Middle Ground

The season of weddings had arrived, again. That time of the year when my college friends returned from Silicon Valley to wed a homely Indian girl. For someone who despises the institution of marriage,like me, it is a dreadful time. Not only do we have to face the disgust of those RSVP cards where ‘+1’ goes unchecked but also the barrage of unwarranted matrimonial advice.

That said, Anand had been a wonderful room-mate and his traditional South Indian wedding was not to be missed.The delicious food and a chance to revisit Chennai, my favorite city, was something I looked forward to. The fact that my closest friend was also attending the event just sealed the deal.

I stalked each table, searching for her reassuring face amidst graceful silk sarees and intricately embroidered kurtas. The ravishing beauty was sitting in a corner, all alone, tapping her delicate fingers on the white table-cloth. Like always, elegantly dressed in a white saree, hair tied in a loose bun and thick kohl over her eyes, she exuded a charm not many could escape from. I was meeting her after a few busy months and I sensed something was really amiss.

‘I think I have seen you somewhere. Aren’t you Adrita?’
‘And I thought your lines would have improved. Could you ever be on time?’

‘Well, Old habits die hard. I expected a hug’. Ah! Finally her shy smile.
‘You look fit, finally.

‘But you seem to be troubled. What’s with the monosyllabic replies to my lovely letters? Still nursing your split with that guy, is it?’

‘I have enough experience in that area, having dealt with your numerous sojourns all these years. Hope you have not brought me another story this time. You ought to stop frolicking around and also stop writing such awfully long letters’

‘Well. You know, I was just being expressive. A tad too much maybe.’

Anand waved at us from the dias. The hall was getting crowded now.
‘Adrita, what is your story? Did you have an affair yet. Its been three months now.’

‘ There you go again. One thing I have learnt from you is not to be you. So, nada, no other guys. But I haven’t told you something else.

‘Another promotion at work maybe?’ I taunted.
Everything seemed alright, whenever she was around.

She held my hand, surprising me a bit and with a clear tone she delivered the lethal arrow.
‘Pregnant. Three Months’

Everything stopped at that moment. Her words brutally butchered my spirits and plunged me into great despair. A thousand questions arose. I cared for her very deeply and this situation made me feel helpless.

She did not emote much but I had got all my answers. I knew she would not try to revive her broken relationship or try to make amends. Adrita was too human to consider parting with the child. I felt guilt ridden for some reason.

‘Life is going to be tough being a single mother, Adrita.’
‘I do not think I can fall in love with anyone anymore. But yes, I need someone.’

I had never seen her in grief; always in a content state, waiting to conquer the world.

Adrita, do not worry one bit. I am there with you.’
‘You cannot be there each day to look after me. Can you?.

There were no more words I could offer. An awkward silence took over. On the dias, Anand was sharing a hearty laugh with his new wife.

The silence was punctured by the arrival of Anand’s mother. We stood up, staying very close to each other.

‘Hello son, How are you? Are you comfortable? I haven’t seen you in years now’.
I managed a smile while she turned to Adrita.

‘Ah! Glad you managed to come. apologies though, I forgot your name’

I stepped up
‘Aunty, This is Adrita.
My closest friend and my fiancée.’

Viché

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