Five Times

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Chapter 5

Feb 5, 2018

The huge placards were placed at either side of the Church entrance.

“JAMES weds LARA” was the letters written in the placard with their photographs aside.

The church was overwhelming with the vast crowd that day. The prayer hall looked ravishing. The roof of the hall was adorned with distinct flowers which were pulped at places along the walls. The gerbera daisy flower arrayed the stage entirely giving a divine look.

Even the massive prayer hall was not sufficient to deal with enormous people. The intensity seemed to increase with every passing minute.

The Santa Fe SUV which was enriched with vibrant colored flowers all over braked right in front of the Santhome church. James, dressed in all white with a black blazer got down from the SUV. The moment he stepped down, he was greeted with the reverberating sounds of crackers all over. Then a group of men took James inside the church. All through the way the drums and trumpets banged and gave its best in receiving the groom. Everyone present inside the hall was just delighted on seeing the groom. James advanced towards the front nodding at everyone with a smile. Father Gabriel with open palms raised his right hand and greeted James. Not many seconds had moved, again the sound of crackers filled the air, drums and trumpets started its tune.

“Time to welcome the queen Lara,” James thought to himself.

Lara was a natural beauty who looked gracious in her white frock. The wreath that adorned her forehead was just amazing. Flocks of flowers were beautifully arranged in a ring and it was a perfect match for Lara. Her hands were covered with gloves till her wrists. She looked like fairy godmother overall.

Lara was received at the entrance by the groom’s family members and escorted into the Church. Lara stood by the left of James. Both of them exchanged a quick glance that made Lara blush.

Then the rituals for the marriage began. Just after the opening prayer, Father Gabriel chose some verses from the bible which was read by James’ sister. Then the church Soloist sang the Psalm which was chorused by the guests. Lara too hummed to herself cherishing the song. Then the Father started giving his sermons.

And now came the most awaited moment. The actual marriage ritual starts with the exchange of vows. Lara and James were asked to vow each other.

James placed his hands on the Holy Bible, looked straight into Lara’s eyes and said, “I James, take you, Lara, to be my wife, to have and hold you from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us apart, according to God’s holy law, in the presence of God, I make this vow”. He took his vow and grinned at Lara.

It was now Lara’s turn to vow him the same. And she did as she was said. Followed by the exchange of vows, James and Lara exchanged rings to solemnize the marriage. They didn’t miss to catch each other’s eye only to be filled with embarrassment. Then, James was given the chain to tie across Lara’s neck. Lara bowed respectfully and the heart-shaped pendant with a cross embedded on it, which is stung on the gold chain was tied around Lara’s neck. The moment was rejoiced with the sound of the Holy church bell and also the crackers. The next moment, James and Lara were declared husband and wife.

The hall was filled with enthusiasm and the paper crackers filled the hall. James’ friends showered the rose petals on the couple from the top floor. It was like visualizing a marriage in heaven. Soon James and Lara, hands together, got down from the dais and got blessed by the elders.

The entire day was filled with excitements and blessings. The guests were pouring in and out in the banquet hall, gifting the newly married couples and clicking the memories. The wedding ceremony was incomplete if James and Lara were no dancers. The DJ had given his best in making the ceremony a blast. James and Lara started dancing with each other, totally forgetting the guests around. They moved and curved themselves according to the rhythm of the music. It was at one point, Lara’s left hand clasped James’ shoulder while the other was on his chest. James’ hands circled around Lara’s waist. They both looked at each other’s eyes and stood still, neglecting the whole world.

It was only after the loud giggle from their friends that made them regain their sense. They felt embarrassed and finally, they had no way but to admit to their friends.

One month later

The alarm came to life at 6.00 am. Along with that, it was also the phone that buzzed. Both together made an irritating noise. Lara and James snuggled inside the quilt as much as they could to avoid the fuzz. The sounds settled after five minutes. They both felt grateful and had a short nap in each other’s arms. But their happiness didn’t last long. Again the alarm blared and the phone rang. This time, Lara was greatly annoyed and she got up from the bed, arresting her ears with her palms. She threw her quilt off and jumped out of the bed. She quickly reached the alarm and shut it off. By this time, James too got off the bed; partly closing his eyes; to check with the caller who had called three times that morning. He looked at the display which said, “Project head calling”.

