Varanasi, also known as Kashi is a city of Religion, Culture, Colors, Temples and Festivals. The city is bathed in the purity of the prolific Ganges. The captivating aroma of the censers envelops the city in the moth hour of evening. Sitting on the banks of this serene river in the cold winter evening I marveled at the strength of the city. How for centuries this place held on to it’s beliefs. How it never let the gradual progress in technology plunder it’s faith or it’s culture. The holiest city in India where several spiritual books were written. And it’s not surprising why people often visit this place for peace of mind, enlightenment or even salvation.
My purpose however did not involve any of the above. My reason for visiting this blessed city was a wedding. Not a family wedding but a “My father’s close friend’s daughter whom I never met” wedding. I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to it. I was hardly interested. The only factor that urged me to pack my luggage was to visit the place where I spent the initial 4 years of my life.
We had moved from Varanasi 14 years back. In search for better opportunities, progress and facilities. Urbanization, as you may call it. But flashes of broken memories still teased me. As if waiting for me to re-live them.
But I’m not here to tell you about my visit to the place or my experience. I’m here to tell you about something or rather someone I met during my 3 days stay. And this it how it goes.
I was sitting in a room packed with ladies chatting. Frequent giggles and “I don’t really mean it” compliments swept the place. Sweets and fancy starters were being served and crunches and bites were audible. The room was decorated with lighting and flowers. Daisy’s I suppose, but who cares. I sat in the corner of the room. Observing people like I usually do. I saw busy waiters waiting for this darn thing to be over. Boys flirting their way with the bridesmaids. I saw the bride’s father heavily occupied with several papers, a cell phone in his left ear and also pointing the direction to some guest. Little kids running around, oblivious to the occasion.
When I was done with my share of observing, I dived my way in my cell-phone. Trying to pass the seemingly long hours. I was engrossed in reading my facebook homepage when someone came and sat beside me. Without looking up I shifted to the side to make room for the other person. After a few minutes I saw a hand in front of me, “Hi, I’m Farheen.”
I looked up abruptly, half-expecting an interesting conversation.
I must admit that the girl was probably one of the most beautiful girls I had ever seen. Don’t doubt my sexuality, I’m straight. But sweet lord she was mesmerizing. I only wondered at the number of approaches she might be getting. She wore a white dress with a cloth covering her head. She had pale white skin like snow and black glistening eyes that shimmered with a starry glow.
“So you’re here from the groom’s side?” she asked with a warm smile.
“No, from the bride’s.”
See, I’m not really good in starting a conversation and I’m even bad in continuing them with a stranger. This obviously applied here as well.
For a moment we were silent. Then she asked me a question that was well, spontaneous.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“Well.” I said befuddled, “I want to be a columnist..” She nodded in appreciation.
“And you?” I asked, judging the flow of the conversation.
“Well , I don’t think I’ll be able to become something. My parents will get me married after I finish school.”
Before I could say a word, she got up and said, “I was here for the bride’s make-up and looks like I’m needed now. It was nice meeting you. Bye.”
I sat there frozen. I barely listened to what she said. My mind kept focussing on ‘My parents will get me married after I finish school.’
I couldn’t believe how someone could something so atrocious and despicable to a person. I was furious at her condition. I wanted to help her. I was frustrated and wanted to get some fresh air. It agitated me that she wasn’t ALLOWED to fulfill her dreams but the thing that bothered me more was her genuine acceptance of the situation. How hopeless she was. There was no air of struggle or fight in her. Maybe because she gave up. Such a beautiful girl who needed to appreciated by the world lived the life of a prisoner. I barely think any boy got near her, let alone APPROACHES.
I came back to my city after the jaded wedding. For some days I thought about her. Planned to help her when I grow up. But soon I got engulfed in my own daily routine and carried on with my life . But her memory is still etched in my brain. What happened to her. Whether she’s married or still makes up the brides. I can’t possibly know. And I’ll be staunchly honest to you, I don’t even want to know.