Saying, I do!
“Viaan Samrat, do you take Ira Khanna to be your lawfully wedded wife? Do you promise to love her, comfort her, honor and keep her for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, and forsaking all others, be faithful only to her, for as long as you both shall live.”
“Ira Khanna, do you take Viaan Samrat to be your lawfully wedded husband? Do you promise to love him, comfort him, honor and keep him for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, and forsaking all others, be faithful only to him, for as long as you both shall live.”
Ira was starting to feel nauseous. She scanned the room hoping for another way out. She had started to gather that she was stuck, trapped in this forced nuptials with Viaan.
She peered into his eyes hoping to see any hesitation or despair but Viaan stood in front of her emotionless.
Viaan was starting to get nervous as he noticed her looking around the room. Color draining out of her face, making it pale. Is she going to back out now?
"Are you...?” Viaan clenched his jaw.
Ira cleared her throat, interrupting him, “I’m sorry.”
“Do you want me to repeat that?” the Judge recapped but she declined.
Good Lord, Viaan thought.
"I guess... I mean...I do. I do,” Ira faltered.
“With the power rested in me by the State of California, I now pronounce you Husband and Wife. You may kiss the bride” the Judge smiled.
Ira’s eyes widened in horror, recollecting a big part of a wedding ceremony. The Kiss.
Had Ira ever thought about kissing her high-school crush before? Sure! Most of her classmates were drooling over him. Things took a turn obviously when she found out her half-sister, Isha and he had started dating her senior year.
Ira and Isha were born months apart, former being the older. Both the girls were daughters of Mr. Lalit Khanna who owned multiple chains of Indian restaurants in the LA area. Restaurants, once well known he had managed to burn to the ground due to poor decisions.
Just like his business, Lalit was prone to making bad choices in his relationships too. He had abandoned Ira’s mom for his mistress Ellie with whom he ended up having two kids, Isha and Arjun. Ira and her mother were forced to move out when Mr. Khanna found out Ellie was pregnant with Isha.
Mrs. Khanna, however, the matriarch of the family never forgave her son for abandoning his family. She refused to accept his second marriage even after Ira had lost her mother to cancer a few years later.
Viaan eyes glistened as he thought about Isha. His heart ached as he longed for her. He hoped for a miracle that the stranger in front of him would be replaced by his beautiful fiancé.
Isha had been taken, by none other than her family and without a trace. Mr. Khanna was solely responsible for this destruction according to Viaan.
Viaan had to complete the ceremony as all eyes in the room were on him, expecting him to kiss his new bride. He had come to an agreement with his father, that this marriage would be nothing. Nothing but a piece of paper.
He felt coerced to kiss her especially by his dad grinning at him with raised eyebrows; Clearly not keeping his end of the bargain.
Viaan gaped as Ira trembled like a leaf looking down at the floor. What more could he expect from her? Isha had blathered in the past how mousy her half-sister was.
He leaned closer propping up her chin up to get more access. As he forced his eye shut, he felt his lips brush hers slightly, immediately feeling the warmth of her soft lips.
Ira inhaled the mixed scent of tic-tac mints and aftershave.
My first kiss, Ira shivered.
She assumed he would back off after dropping a peck but Viaan’s lips stayed connected with hers for a few seconds too long. She felt butterflies in the pit of the stomach. At that very moment, her whole world came to a halt.
Ira inched away, opening her eyes heavily. Viaan still had his eyes shut, his brows tightened like he was stunned or unsure. She took a step back when Viaan finally opened his eyes, his dark eyes were scrutinizing her face.
Viaan was puzzled. The tingling he felt was unexplainably different from the times he had kissed other girls including Isha. His heart dropped. This isn’t right!
"Dad! Am I done here?” He barked peeking his eyes away from the unsettling girl. Stay away, Viaan.
“I’ll see you at home” Mr. Samrat Sr. retorted.
Samrat Sr. sympathetically peeked at Ira who was staring at Viaan walking out of the courtroom. “Let me take you home,” he nudged Ira’s elbow.
“That’s fine uncle, there is a direct bus to my apartment from here.”
“Don’t be foolish, you’re not taking the bus when I’m here. Follow me” he insisted.
Ira’s grandma had an attorney, Mr. Vindu who was also instructed to witness the wedding. He was the messenger for her grandmother’s outrageous will.
“Ira, I’ll keep in touch”, the elderly lawyer spoke sternly before trudging away. She nodded as her jaw went slack. He never brings good news. Sigh!
