An offer she couldn't refuse!

by Hetal Joshi
(Vadodara,Gujarat, India)

"I am getting married today!"

This was the first thought that came into Neha’s mind the minute she opened her eyes, she sat up in bed with a jerk. A feeling of foreboding and anxiety settled into her mind, making her feel feverish…Marriage!

Her next thought was about Arjun, her fiancé. She was marrying her father’s best friend’s son. An arranged marriage?, In this day and time?, It was almost unique in its own… Neha thought ruefully.

It wasn’t that she didn’t like Arjun , nor was she in love with someone else..but still…
Neha could’nt understand the reason for her apprehension.
“Arjun is a really nice guy,intelligent, good looking, educated and easy going and more over he belonged to a very good, respectable and wealthy family, a definition of the Perfect guy from any parents' standard for their daughter, over and above that the bonus of Arjuns father being Nehas fathers Best Friend..”

But how can you decide? 5 months! …after an acquaintance of only five months, how can you decide if you wish to spend the rest five decades or more with a person? Technically Neha had known Arjun all her life, or rather known about him all her life, all the tits and bits that she would here from her father…Last year when Amit Uncle (Arjuns Father) and Sangita Aunty(mother), had come to India after almost 16 years they had stayed with Neha’s family at their house as none of their family is currently in India.

During their stay Neha had grown really close to them, she really adored Arjun’s parents. Then, they had returned the next year with Arjun, with the express purpose of “Wife hunting…”as they had jokingly informed Neha’s parents. At that time Neha had never even imagined that this day would come, but it had, and now, within a few hours she would be married to Arjun!

And just like that, it was afternoon; Neha was sitting amidst a “chaos”, that was, her friends and cousins in the dressing room, all ready for the wedding. The doubts and worries of the morning, momentarily forgotten, in the laughter of her friends and family…after posing for atleast a million photographs in silly poses and atleast 15 aunties putting Nazar ka tikka behind her ears…Neha was almost impatient for the wedding to commence.

Neha took a deep breath, her best friend Bhumika sitting besides her squeezed her hand reassuringly,” its just the wedding jitters…every bride is entitled to them”…her other friends all laughed and passed comments about the wedding night and the usual after marriage woes….beyond the giggles and innuendoes Neha heard the faint sounds of the Dholaks… the wedding procession had reached the gates!
“Let’s go! Everyone!... the baaraat has come…lets go..”

Suddenly, her room was empty…the following silence felt like a blessing to Neha…all her friends and family surrounding her a minute ago had left to welcome the groom at the gates. Now in the last minutes before her life was going to change forever, Neha welcomed the silence…all the fears and thoughts of foreboding crowded her mind once again, overcome by the silence of the room and the voices in her head Neha finally faced the truth.

She was just like any other girl!

All the talk of being practical, independent, etc. was all bravado…and finally like a light bulb blinking over her head she realized the reason for all her fears…she wasn’t in love..the missing piece of the puzzle, “love”…she and Arjun were not in love. It was so simple,a sudden sense of calm settled over her as she accepted this truth. Yes, she wasn’t in love but she really really liked Arjun and respected him and their families had decided for them, it was a perfect match..and as people continuously said they made a handsome couple. Everything was perfect, and Neha had accepted these facts, It might have been an arranged marriage but it was’nt a soulless one, she and Arjun really were good together they had an affinity and a certain link, some people may even call it a spark and she hoped respect and admiration might someday lead to love. Having counseled herself into thinking that and reminding herself that “the best things in life required a risk, they didn’t just show up and shower you with everything you wanted, sometimes you just needed to take a leap of faith.” She was going to enter this relationship happily…with this firm thought in mind Neha smiled freely for the first time that day.

A knock sounded and her mom entered, “you look beautiful, beta!” She said in a tearful voice. And hugged Neha fiercely, “ I love you my baby, and I wish u find all the happiness that you deserve in life and more”, “ We have always been proud of you, you have been our support, comfort and confidant ….and I m sure you will make us proud in future too.god bless you “. The only reason Neha could control her tears was because she knew that if broke down her mother will too…so she resorted to the only weapon at hand..laughter. "Come on ma, don't be like this..all filmy..and anyways you jus wait I am going to make Arjun so fond of India that we will come down to India almost every month until you and dad are completely sick of us and send us packing…you remember when I was a kid I promised I would bring a Gharjamai..I m goin to work on that..” Saying this, Neha and her mother fell into gales of laughter..

Just then her dad came in and asked about the reason for the mother and daughter laughing so much and her mom repeated Neha’s claim of making Arjun a Gharjamai even her father started laughing..and kissing her forehead…said, "You will always be my heart, my little princess, lets go..its time to go to your prince”. Saying this, he took Neha’s arm and together all three left the room for the mandap.

