Whole night I sit beside my dad, holding his hand, checking his blood pressure and pulse rate at every half an hour, he is in deep sleep like a baby.
For me this is another consecutive night without sleep. How was I supposed to sleep anyway? In fact I adore the quietness of night, I can ponder over the memories scattered in distant corners in past. Listen to my inner voice. It is like talking to my mom.
I recall, my mom used to tell me, "Life is so unfair to good people." At that time I was not aware that those words were for me. But today when I look at those turbulence and storms that hit me, I realise that!!
I don't know to what extent is my decision to marry Nomaan justified? It's inferred that I am doing this for my dad, but about Nomaan, why is he marrying me?
Well we are like night and day, I don't want to admit but he is naturally striking, he can select anyone from high profile, why would he agree for arranged marriage and that too with me? I am no one compare to him. There must be something fishy about it. And looking at my fate, I am not sure if this marriage will bring any happiness for me???
"Whatever.. I have to do it. .." I huffed. I have to be ready for the future and that is as Tulika Nomaan Arora.. oh god.. isn't there any way to stop this?
"Tuli.." My dad calls out as he opens his eyes. I gulp down my all the confusion and sadness and smile to him cheerfully, "hey.. good morning dad... how are you feeling now?"
My dad answers as I help him get up, "quite better.. but it looks like you didn't sleep whole night..." I chuckle to that and say, "don't worry about me dad, I am night owl" I add widening my eyes. My dad cheerfully laughs to it, gently pat on my shoulder saying, "oh dear.. you always amaze me with your sincerity!!"
I inform, "okay now let me help you to the bathroom.." but my dad resists flexing his arm, "no.. I am strong enough.. I'll go by myself." I laugh and say, "I know.. dad.." and I leave to my room after he left.
After getting refreshed I join my dad for breakfast in his room. All we chat about is stupid funny things. Yeah I have promised to myself that I will never utter a word which will make him stressed.
We are debating on our painting ideas that dad's phone rings, he glance at the screen but doesn't receive it. "Who is it dad?" I ask sipping tea. He sighs, "it's Rishi.. must have called to know our answer about....."
I interrupt him lowering my eyes, "Then say him, I have said 'Yes', that exact moment Nomaan's face appears in front of my eyes."
"What.....???" My dad squeaked with utter shock. I nod my head getting up. I don't want him to notice my red cheeks.
But he interrupts me, "Tuli.. you are doing this for me right?" "Yeah dad.. but I trust you more than myself.. you must have taken this decision for my own good, I don't think I have any reason to oppose it.." I explain.
And the next moment his face beams with most loving smile, "thank you.." he utters with great tenderness and starts dialing.
I lower my eyes pulling myself together, "there is no turning back Tuli.." my heart starts beating faster, my stomach flutters.
All I hear is my dad enthusiastically talking to Rishi uncle, "yeah.. yaar our prayers at Siddhivinayak temple got answered..." I dash out of the room in abashment.
"Tulika.." dad calls out my name, as I step in his room, he instructs with utmost liveliness, "Nomaan is agreed too.." just listening to it a cold wave of chills passes through my spine thinking 'why??'.
But dad is unstoppable today, "this sunday they will be our guest.." he pauses to read my face, "for Roka ceremony.."
Sunday means day after tomorrow.. Oh god everything is happening so quickly, my heart is racing in my ribcage. Then dad slowly adds doubtfully, "if.." "if.. what?" My eyes glitter with this little ray of hope.
Dad explains, "Rishi's mom wants to match your horoscope.. you know.. elders..."
Wow... there is zero possibility that our horoscope will be matched, and I have 100% chances to escape this disaster called marriage. Wow Tuli.. I jump with excitement from inside. "Okay.. Let me bring it to you then.." I utter suppressing my excitement.
I sprint to my room, with lightning speed take my birth chart out and hand it to my dad to capture a photo and send it.
Now whenever dad's phone rings I am all ears..!! But my dad is unbelievably positive, he doesn't seem much worried about that horoscope thing. He gets busy calling decoration, deciding menu, discussing my dress.. he makes me realise that he is the coolest dad ever.. I mean whose father on earth discuss their daughter's attire including every detail..??
