In the wee hours of the morning, the bride to be sat near the foot of her bed, facing the west, the direction of Qiblah. It had been a long night. Her father had returned from the hospital just an hour before Fajr prayers. For some reasons, it seemed to her that he had aged by years in the last night.
The transverse grooves on his forehead had deepened and the bags under his eyes had become more prominent overnight. He wouldn’t say what happened but she knew it very well. They had almost reached a point of calling off the wedding.
“Things are not good now”, he had told her.
She couldn’t think of any argument, she had nothing to say. She was desensitised to the new reality of her life which had been delivered to her in a split second, like a blow coming from nowhere. Three days ago her home was cloaked in festivities.
Her wedding was scheduled for the next week. So much had been done and there still was so much to do. The firewood had been stacked up in the backyard and the store was suffused with the aroma of spices. Every day she would see a bunch of people walking in and out of her house, it was a highly anticipated wedding in the family. Highly anticipated, till that warm Friday afternoon.
The men had finished the Friday prayers. Her groom was with a group of men walking back home from the Masjid. It had been a curfew day, the soldiers laid a concertina wire across the road. He had stepped forward to remove the wire so that the older men could pass by.
The soldiers had fired at him. The men saw his white kurta become red with blood. He was shifted to a hospital in Srinagar. That’s all they told her.
She had tried to fill in the gaps in this narrative, sometimes by asking people, sometimes from the news. They didn’t tell her but she knew. She knew he was hurt badly, she knew what lay ahead of her. She was numb but she had already taken the most important decision of her life.
The October sunlight came in filtered through the wilted autumn leaves. It was morning already. On her left was the half open wicker box containing her trousseau. She went up to it and opened the flap-like lid. It was full of colours. Red, green, blue and multiple shades of pink.
One by one, she shifted each dress she had painstakingly selected a month back, till she reached the transparent plastic bag with a golden zipper.
It had her wedding dress.
She had fretted over it for over a month. The colour had been finalised instantly without much dissent. It had to be green, his favourite colour. Every other night she had nightmares that her dress didn’t turn out perfect. That the tailor lost her measurements, that his iron had been too hot and had left a triangular blotch on the shimmering green.
Three days back, her wedding dress was her primary concern. She couldn’t have even conceived what she was faced with today. She unzipped the bag and took out her dress. With her eyes closed, she ran her hands over the smooth fabric. She was trying to memorise what each fibre felt like. She couldn’t see the magnificent green but she started appreciating the beauty of the dress by touch.
What if her groom couldn’t see her with his pellet ridden eyes? What if he couldn’t appreciate the green she had chosen specially for him? She still would dress up for her big day and appreciate the beauty of their imperfect life with him by her sense of touch. She would still be his bride.
This is a work of fiction.
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