Aarush’s parents were back by 10 at night and Radhika was still in Aarush’s apartment. They both forgot that his parents were still in the city! They rang the doorbell and Radhika opened it, totally unaware of the aftermath.
‘Oh…’ Radhika was shocked as she saw his parents standing with huge bags of vegetables and grocery.
‘Radhika…’ Aarush’s mother couldn’t say anything beyond her name and his father was just staring at her blankly.
‘Yeah, aunty…uncle, please come in. I just came here to discuss some work with Aarush. He can’t join office full-time yet, so I have to tell him about the progress we are making in the company.’
‘At this hour?’ his father suspiciously asked.
‘Of course uncle! I spend whole day in office, then at evening, I rest a little and I came here just an hour ago.’
‘Oh…good.’ his father didn’t say anything else.
Aarush came out defending Radhika and agreeing to whatever she was saying, but parents aren’t fools after all. They understood why Aarush sent them alone on a one-day trip today.
‘So Radhika, did you talk to your parents about the marriage? What did they say?’ Aarush’s mother asked Radhika.
‘Nothing aunty, they are okay with it and they want us to get married as soon as possible.’
‘I think the same too!’ Aarush’s father barged in, ‘Now that you have decided that you want to get married, then why to wait? Just marry and be done with it!’
‘Of course dad, I just have to meet Radhika’s parents for which I have to make a round trip from Mumbai to Varanasi and back here once I get their approval.’
‘Why are you going? Instead call your family here, Radhika. Your parents will meet us too. Why only meet Aarush alone?’
‘Well, I never thought about it, but now that you have said it, I will talk to dad about it and I’m sure he will agree.’
‘Wonderful!’ Aarush’s mother was delighted about her son’s marriage.
‘So, what’s for dinner?’ Aarush asked his mother.
‘Now you have a wife to ask that question too!’ his mother bit her tongue and walked away. Aarush and Radhika both looked at each other and smiled.
The next morning, Radhika called her father, who agreed to visit Mumbai with Radhika’s mother and her grandparents, who wanted to meet the guy’s family. They were coming in a day, so Radhika had a lot to do. She had to arrange for a place for them to stay, so she rented a bigger apartment for a month, so that her family could stay there throughout their trip to Mumbai and later for the wedding too.
3 Days Later
Aarush’s parents, Radhika’s parents, Aarush and Radhika, along with Radhika’s grand-parents were sitting on a huge oval table in a restaurant. Nobody was speaking anything, so Aarush broke the ice.
‘Uncle, how was your flight? I hope it was comfortable.’ Aarush looked towards Radhika’s father, who seemed quite impressed with Aarush.
‘Absolutely! Thank you for arranging this meeting with your family. It’s better that both of the families can know each other well before we are bound in a lifelong relationship.’
‘Exactly. So, what do you do Mr Jain?’ Aarush’s father asked Radhika’s father.
‘I have a jewellery showroom in Varanasi and we are into this business since three generations now. It was Radhika’s wish to do MBA and then get a job, otherwise I insisted her too much to join the family business, but no. Kids these days have to be independent!’
‘I can’t agree more to this, Mr Jain. Even my son refused to join the family business. We deal with fruits and vegetables and we control the entire local market of Rajkot. It’s a small town I know, but the money you can make is big! But kids will be kids. Aarush started his career with a job, and then moved on to a start-up, and I’m very proud of them both, who worked so hard to make their company reach at its zenith!’ Aarush’s father was beaming with pride.
‘I am proud of my daughter, and son-in-law…both.’ Mr Jain said with an assuring voice.
‘So, should we order something? I’m very hungry!’ Radhika jumped into the conversation as she stopped the adults from being proud of their kids and order something to eat.
After the lunch, Aarush’s parents called their family-priest back in Rajkot to confirm the date of wedding. Radhika’s parents also talked to their priest in Varanasi, and both of them confirmed a common date, which was just in next one week.
‘They say if you are going to get married, you should do it on next Saturday. It’s the most auspicious day. Otherwise, you have to wait for six months, as the star-alignment isn’t correct.’ Aarush’s father stated.