The moment James saw the name on the display; his eyes widened and he felt a sudden freshness in his eyes. He signaled Lara to be silent and he received the call.

“Halo Sir… Good morning sir”

“Haloooo Jamesssss…. How is your life going on?”

“Yeah good sir,” James said with slight giggles, looking at Lara.

“Good. So…. do you mind continuing the project…. from now on?” The project head asked with little hesitation.

But there came a sudden reply. “Sure sir. I will” said James and the call ended.

After the call, James looked at Lara with a heavy heart.

“Lara…I ha….” Before he could finish, Lara asked, “So, When are you leaving to Andaman?”

He looked up at her in surprise. She was standing with her back to James; her head down; her hands clasping the table in front of her. He knew that she would break down anytime. His eyes too turned wet.

He placed his hands on her shoulder consolingly and replied, “Today”.

Her blue eyes widened on hearing the word ‘Today’. She felt her eyelids filling up with tears. She slowly nodded her head in approval.

“I will pack up for ...”. Before uttering the last word her voice shook and her cheeks were fully wet. She hurriedly left the place having no courage to look into his eyes.

James is an island ecologist, the one who researches about islands. He had already done many and got rewards for his research works. Recently he was assigned with the project on Andaman Island. He just started and he had to stop it citing the marriage. And one month had gone. Now, it is time to continue the left work. So, James was back to his work.

He was proceeding well with his work. Lara hated the lonely days and finally, she had managed to cope with that. To keep herself occupied, she joined the dance school for western dance in Chennai. Everything was moving fine till that day.

April 5, 2018

Lara was getting late for the dance class. She hastily chugged the food into her mouth one after the other. Once done, she quickly cleaned her plate and went to her room to collect her bag. When she came out and locked her room, the doorbell of her flat hummed.

Lara was puzzled at the thought of who the visitor may be? With a lot of confusions and lack of time, she fastened her steps towards the door. She released the lock and swung the door open.

6 ft tall man was standing right in front of Lara. She gasped in shock on seeing the visitor. Words didn’t escape her mouth.

“Mrs. James?” asked the man.

Lara slightly nodded. How did he know? Did anything happen to James?

“Wh…what happened sir? Is there any problem?” Her voice trembled.

“I will tell you. May I come in? I am Ajay”

Lara slightly shifted to the side and gave way for him to get in. He made himself comfortable on the sofa.

Lara stared at the man sitting in the hall in a police outfit with legs crossed; who had muscled body; straight face and a big mustache. Lara’s body shivered a little. She was heaving heavily. Some unknown pain clutched her stomach and made her unstable.

The police pointed at the chair in the hall and signaled Lara to sit there. Lara refused politely.

The only question playing in her mind was, “Why was he here?”

She finally asked him the same.

“Sir…What happened? Is James fine?

“Ye…”

Why are you here”? Is everything okay?

“I am here…..”

“Tell me that James is fine. I couldn’t tolerate the pain in my heart.”

All this time it was only Lara who was talking and she didn’t even let Ajay speak a word. So Ajay chose to be silent until she was done with her questions.

“Please answer me. Is James fine? Please tell me, sir. Please….”By this time, Lara couldn’t balance herself and she fell on the floor in a disheveled heap crying uncontrollably.

Ajay felt hard to handle her. Before he could start a word, Lara again continued without giving him a chance. Lara went on even without taking a breath and Ajay had no way but to raise his voice against her to make her stop.

“FINE FINE FINE…JAMES IS FINE” Shouted Ajay. His voice was filled with frustration.

The moment she heard Ajay’s words, Lara was pleased. Lara didn’t care about Ajay’s disappointment towards her. She just felt glad that nothing happened to James but the next word from Ajay made her tremble again.

“But…” Ajay said and stopped.

“What now? What is the issue?” Lara was getting nervous and she got on her foot.

“James was arrested by the ANDAMAN POLICE”

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