Today he met the beautiful, talented, oh so graceful Candramukhi. Seriously, that's how his parents explained her to him.
He was forced into their favorite fancy Indian restaurant and was seated in front of one girl and one man. Both dressed in traditional Indian clothing. The man worse beige while the girl wore a pink dress and jewelry.
"Hello, Padma, Anirudh, and of course, Aarav." The man said. They said their hellos but the girl remained silent. The man nudged her and she popped up.
"Oh, hello..." She said with an awkward smile.
"This is Candramukhi and her nanna." Aarav's father speaks.
"Call me Chandra for short, please," Candramukhi spoke, making her father give her a look of frustration.
"Well, let's eat!" Aarav's mother said. They ordered their food and it came shortly after.
"Candramukhi is very studious. She has a 3.8 GPA." The father boasted.
"Nanna," Chandra seemed to warn.
"Don't be modest! Tell them how smart you are! She's like a sponge! She absorbs all the information she can!" The father said with a smile.
Chandra blushed and ate her food in silence while her father boasted and mingled with Aarav's parents.
Chandra looked up at Aarav and gave a small, nervous smile, as she wiped her face with a napkin.
"So," Chandra uttered awkwardly with a hint of silliness.
"So..." Aarav said nonchalantly.
Chandra sighed and continued to eat in silence. Aarav glanced up to her, only to look in shock. Chandra scoffed down her food quickly.
"Nanna, may I have another bowl after this?" Chandra asked.
"Candramukhi!" Her father whisper-shouted. He leaned down and whispered something to her, to which she replies with a scoff and eye roll. The father gives Aarav and his family an uncomfortable smile and slowly went back to eating his food.
"I'll tell you what, how about you two go talk to each other outside alone. Us adults will stay here and chat. How's that?"
"Sure," Chandra said.
Aarav didn't reply. Instead, he just got up and made his way outside. Chandra followed quickly behind him, trying to keep up.
Outside, a Hindu priest was speaking to a group of people. "Doing for others is one way you can be your best version."
Yeah, right. Being kind doesn't win you anything.
"That's why you must treat all with kindness. I challenge you all to do one act of kindness once a day. Kindness can be the first step to moksha." The Hindu priest finished. His audience looked engaged and in wonder. All Aarav could think was: how fucking stupid is he?!
He gave the priest and his group a scoff before walking away and finding a deserted table to sit at.
"I hate priests too... They think they know you and what you need." Chandra said.
Aarav scoffed. She had to do better than that. Just because she tries to agree with something he believes doesn't mean he'll talk to the bitch.
"Ok then," Chandra said nervously, sitting down across from Aarav. "Did you like the food?"
"Can you shut the fuck up?" Aarav snapped.
"Look, dude, I don't want this stupid shit either so don't give me that bullshit. I'm in the same situation you are. Frankly, you're too damn ugly for me to even consider actually wanting to marry you. I'm only here because your nannamma has good relations with my nanna and my nanna doesn't want to disappoint her before she dies." Chandra snapped.
"Dies?!" Aarav shouts.
Chandra stops and gives him a concerned gaze, "You don't know?"
"Know what?!" Aarav shouts again.
"Your nannamma... She has cancer." Chandra says softly.
Aarav's blood boils. "They're doing this all because of her wishes?! What about mine?!" Aarav shouts.
"Uh, what?" Chandra asks.
"You heard me!"
"So your nannamma has cancer but you're pissed because no one is caring about what you want?" Chandra asks.
"So?" Aarav says with a scowl.
"I have to marry this kid?" Chandra whispers.
"Oh, trust me, you're no pretty peach." Aarav smirks.
"Damn, ok," Chandra says with a chuckle.
"You think you're so funny, huh?" Aarav retorts.
"You think you're hot shit, huh?" Chandra retorts back. They both glare at each other for a while until their parents come outside.
"Time to go, children." Aarav's mother says with a smile.
Aarav sighed in relief and got up, not even looking back as he walked to the car to leave.
"Ramachandra, that was rude!" His father scolded him on the car ride home. "How dare you! They had great hospitality and you just go ahead and do what you want to. You're one stubborn child! What do I need to do to get it through to you that this is important?!"
"Well, you didn't tell me nannamma was dying!" Aarav shouted and the car went silent.
"Nani..." His father started.
"You really only give a shit about her wishes. You don't even think about how I'd feel!" Aarav shouts.
"Language! Listen, nannamma... just wants to see the last adult in the family get married before her death... It'll make her happy... before she dies." His father says awkwardly.
"Yeah well, I'll have to live with it my whole life!" Aarav shouts.
"Have a little respect, Ramachandra!" His mother shouts.
"Stop calling me that!" Aarav yells.
"Excuse me?!" His mother shouts back.
"I hate that fucking name and I hate you!" Aarav cries.
"Again with the language! Don't make me stop this car, I will!" His father yells.
"Fuck you." Aarav retorts.
"That's it, get the hell out of this car. You're walking home." His father demands.
"Anirudh, I'm not sure-" His mother began.
"No, he will learn to be respectful one way or another. Get out, now!" His father shouts to him.
"Gladly," Aarav opens the door and steps out, slamming the car door behind him. Without a second thought, his father drives away, leaving him in the glow of the streetlights.