‘Who believes in stars and alignments? And one week is very less time. We need to do so much, and we have what, only 6 days in our hands? NO!’ Aarush replied.
‘I think its fine. Shopping can be done in a day or two and we are anyways not having a grandeur wedding. It’s going to be a simple affair involving only families and close friends, nothing else. So there shouldn’t be any issues whether we have six days or six months-time.’ Radhika was being logical.
‘I think the girl is right.’ Aarush’s mother agreed.
‘Fine then. If the wife says something, the husband has to oblige. Who am I to disagree now?’ Aarush said and everybody laughed.
The date was finalized. The calls were made and the entire Choudhury clan travelled from Rajkot and Jain-family travelled from Varanasi to Mumbai for their wedding. The functions were simple and very private. The wedding however involved a lot more people, including some of their college friends, office colleagues, their employees and some of their prominent clients too!
On The Day of the Wedding
Aarush was getting ready at his apartment, which was overflowing with relatives and friends.
‘Aarush, big day huh?’ Love said as he admired Aarush’s traditional look in the mirror.
‘Yeah, finally I am getting married! I can’t believe it’s happening and with someone I met so randomly. You meet so many people every day, but how many you end up getting married to? I’m feeling so philosophical and weird right now, man I don’t have words to describe what I’m feeling!’
‘Yeah, don’t even try it on me!’ Love cried, ‘Use such shit on Sahil who is into all this psychedelic stuff. I’m straightforward, man! And I really need to look good tonight.’
‘Why? Fucker it’s my wedding!’
‘Yeah, and you are definitely getting laid because it’s your wedding, but what about me? I have to work hard, impress some girls, and take them to bed. There’s a lot of stuff, you know!’ Love winked.
Aarush knew what a hunter his friend, Love was, so he just smiled and walked out of his room, into the hall where his parents were waiting for him with a lot of traditional things. They had to start all the rituals before leaving home.
‘Come son, sit.’ His father pulled out a chair for Aarush, and his mother and all other ladies started tying a turban on his head.
‘This is going to be so awkward, dude!’ Love shouted, and Aarush’s mother stared hard at him. He immediately shut up!
‘Why do you barge into uninvited stuff? Let’s go down and take out the cars from parking…’ Sahil pulled Love’s arm and took him out of the apartment.
After completing all ceremonies, Aarush and his entire family treaded downstairs and they got into various cars that they had arranged. They were supposed to reach half a kilometre away from hotel, where a decorated mare and a band was waiting for Aarush. Aarush had to climb a mare according to the Punjabi tradition.
‘I’m a little uncomfortable.’ Aarush said while struggling with climbing up.
‘Dude, don’t worry. This is your first and the last time, unless you plan on marrying more than once!’ Love again started with his sick jokes. Sahil gagged his mouth before he could invite some more trouble for himself.
‘Whoa!’ Aarush finally climbed up the mare and his family and friends started dancing on the tunes of band. They walked for half a kilometre and reached the hotel. At the entrance, there was a ribbon tied, preventing the guests to enter inside. Behind the ribbon was a group of beautifully dressed girls, some of whom were Radhika’s sisters and some of whom were her friends, all waiting with a huge tray of sweets to welcome their brother-in-law!
‘Welcome…welcome!’ the girls said together as Aarush reached the entrance with his baarat.
Aarush pulled out his sword but one of Radhika’s sisters stopped him.
‘Not so soon, Jiju! We are giving you our sister for lifetime, and you want to enter without the entry-fee?’
‘What entry-fee? We never even paid our school fees, talk about entry-fees!’ Love winked at one of the girls and they all started laughing.
‘I am telling you Love, you will be beaten black and blue in a matter of a few minutes…’ Sahil whispered in Love’s ear.
‘So where is our entry-fee, Jiju?’ The girl in the centre again raised a demand!
‘Say, how much do you want?’
‘Fifty one thousand, CASH!’ the girl grinned with confidence.
‘Whoa! Not happening girls, not happening!’ Love shouted.
‘Take it easy, dude…remember, the heels are very pointy and the wounds will be very deep!’ Sahil whispered again.
‘Your sister is really that much worth?’ Aarush sarcastically commented.
