The leaves rustled and swayed in the breeze. The chirping of the birds in the distance contributed to the tranquil atmosphere. Yet Krishna's mind was not calm. He sat on his patio chair in his garden, lost in thoughts.

“Hello, Krishna," Sameer greeted, tapping Krishna on his shoulder and bringing him back to the present moment. 

“Sameer! Great to see you! Transferred back to Mumbai?” Krishna asked, surprised, as he welcomed his old friend.

“Yes, we moved back to Mumbai a week ago. Sorry, I couldn’t call you; I was preoccupied with the wedding preparations of our son. Please join us in the celebration and bless the couple,” Sameer said, handing the wedding card adorned with a gold border and swirling calligraphy.

“Fantastic news! Take a seat," Krishna exclaimed, gesturing towards a chair. He then called his wife, Radha and asked her to get coffee.

Radha arrived with steaming hot coffee. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafted through the air. She placed the cups on the table and extended her hand to congratulate Sameer, who reciprocated by presenting her with a silver lamp.

“Where is the girl from, and what is she doing?” Radha asked.

“The girl is from Mumbai. She is a homoeopathic doctor.” Sameer replied.

"That's wonderful," Radha responded with a smile, her eyes reflecting happiness.

"Krishna, when I arrived, you seemed lost in thought. Is everything alright?" Sameer inquired.

Taking a deep breath, Krishna said, "My daughter is turning twenty-five next month. We want her to get married. Many promising proposals are also coming in, but she refuses to consider them. I am not sure why she's behaving this way."

“It seems like you are stressed about her decision. Questions like 'why' may appear complex, but often, their answers are simple," Sameer reassured Krishna.

“I don’t see any simple answers to my why?” Krishna retorted. 

I concur with Krishna Ji. I don't comprehend the thought processes of these kids or how they approach life. Without a partner, how far can they go? Today, they are young and energetic. They will thus be able to cope, but what will happen to them as they age? Who is going to attend to their needs?” Muttering under her breath, Radha tucked the loose end of her sari around her waist and scurried inside the house. 

“OK, tell me, how was your relationship with your wife all these years?” Sameer asked 

“It was stressful, but we managed to handle it well for the sake of our daughter,” Krishna answered.

“Did you ever use words like, wish I had not married at all or both abusing each other?” Sameer tossed another question.

After a brief thought, Krishna replied, “Yes, maybe a couple of times, but what has that to do with my Ruchi's marriage?”

“Sometimes, words leave an indelible mark on our fragile minds forever. I am not saying this is the answer to your why, but it is a possibility. Another simple answer might be that she doesn't wish to be bound by commitments. These days, youth often shy away from shouldering responsibilities and aspire to live freely like birds.”  

“You know we are getting our younger son married because our elder one has decided to remain single. I was upset with his decision and almost threw him out of the house. Even after our heated arguments and fights, he didn't seem to change his mind. Things started to fall into place only when I understood that acceptance was the key to our questions. I made an effort to see things from his perspective and eventually respected his decision." Sameer reflected on his journey of understanding and embracing acceptance.

As Sameer's comments reverberated through the room, Krishna couldn't help but think about his daughter Ruchi and her aspirations.

Krishna realized he had overlooked his daughter's wishes in his quest to fulfil societal expectations. He was so focused on finding her a suitable partner that he failed to understand what Ruchi wanted for herself. 

Swiftly, Krishna emerged from his thoughts, turned to Sameer and said, “I am grateful to you for opening my eyes. Maybe it's time I had a conversation with Ruchi."

Ruchi was sitting in her room gazing at the setting sun outside the window. She was a nature lover and loved talking to birds, plants and flowers. 

Krishna knocked on the door with his knuckles and entered Ruchi’s room. His feet hit the floor softly. “Ruchi, I want to talk to you,” Krishna said, clearing his throat. 

“Dad, I am not interested if you have arranged a match for me," Ruchi declared firmly.

“No, not at all, Ruchi. I want to know about your further plans, and I promise I shall stand by your side,” Krishna said and sat beside her.

Running a hand over her hair, Krishna continued, “Ruchi, your happiness is all I need and pray for. We will not force anything upon you. Tell me, what do you want in life?”

Ruchi’s heart swelled with emotions at her father's words. "Dad, I appreciate your concern, but Marriage is something that I am not looking for, at least not right now. I have a long bucket list to experience and fulfil."

Krishna felt relief wash over him as he listened to his daughter's words. He realized her craving for freedom and self-discovery was more precious than societal expectations.

"Ruchi, I am with you. Go ahead. Live your dreams. I am sure your mother will also understand," Krishna said, his voice filled with love and acceptance. 

Krishna and Radha accepted Ruchi’s decision with open arms. After all, the time spent together and all the meaningful talks between them defined their relationship and not the intricacies of marriage or social norms.

While some questioned Ruchi's dedication to her family and community, others lauded her bravery in challenging social norms. Yet, amidst all this, Ruchi remained steadfast and followed her heart's desire.


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Sheela Iyer


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