mother of the groom dresses for fall

Dear fb friends, spl Bhai Rakesh Kumar, I repost below my old blog story to celebrate the New Year 2018. I wrote this story at the request of an international magazine which wanted a story for its edition dedicated to women who had made a life changing decision in their lives .... this is a fictional story
Durgeshkumar Srivastava, 3 Jan, 18 .... here below is the story

The Decision That Changed Her Life
by D.K. Srivastava (New Delhi, India)\
The story begins at a traditional Hindu wedding, arranged sometime in the last quarter of the nineteenth century in what was then the small town of Allahabad in north-central British India. The match was settled by the elders of the two families and the prospective bride and groom had no say. The boy, aged 20 something, was still a law student at the local university. He was lean, tall and dark complexioned, the son of a low-ranked civil servant.
The girl had no formal schooling. Educated at home, she could read and write the Hindi language and had studied the Hindu religious texts such as the Ramayana and the works of Hindi poets and story writers. She was a good singer and could sing many devotional songs in praise of Goddess Durga and other Hindu deities. She was dark, very thin and very plain looking. By no stretch of the imagination could she be called beautiful. Her father was an unqualified practitioner of law, a very successful and clever man. Her family was reasonably rich and much better off than the family of the boy. There was a very negative feature about the matrimonial alliance, known only to the girl’s family. She was in her early-30s, ten or more years older than the boy. The girl’s father had managed to keep her age a secret and yet obtain the consent of the boy’s father. mother of the groom dresses for fall
The Hindus of Allahabad followed wedding rituals that were centuries old. The wedding would be solemnized in accordance with Hindu religious texts but the bride would not be sent to the groom’s house after the wedding. She would remain in her parents’ home for an additional period of two to five years, depending upon her age. (Brides used to be very young in those days, and many were married off long before attaining puberty). Then a second ceremony called gauna would be held, following which the bride would be sent to the groom’s home.

In the present case, the deception with regard to the bride was accidently discovered soon after the wedding but before the gauna ceremony. As might be expected, the groom’s family was furious at the fraud and kept postponing the ceremony on one pretext or another. Many years passed but the girl remained in her parents’ home. They lost hope of ever sending her to her husband’s home and were resigned to her staying with them for ever.
Time passed and the boy became a lawyer after completing his studies. But his legal practice did not take off and he remained unsuccessful in his profession. The two families were distantly related and kept in touch, although their relations had become strained. And then fate played an unpredictable part. The boy fell ill. It was a simple fever to begin with but he did not recover.

Days passed into weeks and weeks into months. Whatever treatment was available in that small town was tried but there was no improvement. The girl’s family received regular updates about his condition, but were embarrassed about visiting him. Meanwhile, the girl resorted to prayers for the health and well-being of her husband, spending hours in themandir (temple) in her home and observing many vrats (fasts). She was restless and worried all the time and wept secretly in grief.

One day, the girl’s family received news that the boy was on his death bed and his chances of survival were slim. They did not know what to do. The girl gathered up courage and told her mother that she wanted to go to her husband’s home on her own to take care of him. This was unheard of in the traditional society of the time. How could she go before the gauna ceremony was performed? Her request was turned down by the family elders. She stopped eating and said that she would die, too, if she was not allowed to go to her husband at such a critical time. No one from her family was willing to escort her to her matrimonial home. So the girl made a decision.
She proposed that the family servant escort her to the door of her husband’s home, drop her there, and return, leaving her to her fate. Her family ultimately relented. Dressed as a new bride, in all her finery, and carrying an iron trunk containing her belongings, and a copy of the Hindu religious book Ramayana in her hands, she took a seat in the ekka (one-horse carriage) driven by the family’s trusted servant. She left her parents’ home in the wee hours of the morning on way to her husband’s house in another part of the city.

It was still dark when the ekka arrived at their destination. The doors of her husband’s home were locked from the inside. She got down and put her forehead on the threshold of her sasural (matrimonial home) as the servant unloaded the trunk and put it near the door. Her head covered with a red chadar (scarf) and fully veiled, she stood in the dim light of the municipal oil lamp on the nearby pole. Leaving her standing alone on the doorstep, helpless and hopeless, the servant drove away in the silence of the early morning.
She had been standing and waiting maybe less than an hour when the door was opened by a servant with a broom in his hands. Seeing her there he inquired who she was, but she just wept silently and did not utter a word. The servant went back inside and returned with an elderly lady, the mother of her husband. She asked who she was and what she wanted. Hesitatingly, the girl whispered that she was the daughter-in-law of the family and had come after hearing of her husband’s serious illness. She also said that she had the permission, albeit reluctant, of her parents and would not return to them. Leaving the bride standing on the threshold, the elderly lady closed the door and went back into the house.

After what seemed like ages, the door opened again and several ladies and an elderly gentleman came out, talking animatedly. In the meantime, several neighbors had emerged and were whispering together. Seeing the neighbors, the family members opened the door wide and escorted the bride inside. There was no customary ceremonial welcome and no religious ceremony (like an aarti – lighted welcome lamps on a decorated plate in an earthen pitcher full of water) or welcome songs. The bride remained silent and veiled. She had passed the first test of her difficult future life. She had gained entry into her husband’s home.
She was soon shown the room where her husband lay seriously ill – a thin, haggard man. She touched his feet and went to work, cleaning the bed, the room, changing his soiled clothes, sponging him and giving him a soothing massage on his forehead and feet. He felt comforted. She took stock of the situation, learned the medication routine and began preparing light nourishing food for him. Within three days he was able to sit up and within a week walk in the courtyard. His fever disappeared and he had his first bath in months. His illness was a thing of the past.

Now, the bride began paying attention to other members of the family. She would go to her mother-in-law’s room and massage her feet with mustard oil and her head with sesame oil. She was an excellent cook and housekeeper. Everyone in the family was surprised at her dexterity and efficiency at household chores. She was gradually winning over everyone. One final frontier remained for her to cross. That was the approval of her father-in-law, which would mark her final acceptance as the family’s daughter-in-law. That, too, was soon to come.
Her husband regained his health and vitality and after about two months decided to return to the courts to his legal practice. When he arrived there on the first day, he was welcomed by his colleagues. Among them was hissasur (father-in-law - his wife’s father). As the elderly man came into view, the young man went up to him and spontaneously touched his feet. The two men embraced and tears filled their eyes. The senior man, a clever and successful lawyer, had arranged for his son-in-law to see two or three clients on the first day.

The young man never looked back after that episode of illness and bad luck. His legal practice went from strength to strength and he became one of the more successful lawyers in the city, amassing huge wealth and making a name for himself. The couple were blessed with several children who went on to become well-known and successful themselves. In four decades, that frail, helpless new bride, who had stood alone at the door of her matrimonial home in the dim light of the early morning, had been transformed into a much loved, highly respected and immensely rich matriarch of one of the leading families of the city.
I can recall the day she died. I was a school kid then. I remember her lying in the courtyard of the large house, covered in mounds of flowers, as a large number of relatives waited outside for the funeral cortege to leave for the banks of the Ganga River for the cremation. Dressed in a flaming red sari, she had a large necklace of pure gold around her neck. Her husband had announced his decision to give this necklace to charity.

Hundreds of people joined in the funeral procession. She had fulfilled the traditional belief among Indian women that a woman’s doli (the bridal carriage that leaves from the door of her parents' home) and her arthi (the funeral cortege) must always leave from her husband’s home. Her decision to go to her husband's home was undoubtedly her defining moment.