‘WHAT? Are you seriously here to marry her or just dressed up as a clown for fun?’ all the girls laughed.
‘This is too much now, too much insult, I’m going in…’ Love tried to bend down and cross the ribbon but the girls pushed him away.
‘You want me to start the countdown, Love? I don’t even need to start from ten!’ Sahil was warning him now.
‘Alright, let’s make a deal. Twenty-one thousand. How about that?’ Aarush tried to negotiate.
‘Twenty one thousand? What is this? Mercy? Fifty one means fifty one, not even a rupee less.’
‘Here, take it. Fifty one rupees. You’re done, not cut open this ribbon!’ Love offered a crisp note of fifty with a shining coin of 1.
‘Take it, keep it as a tip!’ a girl said as she shoved back the money in Love’s pocket.
‘You see? This is what happens when you try to be over-smart!’ Sahil commented.
‘Shut up dude! Let me crack a deal here. Girls are no different than corporates, you see?’ Love ran a hand through his silky tuft of hair.
‘So, that means you aren’t going to agree that easily?’ Aarush asked.
‘NO!’ the girls shouted.
‘Fine, then I don’t have any other option…’ Aarush pulled out his sword again.
‘Yes dude, just cut it, just rip it apart!’ Love was being passionate without any reason!
‘Hold on…’ the centre girl held Aarush’s hand firmly, ‘This is not an option. This is cheating. And we are giving you our sister very fairly. If you are going to cheat, we will cheat too! You will never know whom you got married to, until you push her veil back on your first-night!’ the girls laughed.
‘Fine…’ Aarush put his hand in his right pocket.
‘Dude…NO!’ Love gripped his hand hard, and came closer, ‘There’s a condom in this pocket. I placed it, don’t pull out the money it will come with it…’
‘Are you out of your fucking…’ Aarush whispered in anger, ‘Pull out the condom…c’mon!’ He smiled at the girls who were waiting for him to give them the money.
Love stealthily took the condom out and put it in his jeans-pocket.
‘Here…’ Aarush offered 2 bundles of five-hundred rupees notes.
‘How much it is? We don’t have a money-counting machine!’
‘Since your sister is way more worth anything in the world, so here is double than what you demanded. One lac!’ Aarush smiled and there were claps and cheers all around. He then finally pulled his sword out and cut the ribbon. The baarat entered with drums and beats.
‘This is for you, dear friend…’ one of the girls shoved a laddu in the mouth of Love, who winked at her and savoured the taste of it, until…it burst open in his mouth and all the chilli powder spread on his taste-buds!
‘Whooo…’ Love was blowing air everywhere.
‘What happened?’ Sahil asked.
‘I told you not to be over-smart. Now repent!’
‘What the hell…’ Love rushed to the washroom to relieve himself.
Aarush reached the stage and took his place. His family and friends were dancing on the floor, and suddenly, he spotted Koel.
‘What the fuck is she doing here?’ Aarush was talking to himself in his head. He immediately dialled Love’s number. Love didn’t pick up.
‘Bastard…pick up the phone!’ Aarush dialled his number again and this time Love picked up, and he was panting hard.
‘Hey, where are you?’
‘What the hell? Are you making out? I hate you fucker! I asked you to wait till I get married at least! You can’t control yourself when you have a condom, right? Fuck You!’ Aarush hung up in disgust and smiled at the cameras who were constantly clicking his photos.
Aarush then called Sahil, who immediately rushed to the stage.
‘Sahil, I saw Koel here.’
‘YES! What the hell is she doing here? My parents, and especially Radhika should not know about it. Just shoo her away, do anything but just make her go away from here!’
‘Don’t worry dude, I’m on it…’ Sahil ran into the hall to check for Koel. She was nowhere to be found.
The lights were suddenly out and there was a spotlight on the doorway of the hall. Radhika had entered. Her brothers were holding up a traditional piece of cloth over her head and her sisters accompanied her under it. The sentimental songs were playing and her parents were already wiping their tears.
