6. Sold for a deal?
“How sad it must feel, to be sold for a deal
By your own father, no less
-Happy Wedding life”
I stared at the scrawled red writing for a few minutes, blinking back the tears that were trying to shy away from my eyes. After crumbling the note in my palm, I had unfolded it right back to check if what I read wasn’t just a nightmare. Too many nightmarish moments were happening in my life right now.
Mom and dad had expressively stated that it was a life and death situation. I had assumed it to be something huge, something that put our lives in danger but to find that it was all about money, I didn’t know how to react to that. I felt worthless; actually, I felt worse. I was getting pimped out, against my choice, by my own father.
He sold me.
My dad sold me, probably to the highest bidder, how do you cope with something like that?
The one man who should never break your trust, the one man who should always have your back was the one responsible to break me. A piercing pain engulfed my heart and deep resentment settled in my belly.
I would never forgive the man who sold his own daughter. And the mother who did nothing to prevent that.
‘Why was this happening?’, I cried internally. But before I could delve more into the betrayal and the cheap-feeling I felt right now, the flash of the camera reminded me that I was still on stage. Giving a show for the world to see.
I couldn’t breakdown now.
However low I was feeling, the world had no right to know about it. Only the ones I choose will know about it. I could control at least that part of me.
With a huge gulp, I crumbled the paper back in my palm and taking a huge breath smiled through the pain.
I was going to put on the best damn show in the world. So I pushed the recent revelation to the back of my mind, where all my other problems were already shrinking to make space for themselves. With no compassion for the problems, I dropped another one right over them.
I can deal with that later, I decided and kept my lips turned upwards for the whole reception.
Before I knew it, I was in the back of a black sleek car, decorated with flowers.‘Newlywed’ was printed in beautiful cursive on the back. As I read it, I muttered under my breath, “Newly, forcefully and unfortunately wed”
My groom was sitting on my right, still under his ‘sehra’, as the drivier started the car.
As the car rolled down, I asked, in a timid voice that sounded very unlike me, “Is this true?” as I showed him the note and kept my eyes firmly planted on my lap.
When no answer arrived from his end, I looked up at him, and asked again, a little louder, “Is this true?”
He didn’t say anything, just nodded. An almost imperceptible nod. And my worst fears just became very real and very true.
I pushed back the tears that threatened to leave my eyes and fixed my stare back to my lap.
My father sold me for a deal. My father sold me. I couldn’t wrap my head around it.
Did he never love me? Did he never care for me?
Was he pretending my whole life? Because the man I knew and trusted would never do such a thing. He always said that family was the most important thing. The second was doing things for the greater good and his business ranked third.
Then how come I was traded for something that was beneath me?
Unable to answer these questions and think any further over her misery, I sighed and pushed this trail of thought away. I wouldn’t think of that, only people who want misery would think of things that made them miserable. I wasn’t one of them. So I closed my eyes. The last three days of mental toll and exhaustion gripped my body at once, and I was out in a moment.
A hand on my shoulder woke me up and my eyes opened to stare right into beautiful hazel orbs. The harmony of yellow, gold and brown in them was hipnotizing, inviting me to get lost in them forever and ever. I internally shook my head and trailed my eyes down to a straight nose and seductively small pink lips on a narrow light-brown face with a jawline to die for.
Why couldn’t I have a jawline like that? I thought and only then did I realize that I was staring at Aarav for the first time, for a long time and it was starting to get creepy.
I looked away quickly and stepped out of the car to stand in front of a grand hotel.
The architecture was marvellous. It was somewhere between minimal modern and antique beauty, with perfect greens all around. I hadn’t even stepped inside the hotel and I was already in love with it.
Our driver parked the car as we stepped in the grand foyer with our hands interlaced. Two men dressed in matching black suits with red bows welcomed us with a very deep bow and Namaskar. I smiled at them and stared at the tall chandeliers hanging from even taller ceilings. Pillars with veils decorated around them stood on both sides and glass elevators waited in the extreme ends.
Impressed with their decor and the amount of staff they had, I was eager to see where my room was and what amazing view the room would undoubtedly have.