I brush off all the uncertainties and join him until his words dashes off my last hope, "Tuli.. Rishi informed me that there are 32 matches and Panditji was saying that yours would be the best couple."
I sarcastically smile to my fate. We don't have a single match in our mentality and Panditji foretold our future to be great by studying positions of planets.. !!
"Tuli.." dad wakes me up from dreadful thoughts. "Get ready.. we are going out for shopping.." First time I felt that I am meeting my real dad. He is joyous, funny and loving.
Saturday too passes in a blink of an eye. Finally it's Sunday morning, I wake up nervous, confused, excited and with many more unexplained emotions.
In fact today I have nothing to do except
getting ready and for that a beautician is here with all her equipment. It takes her almost two and half hour to make me ready in pastel green satin silk lehenga-choli decked with zari, floral resham, embroidery paired with pink net embellish dupatta, she accessorised me with kundan set including hand harness with beaded pink gemstones, she complemented my look with minimal bright make up..my hairs are side swept with loose curls, when she is done, my reflection feels like a stranger to me.
I sit myself on couch holding my breath when our door bell rings. Within ten minutes my maid approaches me, "didi.. your dad is calling you.."
I nod, "hmm.." I start walking with heavy legs, with butterflies erupting in my stomach. As I step in to hall, I feel refreshed with fresh smell of marigolds and roses as it is decorated with floral drapes.
I don't have guts to look at the decoration, I want to keep my eyes low and face down. But the next moment I hear most affectionate voice, "Tulika.. dear.. come here.." and my eyes got caught by a decent old lady, she must be Rishi uncle's mom.. I think.. so I move towards her, a smile lit up her face as she cups my face and pulls me in a warm hug as I try to touch her feet, "daughters don't touch feet.."
She addresses to my dad, "Vishesh, she reminds me of Grishma in her college days.." her eyes keenly observe me, "you and Nomaan are just perfect for each other.. bless you my dear..."
oh..speak of the devil... my heart skips a beat and my eyes moves towards Nomaan.. he is looking like an aristocrat in his midnight blue Italian jodhpuri suit. Well he is struggling not to look at me..
And before our eyes meet, grand ma addresses me,"Come with me.. dear.." she gently holds my hand and accompanies me to the couch, and makes me sit besides Nomaan.
After doing 'Tilak' on my forehead she hands me some gift boxes, sweet boxes along with envelopes, my dad does the same to Nomaan. Then we touch feet of all of the elders and they bless us for our successful new journey.
Then Rishi uncle utters as they all take their seat back.. , "I think Nomaan and Tulika have some misunderstandings for each other so it would be better if it's been resolved at this time. So they can give a fresh start. So Vishesh if you say then let them both give some privacy.."
Dad addresses to us getting up, "we all are really looking forward to it. Okay.."
Then they all leave the hall, to visit our garden.. I just sit on a couch quietly, really numb and nervous, but today I am not in a mood to start any arguments.
Suddenly Nomaan clears his throat, "It was our dad's idea.." I narrow my eyes, "what..?" He repeats rolling his eyes, "the news prank.. was our dad's.."
"What...??" I squeak in disbelief. He puts forefinger to his nose, "shhhh.. don't let them know now.." I ask, disturbed from with in, "but why...??"
Nomaan shrugs, "may be they wanted us to meet again, you know to discuss that thing.. but you blamed me without thinking.. I think your dad doesn't know you completely.. does he?" He asks giving mocking chuckle.
"I am sorry.." I rolled my eyes. He bursts into laughter, "what did you just say...? I didn't hear it.." oh.. god.. his dimples, why don't I have even one?
I brush off that thought saying, "sorry for your project.." "let bygones be bygones.. "he twitches. "But don't tell them anything.."
"Yeah.. it doesn't matter now.. but please don't utter anything about that money to my dad.." I requested being tensed.
He crosses his fingers, "I won't.. as you are marrying me.." he winks. Is he flirting with me? Please someone tell me that I am not blushing..
I ask him with a sigh, "but why do you...?" "I have my reasons.." he interrupted, piercing me through with his sharp gaze.
"And.." he pauses for a while as if in deep regret, "you are not telling about your abduction to my family.. will you?"
"Of course not.." I say flatly remembering that frightful event. I notice his naughty smirk.
