A gloomy evening sun was casting its grim rays into the smudged window pane of her office cabin.Vaishnavi stood, leaning against the sliding door to the balcony, lost in thoughts.She didn’t want to think of what happened the day before while there was nothing else she could possibly think of. She was tired, for the last night, for some reason, sleep kept eluding her. After a few more long moments she took her bag and left the office.
Speeding her scooty through the busy streets of Chennai , Vaishnavi zigzagged her way across the many vehicles that raced the roads, taking turns and cuts at places. It was a default ride, she wasn't concentrating on where she was heading to. There was virtually no other place but her home she headed to right after work.Reaching at the end of the street she slowed down her bike beside the neighbourhood she had spent all her life in.
The door of her house was open even before she could ring the bell.Walking in she found her father in his huge wooden chair silently scanning through the papers.He did not look up.He did not acknowledge her arrival.She went in, washed and changed. The breakfast she had made that morning lay cold in the casserole and the coffee undrunk.She looked across the room to where her father sat.He was only a few yards from her but it seemed like the distance was growing every minute and something opaque was building up between them. Feeling distressingly uncomfortable, she sat down. It had never been like this before. Never, ever since Vaishnavi's mom left her when she was only thirteen. Her father,Subromaniyan, was an auditor in a huge firm and ever since the departure of her mom he had reared her single-handedly.
Vaishnavi had grownup to be the perfect girl, the dream of every parent .She spoke less, worked hard and followed her father's words to the t. Her father had decided everything for her from the clothes she should wear, friends she should spend time with, to the career she should take up to.And she had heeded to him without a word of refusal or rather even gladly.She had completed her accountancy studies and moved to a firm where she found a decent job and became busy making herself worth the life she was given.
For all the twenty four years of her life, she kept her secret dreams intact in a land far away in her head.Staying away from all the waywardness of the sober colors of her life,she stuck to her schedule and the endless monotonies it had to offer, only believing change will come as a rescue someday, someday not very far away. And it did but it was not the quite expected change.
There she sat like a mannequin at a showroom, all adorned and groomed, infront of the group of strangers. The ladies were weighing and measuring her from top to toe and the men the house around.It was the traditional ceremony before marriage where the girl is visited and decisions are made.Decisions for something so personal, that so become a part of your life.But you are just allowed as a silent spectator when your life is being decided.As she sat being scrutinized and questioned, something in her died. Dreams were sailing far and away.She was listening no more.She stood up, refused whatever was being done and went in. Subromaniyan was taken aback just as the pain of humiliation came over him.This was something he had never expected from his daughter,whom he had brought up with every value inculcated.Had he not taught her morals and values? He was shattered.
Letting no emotions play on his solid features, Subromaniyan read through the papers that were a couple of weeks old. Someone had taken his child away from him,and changed her heart. She knew not what lies in the awful world around.But he couldn't gather the will to talk to her, for plain fear of being not heeded to.
"Appa.." ,Vaishnavi called out. Subromaniyan looked up, eyes plain and emotionless.
"Appa, I know you must be angry..but..."
"Why wouldn't I? We all have our reasons, don't we?"
"I said no because of a reason"
"Of course... You have grown up, earn and live in a corporate world.You can sure have reasons.. more than one.If I may know.. who is the boy you have decided for yourself?"
"I never told you the reason, I just said a no"
"....." Subromaniyan returned back to his paper.
" Yeah…. I said no because it was too sudden and there were so many things unknown. The boy you chose for me must be great, but I don’t know him. I couldn’t give you an answer right there right then, but they wanted an answer, and the only answer appropriate for something so strange, so nameless, was no. I didn’t say no to you, or your choice or your intentions; I said no to something I didn’t feel comfortable with, I said no to the urgency, to the lack of time and understanding. I didn’t even say no to him, but to the way it was all being done. Just … give me time. If there is anyone I would let make decision for me, it would be no one but you; but include me, let there be time to find out, to know, to like, to decide.”
Subromaniyan looked up again, this time they had tears in them, of joy.His daughter has sure grown up.