It was a crowded kalayana mandapam. He was sitting there among the crowd with a gift-wrapped box on his lap. In spite of the chaos, confusion and noise around him, his mind slowly drifted to the day….
They were in a packed restaurant. She was sitting across him in a sofa with her hand resting on his lap. She was talking animatedly about something. To him, the restaurant, the people around them, all of it disappeared. He could see only her… the mouth which was continuously moving and the dancing eyes which brought the story alive. The mouth stopped talking… to smile. As always, he found it irresistible. He bent down to kiss her. It was her frozen expression that brought him back to his senses and made him realize what he almost did. He was a once shy guy who felt uncomfortable to even hold hands in public. Now he almost kissed her in front of a hundred people. That is exactly what she did to him… She made him lose all his senses. She fed him a little of her abundant optimism. She made him her partner-in-crime for all her crazy ideas. She loved him unconditionally and helplessly… He fell for the crazy girl.
The words kettimelam kettimelam brought him back to the present. He looked at the manavarai… she was sitting there with the three knots being tied to her by a stranger. She had asked him not to come to her wedding. But he had to come, for reasons he himself was not able to understand.
Everybody was congratulating her… She was smiling. To everyone else, she was smiling. But he knew her better than everyone. He had seen her face light up whenever she saw him. She would smile at him. The warmest smile with all the love in the world. Now when everyone was congratulating her… she was smiling without actually smiling. For years, he was the reason for the smile. Now he was the reason that the smile was missing. It broke his heart. He had to tear his eyes away from her.
She used to tell him about her dream of a simple and a beautiful wedding. With only the people they treasured around them. She wanted to have a tamil priest. He looked around the mandapam… it was grand and overflowing with people. The priest was continuously saying something in Sanskrit.
His eyes went back to her the same instant her eyes found him. Her smile vanished. Her eyes filled with tears. Sitting so far away from each other… they touched!
All the dreams, smiles, laughter and love that was shared came flooding back to her. Memories choked her and tears blinded her. She looked down and let the tears fall. She knew she will make this marriage last forever. But it will not be the happily ever after she had dreamed with him. She knew she will be a loyal wife, good daughter-in-law and a responsible parent. But she can never be the best friend, crazy companion, stupid girl, reckless-impulsive human… the way she was with him. She will not keep searching for things to do to make him feel proud of her. When the third knot was tied, a part of her died. The part that dreams. She looked up and he was not there… She found him leaving… with the gift-wrapped box still in his hand.
He did not have the courage to walk up to her and give the gift. He was scared that he will pull her into his arms and let them both weep. So he left… he was hoping he will leave a part of him there. But that part was clinging on to him. The part that loved her crazily. He knew he was stuck with it forever.
Some day… she will tell her grandchildren the story of a crazy girl who helplessly fell in love with a shy boy. In that story, she will give the girl a happily ever after.