There was a drum beating outside the front gate. With loud roars. Waiting for her to step out. There were bright lights shining from every corner onto one spot. Decorative and flashy. Waiting for her to step out. There was a bed of rose petals laid down on the carpet. Red and fragranced. Waiting for her to step out. There was a swarm of musicians lined up with their instruments in hand. Enthusiastic and ready. There were tables filled with different kinds of food. Starters to desserts. There was glam and glitz; glass and class; sophistication and attraction; richness and brilliance. The arrangements all gave her the feel of the high life. She wasn’t just living it, but was the centre of it all. To say that she was the axis that the globe was revolving around, would be no exaggeration.
She shut her eyes for a minute and tried to live in the moment. She breathed it in and let it seep in. She gave herself time and space, what she deserved and what she still had control over. Everything was in place and everything was right. If anything would go wrong, it would be handled. The bucks ensured that. But she couldn’t help but feel a little insecure. Uncertain and riddled. There was something about the whole ambience that wasn’t quite right. The sound of the music, the chatter outside, the laughter and the loud cackles were getting to her. It blocked her mind, strained her thoughts and immobilized her body. It was this instant that she realized all that was fixated on her. Reality borne down on her and her shoulders sagged. She wanted to give up, this time more than ever before. There was only so much weight that she could carry. Respect, honour and prestige on one side; prosperity, status and power on the other. She was the balance and the ore that both the sides extracted their benefits from. What use was it if she is unable to protect and stand for her father’s dignity? What use if she cannot enter into a conjugal bond with the man she would always be answerable to? The money and the authority changes hands from her paternal guardians to her in-laws, as she is supposed to have changed ‘sides’, eventually. Was it really her that he was marrying? Of course she is not a fool to believe that. She knew the face of the actual world. She was aware of how it functioned. Now is the time that she steps up and steps out. She would on her own now. It didn’t imply independence, she would never be on her own if that is the reference. It meant that she would now be tested for everything that she was taught and drilled into. Everything that she was conditioned into accepting as the natural order of things, would begin now. She had to stand up. She had to stand erect and take hold of all that had been invested in her; the diamonds, the rings, the sarees, the suits, the gifts, the sweets, the shirts, the decoration, the jazz, the show. What matched her level of comprehension was that she was supposed to serve. From her father’s class, she was now going to enter her husband’s class. She had to serve and she had to do it well. She had to remember that she is inferior and that she has nowhere else to go, but them. She had to serve the mother, the father, the brother, the brother’s wide, the uncle, the aunt, the sister. She had to bear a child a child when the time would come. The time, she was told, would come when he would say so. She had known it all, but it was getting too much for this instant. Her mind was flooded with all that she knew and she wished she didn’t know any of it. But she did and there was no humanly possible way that she could forget it.
To be honest, she was scared. She was scared that the spotlight would shine on her and she would give way. She was scared that the heads would turn towards her and she would turn hers away. She was scared that the speakers would blare in her name and she would go deaf. She was scared that she’ll look into the hopeful, expecting eyes of her parents and she would no longer have the strength to cheat herself. She was terrified that she would not be able to lie to herself anymore. She was afraid that she would let her heart win over. She was haunted by the knowledge that the chance of escaping aren’t thin. She was petrified that her consciousness and her self-love will gain precedence. She was scared witless that she would use that window for her final answer. She was sweating as her thoughts grew in number and in severity. She was panicking. If she had to describe the most paralysing moment of her life, it would be always be this. She was paralysed with the fear of being free. If she had to describe the moment she lived for herself, it would be this. She was breathing heavily and deeply, feeling stronger. If she had to describe a moment that almost took her life away, it would be this. She knew that even one step towards the window and she wouldn’t stop and it would never be the same. If she had to describe the moment that she surprised herself, it would be this. She never knew she held herself in such reverence. If she had to describe a moment that transformed her definition of herself and who she was, it would be this. After all, she was no longer the same person as she was on this day ten years back.
She had ignored the drums, the lights, the music, the roses, the food. She had taken the plunge. The lead towards that window. She had managed to decide for herself and carve her own life, where her shoulders didn’t sag and her face never turned away. She didn’t come close to that moment when she thought she’d give up. There was one world and one globe and one axis that it all revolved around and she was at the centre of all of it. But for the first time, she was happy about it.