"Knock..knock.." my maid interrupts, "didi.. everyone is waiting for you on dining table.." "yeah... " I reply getting up. "Come.." I address to Nomaan... but it feels so awkward.
In dining room, only two adjacent chairs are empty. We sit there silently. As the food is served, everyone is busy savouring the delicacies except for me.. yeah my taste buds are numb today.
After lunch, as we sit back in hall to chat, my dad proudly informs about my painting skills and as if Nomaan was waiting he utters, "I would love to see her art work.."
"Of course.." my dad replies enthusiastically, "Tulika..." he gestures me to accompany Nomaan. I get up suppressing my annoyance.
As we trot up the stairs he admits, "it's such a nice place.." "thanks.." I say opening my art room. I don't know how much he knows about art but he seriously admires my work.
I am busy in arranging the frames that he exclaims with pleasure, "hey..I want to buy this one.." I facepalm myself .. looking at the portrait he is pointing to...omg I totally forgot.
"Wow.. yaar.. this is insane.. I mean how can you draw such a stunning picture of mine.. it's.. it's better than actual me.." he adds with bewilderment.
I am red with embarrassment. "You are great artist Tuli.." The way he addressed me, why does it make me feel like I am on cloud nine?
His phone rings. "It's dad.." he says. We dash to ground floor. As we sit. My dad clears his throat, "we were discussing about the dates, according to Panditji all the possible dates of your marriage are in October.."
Oh god this is already August.. I try to say slowly, "but dad.." but he raises his hand to interrupt, "after that there is no dates available for whole next year.."
This Panditji seems to be my enemy from the past..I roll my eyes. "I think we will do the preparations.. Tuli.. what do you say Nomaan?" My dad asks.
"As you all decide.." he answers with naughty grin. "Okay.. then wedding date will be 27th of October.. as we have very less time left, we will keep engagement on a day before your marriage." Explains Grand ma. "Is it alright for you dear??" She asks me.
I was listening to her with wide eyes, really annoyed thinking why on earth I am not able to take any decision by myself.. ?? it's my marriage afterall.. but it's like they have planned everything so I don't argue though I am screaming from inside..
My dad snaps to wake me up from my thoughts and I nod my head in agreement.. suddenly I glance at Nomaan, his eyes are on me. really strange!!!
After enjoying dessert and exchanging gifts, they get up to leave. Grand ma, well Nomaan calls her Gran.. she bid adieu by embracing me. I bow to uncle, well he is my dad-in-law now, he blesses me. Obviously Nomaan is last one to leave, "bye.." he waves. "Bye.." I respond in a low voice.
I am thinking how ironically a single ceremony changes all the relationships around you...!!!
"Tuli.." My dad orders, "whatever pending work you have.. I can give you week to complete it otherwise cancel your orders.. then you won't have any time left to paint and draw.. and just tell me which designer is your favourite..? we will ask them to design your wardrobe.."
I inform furrowing to my dad, "dad.. we don't have to do that.. cause I know what are you going through and I really don't want this type of extravagance.."
But my dad holds my hand and utters with a smile, "I want everything perfect for my daughter.. you just start shopping.. call Mrunal and Simran if you want.. okay??"
Here I am totally confused thinking where to start and there Arora family decided to throw announcement party at their place a day after tomorrow..
Next day I wake up, do my routine, my dad is quite a busy in his company so he leaves after breakfast. I want to sort things out,
that I hear a door bell, as my maid opens the door, I see Nomaan enters in our home.
I get up to greet him formally, "hi.." well I am somewhat embarrassed thinking, "what is he doing here? He should have called me first..
He clears his throat to interrupt my chain of thoughts.. I say, "please have a sit.." my maid serves him water. He hands me a box and utters,"umm.. there is a dress for you, which you gonna wear tomorrow.."
I observe him thinking, "did Nomaan buy dress for me?" But he answers as he has read my thoughts, "Gran told me to.. so you try it.. "
I leave the hall and sprint to my room to try that dress. As I come back, I hand him the box, "well the dress is very beautiful.. but I can't wear it.. sorry.."
Nomaan asks with confusion, "and why is that so?" I shrug, "it's too revealing.."
