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Three months later on the night before the wedding, Snigdha was lying on her bed with Romita fast asleep beside her. Snigdha was feeling too worked up to fall asleep. She was going to begin a new life with Sameer the next day and she was excited, sad, and nervous all at the same time. But above all was the happiness engulfing her. She decided to share her joy with Sameer before going to sleep. She typed out a message to him: I can’t wait to become your bride😊

Sameer replied back almost instantly: I can’t wait to make you mine forever.

Snigdha felt butterflies flood her stomach on reading the message. She smiled happily and whispered softly to the silence around her, “Love you.” She closed her eyes knowing she would open them next morning to a new light.

The morning passed in all sorts of rituals and when evening rolled in, the serenading music of shehnai filled the air. Every corner of Snigdha’s house was lit with fairy lights. The smell of roses and jasmine wooed the guests from every nook and cranny of the house.

Snigdha was in her room with Romita, waiting for her cousins to come and carry her out to the wedding mandap. She was getting impatient to see how Sameer looked as a groom.

Romita said, putting final touches to her own makeup, “Your dad looks so bad, Snig. I’m worried for him.”

Snigdha squeezed Romita’s shoulder with a small smile. “He’ll be fine.”

A puzzled expression came on Romita’s face. “You are saying this? Aren’t you worried about leaving them alone here?”

“Of course. But when dad refused to eat his lunch today, I made him talk to Sameer. He is fine now.”

“Oh! What did Sameer say?” Romita was curious.

“Sameer promised dad that he’ll make me visit them every day. And, if I can’t come, he’ll take them to visit me.” Snigdha giggled. “What else could dad ask for?”

Romita also joined in Snigdha’s delighted giggling. “So typically Sameer!”

Soon Neelu, Ashish, and Kartik came in with a low, flat stool on which they would carry Snigdha out. Neelu beckoned her happily, “Come on, sit here then. I hope you haven’t been bingeing.”

Snigdha narrowed her eyes at Neelu meanly and then turned towards Romita. “Romy, before you marry this dolt put on lots of weight, so that no one can carry you out and he keeps waiting for you in the wedding mandap.”

Romita winked at her. “I’ll keep this is mind.” She then came forward and engulfed Snigdha in a warm hug, taking care not to mess her bridal sari and veil. Her voice was choked with emotions when she said, “Wish you all the luck in life. You are the best friend a girl can get.”

Tears sprang in Snigdha’s eyes. She tried to chuckle through her tears. “I’ll tell you the same thing when you get married.”

Romita hit her playfully. “I want better compliments.”

Ashish was amused at this emotional exchange between the ladies. “Hurry up. You have all life to compliment each other. People are waiting outside.”

Romita helped Snigdha sit carefully on the stool. Kartik handed her the betel leaves with which she would have to cover her face while going in to the mandap. The men picked up the stool very carefully so as not to dislodge Snigdha.

While leaving the room, Snigdha looked around it once. She was leaving behind her lifelong identity. The next time she would enter this room, she would be a married woman.

The men huffed and puffed their way to the terrace where the wedding would take place. The moment they stepped out on to the terrace every eye was on Snigdha. She held the betel leaves in front of her face. Sameer was just a few feet away from her now.

Slowly, Neelu, Ashish, and Kartik reached the mandap where Sameer stood dressed as a groom. They started circling him seven times with Snigdha atop the stool. Once this was done, some ladies held a white cloth over the bride and groom’s heads. The priest asked Snigdha to remove the betel leaves. Snigdha closed her eyes before doing so. Her heart was in her mouth when she opened her eyes again a moment later. Sameer was standing right in front of her, looking heartstoppingly handsome. All the noise around her ceased as she stared spellbound at her groom. Her favourite crooked smile appeared on his face as they stared at each other. His eyes gleamed in joy. Snigdha felt she was born to experience this one moment with Sameer. She thanked God silently for giving her a man she could love all her life.

It started raining suddenly. Everyone got agitated about the ceremony getting disrupted. But Snigdha smiled reminiscently at Sameer. She knew this rain was celebrating the victory of their love and blessing them, just like it had done the last time. Sameer’s breathtaking smile told her he also felt the same way. That night was truly the celebration of their love.

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