He gave the microphone to Dinesh, the junior guy who was coordinating. He put his hands into his pocket, and retrieved something within his clasped hands. He kneeled down on one knee and opened his hands. Dinesh kept the microphone near Shantanu’s lips.
“Elvia will you marry me?” his voice echoed in the auditorium and reverberated in every cell of my body. The dot sized diamond on the cute platinum ring reflected the dim lights of the dais brightly, but it was no match to the glitter in his eyes.
To add to my embarrassment Vandhana was reading my novice poems,
"...I know I was mad
I wanted you to know
I was madly mad of you
But I was too mad to tell you
I wanted to feel ..."
You are a greatest boon
Whom I got not very soon
Every-time I see the moon
I wish it be the noon
To see you my loon
Love is a sensitive cocoon
Nothing funny like a cartoon
I turn all maroon
When you burst my heart balloon
Kindly save my crown
From love sinking it to drown..."
I was not even conscious enough to wonder from where she got all those poems from.
Dinesh was holding the microphone near me non-verbally asking me for an answer. Looking at my puzzled expression Shantanu whispered “I liquidated Reliance Industries from my demat.”
It took much longer for me to understand what he meant, and I was in no mood for an explanation anyway. I understood the meaning of being ‘frozen’. The only part of my body that had any signs of life was the heavy thumping of my arteries.
Shantanu ventured again “Elvia will you marry me?” I had stopped breathing just like the rest of crowd. I meekly replied “yes” I would have fainted if not for the earth shaking roar from the crowd. Shantanu showed the ring, but I was not conscious enough to lift my hands.
Shantanu helped himself, and put on the ring on my left ring finger. Till date I have no memory of what happened next. I spent most of the time during the following days admiring the ring.
With the uncertainty of future and fear of opening up our love to my parents I completed the last of our semester exams. I was praying God hopelessly ‘Let my college life not end’.
I was wondering how to manage the ring. I felt too sentimental to remove the ring from my fingers. Finally my analytical mind found a solution.
Before leaving for home I asked dad for money stating that my friends and I had planned to buy identical rings in the memory of our college life. I could sense dad frowning even over phone. Finally with mom’s support dad consented.
With that money I bought a similar ring to Anu, and we both headed to our home. Anu was protesting that she will have no part in facing my dad, when I would tell him about Shantanu. Somehow I managed to drag her along to our home, to stay with me for a few days.
I know I hadn’t the luxury of waiting for the right moment. I also knew for sure our wedding couldn’t be postponed any the later.
A week past since we arrived at our home. I called up Shantanu, “Hey what’s wrong with you?”
He meekly replied, “Wrong with me!!!”
“Ya you hadn’t called for the past couple of days.”
“Hmmm.. well you know work pressure. I couldn’t wait to get things done.”
“So how is the progress? Any leads in getting a proper site for the Chennai office?”
“Ok dear take care don’t bug your-self too much.”
I mused ‘What’s wrong with him?’ ‘Could work stress change things that are embedded in the subconscious?’ He sounded like he was someone else.
I ignored the matter. There was something more pressing that I had to deal with. It was high time I opened up the matter. Things couldn’t wait any longer.
It was a Sunday morning. Dad was at home. I had my shower reciting the dialogues I would use in persuading dad. The very thought of it was bone-chilling, but I was in a ‘Now or Never’ predicament.
I made the decision. I dressed up in my dad’s favorite blue color. With a conservative make-up, I walked down the stairs into the drawing room.
Dad was sitting on the sofa with ‘The Hindu’ in his hands and a cup of steaming coffee on the Coffee Table. Mom was seated in the couch opposite to that of dad’s flipping through some magazine.
As I entered the room no one showed any signs of recognition. I took a seat midway besides mom’s couch. I could hear every systole clearly. I broke the silence of the morning.
“Dad..” He continued looking into the newspaper.
I ventured again, “Dad, I want to talk to you”
He gave a slight nod stating that he heard me. I took a deep breath. “Dad I want to speak to you about Shantanu, a budding entrepreneur…” In these first few words I knew I had botched it up. All my numerous practice sessions with Anu were of no avail. I knew I had made it an extempore.
Dad cut me short, “Sanjay and his parents Mr. and Mrs Iyer your long lost uncle and aunt are joining us for lunch today. Go back to your room and get ready for lunch.”
“But dad I..”
“Sanjay has finished his IAS training last month and had been the 2nd best in his batch. He had been appointed joint secretary for Industrial affairs. You are going to be engaged with him in the next auspicious day.”
My pulse rate shot up. I stood up from my seat. Gathered all my strength and said, “Dad I love Shantanu. I want to marry him and spend the rest of my life with him.”
Dad remained seated but his visage grew sterner, “Your destiny is with Sanjay. Forget all about Shantanu and just do what has been told.”
I looked at mom helplessly, but she was hopelessly pretending to be so engrossed with the magazine, and to make it worse she stood up and walked into the kitchen. I knew I was all alone in this battle with my loving dad.
“Dad but Shantanu is really a nice guy. He is intellectual and smart you must talk to him. You must….”
“I spoke to him day before yesterday. I gave him an option to choose between you and his non-existent company, and as you know the all ambitious Shantanu choose his company.”
The whole world came crashing down on me. Everything whirled around me. I couldn’t even imagine what had happened. I didn’t believe it ‘No it can never be the case’.
“No, Shantanu would have never said that. Dad, please give him a chance. Please talk to him. I beg you please…”
“He really is a smart guy. He knew making the later choice would be of no avail. I didn’t have to persuade him any longer. I promised him all legal help, and he readily budged” a villainy smile replaced the hardened expression on his visage.
“That really can’t be possible. Dad you really don’t know what…”
“I know EVERYTHING”
‘Everything’ he stressed on the word. ‘What does everything mean?’ ‘Does he really know everything?’ ‘Is he ok with whatever happened?’ ‘Doesn’t my present state mean anything to him?’
I felt my heart would explode. I could feel the blood flow through the veins across my temples. My head felt like it would blast. My clenched fist grew tighter that my nails dug deep into my palms. A drop of blood started trickling down my palm, and that was the last thing I remembered before fainting.
P.S. If at all the Epilogue is published it will be published only in print. Kindly don't get disappointed looking for the Epilogue here. Anyway I ll continue writing in this blog. Thank you for your support.