40 years ago...
They dressed her in a heavy sari embroidered with silk and whatnot. Siya was to be engaged to a man whom she didn't know, didn't see. The 17 year old girl was terrified. Who wouldn't be? After getting her readied by applying kohl around her eyes but making sure that she didn't look like a witch practising black magic, they made her stand up with care and took her out to the main hall of the house. That was where the engagement was to be held.
The main hall was big. It could contain up to 500 guests and was perfect for a private and small affair like this. "Relax, dear. It's only the engagement. The wedding is more hectic," said her mother, who was standing beside her, and chuckled. Siya didn't know whether this was a reassurance or a warning about the upcoming wedding and torture. Siya's mother and the rest of the female family members who were accompanying her lead her to the centre of the main hall. Her to-be-husband was sitting on the velveteen sofa.
The engagement went smoothly, though there was a moment when Siya had hesitated to put the ring on her fiancèe's finger. With trembling and reluctant hands, she had slid the ring onto his finger and drew her hand away as quickly as possible, as if he has scorched her.
The wedding was to be held 5 days later- that was the most auspicious day for a wedding that month, according to the astrologer they had consulted. Siya lay on her bed, thinking about what was sure to come. 'If I'm going to be married, maybe I'll never have the chance to sing again. I want to ascend to heights that no one this family ever did. No. Siya, no. It is not like that.'
But deep inside, Siya knew it was like that. She decided to look at all those songs she'd written during her childhood, maybe they'd ease her longing for singing. She went to her almirah and opened the small locker where she kept her song books. She opened the first page- it contained the first song that she'd written when she was 12. 'Mein dekhna chahati hoon vo lehar aur nadiyaa... Mere khwaayishein hongi sach kyaa... (I want to see those waves and rivers... Will my wishes come true...)'. She willed herself to close the book, but it was too late.
The fire had been ignited in her.
Siya quickly packed her bags and stealthily left the house, maybe never to return again.
Siya looked out of the window of her house. She was dressed in a cotton sari. It was green in colour, simple but elegant. The greying hair was tied at the back in a bun. You'd think she was the wife of a billionaire and not a singer of over 200 hit songs who ran way from home at a young age.
Age had taken quite a toll on her body- the face that was as beautiful as the moon had become wrinkled and the body that stood tall even during the death of her husband had become a bit hunched- but the elegant grace and twinkling eyes never left her.
She was waiting for a woman who was at the moment really important. Jaanvi Suresh. A woman to whom Siya owed her freedom and so many apologies. Her sister and best friend.
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