Rejection - A short story
Shruti opened her jewellery box to extract the shiny stone studded bangles that she had chosen for her varmala ceremony. They went perfectly with her peach lehnga adorned completely in zardosi. As she wore the bangles, they made a sweet tinkling sound. "They look so beautiful," she thought, as she purposely shook her wrists to admire their beauty and their sound. A sharp ring of the phone broke her from her reverie. In her hurry to receive the call, her bangles clanked against the jewellery box and broke into pieces. "Oh no," she thought. But the damage was already done. The only thing remaining was to receive the call, which she did. "Hi, Shruti," came the hoarse voice of her finace, Rohan. "Hey, hi! How are you?" said Shruti in a smiling voice. She was quite excited to share all about the wedding preparation in detail with him, but he cut her back saying he had something important to tell. He was calling off the wedding, breaking the engagement. Shruti couldn't believe her ears. She stood staring at the mess created by the broken bangles; her eyes clouded with tears. Rohan's voice sounded like that in a faraway world. But… Why? Her mind wandered to the college canteen in the past where they had spent hours together. Her arguments with Rohan over her strict feminism, and ultimately winning him over with her logical thoughts. They used to speak at length over political issues and leaders, books and writers, humanity and religion. More than love birds, they were two intellectual people having intelligent conversations. Even the movies they watched were not romantic or comedy, but non-commercial and off beat. They didn’t go shopping for hours or for candle light dinners, or give gifts to each other. But they would sit for hours together, talking on the terrace in the sunset or silently in a cafeteria, just enjoying being together. They were deeply in love, or so she thought. She wondered what went wrong. She had catered to all the requests made by his parents. Reasonable or not. As the wedding came closer, they kept insisting and adding on to their various demands. Initially, they wanted her to learn cooking. Then, they expected her to stop working post marriage. The guest list kept inflating, and likewise, the ‘gifts’ to be given in her wedding. Of course, these gifts were for Shruti’s own use and her comfort, to make her life better. She had almost forced her parents to comply with it all.
She was sad to quit her job, but pretended not to be, because love is blind, after all! She didn’t complain to Rohan about any of it. “Why trouble him unnecessarily?” she had thought. She would never find a life partner like him after all. In fact, recently his parents had demanded that all their guests be flown to Goa for the theme wedding, at the bride’s family expense. She had even contended to this and broken all her savings accounts prematurely. Then why this? She was in a turmoil. A fresh wave of tears washed her away. “Shruti, listen.” She returned to Rohan’s booming voice over the phone. “I wanted to marry you because you’re an independent, confident girl who could stand up for herself. That was something which attracted me the most to you. But you’re not the same anymore. Your father told me how you’ve changed. You’ve been hiding things from me, giving in to all my parents demands and becoming a hypocrite in the process. All this, out of the fear of losing me. So I want to remove this fear forever. Love is not something you need to hold onto. If it is true, it will stay on when you’re yourself. I have informed my parents that I will not marry you with all their terms and conditions. If they cannot agree to this, and if you continue to be this girl I do not know, I am sorry, I have to call off the wedding." Shruti was awash with more tears, but this time, those of pride. The jewellery box glittered away.