The day after her marriage when she first stepped into her in-laws’ house, she was surprised to see that every man in the house was handsome and healthy and every woman was breathtakingly beautiful, just like her own parents’ family.
She had to first seek blessings from her husband’s grandmother, a widow in her eighties and the oldest member in the family. She was a very beautiful old woman but what surprised her most was the serenity in her face. When everybody else had left her room she asked the bride to sit in front of her. As soon as the old lady looked into her eyes, tears started rolling down Shravanti’s cheeks. The old woman held her tightly in her arms. That immediately reminded Shravanti of her mother. Whenever she was in a pensive mood her mother would understand immediately by looking into her eyes, she would stop whatever she was doing and held her in her arms and let her cry till she felt good. In the arms of the ‘just met’ old woman she felt the same comfort as her mother and she could not control her tears. As her grandmother-in-law started rubbing her hand against her back and pressed her cheek against the bride’s head the rate of flow of tears only increased. But after sometime she realized that she was able to think again, after a very long time she was able to think with her heart as well as her mind. “Who is this old woman to me? Still how much she is caring for me? How could she be so selfish to hurt this old woman’s feelings and causing shame to the family? How much her younger sister loved her? Whenever she missed any class in the university her sister used to copy her class notes always with a smile and without a complaint. When she would go to her mother’s house she would definitely help her sister in her studies”. She remembered how much her younger brothers loved her, always wanted to see her happy. How much hard work is needed to get a Ph. D., she started thinking again, probably her husband had sacrificed many hours of sleep and worked very hard to get his Ph. D. Probably she should also continue with her education as suggested by her husband when she came to meet her before marriage. How much her father and mother loved her and how much she made them cry. How is her mother now? How is her father? Are they worried about her now? She wanted to run to her parents for once and tell them not to worry about anything, being their daughter she could not be selfish. She wished she could have two wings so that she could fly to them and tell them not to cry anymore for her.
“Ma-er katha mone portache?” (Are you thinking of your mother?), her chain of thoughts were interrupted by her grandmother-in-law’s words and she started sobbing again. But soon her intelligence got hold of her emotions.
“Thakurma apne kemon achen?” (Grandma, how are you?), she asked with her natural smile. She realized that she had shed so much tears that the old woman would need to change her blouse immediately. “amar chokher jole apner blouse ekdom bhijja utche” (Your blouse got wet in my tears), she said in an apologetic tone.
“It is all right. Take some rest tonight, tomorrow guests will start coming from early morning and it will be a very hectic day”, the old lady told with a smile in her face.
The next day in the late evening after the guests had left she met her newly-wed husband in their bedroom. He could realize for the first time the sadness in her eyes. “Tomare khub dukhi lagtase, ami ki na buijha kichu koia phelaichi” (You look sad, did I say something wrong unwittingly), he wanted to know.
“na seirokom kichu hoi nai” (It is nothing like that), she said with her head down as she was trying to avoid eye contact with him.
“tomare ek khan kotha kohoner chilo” (I wanted to ask you something), her husband’s words suddenly turned her stiff. She had no clue what he would ask. Does he know about his past affair, she wondered. The affair had become past for her, and all she could pray that nobody should know about her past. She remained seated with her head down and struggling to remain calm even though she realized that she had almost stopped breathing.
“tumi amare nam dhoira daiko” (please call me by my first name), she thanked thirty three million gods and goddesses for hearing something so benign and so sweet from him instead of anything unpleasant. Her tension was suddenly released but she was still able remain calm and to hide the sudden joy. “Oma swami re keu nam dhoira dake naki?” (Oh my God, why should a woman call her husband by his first name?), she said while realizing that hiding anxiety and fear is difficult but what is far more difficult is to hide the joy which is the result of sudden annihilation of fear and anxiety.
“Tomar mukhe amar nam sunte khub bhalo lagbo, parbana tumi amar nam dhoira dakte?” (I would really like to hear my name from your mouth. Do you think you can call me by my name), he again tried to persuade her.
“Nischoi parmu” (sure I can), she looked straight at his eyes, tears of joy were rolling down her cheeks and she made no effort to hide her happiness anymore.
The next day the couple started for their honeymoon to Goa. But they had their first stopover at Bombay. They visited Elephanta caves, Film City, Bombay Museum and many other interesting places. Since her husband was familiar with the city he became her guide. It took her no time to realize that the actual Bombay had no resemblance with the city she had imagined. The crowd of the city looked terrifying to her.