It has just been a month since Preeti finished her graduation. Rather than applying for an engineering job, she preferred to attempt the bank exams as she failed to succeed in getting placed in a multinational company. One day, her father called her early in the morning and said, “I haven’t told you but I have been wanting to get you married, and finally, I found a boy who is completely suitable for you." Looking at her shocked face, he continued saying, “The boy is attractive and earns around ninety thousand a month in InfoTech, a software enterprise."
Preeti was terrified listening to her father; she had many fears ever since her adolescence, and marriage for her was a terror! Her father paused for a response while she was digesting what she just heard. He understood that she was unprepared for his proposal.
However, it was his responsibility to get her married. So he again continued saying, “I know it is a hard for you to accept under given circumstances, but you must understand that you should get married someday. I have taken utmost concern in selecting this boy and every single aspect of him is perfect!”
In order to convince her, he said, “As you know it has been two years since I retired and you have anyway completed your graduation a few months ago. This is an ideal time for this occasion!”
Preeti could do nothing but nod her head as she could not share her problem with her father. Even if she tried to, she knew that her parents would not be supportive as it is tabooed in India. She also knew that even if they supported it, people in their neighborhood would look down upon their family for a lifetime.
Unable to express her problem, she said straight away, “Father, I have never thought of marriage till now. I need some time to think.” That afternoon after their lunch, Preeti and her mother were chit-chatting about various family issues and her mother randomly brought the marriage topic. She wanted Preeti to accept it and assured that the boy was well disciplined and fairly religious. She thought that he was the perfect groom for her.
Preeti was a bit taken aback after the chat and wanted to confess about her problem. Just before she started, her mother continued saying, “Your father’s health is deteriorating and in the recent medical tests it has been confirmed that he has both diabetes and blood pressure. Moreover, your marriage issue is making him tensed.”
Listening to her, Preeti couldn't even speak a word. She knew that her father had high hopes on her marriage, so she wanted to express her problem to the boy on the first meeting. After planning her course of action, she accepted her father’s request of arranging a meeting with the boy’s family.
Her father’s happiness knew no bounds and within two months the families met. All the family members of the groom had arrived and after an hour of formal talks, Preeti and Rahul were given some private time to talk. Both of them met on the lawn behind the house. Rahul admitted frankly without any introduction saying, “I have nothing more to say, you look beautiful and I have no problem marrying you.” But for Preeti, it was a hard to break the news to him. It was especially hard because he was a complete stranger. However, it was her only chance. So ignoring the consequences she said, “Rahul, you are handsome. I won't say you are not, but I must tell you that I have always been interested in girls and I have a girlfriend named Manisha!"
Rahul was first taken back; he did not expect such a confession. He acted as if he thought about it for a moment while Preeti stood still. After few minutes of silence he said, “Fine, even then I will marry you. I will give you all the freedom you want. You can even bring your girlfriend to our home whenever you want. Even after marriage, I assure you that I will not touch you until there will be a day when you yourself would come to me."
Preeti could not believe what she just heard. She expected him to create an issue and assumed that he would at any cost reject the marriage.
Soon enough, Rahul walked back to the drawing room where all the members were seated, and stated, “We spoke to each other and am interested in getting married as soon as possible.”
All the family members cheered with joy. Preeti could not understand where exactly he was heading to. Within a year, both of them were married. Preeti tried to convince Rahul not to marry her many times, but he assured her that everything would be fine. As promised, Rahul did not touch her after marriage, he acted as all husbands after marriage except for one thing. He was, to her surprise, a good cook. He also took her to the movies, mostly late in the nights, which she adored watching. He even took her to the beauty parlor every month. As days passed, Preeti felt bad about herself for being unfair to her husband. She could see her husband was chivalrous to her while she was clearly not as good to satisfy his needs. Soon, she started to think more about him and as days passed, she nearly changed her course. As a first attempt, she wanted to have lunch with him and wanted it to be their first date.
Preeti cooked food and reached Rahul’s office in her car the next day. It was her first visit to Rahul’s office so she had to enquire at the receptionist about him. The receptionist asked her who she was. Preeti answered her, saying she was Rahul’s wife. The receptionist soon called Rahul but got no response, so she requested Preeti to wait for a while, but Preeti requested the receptionist to tell her the room number as it was none other than her husband. Preeti with a rejuvenated blood filled with great enthusiasm reached the room and took a deep breath while waiting behind the door.
She adjusted her dress, and hair and opened the door without knocking. She was awestruck finding her husband kissing another man. That very moment she understood why he always kept saying, “It is alright!” She knew that the best thing for a gay above anything else is to marry a lesbian.
“Shit! She saw us”, yelled Rahul looking at Preeti who just walked in. Meanwhile, Preeti walked out after the disgusting sight. She almost reached her car as Rahul rushed behind to reach her. Just before she opened the door, Rahul stopped her. He could see the sheer disappointment in his wife’s eyes. He knew her heart was shattered. He understood that he had to tell her about what really happened six months ago and his motive to marry her.