If it wasn’t for Grandma’s unbelievable will, Ira would have simply handed over the property to the Samrat’s. She was having to pay her father’s debt by getting married to Viaan. Saving the same father who had abandoned her again.
“So, what are your plans for school?” Samrat Sr. probed, eyes fixed on his phone.
“I have been accepted with a full scholarship for a nursing degree at UCSF,” Ira beamed proudly.
“That might be a problem,” the gray-haired man in his late 50′s objected.
“You see, Viaan is already going to UCLA for pre-Med.”
“And, your grandma’s will specifies you two need to be living together and that won’t be possible if...” Ira sighed audibly.
“You will need to get your degree from UCLA,” her jaw dropped at his declaration.
“I’m sorry uncle but I didn’t apply there and the application deadlines are over. I’m not wasting a year over this.”
“I’ll look into it, send your certificates to my PA. Let me see what we can do”
Ira had decided to go to college away from home to be able to get out and see the world outside LA. She had never been anywhere on vacation and hoped this was an opportunity to explore.
The Cadillac entered her quiet neighborhood, which was in a scaled down suburb bordering the UCLA campus.
Ira stepped out after saying goodbye to her temporary father in law and walked into the lobby to be greeted by Martin, “Hello, Ms. Khanna! Did you have a nice day?”
“I’ve had better, Martini,” she snickered. Martin had been their doorman for years. Ira had grown very fond of him, often referring to him as ‘Martini’.
As Ira stepped into her empty apartment, she kicked off her shoes. Plopping on the sofa she promptly felt her body relax after the longest day.
A tear started to roll down her cheek as she cursed her life. She was having to change everything due to her dad’s carelessness. Her grandmother who has always protected her had decided to make her life a living hell with her crazy rules.
Ira recalled all the conditions that Mr. Vindo had read out patiently from her grandmother’s will.
The apartment was the only property that senior Mrs. Khanna had owned and passed down to her dear Ira. Unfortunately, if Ira wished to sell the apartment, she could only do so solely after she turned 21.
Mr. Samrat’s security had held her at their office as their lawyers combed through the will documents for a bypass to retrieve the big cash that Lalit had borrowed from Viaan’s dad.
The clause stated that if Ms. Ira Khanna was to marry before 21, she could do anything with the apartment after the first wedding anniversary.
Ira wept and wept for hours wondering what she had done to deserve this. She was strategically married off to a man who couldn’t bear to be around her and she was having to change her dream of studying in a new city for him.
My life is over...
She slid down to lay on her sofa to get more comfortable, drifting off into a dreamless sleep, only to be awakened by a loud alarm.
Who is it? She wondered.
Ira could see sunlight peeking through the curtains which meant she slept through the night on the sofa but she couldn’t remember if she was expecting someone that morning.
Martin was calling through the intercom to let her know that Mr. Vindu was here to see her. She tidied herself to be more presentable, regretting not taking off her makeup, the previous night.
“Good morning” she wished the lawyer as he marched into the apartment.
“Why is your phone off?” he walked in brazenly and took a seat on the sofa.
“Uh... it must be dead. I didn’t charge it” Ira exhaled in frustration.
“Mr. Samrat was trying to reach you. His wife wanted you to come visit the house to complete some welcome traditions. You’re going to have to take a call if you want to move into their house or have Viaan shift here... and soon”, he pulled out some paperwork and started to sign them.
“Why the rush? I need time to figure things out”
“Figure things out? This should have been done before you both decided to marry, Ms. Ira”, Mr. Vindu frowned.
“Is there something I should know about?“, he eyed her suspiciously.
Ira shook her head nervously, “Not at all...”
“You do know if I find out this is a sham, I will have to respect your grandmother’s wishes and donate this house away to a charity”
“Off course”, Ira nodded.
“Look kiddo, I am having no fun here. Your grandmother wanted me to take these extreme steps because she cared about you.”
“Amazing way to show it”, Ira felt herself choke up.
“She knew your father would try to rip this property from you. He’s a scumbag, your grandma warned me about him.” he rubbed his forehead.
“Either way, let me know if I can do something to help”, he left a document on the table.
“What’s that?“, Ira pointed.
“It’s a document that is signed by me confirming that the wedding happened yesterday and one year from now this property will be released to you as your grandmother requested”, he attested.
“You have my number... let me know if anything comes up”, he stood up and moved towards the door.
“If you decide to move in with the Samrat’s, call me”
Ira nodded watching him shut the main door. She picked up the document and read the details, stopping at the mentioned date.
It was the day I was married off to Viaan Samrat...