The car turned into the gate; she stared at the shimmering canopy of lights. She could hear the loud thumping music at a distance and feel the festive joy in the air. She did NOT want to be there. She was all dressed up in her green salwar, an emerald choker around her neck. She pushed her hair off her brow and tucked it behind her ear and touched the emerald earrings that adorned them- her grandmother's.
The car came to a halt in front of a huge archway made of white roses. She stepped out into this temporary phase of razzle-dazzle, dreading every minute of the fake smiles and hugs and the meaningless small talk that was to ensue. The music got louder with every step that she took, she took a deep breath and kept walking..
She stepped on the stage with her mother, to go and wish the bride and groom and stood for the customary picture when suddenly a laugh distracted her. She looked to see where the sound had come from and that is when she saw him. Dressed in a white kurta, with the sleeves rolled up, hands in his pocket, talking to an elderly woman and charming her with his dimpled smile. She wondered who he was. 'Thank you!', the photographer called out. She hugged the bride again and followed her mother off the stage.
Having unwillingly completed the ordeal of exchanging the usual pleasantries, she excused herself and walked out of the hall, away from the high-pitched laughter, away from those ridiculous air-kisses and away from the plastic smiles. The sound of the sea was something she had always loved, she listened intently ignoring the din from the party. She spotted a vacant swing and decided to sit there a while. The salty breeze blew gently on her face as she dug her feet deeper into the sand. She finally felt real again.
Her eyes fixed on the full moon above, she started humming a tune that had been stuck in her head all evenings. Gently swinging back and forth, she thought of the summers she had spent at her grandparent's place, trying out dare devil feats on the swing by the mango tree. Such a long time ago that seemed like.
Naina snapped back into reality.
"Aren't you a little old to be on the swing?"
She frowned. "I'm sorry, I didn't know there was an age limit", she said sarcastically as she slipped her shoes back on.
"Ha ha ha oh god, I was just kidding you know."
"Never mind, I had to go anyway". She adjusted her drape and looked up.
Her skin, glowing under the moonlight and the breeze moving through her hair, her surreal beauty left him speechless.She turned around to walk away, back towards the party.
"Hey hey I'm sorry, did you take offence?"
She turned back, " Don't worry about it."
He raced up ahead of her. "Oi, listen, I was kidding yaar."
Naina smiled. "I know. And it's ok. Yaar."
"Those are really pretty earrings by the way."
"Ummm I'm Rithvik."
"Nice meeting you Rithvik."
She walked away, and he watched on, listening to the clinking of her bangles. He slapped the back of his head. "Douchebag," he said to himself.
Her mom was still busy talking when she stepped back into the hall, she decided to just show her face and walk away before she got stuck in the pretencious talk again. All the 'kids' her age were on the dance floor in the basement. She decided to go have a look, atleast that would be better than listening to old ladies gossip. Soon she was also swaying and shaking to the latest 'bollywood' songs with a group of girls her age whom she had just befriended.Jumping and dancing to the beats, she let her dislike for her dad's family go. She was finally having fun.
"Sajna ji vaari vaari....."
"I'm so so sorry, I didn't mean to do that".
She had stepped on someone's foot, she looked up to see who it was.
"Haha, no worries yaar. My punishment for the earlier comment."
" I really am very sorry, are you ok?"
"Well, you're wearing what looks like a 4 inch long pencil heel, what do you think?", he pointed at his toes and wiggled them.
"Why did you stop? Dance no", he pulled her hand and dragged her into the crowd again.
He was studying to be a doctor,he loved his bike and his two dogs and he would not shut up. She laughed at his silly stories as they continued dancing. She'd forgotten when she had had so much fun.