Cool droplets of water disturbed Bihan’s peaceful slumber. He slowly opened his eyes to the jingle of bangles, the same sound he had been so eagerly waiting for last night. The sight in front of him made his lips twist into a small curve. He was used to mornings like this now and these mornings have grown into moments he cherish most in life. His love, his dear Thapki was standing by the mirror, her hair was wet and she was vigorously drying it with a towel. His breath hitched as he realized what she was wearing. A sari! And his favorite color too. The simple midnight blue piece of cloth with intricate gold and silver embroidery on the border looked elegant on her petite figure. The blouse was golden; the sleeves reached her elbow and the back, he closed his eyes for a moment and opened them again, the back was very low cut and the dori was left open. He moved his gaze with effort towards her face in the mirror. Her face was devoid of any makeup, he was sure though he couldn’t see that some of the kajol from the previous day was left in her eyes, smudged, in short she looked exactly like the way he desired her to be.
The jingle of the bangles had died down and there was perfect silence in the room, but Bihan remained oblivious. His eyes met hers in the mirror and he suddenly became aware of his surroundings. Her eyes bored down upon his, everything was perfectly still. She stood still like a statue her hands still on the towel and he, he sat on the bed leaning on to the headboard.
The alarm sounded. Bihan quickly averted his eyes moved out of the bed and grabbed hold of the alarm to silence it. He looked up at Thapki again, muttered a quick good morning and almost ran to the bathroom. He let out a sigh as he closed the door to the bathroom. He cannot keep running away from this, he thought as he freshened up, he had to do something. She occupied his thoughts, day or night; nothing else even came to his conscious mind. He cannot go on like this. He showered, letting the cool water to run across his form, trying to get out of her thoughts in vain. The water calmed his nerves; slowly he got out of the bathroom in his towel. He had forgotten his clothes on his way to the bathroom and he had thought Thapki wouldn’t be around as she usually would have headed to the kitchen.
“B-Bihan.” Bihan jumped at the sound and much to his embarrassment found himself face- to- face with Thapki. He looked at her and found her eyes cast downwards and cheeks crimson. He turned around unable to face her.
“Th-th thapki, tumhe rasoi nahi jaana hai kya? Tum yahan kya kar rahi ho.” He gauged her expressions out of the corner of his eyes and found himself smiling. Thapki herself was standing turned away from him, she was twisting the pallu of her beautiful sari around her fingers reflecting her anxiety.
“N-nnahi Bihan, aaj m.ma..mandir jaana hai. Kya tum mere saath chaloge?” Thapki asked nervously still looking away from him. So that’s why she was wearing the sari, he thought, there had to be some occasion otherwise she never really dresses up.
“Haan, teek hai, hum challenge tumhare saath, vaise bhi bahuth din se Mandir nahi gaye hum, bhagawanji naraz zaroor honge hum par, unhe bhi toh manana hai.” Bihan said thoughtfully. Thapki smiled at his words. “Tum jao, hum abhi ayenge, ab aise thodi jaa sakte hum.” He asked embarrassingly. Thapki blushed but didn’t move from the spot.
“Oye madam, privacy naam ki bhi cheez hoti hai, tum jao ab.” Bihan said trying to taunt her but failing miserably.
“B.B..bihan woh dadima ne kaha hai ki tumhe who Kurta pehn na hai.” She pointed at the Midnight blue Kurta and Patiala laid out on the bed. “Who aaj ek khas pooja hai mm.mandir mei, toh..”
“Chalo teek hai, aakhir yeh neela rang humara favorite h-“He held his tongue suddenly realizing that Thapki was wearing the color too. The sari must have been a gift by his grandmother. Thapki also understood the significance of her sari. He felt her eyes on him and turned but Thapki averted her gaze and moved out of the room silently.
“B..Bbihan, taiyar ho gaye ho kya? Mujhe andhar aana hai.” Thapki asked tapping on the door.
“Haan..kuch aur kaam hai tumhe?” He asked opening the door. Thapki surveyed him from top to bottom. He had cleaned up well. He always did look cute, she thought, and today he looked handsome, if only he smiled….She took a deep breath before going inside the room. This is going to be difficult.
Bihan watched as she moved to the dresser. She opened the top drawer and took out a small box. Bihan looked on shocked as she took out a pinch of sindoor from the box. She looked up at him from the dresser. Her eyes did not betray any emotion as she smeared the sindoor on her maang. Bihan was left speechless for a second.
“Thapki…” Bihan whispered.
“M..mandir mei pooja hai aaj aur pati-patni donom ko baithna chahiye. Iss pooja mei baitne keliye…ss..suhagan hona zaroori hai, aur yyyeh suhagano ka sindoor..” Thapki brought out her hand towards him, she held a mangalsutra. Bihan looked at her painfully. “aur yeh mangalasutra.” Her face betrayed no emotion. He realized with a jolt that she wanted him to tie it around her neck. He felt like leaving the room. He did not want to do this again. Not like this, he cannot take the responsibility of her pain anymore. A voice laughed in his head, what about your pain you fool. He shook his head at Thapki.
“Bbihan..” She sounded calm, but something snapped inside him at her voice. “Dadima ne mujhse pehle kabhi bhi request nahi ki hai, bas aaj ke liye..” Her eyes met his; it was as if she was drawing him closer to her. He willfully moved towards her, accepting that this was his punishment. Another one of them, the voice said mockingly. She gave him the mangalasutra. He held her shoulder and turned her towards the mirror. He slowly put the mangalasutra around her neck looking into her eyes through the mirror. For a moment Thapki saw a myriad of emotions in his eyes- pain, regret, longing and to her astonishment love. But that was only for a fraction of a second before he pulled the veil over his eyes. Thapki closed her eyes for a moment, she had many things in her mind but today her priority was Bihan. She wanted to tell him that she was not much bothered of the mangalasutra of his name around her neck or the sindoor of the suhagan for she knew that this marriage was not his betrayal. She didn’t know how that could be true but she didn’t care because she was sure he was helpless as she was in this marriage. But she didn’t say anything. In time, she thought, in time Bihan. She opened her eyes and met Bihan’s eyes once more. Happy Birthday, her eyes spoke.
PS- This is an ff taking place days after super bahu competition and new year …3 months are about to end here…just saying if anyone had doubt 🙂