Mayuri was sitting on a stool in the centre of their drawing room. Her mother was standing on her left at a distance. She was looking at Mayuri, smiling, pleased that her effort to doll up her daughter has not been wasted. Mayuri looked really pretty in this avatar. Mayuri was not used to all these. She liked to dress up in a simple way. She was a bit nonchalant when it came to dressing up and make ups. She liked to read books. She aspired to be a teacher. She was only fourteen when her father asked her mother to involve her in household works. She did not mind doing the chores with her mother. She enjoyed this time together with her mother. They shared a very good bond of friendship. Her mother used to tease her by talking how her future husband would be and she used to get angry.
When she became seventeen, her father started looking for a groom. He asked every relatives and good friends to look for a suitable boy. In their village, a girl of seventeen without any marriage proposal was real headache for the father. Her father though he should have started searching earlier. He had to arrange for a large sum to marry her off. It took him a bit long but after selling the land by riverside, now he was in a position. In due course of time, marriage proposals started to flow in. Initially she refused and cried a lot. She even went on hunger strike for two days. Her proud voice was too feeble in front of the old rituals and stories that echoed in their village. Eventually she gave in. Her photographs were sent over to parents or relatives of suitable boys.
That was the first time; she was sitting in front of parents and other family members of one of the eligible bachelors. The guy did not come. It was really unusual for a guy and girl to meet before marriage those days. She always believed that marriages were made in heaven but in reality, only family members made or broke any match. She was very nervous so she entered the drawing room accompanied by her mother. As instructed earlier, she sat upon the centre stool and folded her hands in front to pay respect to the visitors.
She knew that her consent did not matter. The marriage was almost fixed. They only came to have a look at her and fix the dowry amount. She knew the name of the Boy. Amit. He was a primary school teacher in a village nearby. One of their close relative brought this marriage proposal for them. They liked her by looking at her photograph only. They heard a lot good about her family. So, they agreed to accept Mayuri as their daughter in law. It was just a matter of time.
“Look at us. Don’t be so shy” said Amit’s father. He continued with a broad smile in his face “You know why we are here right? I am Amit’s father and she is Amit’s mother” he pointed at his wife sitting beside him.
Amit’s mother was having an airy attitude. She wore heavy jewellery to show off her collection and green silk saree with heavy embroidery. She asked “What do you study?”
Mayuri replied with very low sound. No one could hear anything. Amit’s mother stated “My son is a graduate from Kolkata. He teaches English in primary school. Let him do the study and teaching. You come and join me for household chores. My son will keep you very happy”. She smiled slyly.
Mayuri nodded in acceptance although her alter ego did not agree.
“My son is the youngest teacher in his school. He is so good that some years, he will be the principal of the school” said Amit’s father with unnecessary smile. He took out a picture from his small leather hand bag and showed it to Mayuri’s father sitting beside him.
“He is handsome” commented Mayuri’s father. He handed over the photograph to Mayuri to have a look. Mayuri took the photograph looking and had a glance. She held it forward to return it but Amit’s father asked her to keep it.
After some nibble and incessant natters, Mayuri’s father asked his wife to take Mayuri inside. They wanted to discuss some serious matters and only elders were to take part in it. Mayuri went inside accompanied by her mother to her room. Her mother went back to the drawing room for the elderly discussion.
Mayuri put the picture on the bed and looked at it. He could see a nice young man smiling at her. Clean shaven. Ami had dark brown eyes, sharp nose, and innocent smile on his face. Mayuri kept on looking at the picture. She could feel an immediate connection with that boy in picture. She thought this guy could not do any harm to her. Her innocence convinced her that this guy could take care of her till the end of the world.
Her parents would marry her off in this family once the dowry is fixed in the next room. She closed her eyes. She remembered that talks she just had with these guests. She did not like them. She thought that her parents are leaving her in a forest with small road to walk forward. She did not know what dangerous animal could lurk behind those trees in the forest and waited for ambush. Then she looked at the picture and thought that she had to walk over to see what was waiting for her on the other side of the forest. See could sense a good start. She at least hoped so.