For how long? Three hours? Four at most? And then you expect her to take you to her parents’ home, bother them and of course she would have to work like crazy even there, because ‘we’ are the guests and she will be a host! No. No means no, and this trip is not happening till tomorrow night, till Radhika sleeps well.’
His mother stared at him, but walked out. Aarush grabbed Radhika’s hand and walked her out of the room into their bedroom. His father stared at his mother who was speechless now. Their son rebelled against them for the first time for his wife – his father could understand him, as a man who had taken the responsibility of a woman on his shoulders, while for his mother it was pure rebellion – for a woman, against a woman.