http://www.indusladies.com/forums/stories-fiction/199209-college-love-story-part-24-a.html Varsha spent her vacations meeting up with her friends and relatives, and most importantly shopping for her big day. The wedding date was fixed at June 20th. She and her family were planning to reach Hubli on first of June. Their extended family was taking care of all the arrangements until they got there. Priya, Vineeth and Raksha were arriving in Hubli a day before the wedding. Anitha was also coming, along with a few of her other hostel mates. Varsha and her family were very busy, organising travel and accommodation for their guests who were dropping in. The family planned to leave to Hubli on June 1st. They had booked a bus to transport everyone and their luggage. Varsha was looking forward to her wedding, and her new life. However, she was also worried about how things would be henceforth. Amidst all her chaos, she managed to stay cheerful and interact with her guests. Soon, they all were on their way to Hubli. Varsha’s brother was very excited; he was sitting with her, and joking and laughing. She found this very relaxing, and was merrily chatting and laughing with him. As soon as they reached her grandparents’ home, they got a rousing welcome from her relatives. They had even arranged a small display of firecrackers. This made an already nervous Varsha panic, but luckily, it did not go on for long. Time simply flew past, as they all were very busy with all the small last minute things that typically come as a part of any big celebration. Varsha was equally busy, and got very little time for anything. However, she did manage to spend some time with everyone, in between her visits to the parlour, and last minute frantic trips to the tailor. Priya, Raksha, Vineeth, Anitha, and some other of her friends had arrived at Hubli. Finally, Varsha got some peaceful moments with her friends, as they helped her de-stress and stay calm. On the day before the marriage, everyone went to the choultry where the wedding was to take place. They were staying over for the night, and would leave a day after the wedding. The choultry staff were decorating the stage with flowers, arranging the chairs, and putting up the banners. All of this made Varsha very excited! She felt like a kid for whom her family was throwing an elaborate birthday party. They all had to be up by four the next morning, so everyone had an early dinner and planned to go to bed. Of course, none of them slept much, with several people, friends and relatives included congregated in the main hall to chitchat and gossip! Eventually, they all retired to their rooms, and tried to catch a few winks of sleep before the next day. June the 20th dawned bright and sunny. Well, that is a figurative term, as four in the morning cannot be bright or sunny! The lady from the parlour helped Varsha dress up. She draped her in a purple silk sari, with gold oval patterns on them. The blouse sleeves had small golden bells on them, and her sari’s border had gold zari. She made up Varsha’s face carefully, accenting her features, and hiding her defects. Varsha’s mother and the lady put her ornaments on her, and fastened pins and slides wherever needed. She tied the traditional Mysore moggina jade on Varsha’s hair, which is an elaborate hairdo, with a long plait, decorated with jasmine flowers. It took close to two hours for Varsha to finally be fully ready. They made their way to the mantapa, where Madhu was sitting. He was also in typical traditional attire. He had worn a white shirt and white dhoti, with a gold border. As was typical of grooms, he had worn a white Mysore peta (turban) on his head, just as he had for the engagement. The smile on his face when Varsha joined him on the dais was angelic to say the least. Varsha was the one who had make up on her face, yet, in that moment, the glow on Madhu’s face was incomparable. As the day wore on, several rituals took place, which sealed Varsha and Madhu as man and wife. With Madhu tying the Mangalyam around Varsha’s neck, the marriage was solemnised. All the elders from both the families sprinkled rice dipped in arsine (turmeric) on the couple’s head, as a ritual blessing. They were finally done with all the rituals, and the photographer was madly clicking pictures after pictures of the happy couple. The families exchanged pleasantries with each other, and there was some lively banter. A reception was taking place later in the evening, so everyone would get a few hours before that. Some of the elderly people were planning to take naps, but not everyone was as lucky. Both Varsha