The Promise

Avi skipped a beat or two when Aarti entered the hall. Tall slim Aarti was wearing a plain, light-blue silk sari. Her head was slightly covered with a dark-blue, long scarf with heavy embroidery. It was hanging freely by her side. Light makeup on her eyes and cheeks enhanced her beautiful facial features. He knew that she would look good but had not imagined her looking so gorgeous. He quickly checked to make sure his relatives didn’t catch him admiring her. But he just couldn’t keep his gaze away for long. After a short nervous look around, he went back to doing what he loved the most; looking at his beautiful fiancée.

It was the night of Avi and Aarti’s engagement ceremony and the marriage was to take place in another two days. Avi had been waiting for the occasion since he met Aarti for the first time. Six months back, at her Aunt’s place, he came across a simple and elegant girl happily participating in the arrangements of his cousin’s wedding. Generally, marriages in India are potent matrimonial grounds for prospective brides and grooms. And that’s what happened with Avi. He was not ready to get married anytime soon. He was just 25 and wanted to wait few more years before starting a family. He stopped arguing when he came to know about his parent’s ideas. He was being matched with Aarti. After that secret was out, he wanted to tie the knot with her as soon as possible but twice his engagement and marriage had been postponed. Finally, after many sleepless nights, the long awaited time had come.

Aarti was sitting right next to him. For very brief moments their eyes met. Her skin was glowing and she was smiling, but something was missing. Instantly, he knew that something was bothering her. He wished he could get few minutes alone with her in privacy, just to assure her about their happy future together. He helplessly looked at thirty other relatives who were also sitting around them as if they were preparing to go in a match of dodgeball. Avi’s younger brother and his friends were hovering Aarti like helicopters in high-security zone. She was trying her best to talk to all of them. Somehow, Avi distracted them towards his younger and available sisters-in-law. As soon as the boys left, the gang of aunty’s invaded with their newly wedded daughters-in-law. And this continued for hours or at least he felt like that. Avi kept looking for a chance to chat with his sweetheart.

Finally, Avi’s mom came forward with the rings. It was the time for the ring ceremony, all the guests collected around them. Cameras flashed and clicked all over. Everybody was in high spirits. They cheered for them as if in couple of minutes the whistle would blow and the first round of boxing tournament would begin. Aarti as usual was quiet and patient. When instructed, she extended her right hand forward.

Avi looked at her beautifully manicured but henna-less hand. He remembered the first interaction he had with her at his cousin’s wedding. She was jumping with joy and showing-off the dark color Kof her henna on her palms. When Avi asked her the reason for her excitement, she bashfully answered, “The darker the color of my henna, the deeper will be my husband’s love for me.” At that time she had no clue that she was talking to her future husband.

He smiled and gently held her hand and put the elegant platinum-diamond ring on her thin, long finger. People showered the flowers on them. Aarti also put the ring on Avi’s left hand ring finger. After exchanging rings elders directed them to feed each other some sweets. Once the ceremony was over, people dispersed towardhs nicely decorated and inviting food counters.

A special table was also laid down for the special couple with a huge white and red colored tablecloth and small flower vase with some orchids in the center. Avi’s parents were being invited to this special stage. Avi and Aarti sat side by side. While they were waiting for others to join in, Avi cautiously slipped his hand under the table and caressed her soft and smooth hand slowly. She nervously smiled. She liked his touch but quickly moved away. She got worried about consequences if somebody saw them sneaking.

They glanced at each other and then few drops fell from the mascara and liner laden eyes. Avi knew that was the only time that they are going to get before their marriage. He slightly pulled the veil away from her hand. With a jerk Arti tried to hide her amputated arm, the one she lost in an accident just a month after their marriage was fixed. But he lovingly pressed the stump of her hand between his palms and tried to calm her down. He hid her hand behind the deep crease of the table cloth and spoke “Everything will be fine. Today, I received the email from ‘Touch Bionics Inc’ and the prosthetic limb is ready. The day after our wedding, we would be flying to Scotland to get the fitting done.” Wiping her eyes with his hands he promised, “I will always be there for you.”


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