My feet were killing me. I had spend yesterday’s Sangeet (Music and Dance) ceremony limping around in two-inch heels. It was as if I was continuously walking downhill. The fear of slipping and falling on my face made me clench my toes and within a few minutes, my calves and feet began complaining. I was the only one at the party who wasn’t able to dance at all.
And today, in a couple of hours, I will be expected to walk to my future husband while wearing these three-inch stiletto monstrocities. My cousins specially ordered these online bacause they loved me and wanted to make my day special. I wish I could stop them but it seems like all my life choices had been taken out of my hands ever since I agreed to marry.
I looked away to think of something else and my eyes rested on my lap, on the appalling red lehenga dress I was wearing—my mother’s choice. The equally red dupatta sat at a distance leering at me waiting for its turn to wrap me in its folds, its golden lace trimming and countless stones winking in the light.
The air of the room reeked of hair spray as the beautician tried to stick my short, spiky hair to my scalp in an attempt to hide my obvious boyishness. The large fake hair bun she had attached to the nape of my neck with a hundred pins was weighing my head down. Soon, she’d cover it with what seemed like half-the-flowershop, and paint my face with primer, concealer, foundation, face powder, face glitter, eye-shadow, kajal, eyeliner, blush, lip-liner, lipstck, an assortment of bindi…
I had a sudden urge to throw on my favourite t-shirt, jeans and sneakers, and run away—if only my feet would stop hurting…
My phone vibrated.
“How are you holding up?”
“I’m running away.”
“Take me with you. They are making me wear a brocade sherwani. I’m melting in the stifling heat.”
“At least, you won’t wear heels.”
“Can you sneak out for a minute?”
“They won’t let me leave the room until they are done painting me.”
“Well, then, I’ll have to do this formally. See you in a minute.”
What was my future husband doing outside my home a couple of hours before our marriage? Why wasn’t he home preparing for the marriage procession? He was the only silver lining in all this craziness—the only guy who didn’t flinch at my obvious boyishness and career choice as a travel guide. What did he want to talk to me about now? Did he change his mind?
A knock on the door brought me out of the reverie. One of my cousins let my groom in, giggling uncontrollably. My parents were tailing him, clearly worried by his sudden appearance two hours before the time and without his family too.
He gave me a smile of comaderie, “So, I was looking at your video from yesterday’s function. I kept waiting for you to dance because your had once said that you loved to, but you just sat there, trying to smile and failing. Then, I realised you will be required to wear something even fancier today…”
I couldn’t understand where he was going with this speech. It didn’t seem like a matter urgent enough for the unexpected visit. However, he came closer and sat down on one knee next to my chair, a shopping bag open next to him. “I decided to be your knight in the shining armour, so you could dance with me today.” He took off the fancy heels from my aching feet, and slid on a pair of sneakers.
Finally freed, I fell in love.