and Madhu had to change out of their traditional attire to something more contemporary. Varsha wanted a few minutes of shuteye, so she changed out of her clothes and jewellery, and curled up in the bed. She only had enough time to doze off, or so it appeared to her, when her mother shook her awake to get ready for the reception. The lady from the parlour was waiting, with a ready smile. For the evening, Varsha had chosen a pink coloured chiffon sari, with silver undertones. The lady did Varsha’s hair in a high top knot, bunching it all up in a bun. She also put the appropriate make up, with a little contemporary and modern look, accenting her eyes with silver highlights. Varsha disposed of all her heavy gold jewellery. She wore a single choker on her neck, chandelier earrings, and silver bracelets on her wrists. “You look like a movie star!” Raksha said, complimenting her friend. She also picked up the parlour’s phone number and email ID from the lady, who gave her card to all the girls around. Priya said, “Yes, now we all will also look super stunning like you on our wedding day!” By six in the evening Varsha and Madhu were on the dais, which now had a different decoration. There were two gilded sofas for the couple. This was a slightly relaxed time for them, as all they had to do was wait for guests to come up, and pose for the pictures. Madhu turned to speak to her for the first time after the wedding, “Congrats, Mrs Madhav, at last we are married!” Varsha replied cheekily, “Thanks, and congrats to you too, Mr Varsha!” at which they both broke into silent giggles. Slowly the guests started coming to congratulate them, and give presents. A lot of them were unknown faces to either Varsha or Madhu, and some of them were unknown to both of them. Some of Madhu’s colleagues had also come. Varsha recognised a few of her teachers. As the crowd thinned, it was late evening. “Can we go and eat, I am hungry,” Varsha said. “I think we should wait till at least ten, or even more, till we are sure that there are no more guests.” Madhu reasoned. They both sat down, and started chatting. “Hi Varsha, hi Madhav sir, congrats on your marriage!” they both looked up to see Harish smiling at them, a bouquet of flowers in his arms. They both stood up, and Madhu said, “Thank you Harish, it was nice of you to come. What do you do these days?” Harish replied, “I finished my MA History, and I will be travelling to Aberdeen in a week for further studies, sir.” Madhu said, “Very good, congrats on your admission! You must stay in touch.” He smiled. Harish replied, “Surely sir,” and turned to Varsha. “Congrats on your wedding Varsha, so what plans now?” Varsha said, “I am going to give the NET Exam soon. After that, I will take up lecturing.” Madhu said, “See, only married for a few hours and she has already started teasing me.” They all laughed at his joke. Harish gave them the bouquet, and said, “All the best to the both of you, take care.” Varsha said, “Please have dinner before you leave.” He said, “Of course!” Harish stepped away from the dais. He held his head high, despite the storm that was raging inside him. He walked into the dining hall, found his old friends Priya, Raksha, and Vineeth at a table, and joined them. In spite of his broken heart, he forced food down his throat. His friends were surprised to see him, and struck up a conversation with him. Priya seemed to be in a better place now, and she was smiling and talking to him in a formal and courteous manner. When he told them of his plans to go abroad, they were genuinely happy for him, including Priya. “Will you come back with some ‘phoren’girl?” she teased him. Varsha and Madhu entered the hall for their dinner. It was mostly empty, except for their relatives, and the gang. Raksha said, “Let us leave, guys, we should not impose on them anymore.” She stood up, and the others followed her lead. The three of them stepped out, and walked into the night. Harish said, “Ok friends, I shall bid goodbye to you now, I don’t know when I will get to see all of you again. Take care, and be happy.” The others made their way to the accommodation section of the choultry. (The family had booked the choultry for a night extra, for the convenience of friends who were leaving the next day.) Only Priya felt that Harish was not fine. However, she felt that it was not her business to check if her ex-boyfriend was alright. In spite of her reservations, she called out to him. “Where are you put up, Harish?” he said, “There is a lodge nearby. I will be gone by morning.” Something about his words struck her as strange, and she said, “Stay