‘I wish someone told me this wasn't going to be easy!’ thought Mita as she took small steps towards the palanquin. Dressed in the most beautiful red, silk banarasi saree adorned with motifs in zari, Mita looked like an elegant bride. The red self embroidered veil which was sequined with tiny golden stars lay tucked to her ornamented bun and covered her face from the front. She looked heavenly with oodles of charm and grace.
Surrounded by her sisters being led to the point from where her life was to take a new turn she looked through her veil all teary eyed and saw the familiar courtyard where she had spent years playing hops scotch with her friends. The mango tree which over the years had bore witness to candid moments of her life seemed to be bent low in sadness. Whether it was her naughty pranks on her siblings or her mother’s relentless run to get her ready on time to even her cryptic talks while standing behind its trunk to her boyfriend who today had become her husband, it had seen it all.
She hugged her grandmother who sat at the pedestal near the garden. Her eyes were filled in tears overcome with emotions. So many afternoons were spent with Mita sitting there with her grandma while the latter applied mixes and oils on her hair while relating fairy tales too. It was also the place where she would sit to study before exams while her grandma would keep feeding her delicacies which now she had to wait for the holidays to savor For one last time she hid her face in the bosom of the lady who was the grand treasure of love in her life.
As Mita wiped her tears, she stood up and looked behind towards the temple that stood in the middle. She reminisced how she would run up its steps every time she wanted something desperately. From chocolates to good marks in exams and then to being married to the man she loved; her prayers had gone through all the transitions. Today as she looked to the idols in the shrine, she urged for all the blessings in the universe to be showered on her family that she now was leaving behind.
Mita took a few more steps and there stood her brother all somber and straight faced. She knew that turbulent emotions ran underneath his steady face. As she hugged him, all the fights, the sweet clashes and arguments came rushing back as did her tears. She didn’t want to go but she wanted to go too. ‘Why is it so confusing?’ she thought.
She looked towards the exit and saw her husband standing there with his entire family. They looked happy; there was no sign of emotional turmoil in their stance. It hit her at that time that why as a girl she had to give up all that she held so dear. It was unfair, she thought, that the happiest occasion in her life lay shrouded with the ugly truth of leaving behind all that was a part of her very existence.
It was the hardest moment now. How on earth does one leave behind the two people who gave her the life she lived. Her mother stood at the corner with her eyes red and tears refusing to stop. She tried to hide her face with her saree to prevent her daughter from seeing the heart break. But it was too late; Mita was inconsolable she ran to her mom and both cried their hearts out. Mita couldn't help but curse the makers of tradition who gave the unreasonable diktat that girls had to leave their mother’s place once married. Time was running out but she didn't want to be separated from the lady who gave birth to her.
From the corner of her eyes, Mita caught the glimpse of her father. The man who gave her the freedom to live her life as an independent woman; the man who told her that studies were more important than cooking in the kitchen, the man who protected her from hurts and the society’s evil eyes and the man for whom she was the cynosure of his eyes. She ran to him and kissed him on his cheeks. She was still his baby girl and she hated the fact that she would mount a palanquin and leave him standing behind. It was hard. She recollected how he would worry at her slightest fever or headache. She knew this love, this care couldn't ever be replicated anywhere in the world. It was tough; she had to leave the abode where she felt the safest.
Finally it was the moment of truth, the very last step to her new life. She picked up handfuls of rice in both her hands, with coin in one of them. She was the Goddesses of wealth as per tradition and she had to leave back one handful of rice behind and take with her the other. With tears in her eyes and a volcano of hurt erupting from within, she left behind the handful which had the coin at her parents’. Of course she had to, any daughter would do the same.
She stepped out and got into the palanquin. By this time she was exhausted and felt something break from within. She was full of scorn for the ones who made the rules of marriage; for the ones who warranted this tradition which was always ‘pro man’ but she wouldn't be defeated she resolved.
As she took one last look towards her home, she vowed to herself ‘It’s just for now that I am going but I shall never leave them alone!’ and the bearers carried her off to her husband’s house.
‘I leave now my sweet sister,
But I shall never let go for life without you would be bitter.
I leave now loving brother,
But I shall come back for the strength in me you usher.
But I shall not give your place to any other.
I leave now oh sweet mother,
But I shall not find the love you shower in another.’