As Neha walked down the aisle towards the mandap she could hear the singers singing traditional lagna geet..she felt her nerves returning, looking towards the mandap her eyes met those of Arjun’s, which were, like always, dancing with mischief..and as she stared he gave her an huge smile with an exaggerated wink, Neha felt a beginning of a smile on her own face and as she reached him Arjun stepped down from the mandap and took her hand and helped her onto the platform…and after the hast- medap they sat through the whole ceremony, holding hands.

The wedding was over.

All the other after marriage ceremonies were also over.

Neha was alone in the decorated room..for the wedding night.

All the fear and apprehension that had circled in her mind all day returned with full force…the decorated bed felt like the devil himself awaiting his offering.

“Giving yourself to a man in love was a different matter but giving yourself to your husband out of duty felt so cold…” terrified Neha felt all her anxiety and doubts return.
Neha was standing at the window staring out lost in though when Arjun entered the room quietly closing the door behind him, he walked upto her. Standing besides her, he too looked out the window …together they stood in silence. Neha felt herself calming a bit.. it was almost funny, here was the reason for her fears and his presence itself made her feel calmer..

Suddenly Arjun turned to her. "How about friends?”
“Huh?” Neha asked clue less
“How about friendship?” he asked again his lips slightly crinkled at the corners…Neha just looked at him blankly..
“What the hell is he talking about?” She thought to herself frantically.
“How about we start with friendship?” Arjun asked again smiling fully now,
“I mean we don’t know each other all that much and as we are married now and going to spend our lives together so how we start this journey is our choice, right? …so how about it?"

Neha felt a giddy feeling starting in her heart…when Arjun held out his hand raised an eyebrow and said” you know, I am not going to jump on you…? , she almost laughed out at that..Smiling shyly, she gave him her hand..
“Thats better, I was almost afraid you were going to reject my offer. then what would people say? All my charm and good looks and my own wife rejected me on my wedding day itself!…ahh poor me..” he pretended to wipe imaginary tears.
"You're crazy!" Neha finally could not help it and laughed out loud.
“You have a beautiful laugh you know, it was the first thing I noticed about you..the innocent laugh of a child!" He said solemnly, the smile still playing around his lips.

Neha was caught up in the intensity of his gaze and before she could properly comprehend it. He went on saying, “We leave for our honey moon tomorrow, so lets think of it as friends going on an holiday and then, well, we will see how things proceed..” He finished with a sheepish smile.

Neha found herself nodding.
He took her hand and lead her towards the sofa, asking her to wait..he went to his cupboard and brought out a small blue box. Handing it to her he said, ”Your wedding gift..go ahead open it!” He insisted.

Neha smiled at him, and pulled the ribbon. Inside she found a wrist watch..” its beautiful!, Thank u”. Arjun motioned her to turn it over. It had an inscription. "and it begins..” She looked at him questioningly, he sat down besides her and asked her to look inside..a small card was at the foot of the box.

“Life from tomorrow will be “Our life” for us to live it the way we want..together we will make it what we want. Our journey..the way we make it..and so now it begins… "Our story.”

For a minute all Neha could do was stare…as tears rolled down her cheeks…she looked up to find Arjun looking at her with so much love in his eyes…the missing piece of the puzzle!, finally found made the most beautiful picture, which was Neha’s future and she could see it all in Arjun’s eyes.

And quite naturally she went into his arms and they hugged tightly for a long long time…
They pulled back eventually and looked at each other, staring…finally they laughed…and laughed….hugging each other holding hands..they welcomed the future with eyes shinning with new hopes and dreams that they would see..TOGETHER!

The End

Comments for An offer she couldn't refuse!

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Jan 10, 2017
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The story
by: Abhi

Truly beautiful story , such heart touching story, appreciate you 😍

Jan 10, 2017
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Wonderful
by: Purvang Joshi

Beautifully expressed. It's wonderful.

Jun 14, 2016
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amazing
by: akshit kariwala

such a beautiful story.

Jan 09, 2016
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simply awesome !!
by: Swapnil Gupta

Just fell in love with the story..beautifully written.. I can almost visualise the whole scene and feel those emotions of neha.. really an amazing work hetal..

Dec 16, 2015
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i love it.. :)
by: Harsha Sharma

really a very admirable story.. I wish every boy must be like Arjun. :)

Sep 16, 2015
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Nameless comment
by: Admin

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Apr 04, 2015
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Great story
by: Name

Great job, Hetal. Your story was simply outstanding. The emotions are well captured and presented. The marriage system in India is dileanated in your story. Great work..10/10 stars.

