Chapter 1 : The Sunset

 

A sheet of calmness is spreading over the sky, with the approach of the dusky evening towards the end. The Moon has already started peeking out of the sky, following the visibility of the stars which can begin to shine any moment. In a distant corner of the road outside of the house, easily identifiable amid the huge bunglows, I am sitting staring the setting sun. My childhood seems like yesterday to me when cracklings and laughter of Anuradha and I, use to echo around the house. She was five years elder to me and was always full of liveliness. We were from one of those families who were surviving on a three time meal, though sometimes we had to settle for a two time meal. She was the purest of soul I have ever come across. It was a daily ritual to hang around with her across the village in the evening, greeting everyone on our way and halt in between to play with our neighbour’s kids. In those days it was not rare, to spend time at neighboring houses as people were not much confined to themselves. They were more polite and much more helpful back in those days. Throughout my childhood, I was at her command in the evening which I enjoyed a lot.When I turned 11, she was 16 and things began to change a bit, she was not allowed to go out of the house in the evenings much, the reason to which i did not understand at that time. All it meant was the end of all the fun we use to have. But it looked peculiar to me then, more than this what I found awkward was that she was restricted to indulge herself in talks with boys, who were friends to her. For me, I was never allowed to question these changes. I always wished to be a grown up to understand the worldly affairs which seemed illogical to me. Unaware of the facts then, I was living through the golden era of my life,but just couldn’t recognize it.

Gopalnath Vidalya, a school in our village was the last institute she attended, and like it happened with  most of the girls of our village, after 12th class she was never allowed to go for higher studies, though being a bright student during her time. Things down the time have changed quite a lot now, 2-3 years back village got its own graduation college, changing the outlook of people towards the upbringing of girls.
She went through all of this yet never complained of anything. As soon as she turned 18, our parents started to look for the suitable groom. Across the social network, a word spread among  relatives and family friends so as to accelerate the search. In those simpler times of envelopes and postcards, the connectivity was a thing to understand and a pleasure to watch. The news for finding a suitable groom was spread across and tailing mails started to come in, within a month’s time.
With in a week of this event, our parents had enough of groom options to choose from, ironically my sister had none.
She was never asked an opinion in her marriage, as it was considered a taboo for girls to choose their desired grooms for themselves.
Soon the ritual of choosing the groom ended with all my relatives, our parents and our well wishers declared one guy which seemed suitable for her. His name was Harish, a shopkeeper by profession who owned a house in his village. His father was a farmer, who mostly spent his time at the house and his mother was someone who my sister will soon become, a housewife.
The preparation for her marriage started at a great pace and in a month’s time, her D’day came. With sweets, delicious food and fun all around I was the happiest of all, unknown to many facts and the possible consequences of the marriage, or I would rephrase it in a better manner, consequences of Anuradha’s life.
Midst of all hustles and bustles, chaotic sounds, thump of music and lots of rituals, by the time it was evening Anuradha was no longer a girl, she was a bride to someone, if not by choice.
Orange sky with setting sun, seemed to compliment her orange lehnga, and i wish it would have been just the Sun which was setting that day.

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