Mai looked at Neha, tears clouding her vision. The red dupatta covering her daughter’s head shimmered in the sunlight.
“Mai, I want a garland of baby pink roses for my wedding,” Neha had chirpily told her a few years ago.
Mai looked at garland of baby pink roses nestling cozily around her neck, together with the black beaded mangalsutra resting on her bosom. The mehendi was prominently missing though. There had been no time for it anyway.
Sanjay, her son-in-law, looked good next to her. Finally, Neha had got her wish fulfilled. She had been in love with Sanjay for the past two years, and had been trying hard to convince her Mai and Baba for the wedding.
“Sanjay is a Koli,” her baba had argued, “Are you going to live with the fishermen and eat fish? Don’t forget we are Konkanastha.”
Mai had even threatened to kill herself if Neha kept persisting with her demand. She had once consumed half a glass of floor cleaner to impose her will upon Neha. She had been hospitalized and had recovered but it had scared Neha enough never to talk about Sanjay again.
But Mai hadn’t realized how depressed Neha had been after that. She had hardly been eating or sleeping well. Today, as she looked at Neha’s face, she saw ugly black circles around her pretty eyes. Her cheeks were sunken and she seemed to have lost a lot of weight.
“Baala, my baby, I wish I had noticed this earlier,” she said to herself, wiping her eyes with the end of her saree. Mai looked at Baba and knew he had been crying too.
It was Sanjay’s mother who had finally talked them into getting the two married.
Surprisingly, it didn’t take them long to get convinced this time though. Baba had agreed almost immediately.
“Ata, lagna sampanna jhala…” said the bhatji. (The wedding rituals have been completed.)
Everyone present threw flowers and confetti on the couple.
And then a wave of loud wailing filled the air.
“Ata, antim sanskaarchi vidhi…” announced another bhatji. (Let’s begin the ceremony for the deceased)
Sanjay and Neha lay side by side, unaware that their corpses had been wed by their families. Neha had been unable to bask in the fragrance of the garland of baby pink roses. Sanjay had not known how his limp hand had been used to tie the mangalsutra around Neha’s cold body. They would never know that their suicides had not been in vain. They would not know that at least in their deaths they were together.
It had all been a little too less, a little too late.
( based on a true story)
( based on a true story)