I returned home from college and saw my father with a huge smile plastered across his face. I smiled back, still trying to figure out the reason. “We have found a suitable husband for you; you will not have to go to college now” my father said, still beaming and my smile faded at once. I went looking for my mother to the backyard of our house. “I do not want to get married, I am the topper at my college, I want to pursue masters, how... how can you send me off just like that?” tearful, I asked my mother. “The boy earns good, he will keep you well”, Mother replied coldly and went back inside.
I sat on the floor in my room tortured by countless thoughts; I could not stop crying, neither could I comprehend why was this happening. No college, no friends, no more studying; all has to stop because some boy who saw my picture felt that I was a good piece of meat. I was a sheep, fattened for years only to be decorated, presented and sold. I kept staring at the wall for hours. Night descended and the thoughts of eloping surrounded me. I could not go anywhere, I was alone and scared. I had memories of my father narrating stories of princesses being rescued and happy endings, mother cuddling me until I slept, and it would drive away all my fears. Where should I go now?
The boy’s family was in a hurry and the wedding was scheduled in five days. I sat in my room, the same room which has everything decorated according to my taste, the curtains, the clock, the wall paint, all my choices. But no one asked me anything this time, no one had the time, no one bothered.. Everyone around me was rushing to get things done, comfort of long forgotten relatives became a priority over own daughter.
The doorbell rang and my mother gestured me to open the door. There stood a stranger in his late thirties, inappropriately suited up in this summer. “Come in, son! someone fetch a glass of water” my father shouted in excitement. And just then my mother cut in, “Son-in-law, why did you take the trouble of coming down here, we could have sent the list”.
I felt like someone had stabbed me in my stomach, swirled the knife around, repeatedly. “You have seen each other, you can go somewhere and talk” my father who had taught me not to talk to strangers, suggested as he gestured us towards the garden, still smiling. I was numb, just like before. I walked behind their son-in-law, holding back my tears. “You look prettier in person than in the picture” he said as I looked the other way. “Do you like children?” he asked me. I did not respond. “Do not worry, we’ll surely have our own within a year” I wanted to slap him, but he would still have married me. The ceremony was just a decorative wrap around a planned rape. Unlike all other gifts my parents bought for me, this would be the most difficult to unwrap.
My father came running later, with a list of things. “All the things are ready, just like your father said.” My father told his son-in-law and gestured me to go back inside. I saw my mother, tensed and asked her, “What?” “We’re just hoping that they agree on the list we made, you see we cannot afford to give so much in five days,” my mother said and I walked back to my room. Once in a lifetime opportunity it was for the son-in-law, that is if he did not remarry. After all he was getting a new car, electronics, furniture and even the camera that I was denied last month because we could not afford it then.
No, nothing changed; everything proceeded the way it was planned.
I looked up to my father; was I looking down?
My tears dried and hopes ceased,
Ceremony hosted a feast,
my pains were savoured.
There stood the man, double my age.
There stood me, his lifelong bait.
Had I dared raise my voice;
it would have been snatched away.
They said it was god’s choice;
But I could find none to pray.
He forced himself on me, not for an instant withdraw;
Will my father still smile at his son-in-law?