So, he got into the car along with her and on the way back home, Rahul started narrating his story. He said, “Preeti, I want to confess everything and I want you to patiently listen to me.” She was driving the car paying no heed to him. Since Rahul had no other option, he continued, “It all started three years ago, when Arvind and I got along well and started a relationship. For about two years, everything was good and our relation remained secretive. However, when we graduated and started working, our families started pestering us to get married. I was scared like you were about the marriage. However, six months ago, both of us came up with the idea of marrying you and Manisha. We presumed that by doing so, we would neither be socially accused of sinister behavior nor would we betray and destroy two girls’ lives.”
Hearing him, Preeti hit the brakes and looked at Rahul, stunned. For her, it was way too much to digest for a day. She could not respond as she was now in a state where she could not curse her husband, or agree to what he just said. The rest of the journey and the date which Preeti planned finally happened, but mutely.
Preeti broke the silence declaring, “I understand that you have done a favor for both of us. I also appreciate it and so I am going to return your favor by finding my lover back.”
Rahul was relieved. He said, “I knew you would understand. Win her back and lead a happy life. I’ve always believed that both of us were destined to get married.”
Preeti left to meet Manisha two days later and on her way she spent hours thinking about how Manisha first proposed to her. She recollected how she admired her but still rejected her proposal for about four months. After that, she could no longer stay away and that was when both of them started a relationship. Preeti always liked the way Manisha fondled her. Manisha showered more love than what her husband shows on her now. It was almost late in the night when she reached Manisha’s home.
Though it was late, Preeti did not even call as she wanted to surprise Manisha and to her surprise, the house was locked. So, she called Manisha but she did not take the call. Later, she called Manisha’s mother and that call was not taken too.
As a last resort, she called Riya who was their mutual friend since college. Riya was surprised to see Preeti calling and attended the call. Soon, both of them met in Riya’s house which was about three lanes across Manisha’s. Preeti asked Riya as soon as she got refreshed of Manisha’s absence. Riya was shocked to know that Preeti didn't know what really happened.
She thought Preeti had come to support Manisha’s mother but now she understood that Preeti knew nothing. Both of them sat in the drawing room. Riya said, “I don't know how to say this... but Manisha has recently... committed suicide.” Preeti not even for a moment believed what she heard. She said, "What? Are you insane? That is no joke!"
Observing the seriousness in Riya's tone, tears started flowing down Preeti’s cheeks. She could hear nothing and in just a few seconds she collapsed to the floor. A few minutes later, Preeti was back to her senses but, she could not control herself from crying. Riya shouted for the fourth time, “Are you alright?” Preeti nodded her head indicating a yes but was still crying. Riya was herself in grief since the last three days and she cried so much that her parents were worried about her and even stopped her from going to the funeral but for Preeti, her life took a huge turn in the past few days. She could no longer remain silent understanding everything. So she shouted, “What the hell happened?”
Riya took a huge breath and in a sad tone started saying, “Just a week after your marriage, Manisha returned from the US. As soon as she returned, the first person she asked for was you. She was informed by her mother that you got married. Manisha did not believe what she heard. As you know Manisha’s mother was kind of supportive to your relation but even her mother advised Manisha to get married and forget you. Manisha disapproved saying you would in no way live staying away from her and traveled to your city to know what happened. She followed you for a few days and was taken aback when she found you enjoying movies and beauty parlors with your husband which you once visited with her. Later one night, she came to my home and told everything to me. She was sobbing while saying that she was replaced and that you hold no more of your feelings towards her.”
Riya looked at Preeti who still sat weeping. She couldn't ask Preeti to control herself as she just lost half of her life but she tried to give her a reason saying, “I could understand that Manisha could not accept what changed in just a vacation but not even in my dreams did I think that she would kill herself in the pain.”
The following day, Preeti took the first bus to go to her parents. When she arrived, she could find her father sitting in the living room, watching television. He rose to hug her in surprise and both of them sat on the sofa. Preeti asked him about her mother and he told her that she had gone to the temple.
Preeti told all that happened to her in the past week and confessed her sexuality. When she finished, Preeti’s father in a bereaved tone said, “Just a few days ago, I got a call from Manisha’s mother shouting at my actions that led her daughter’s life to ruin. After a day I came to know that Manisha committed suicide."
Preeti started crying thinking of her again but her father hugged and whispered “Here is a small secret that I never wanted you to know all your life. I knew you were a homosexual long before your marriage. That’s the reason I asked you to marry Rahul so many times. I wanted you to be happy as I knew he was a gay. Forgive me for not accepting your choices and not valuing your relations, forgive me for fearing the society."
He broke down completely and said, “I am sorry Preeti, I am very sorry. I never wanted any parent to weep on their child's grave just for moral good in the society.”