Feb 22, 2015
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Beautiful
by: Amrin Pathan

Very beautifully written.... I luvd it n jst felt like keep on reading... The fear of arrange marriage very well scripted n the way puzzle was solvd was very sweet.... Good job Hetal

Feb 17, 2015
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Very touching and well written
by: kumkum Bhardwaj

It was well presented, touching and hope you write more like this. Wish you all the best and i am proud of you. Good language and good presentation.

Kumkum mam.

Feb 10, 2015
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Happy Ending..!!
by: Harshneel Jadeja

Very well written, superb timing, the other side of arranged marriages... Cheers!!

Feb 08, 2015
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Awesome Story...!!
by: Shruti Parikh

Very Lovely Story... Waiting 4 other stories.. Keep it up..

Feb 07, 2015
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Simple yet so lovely
by: Bhumika

Very well written Het. Keep it up.

Feb 07, 2015
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Unknown Souls
by: J.P.Shah

It is a beautiful short story.Its a typical indian marriage that has been woven in a very excellent manner.The end of the story which I expected that will end in separation but surprisingly it was a happy end.A good U turn in the end.

Many many congratulations.Keep it up.

Feb 05, 2015
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A sweet, tender story!
by: Johanna

Being an American, I always wondered about the custom of arranged marriages and if they work better than others, so this was interesting and educational for me. I will share it with my short story group. Thank you, Congratulations and keep writing to share the unique aspects of your culture!

Feb 05, 2015
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Awesome 😚
by: Kiran Asnani

True feeling of girl for arrange marriage ...keep writing dear so that we can read more !! :)

Feb 04, 2015
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An Awestruck!!
by: Chandni Patel

Truly commendable piece of work!
Would love to read more even from other genre!!

Feb 03, 2015
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Simple, yet Beautiful use of words
by: Krunal Lakhani

Thats really nice! Good work! Loved the read.. Almost wanted the story to go on and not end :D

Feb 03, 2015
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Indian weddings!
by: Nihar Soni

This has been one of the most convincing Indian wedding stories i ve ever read. Love & affection is what matters the most regardless of an arranged or love marriage.
Good work Hetal!
Proud of you like always.

Feb 02, 2015
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thanks for the smile...
by: Viraj Dhakan

The story is so beautifull pened that it didn't take a second to bring smile for me.
Amazing and absolutely unpredictable.
Would love to read some more from the author.

Feb 02, 2015
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well said..
by: nishant vyas

Well written story hetal...!!! Short simple yet fully elaborated msg...
Hats off....!!! :)

Feb 02, 2015
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well written Hetal.
by: Mervin S. Philip

Fears which have been a part of every young girl about getting married!The subject is nicely treated & comes with a welcome twist!Sure to put a smile on every readers lips.
Hetal is very intelligent & is known to be an avid reader.She is a keen observer & her understanding of the human mind is evident in her writing.Her newly found Talent of writing is pleasantly surprising,promises more treats to people who love to reading.
Regards
Mervin 😊

Feb 01, 2015
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JORDAR
by: Himanshu Patel

Good Story... Beautifully portrayed... Really great... Keep it Up... Waiting for next story...

Jan 31, 2015
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A right way
by: Henal

first of all i would like to congratulate bride amd groom. I wish happy marraige life ahead. A big applause to writter for carving the words. A beautiful screen play of arrange marraige has been spoken through words here. #true #love #life #TOGETHER

Jan 31, 2015
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what women wants??!!!!!
by: soham vaishnav

Being a guy, it was like a different vantage point for me to look at marriages. May this is our answer to what women?....may be? Nice and refreshing experience to read thoughts of writer.....keep up the good work keep writing. ......

Jan 31, 2015
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An offer she couldn't refuse
by: Maithili Parikh

Beautifully described and amazingly written.
Keep it up!

Jan 30, 2015
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Offer Can't be refused
by: Pooja Raje

This is really good work and a creative writing on how innocent ove is and how the concept of Indian Arranged marriages can also be cherished and appreciated and understood in a beautiful manner!

The feelings and the emotions attached to a girl getting married is portrayed beautifully and for a moment gives us that mordeness yet the traditional touch of an Indian girl.

Good work!! Keep it up!!

Jan 30, 2015
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congratulations on....an offer she couldn't refuse....
by: khanjan

First of all...Beatifully composed and expressed i must say.I have admired this piece of writing....and it intrigued a sense of belonging somewhere between your thoughts and the words that made them. My utmost pleasure of reading this prouse is easier felt than expressed in words.Looking foreward for more.

Khanjan

Jan 30, 2015
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Very well described
by: Devanshi Patel

Amazing..

Jan 30, 2015
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Nice narration
by: Manohar Naidu

Missing piece of the puzzle "LOVE" found at right time in most dramatic way' Liked it.

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