Nomaan rolls his eyes annoyingly, "oh.. c'mon.. it's just a sleeveless dress... don't you think is it okay for the party..?"
I twitch my lips,"ummm..it's not about the sleeves but it's about cleavage.."
He furrows his brows, "what..?" So I clear my throat,"the dress has a very deep neck and I am not comfortable in it."
"Oh.." He gets up with jerk telling me, "okay.. come with me then... " I just don't understand him so I ask, "what..? Where?"
But he says, "to buy a dress.. now wear your shoes and join me.. I am getting late for my work.." he adds getting up.
"I am not going anywhere with you.." I oppose.
He twitches his lips, bringing out his mobile, "okay.. let me ask to your dad then.." "don't.." I stop him, "I am coming.." I close my eyes annoyingly.
"Good girl.." he grins. I speedily get ready, binding my hairs in a bun without combing as he is continuously hammering on me telling he is getting late. It's just at the end time I remember to grab a purse.
At his car. I open the back door but he annoyingly utters, "oh... hello.. I am not your driver.. just take front seat okay.."
I seat there unwillingly, "now.. fasten your seatbelt.." he orders. He is driving crazily fast.
I roll my eyes looking at the speed, "first you drive fast, then blame others saying that they are doing for money.." he glances at me with jerk, "hello.. ma'am... that day you were driving with your eyes closed.." he pauses looking at the road, "but now I know the reason.. sorry for your mom.." he apologizes sincerely..!! I heave a sigh.
Suddenly I remember, "and your mom..." I guessed reading his face that he is like me.."Hmm.. when I was 10.." he adds. "Sorry.." I say with regret all over my face. He just nods in reply..
We drove rest of the way in silence, it's around half an hour later Nomaan pulls up his car infront of very big showroom.. I follow Nomaan inside.. as Nomaan enters all the sales girls greet Nomaan with flirty smiles.. but none of them even noticed me.. like I am not present.
One of them is over reacting so she utters, "Good morning sir, welcome back to our shop, what can I do for you sir..? they all are being coquettish, but he is ignoring them.
Nomaan seriously utters as if he is used to these kind of behaviour, "I want the most decent dress for her..." and then they all set their eyes on me.. with curiosity, with jealousy..
One of them plasters a perfect fake smile. "don't worry we have whatever she wishes for.. and drags me to ladies section.. she makes me sit on a chair and asks formally, "okay.. so ma'am what type of dress do you want..?"
I reply, "party dress.. but which can cover my body not reveal it.." the girl smiles saying, "got it.." then she starts showing me one by one amazing dresses.. I am busy choosing.. that another sales girl approaches me asking, "hey.. are you his friend?"
I nod my head to say 'no'.. still my eyes on dresses. But she continues, "then girlfriend?" I raise my eyes to look at her, she is glaring at me. I twitch my lips to answer, 'no'..annoyingly
Then who are you? It really hurts me to say but you are too beautiful to be his maid.. I look at her with jerk, what the hell is she speaking? I generally don't care for this types of comments but today I don't like it, it hurt me, though I try to concentrate on dresses..
But she continues as if she can't accept the fact that I am with Nomaan. She adds.., "okay then let me guess.. you are Nomaan's Es......" but her sentence is cut half by a low but stern voice, "She is my fiancee.. do you have any problem with that..? just do your work otherwise I will make sure you will loose this job just in a minute.." I notice both of the girls' faces become pale.
I look at Nomaan, first time it feels good that he is here.. my eyes are moist thinking, it won't be easy for me, to be Nomaan's wife. I don't deserve to be with him.
But another sales girl interrupts me as she hands me glass of soft drink apologising, "please forgive her.." then I come to know that Nomaan is sitting besides me, glancing at the pile of the dresses. he says, "I want something special..if you have any?"
Then the girl answers, "actually we have very special limited edition dress..if you want.." Nomaan nods his head and she opens a box.. that my eyes got widened.. it is a red sequinned floor length dress...
Nomaan orders firmly, "go and try it.." I reply, "it's okay.. I don't need to try it..." then Nomaan utters in a very low voice, "just try it.. then don't complain about cleavage and all.. cause you have to wear this dress only.. clear...?"