the night with us, we are staying in the choultry.” Harish refused, and started walking away. Priya turned to Vineeth and said, “Vin, I think something is wrong. We should not leave him alone for the night.” Vineeth said, “Ok, let me talk to him. You both go ahead; I will either bring him there, or stay the night with him in the lodge.” He walked to Harish and said, “Dude, walk with me.” Harish did not respond, but he did not protest when Vineeth fell into step beside him. “How are you?” Vineeth asked, feeling stupid for asking such a question, when obviously Harish was not ok. Harish replied, “Alive. And wondering why.” Vineeth said, “Come on, don’t be so dramatic. It is not the end of the world. What you want is not meant to be. Try to rationalise.” Harish said, “I did not know whether it would be a good idea to come. I thought it would clear my head to see her happily married.” He sighed heavily. “I was wrong. I feel terrible.” Vineeth said, “This stage will pass, Harish, you feel bad now, but soon you will realise that it is for the best that you attended the wedding. You will understand that Varsha is happy in her life, and you will find your happiness elsewhere. We are too young to say that all joy is over because you could not be with the person you wanted to be with. Come to the choultry, spend the night with us.” Harish hesitated, and said, “No, you go on.” Vineeth sensed a weakness in Harish’s decision, and wordlessly dragged him back to the choultry. Harish feebly tried to get out of Vineeth’s grip, but Vineeth did not let him go. They joined the girls, and chatted for a while. Before long, they started dozing, so they went to bed. The next morning they had to vacate the choultry premises. Slowly everyone packed up and left. The four friends planned to catch a bus back home. Vineeth had decided to escort Harish to his house. With this plan, all of them boarded the bus. In the meantime, Varsha and Madhu had gone to her grandparents’ home after their dinner. They had spent the night there, and in the morning, they went to his aunt’s house next door, which was symbolic of the groom’s house. There were a few rituals, after which the couple returned to her house. They had planned to go on a short vacation to the Andaman’s, after which they would return home. They were leaving the next morning, and would be on vacation for two weeks. Madhu wanted to extend their holiday, as he had vacations in college. His exasperated aunt said, “How long do you want to be on vacation?” To which he replied with a smile, “Forever!” Well, you cannot argue with that logic can you? So aunty smiled, and thought to herself how lucky Varsha was. Soon, Varsha and Madhu found themselves on the plane to the Andaman and Nicobar islands. They landed on Port Blair, and embarked on their vacation, consisting of snorkelling, scuba diving, trekking, and lazing on the beaches, among other things. They also went to the Water Sports Complex, and tried their hand at water skiing and kayaking. They went to the famous Cellular Jail, which is a national memorial. During the days of the freedom struggle, the Cellular Jail held many freedom fighters captive. They also visited the Forest Museum, which houses models of the flora of the Andamans. Before they knew it, their holiday got over, and they returned home. Varsha was planning to teach part time in her college until she completed her NET exam. This would work for both of them, as they could travel together, and meet frequently in college. They had taken a small house for rent, close to college. Let us leave Varsha and Madhu on their own for now, let us give them their privacy, and not interfere in their daily lives. Let us not pry, and try to find out what they do all day, and how they spend their salary! The last time I checked with them, they are fine, and are happy with each other. A short update on the others now - Priya is working in an NGO, which caters to abused women. The cause of empowering women is very close to her heart, and she works tirelessly for her cause. She is in a relationship with her colleague Pravin. Things are looking good for them, and let us keep our fingers crossed. Raksha is also preparing for the UGC NET exam, and is thinking of doing her PhD. Vineeth is working with a multi-national bank, and is happy to be there. The gang usually make him pay whenever they meet, citing the reason that he earns the most among everyone. Harish is in Aberdeen, Scotland, and is looking to settling there after his course. Let us hope that his broken heart will mend soon, and he will be able to find happiness in his life.