Bound by Law || 1-Arranged
I wasn't so sure what I wanted to do with my life after college. I'd always wanted to make my parents proud; it was the motivation for me to do well.
But after that night, everything had changed. I had no motivation, no goals. I just didn't have it in me anymore to see anything more in my future.
I knew I wanted an arranged marriage. That was the one thing I was sure of.
And Aman was the perfect guy for me. My parents knew his and though him and I weren't that close, we knew of each other's existence and that was enough for me.
"Hey, Kari." Aman tapped me on my shoulder and broke into my thoughts.
He was smiling in amusement at me as he gestured towards my hand.
"Your ice cream's melting," he said, with a lop-sided grin.
I looked down, realizing he was right and gasped. With the napkin I was given, I wiped my hand before licking the cone and continuing to devour the creamy, cold goodness.
I could hear Aman snickering from beside me and I pouted.
"Don't laugh!" I whined.
"I'm not laughing!" he said, raising his hands up in surrender. Glancing up at him, his eyes were bloodshot red and he looked like he hadn't shaved in weeks.
It was as if he hadn't been able to sleep in months. It looked worrying but the bright smile on his face seemed to contradict any doubts that had conjured up in my mind.
Shoving his hands back in his pockets, he tilted his head at me.
"What are you thinking about?" he asked softly as we walked over the bridge leading to my house,
Finishing my cone, I looked down at my feet as I walked.
He didn't say anything as if he knew that it wasn't something I wanted to talk about, and we both succumbed to a peaceful silence.
It was nice.
It was especially nice to see Aman again after several years. I knew him when we were younger but we weren't that close. I used to just follow him around from afar when he came from America. His brother never showed up and so I didn't ever meet him.
Eventually, as we got older, we started to talk whenever he would come to visit. I was always a shy person, so I never really talked much. Aman accepted and understood that never pressuring me about anything.
I still wasn't entirely sure where he got his politeness and perfect manners from though. Whether it was here or overseas....who knew?
"When are you going back?" I asked, suddenly curious.
"In a week." He sighed. "I've left Jai alone back in America. He's not a kid or anything, but as his older brother, I want to look after him. I don't want to leave him there by himself." He gave me a side-long glance. "Who knows what he's up to?"
I nodded and smiled. "That's true. Plus a week is a long time. We can make the most of your time here, even after the wedding."
"Hmm." He clicked his tongue. "But, unfortunately, I won't be able to stay here for long."
"What do you mean?"
"I was only given a short break for the wedding which was already hard to do. So, I have to go back to America to work the day after."
"But don't worry," he rushed out, "I'll be back in a month."
A month? That's...a long time.
To be a newlywed and to not be with the husband for a month was strange. A feeling of dread and disappointment settled within me as his words sunk in. We wouldn't get time to settle down with each other.
I wouldn't be able to see him.
For the rest of the way, we walked quietly back to our house and after dinner with my family, he decided to set off back to his parents' house to stay for the week.
But before he left, we both stood outside my door, smiling at each other, the earlier incident forgotten. I was too busy feeling like a giddy teenager to care about what I was so worried about before.
He was reluctant to go and I was reluctant to let him go.
"Bye," I whispered, glancing at him and playing with my shawl.
Looking at him now, I never thought we'd be where we were. I always thought Aman hated me.
When we were kids I would always follow Aman because I really liked him. Since he was kind, he would let me but I didn't think it meant anything. He was just very friendly and someone I could easily talk to.
And recently our marriage had been fixed. The engagement was over and the wedding was in three days.
It was strange because I had always thought I'd never see him again. I had thought he would marry a foreign woman but the reality was completely different.
"Trying to get rid of me already, eh?" He laughed when I shook my head furiously.
"I'm just kidding," he responded with a chuckle, a deep and throaty rumble that erupted deep from his chest.
"Well, I guess after today I won't be seeing you until the wedding day," he said.
I nodded and he started walking backwards, his tired eyes still on me.
"Then, I'll see your beautiful self at the altar."
A shy smile arose, causing Aman to respond with a confident grin and a wave before he turned away.
I shut the door and leaned against it, sighing softly. I was biting my lip to stop a smile from emerging at our silliness as I ran upstairs.
"Karishma?" A voice broke into my thoughts. I stopped watching Shah Rukh Khan's classic movie K3G when my mothers' figure came out from my bedroom door and stood behind me.
"Yes, ma?" I asked with a bright smile looking at my mother expectantly.
She gave me a short, almost nervous smile and walked closer. My eyebrows drew together slowly as I tilted my head.
"Karishma," she began, grabbing ahold of my hands and clutching them tightly. I couldn't help but be worried at this sudden aura that was coming off of her. "I wanted to talk to you about the wedding with Aman."
"The wedding? What about it?" For some reason, my heart was beginning to pound against my rib cage, as if it was dreading bad news.
I really didn't want her to call off the wedding or anything—I was starting to like him already. He made me feel comfortable and made me laugh, something no man has ever been able to do.
"Well, when you get married, you know you have to tell him about what's happened–"
There was relief at the fact that it wasn't about calling off the wedding but at the mention of the other situation, my stomach churned and my eyes widened in horror.
"No, I can't tell anyone!" I looked at her, desperate to keep this secret, "Please, don't make me. He doesn't need to know. That was in the past. Please."
My voice broke, tears almost immediately gathering in my eyes. She sighed and nodded, pulling me to her body tightly.
"Okay, okay, honey. I know for sure he will understand and love you regardless. He will take care of you, sweetie." She smiled gently. "But if you don't want to tell, then you don't have to."
I could see how much it hurt her too, just talking about it. The forced smile on her face failed to convince me as the tears in her eyes were too obvious.
But I was doing the same thing, pretending I was alright by smiling when I really wasn't.
When I was actually broken on the inside.
Even though I was smiling just a few seconds ago, it faded away as soon as my Ma left the room, engulfing me in a room full of silence.
It wasn't a bad silence. It was...peaceful;
tranquil even. Though my thoughts were anything but that.
They were all jumbled.
There was a time before the marriage was fixed where I didn't want to get married after what happened.
It had completely ruined me and my future. But now...now, I wanted to be with Aman no matter what.
I wanted to tell him everything.
But I just couldn't.
There were only two days until the wedding. It was both exciting and nerve-wracking and I felt as though things were going too quick.
I could picture myself being happy with someone as sweet as Aman, which was why I had agreed in the first place.
I just had to make sure that I never uttered my secret to him. I couldn't help but apologize in my mind for keeping something as huge as that from him.
Lying was easy. Facing your fears and telling the truth especially if it meant facing humiliation, was hard.
I knew for sure that if I told him, he would never accept me.
Not even the most understanding guy would accept that.
Not even Aman.