As I turn my head to him angrily, his eyes move to my chest, I get up twitching my lips, cover my chest by snatching the dress from the girl.. fine let's try it.
The girl leads me to changing room, It's the best fitted silhouette dress with square neck and short sleeves. That girl asks, "ma'am do you like it..?" I say 'yes' with a smile.. then she leads me to the shoes section asking, "do you wear heels?"
I say 'no' so she herself chooses a medium heeled red pumps for me, she wants me to buy hand bag too but I deny saying, "it's okay.. I don't need it."
She packs dress and shoes for me, Nomaan is about to give his credit card that I stop him saying, "I'll pay for it.."
He asks me back, "are you sure?" I say firmly, "yes" obviously I have 50k in my purse, as I don't use credit or debit card..
But when she spoke the amount, I am just shocked cause she said, "ma'am your dress is 420 and shoes is 36 so by adding both, you have to pay 456.... I don't get her so I ask 456 means..? she elaborates, "ma'am you have to pay 4 lakh 56 thousand.." I ask "wait.. I didn't buy any gold or platinum jewellery right?"
She laughs to me saying, "no ma'am.. but this is Dolce and Gabbana.. what do you expect..?" I am about to cancel the purchase that Nomaan hands her his credit card saying, "she is funny.. pack those.." I am loss for words.. my brain is in utter shock!!!
Oh god.. these people are just impossible.. as we step out, I am still busy thinking about the price that Nomaan asks, "why didn't you tell anything to that girl?" I sigh, "I pity her.. after all her heart gets broken.." Nomaan rolls his eyes, "shut up.." he glances at his wrist watch so I inform, "it's okay.. I'll go back by myself.. you should leave to your office."
So he calls the cab for me then leaves saying, "see you tomorrow at 7:00.. don't be late.. and yeah.. I enjoyed your company.." my jaw drops, cause he is blushing.
I get in the cab thinking what has just happened, Then I recall that girl's words.. do I look like a maid..?or Es... what can be that word?
I say to myself, "welcome to Nomaan's world..." but his mood was good today, or he is really good person with bad temper, well I wish he is.. still I am confused about my feelings, does he like me? Well atleast he saved me from embarrassment.. oh god... whatever it is.. I just wish tomorrow ends quickly..
The whole day my mind is occupied to match the accessories, to decide the hair style.. at night as my dad arrives, I tell him what happened today, he is listening to me with smile. but I ask, "dad.. he has just spent 4 lakh for the dress, do you think I will fit in with them?"
My dad answers with utmost confidence, "of course you will.. it's not brands we wear but our thinking define who we truly are.. and you are my gem..and I bet Rishi knows that" he proudly cups my face. I give him confused smile.
"Don't think too much.. go get some sleep.. tomorrow is a really big day.. as everyone will know that you are my daughter.." my dad heaved a worried sigh.
He can't be stressed so I swiftly change the topic, "what are you gonna wear?" And It took us two hours to decide his attire.
It's 11:00pm when I retire to bed with Nomaan all over my mind. And 'ting..' a notification pop up on screen of my cellphone. It's Nomaan..
Nomaan: Hii.. did you get there safely?
Nomaan: wht R U doin?
Me: trying to get some sleep.
Nomaan: heading home🤷♂️
Me: this much late?
Nomaan: K. C U morrow then.
Me: ok..good night.
And I close my eyes with a smile.
Next day, as expected my dad gets busy in phone calls, as he is inviting some of our closed ones.
I am staring at the ceiling, lying on bed. These parties, I never really liked them. The word itself is enough to give me goosebumps... well in a scary way..
At 5:00pm my dad leaves saying, "there will be our guests too so I should help Rishi.. I will send Rishi's driver for you."
"No dad.. I'll call the cab.." I say and I get busy with my beautician to make myself ready. First I change to my dress, they curl my hairs to bind them in cascading half up and half down hairstyle.
They just change my look with smokey eyes and red lips, accessarise me with red diamond earrings and matching bracelet.
Omg it's already 6:00.. I think wearing that red pumps, I hurriedly call the cab.
It's after almost fifteen minutes the driver informs that he is at my doorstep. As I am about to get in crossing the road..
I hear, "Oh my god.. Tulika.." I turn my head, It's Viansh looking at me from the window of his car.