“You may now kiss the bride.”
The words said by the registrar brought cheers around the church but it also brought down the final curtains to my freedom.
With a forced smile I turn and look up at a man I barely knew as he leaned in front and closed the marriage contract with a kiss.
And then 2 years passed with the blink of an eye.
“Zeesha can you please stop staring into space and arrange the dinner table?” my husband’s mother, aka my mother-in-law hollered from the living room. Her voice loud and clear even though the sound of the television in which she was seated in front of was overbearing. Sighing I pocket the small notepad and pen into my apron pocket and rush into the kitchen to prepare dinner.
It’s been two years since I started living with my in laws. I was originally from New York, but due to my husband working in Miami and the distance being too far, I had to move in with his family. My mom and dad rarely visited since the plane tickets were too expensive to be wasted on casual visits to their daughter or so they said the last time they visited a month ago. Or was that two?
My sister, Zulia, is my only ray of happiness. She visits me every month irrespective of my parents complaining. She pesters me on the phone on a daily basis and she never leaves me alone for a single day.
As I put on the gloves and open the oven to take out the freshly baked pasta, I can’t help but think back to the day when everything had gone wrong.
I was only twenty, looking through the internet trying to find a suitable college to continue my studies in the filed of literature when my parents had called me downstairs for an important talk. It had been brief. They didn’t have much to say. Just that “I should meet my future husband,” and that this marriage was “for my own good.”
Irrespective of how hard I tried to reason with them and make them understand that they were forcing a young girl into an arranged marriage they never stopped the preparations. I threatened to run away from home and that only resulted in me earning a slap from my father. He locked me up in my room to keep me from doing something absurd like running away and warned my sister to stay away from me. And then in exactly one week I was dressed up and ushered to a hotel where I was to meet my fiancé and his family.
The guy, or should I say man, I was placed in front of was lean and muscular. He wore a crisp suit and looked very classy in a way he made my hands sweat. He smiled at me in a charming manner which made a light thump on my heart and then introduced himself as “Harry Santiago.”
I soon learnt he was a man in his late twenties. Twenty six to be precise. He worked at a company in Miami in which he was the manager and that he was the one who had asked my hand in marriage. Harry revealed that he had seen me at a college orientation when he had visited New York for work matters. He made it sound like a romantic story. Love at first sight. But there was no love in his eyes. Neither in mine.
I keep quiet the entire time as he engaged in a Conversation with my parents. Zulia was left home in fear she’d ruin the meeting and I wished with all my heart my sister would be beside me.
I could have stopped all this nonsense. Put an end to the marriage talks and explain to them I was just a girl in her twenties finding for a college and that marriage wasn’t what I was looking for. But I was a coward.
I’ve always been a coward.
Unlike my rough sister who didn’t let people treat her like shit, I on the other was a people’s pleaser. I never refused anyone and would accept and oblige to whatever anyone said. I didn’t have the bone to stick up for myself. And I always allowed people to walk over me. I have never once tried to get something I wanted.
Just like how I never confessed to my best friend whom I’d been in love with for 6 years and he was taken away from me by another girl.
And thus, taking my silence as a yes, a date was fixed for the marriage. In just two months, we were wedded and I moved far away from my hometown to a state I’ve never been to.
I place the pasta tray on the table which was now occupied by Harry, his brother and parents. Harry pulls out the chair beside him and I take my seat. And soon dinner begins with everyone serving themselves. Joshua, Harry’s brother makes small talks with his parents and occasionally Harry joined in on the conversation. I was left to myself and my thoughts.
I might have been unwilling to get married, but I wouldn’t say my in laws were all that bad. Harry was kind and loving towards me. His parents were as well. At least they were kinder than mine ever was. Joshua who was in his freshman year in college had been overly intimate with me irrespective of me being his brother’s wife, but soon he stopped talking to me altogether. I never figured out the reason though.
If I must be honest, then I would chose my in laws place over my own home, because my parents were never the loving type. Zulia and I grew up loving each other and I made sure to shower all the love and care on Zulia which my parents didn’t do so as much.
I play with my potato salad when a nudge stops me from my train of thoughts. Harry was looking at me with a perked brow waiting for an explanation to my lack of interest in the dinner. I only give him a smile and continue eating. Soon he lets go and does the same and I sigh silently. Once everyone are done with the dinner I clear up the table and then throw the apron on the pantry after taking out my notepad and pen. I kiss goodnight to my parent in-laws and then make haste to my room.
Harry was in the showers and I wait my turn. I pull out a new night gown and place it on the bed along with a new pair of lingeries. And then I finally sit down to relax myself after a days worth of working. I flip open the notepad to the latest page and start scribbling down my thoughts. My words. My imagination. Of something I didn't have the luxury to experience.
Of a high school romance.
I had been a novelist before getting married. I started off as an online novelist and by perking up the interest of a local publisher, my book was soon out in public and private bookstores. I had been busy with writing manuscripts and editing my books that I pushed the chance of a life in college until I was ready to handle both of them without going under pressure.
Who would have thought my decision to push my college studies away would leave me without a college life forever?
I never stopped writing though. When ever I got the chance or in between my chores I always penned down my ideas hoping to write a novel one day. And that was why I always had my pen and book with me at all times.
The tap turns off and I grab my clothes and towel to enter the bathroom. Harry comes out freshly bathed in just shorts, his torso bare with his towel around the neck. His scent the same as always. Sandalwood and vanilla. Some of his office mates, the ladies that I’d met said it triggered their hormones. They found his scent alluring and seductive somehow. Whilst I, his wife didn’t think anything of that sort.
Harry went straight to the bed and started up his laptop while I creep into the bathroom to have a quick wash. As I let the water run down my body, I could feel the tensed muscles relaxing. I sigh aloud as I lean on the wall wondering if I will ever come to love my life.
Perhaps I will. One day.
I dry myself up and bathe in perfume before putting on my night gown and then walking outside. Harry was still in his laptop. He looks over and gives me a nod before looking back at the screen. I hang my towel on the rack and then slide beside him under the sheets. And then I wait.
As per usual, Harry sets his laptop on the bedside table and dims the light, the room glowing a faint orange. My insides tense as he moves inside the sheets and then pulls me closer.
He runs his mouth from my ear to the crook of my neck leaving behind a trail of soft kisses. His hand goes underneath the gown as his lips take a hold of mine. I don’t close my eyes but stare into his dull brown orbs. There was no love like he had said so at the beginning.
Love at first sight was it? Yet it felt like he touched me only as a sign of a responsibility. Like he had to do it in order to gain something.
I finally give myself over to him. Like I always did. A dutiful wife obeying her husband’s wishes.
And thus yet another day spent as a house wife.