‘Oh my…’ Aarush looked at her and was out of breath in a moment. He had never seen a girl more beautiful than Radhika was looking tonight. He couldn’t take his eyes off her. As she was coming close to the stage, his heartbeat was becoming faster. All he wished was for everything to go on fine. All he wanted was Radhika tonight.
‘Thank God!’ Aarush bit his lower lip and he thanked his God for giving him a girl like Radhika.
Radhika reached at the bottom of the stage. Aarush got up from his place and climbed a stair down to hold her hand. He helped her climb up. His hands felt the warmth of her hands and he realized Radhika was trembling.
‘Hey, sweetheart, are you okay?’ he asked her on the stage, holding her face. All of the audience was diverted towards them. Some of them thought Radhika wasn’t feeling fine.
‘Is she fine? Should I get her a glass of water?’ Radhika’s cousin asked her mother, who just nodded. She was already crying too much to understand anything.
‘I’m fine…stop…’ Radhika pushed his hand back and Aarush held her hand tighter than ever. He kissed her hand and then her forehead. All his friends were hooting and shouting for them.
Radhika took her seat next to Aarush and they both smiled for the shutterbugs.
‘This is the celebrity moment of our life! Who knows when do we get to see so many people and photographers dying for our one look? So we should make the most out of it, you know!’ Aarush said to Radhika, who was so shy and blushing pink.
‘Hey…you don’t look like my girlfriend. Where is that sexy magic? You remember you stripped naked in my room? Ahem?’ Aarush laughed. Radhika hit his hand.
‘Shut up and stop talking nonsense! We are getting married tonight.’
‘Of course we are! I can’t wait for tonight. It’s been so long since you and me…’
‘Aarush! Just one thing all the time?’ Radhika snapped at him again, and he stopped realizing that even his own parents were giving him weird looks.
Aarush was waving and smiling at the people down-below that he again spotted Koel.
‘That Sahil, I told him to…’
‘Told him what?’ Radhika asked.
‘I know you must be wondering what Koel is doing here. Actually, I invited her.’
‘WHAT?’ Aarush looked at Radhika in utmost shock!
‘Yeah. After I came to know about your relationship with her, I thought it was never her fault. And her marriage broke too, which is a terrible thing. So I asked her to join me in my marriage, and she was excited about it as well. She was afraid that you might be pissed off, but I…’
‘You what? Do you think what you did, is cool? Inviting my ex to my marriage, is the last thing I wanted to happen.’
‘Aarush…’ Radhika calmed him down, ‘She is a changed person now. She denied coming to the wedding, but I have forced her. I want you guys to be friends, like you said. I appreciate your choice of friends Aarush and Koel is a nice girl, and just misunderstood! I talked to her, I met her you know. I don’t think you should stop talking to her just because you had an ugly past. We are going to be married now, it’s all going according to the plan, then why hurt someone else who has nothing to do with it? I don’t want that on my wedding, there should be even a single unhappy person because of me or you. And Koel is a really sweet girl, she just had temper problem, but she’s changed now you know, since her marriage broke…’ Radhika pressed his hand and Aarush didn’t look at Radhika at all. He just smiled for the cameras.
‘It’s okay. You are the wife now! Your wish is my command, ma’am!’ Aarush smiled at her and Radhika smiled back.
‘Thank you…’ Koel said from faraway, looking at Radhika. She couldn’t hear it, but she understood it pretty well. Radhika smiled at Koel as well. Seeing Radhika smile, Koel turned around and walked out of the hall. This was the moment she had been waiting for.
After a few hours, Aarush and Radhika got married in the traditional Punjabi way. The doli went to a strange building, in a strange apartment, where his parents welcomed the new bride.
‘Where are we?’ Radhika asked him.
‘To our house. Our new house…’ Aarush gifted Radhika a new 5-BHK apartment. Radhika had no idea about this new house.
‘You always said that the previous 1BHK was too tiny. So I bought this last month. I always wanted to surprise you on the night of our wedding with a gift that would last a lifetime, and what’s better than a home?’ Aarush looked into her eyes and said. Radhika hugged him tight on the door itself.
Aarush and Radhika, both exchanged looks with each other as they placed their first step together into their new house, starting with their new life, as a husband, and a wife…