Typical chilly Rajasthan winter had all of the family all bundled up and fast asleep except for her. She was restless & pacing in the courtyard overlooking the lake. Not wanting to wake anyone she had tiptoed her way out of the palace that had been booked for her wedding the next day.
Wedding, she thought. It is all happening so quickly. Yes I love Kartik with all my heart and can’t live a minute without him but the thought of leaving her family home made her very sad and a little scared. Alright who was she kidding, atleast be honest with yourself Naira! she chided herself. She was very sacred! In one day everything was going to change; she will be going to a new home and live with new people. She shivered as she sat down on the bench.
But why was she feeling this sense of dread? she tried to reason with herself, Goenkas are Kartik’s family and she had gotten to know them over the past couple of months. But those interactions had only made her realize how vastly different they were from her own family. For a moment she thought about consenting to Kartik’s plan of living separately. But just as quickly as that thought entered her mind she dismissed it. Kartik’s mom was counting on her. Come on Naira.. you are not a coward! It may be difficult for the first couple of months, hell may even take years but eventually you will learn to adjust. Ugh why does marriage have to be so hard. She got up from the bench and moved towards the ledge, staring at the beautiful lake that was so calm and serene unlike the turmoil going on inside her head.
He knew she would be awake as he made his way to the courtyard. He had seen her from the balcony pacing and figured the reason for her restlessness. He walked up to her slowly and touched her shoulder, Naira instantly knew who it was and immediately buried her face in his chest and hugged him tightly. All felt right in the world when she was in his arms, her safe haven. Kartik reciprocated her hug by tightly holding onto her.
As he caressed her hair, he said softly, “Naira, I know you are scared about how life is going to change for you. I realize how difficult this must be for you, to leave everything behind and move in with a new family. But don’t worry it is just for a couple of days and we will be out of there and in our little world. You will just have to get used to one person, your husband who is always at your service” he said with a wink, the excitement evident in his voice.
Naira sighed, she did not want to start an argument about living arrangements right now but she had to tell him eventually about her promise to his mother. “What is wrong, do you want to tell me something?”, he asked reading her thoughts. She withdrew from the hug and led him to the bench.
As they sat down she said, “Kartik, don’t you think you should reconsider your decision to live apart. I mean your family might think I am taking you away from them and..” He cut her off before she could finish, “We already discussed this, they don’t care about me especially Manish and Swarna Goenka. It is all about keeping appearances and reputation with them.”
He was a little irritated that she brought this up and was thinking about walking away before this turned into an argument. The day before the wedding should not be a bad memory for either of us.
Instead he cupped her face with his hands, looked straight into her eyes and said, “I am excited about our future together. Tomorrow is a big day for the both of us and I do not want to discuss this now. I have told you this many times before, the more you go closer to them, the more apart we become and I would hate for that to happen.”
She noticed the tears glistening in his eyes as he continued, “I have not asked anything of you except for this. I hope you understand and respect my decision. I love you Naira and will always support you but in this matter, the wounds are too deep and painful. You will just hurt me more by trying to fix things, so let it be.”
He let go of her face and wiped his eyes. Both turned towards the lake and they sat quietly for a minute.
Kartik hoped Naira will understand and agree to his only wish. All he ever wanted is her and nothing else. But somewhere in his heart he knew his sherni will never give up, one of the many qualities he loved about her. Will cross that bridge when we get to it, he thought, for now enjoy every moment.
Naira had long realized that healing Kartik’s wounds will be hard and probably take a toll on their relationship.
Now suddenly the thought of adjusting to the Goenkas did not seem that much of a problem at all. She just wanted to take away all pain and hatred from her mendak’s life just as he had done for her not so long ago.
She slowly took his hands in hers and rested her head on his shoulder, “I love you Kartik and can do anything for you. Just remember that we promised to not let go of each other come what may.”
He put his arm around her and pulled her closer. Right here right now this moment in each others company was all that mattered. Whatever the future holds..they will be ready for it.