We walked to the front desk where a gorgeous woman in her thirties sat with a smile. She was in the same uniform but she carried it far better than the others. The little red pimple below her chin somehow made her look extremely cute and stunning at the same time.
“Aarav Singhaniya”, he announced and instantly a key was passed in his hand. With a gentle tug on my hand, he guided me towards the elevator.
I was walking yet my mind was stuck on that woman. Shouldn’t they ask for some ID? I don’t think you are supposed to give away rooms just like that. I asked the same to Aarav, but his answer was even more confusing.
“Didn’t you read the name of this hotel?“, he asked with a slight raise of his right brow. How does everyone know how to raise one single eyebrow and I don’t? Seems unfair to me.
“Um.. no? Was I supposed to?“, I asked, unsure.
“Not really. Just if you had read it, you wouldn’t have asked the queston”
“Can you just give me a straight answer please?”
“This place is called Singhaniya’s Paradise, Shreya”
“Oh”, I said, forming an ‘O’ with my mouth. Duh! Of course, they would know the face of their CEO.
We continued walking and as we moved upstairs to our room, my head kept firing questions for me to ask. I tried framing the questions sensibly and in order, so I don’t end up blabbering without any meaning.
When the doors of the elevator opened, I possessed five solid questions, 7 sub-questions and 3 questions that I hadn’t decided if I was going to ask or not.
But instead of finding an empty corridor as I had assumed, the floor was filled with people. I counted about fifteen of them, out of which four were my best friends and two were my cousins. I didn’t know who the rest of them were but I assumed they were his friends or relatives.
A tall dark guy with messy curls and a heart-warming smile stepped forward, followed by a slim model-like, scratch that, a model with straight brown hair and hazel eyes - the exact same as Aarav’s. I instantly concluded that this must be his sister because, what remarkable similarities. Her lips were the same as his, small and pink complimenting her narrow face, and again, with a jawline to die for.
She was absolutely stunning and when she parted her lips to speak, all my focus reverted to her words.
“You go, bhabhi”, she said and with a wink added, “My brother will just have to pay me for the entrance to your room”
I giggled at the silly ritual as I started towards the room just behind the group. Shanaya came by my side and nudged me as she cheered, “Mrs.Singhaniya! How do you feel?”
“Not right now, Shanaya! I’m exhausted and I want to sleep”, I groaned and thankfully she left it with just a pout. Now that I said it, I felt the exhaustion crawling up on me. I was exhausted, I wanted to sleep but I wasn’t sleepy. Not yet, not until I get my answers.
Shanaya caught my hand and I smiled. I was thankful for her reassurance and support. I squeezed her warm hand letting her know when I felt something odd in her palm.
Shanaya passed a plastic thingy to me and unwrapped her hands from me. Confused, I brought the packet up to check and promptly put it back down.
“Shanaya”, I groaned.
“What?“, she blinked her eyes innocently.
“You know.. You know I won’t”, I stammered.
She raised her right brow - see? everybody knows how to do it - and stared at me.
“I’m better than this, thank you very much”, I replied, a little offended that she’d think so low of me, even if I know she isn’t serious.
“Chill, I know. I just thought if your horny hormones jumped tonight, you would need protection. I don’t want you to get pregnant after your first night, nor do I want you to catch STDs, so protection is important and it is my duty as your sexy senior in sex to promote safe sex”, she said and laughed lightly.
“Sexy, huh!“, I huffed and we laughed.
Then in a serious note, she added, “Remember, consent is important. You can say ‘no’ anytime you want. Don’t be pressurized just because you kissed or got naked. You are allowed to say ‘no’ anytime you want and there is nothing to be ashamed of it.”
“Thank you, sexy senior in sex”, I replied with a giggle, downplaying how grateful I was for this talk. Mom never talked to me about it, nor did my dad, and Shanaya knew it. And as weird as it might have been for both of us, this was needed. It didn’t help that this talk helped me push away the thoughts I didn’t have the energy to deal with.
I knew I wasn’t going to have sex anytime soon, maybe not even for the rest of my life if I couldn’t forget Dev. But there was a chance that I someday would have sex and this advice would be useful then.
I pushed the door open and both of us gasped at the sight inside.