There were shimmering and sparkling lights all around. The melody of trumpets overpowered the thunderstorms. This house which I visit daily seemed quite unfamiliar today. However, quite hesitatingly I managed to cross the threshhold of her door. I became anxious on discovering the hall crowded by a thousand herd of relatives. All of them were in a very jocund and vibrant mood.I could see kids playing around and dancing on Bollywood music which was being played on loudspeakers. Everyone were looking elegant in their attires which were mostly, the India traditional sarees and lehengas. My eyes were keenly looking for Kiara, just then her mom suddenly appeared from somewhere and with a smiling face,said “Kiara is getting ready in her room. You can go and visit her.” I couldn’t recognize her as she was looking pretty different today. The spark on her face was unusual. May be, that’s because she was overwhelmed with her daughter’s wedding.

I went into Kiara’s room. She was dressing up all by herself. She was looking enigmatic in a dark red saree. But her face seemed fade. No! there was not any lack of makeup. Infact, she was drenched with makeup all over her face as almost all brides do on their wedding day and Kiara loved applying makeup. She knew the proper ways of doing it unlike I who never even bothered to look into the mirror before going out. But yet, there was something missing from her face. May be her smile. She was anxious and worried about how her husband and inlaws would be. I could read that on her face by her expressions as kiara and I were childhood friends and were aware of everything about each other. Her marriage was arranged by her parents and Kiara as usual obeyed her parents without any complaint but her mind was disturbed. I told her ” Kiara, I completely understand that you are nervous but that happens to everyone. Even I have gone through that phase when i got married. Don’t worry. Everything will work out gradually.” My words always had a magic on her. “Yes, I am anxious but at the same time I am also very excited to unfold this fresh phase of mine. I have lots of hope from my marriage and my partner.” She said it very coyly with a smile on her face.”Kiara, are you ready. Avika, please escort her. The groom has already arrived.” Kiara’s mom comes and calls her. She seemed in a hurry. Finally, the time had come. Kiara and I hugged each other gracefully and then we went to the hall where the rituals were going to take place. Oh! god, marriage is such a tiring job. It keeps everyone awake whole night and leads to headache, constipation etc. Well, atleast I was suffering from that. Finally, after a long period of eight hours, the wedding was over.

Now, Kiara was at her husband’s place which is also now her own home. All the members were standing at the doorstep to greet the new couple. All the rituals were done and Kiara’s sister-in laws began teasing her as the wedding night was approaching. Kiara was made to sit in her room by her mother in law which was decorated very beautifully with fresh rosses and colourfull candles. All the women around the house were giggling and having fun with Kiara. This was all new and also embarrassing for her. After a few minutes she was all alone in her room and others were fast asleep as they were so much tired. Kiara, too was tired and was also having severe headache due to the noise all day but yet she was waiting for Sarvesh to arrive. She was lost in her thoughts and brooding on the lesson which her mom had taught her that to keep everyone happy and learn to compromise. Meanwhile, she also called me up and gave every detail of what was happening around as we always did that.

Finally, Sarvesh entered the room and Kiara was shocked to see him drunk! He came in, in a rustic manner and sat on the bed. Kiara was taken aback. She was now scared for she was in a room with a stranger who was drunk. Sarvesh came closer to her and tried to kiss her. But she denied. She, then turned her side pretending to be sleeping. But Sarvesh woke her up. ” Sarvesh, you are drunk. we will talk tomorrow. let’s sleep now.” Kiara begged but Sarvesh was firm and he replied ” No, I want to talk now itself. How dare you say ‘no’ to me.” He again, tried to come closer to Kiara but this time she slightly pushed Sarvesh away. Sarvesh fell on the bed and was startled. He stood up again in rage and slapped Kiara.” How dare you. You are now my wife. So just do as I say. Don’t try to act smart with me or else I will send you back to your parents home.” Sarvesh blabbered these words and fell on the bed and slept. What else a drunk person could do? Kiara was left sobbing whole night and it was so sad and pity on her part that she couldn’t even ask anyone for help.

The next morning, Kiara woke up and got herself ready for another wedding related ritual. She looked all around with sad, gloomy eyes. Everyone was happy. Many of her relatives visited with gifts to bless the couple. It was again a very tiring day! She was expecting a ‘sorry’ from Sarvesh and she was happily ready to forgive him as he was in the drunken state of mind.

In the evening at around 8pm, after all the guests had left. Kiara was all alone in the room. After a while sarvesh entered. Kiara wanted to talk to him about last night. She wasn’t even sure if he remembers anything. But before kiara would say anything, Sarvesh frowned at her and said” whatever happened last night should not happen again. This is your husband’s order and you have to obey it. No women of my family dares to speak infront of their man. You are also expected to follow the same.” He started kissing kiara and she felt very uncomfortable with his behavior. She said “sarvesh,please leave me. I think we should talk and get to know each other first.” Sarvesh was very furious on her this time. He made her lie on the bed and thrashed her bitterly. “Your body belongs to me now, Kiara, and you can’t object it.” he raised his voice. Kiara was afraid if someone could hear him and find out what was happening between them. It would be so shameful! Whole night, Sarvesh took control of Kiara’s body and forced himself on her. She was screaming in pain but Sarvesh had tied her mouth with a cloth. Kiara was moaning with unbearable pain.

Next morning, was the darkest morning in Kiara’s life. she got up feeling lost, Lost somewhere within herself. The last night was like a scary and dreadful dream. She got up from her bed, although she had no strength and stood infront of the dressing table while Sarvesh was still sleeping. Her heart was pounding and she felt like crazy. She didn’t know what to do. She saw thousands of marks all over her body which was made ruthlessly by Sarvesh. She could see dark patches under her eyes which was the result of the unbearable pain she had gone through last night. The saree which she was wearing was her mom’s gift to her on her wedding and it was torn recklessly into pieces. She weeped aloud but there was no one who could hear her. She went back and sat again on her bed waiting for Sarvesh to wake up. She wanted a clarification of last night. After a few minutes, when he woke up, Kiara looked at him with tears in her eyes but he showed no signs of regret or remorse. “Sarvesh, I couldn’t believe, you raped me last night.” She said, as she broke down. ” Rape? what are you talking about? have you lost your mind? I am your husband and you are my wife. I have all the right on you. I can treat you in any way as I wish. Now, please don’t create a scene and make an issue out of it.” He said these words and went back to sleep.

Kiara got up from the bed and went towards the balcony. She stood there starting at other houses. She revives some old memories, when she was a child. She remembers how her father used to thrash her mother and sometimes, even throw the food plate at her mother’s face. Kiara used to get scared at her father’s rage and was too young to protest. She would see her mom, crying and then again later smiling. She was too young to see the pain behind her mother’s smile. But today, she had become familiar with her mother’s feelings.

Kiara kept standing there, in the balcony lost deeply in her thoughts with shrinked eyes dried out of tears, hair tangled with tears, pale skin and dark lips. She was now, knitted in an institution called marriage which is, for some men, ‘a license to rape.’