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Aankhon Mein Teri
A Maaneet Fan Fic
"Maa, main kisi ko bhi shaadi nahin karna chahti. Please!" (Mom, I don't want to marry anyone. Please!)
Geet and Rano were sitting alone in Geet's room. Rano placed her hands on Geet's shoulders and said seriously, "Geet, teri shaadi ki zaroorat hai." (Geet, you have to marry.)
Geet tried to interrupt, but Rano wouldn't let her. "Not only do you have to marry, but you have to marry Savitri Devi's grandson."
"Don't argue with me."
"Maa, Devji didn't want to marry me, so alright. We don't get married, he can be happy with Meera, and I get to finish my schooling. Everybody wins."
"Geet, you need to stop being naive. Do you realize what will happen if you don't get married? Do you realize what Daarji will do to you if you don't get married?"
"Lekin Maa, yeh meri galti nahin hai." (But Maa, it's not my fault.)
"Agar yeh teri galti nahin hai, kisi ko koi fark nahin parta. Koi baat nahin jo galti thi, tu saza milegi." (It doesn't matter if it's your fault or not. You're the one who will be punished, regardless of who's at fault.)
Geet grimaced, unwilling to face the truth, but her mother wouldn't keep quiet. "Listen, Beti. I'm your mother and I'm only doing what's best for you. You need to get away from this family. Ever since your father died six months ago, I knew this day would be coming. You were able to get this far in your education only because he was alive and Daarji felt like indulging his favorite son. Now that he's gone, everything is different. You think by avoiding this marriage you will be able to continue your education, but you're wrong. Daarji doesn't approve of females going to college and he will never let you go back. With this situation of Dev abandoning you, I'm really afraid. Izzat is the most important thing to these men and they will do anything to defend it. Anything!"
"Maa, don't be so dramatic. Once a little time has passed, Daarji will calm down and forget about the whole thing, just like he always does."
"No, Geet, he won't." Rano blew out a frustrated breath and then seemed to come to a decision. Looking Geet straight in the eye, she asked, "Do you remember what happened to Channi Ahluwalia?"
When Geet nodded, her mother continued. "Well, she didn't just disappear, she was killed, murdered." Geet gasped and shook her head no. "It's the truth, and it was because she married a boy from a rival clan."
"Maa, you can't be talking about honor killing."
"Yes Geet, I am, but that isn't what makes me so afraid for you. The police haven't found any evidence, but there are rumors in the village about who was responsible. Channi's brother led the group of men that went after her, but it was Brij who killed her."
"Maa, Brij kabhi nahin kar sakata the!" (Mom, Brji could never have done that!)
"Mera vishvaas karo vah the, aur agar tu meri baat nahin maanti, the same will happen to you." (Believe me, he did, and the same thing will happen to you if you don't listen to me.)
"Daarji would never allow it."
"Geet, you don't know Daarji. A few years before I married your father, his youngest sister Parneet had an accident and died, at least, that is what the family told the community. However, not long after our marriage your father told me that Daarji beat her so badly for talking to a boy alone, that she went into a coma and died a few days later. Your father had been away, and when he came back he wanted to see Daarji punished for what he did, but his mother was so distraught he didn't think the stress of a trial would be good for her. But when we married he told me the story, and warned me never to anger Daarji, because he couldn't stay with me 24 hours a day to protect me. This is why he was so keen on you getting your education, in the hope that you would be able to leave the village and Daarji's influence."
"But Maa, if I get married, what will happen to all my dreams, the dreams that Papaji encouraged?"
"Geet, this is why I want you to marry Savitri Devi's grandson. Dekh Beti, a girl does not just marry a man, she marries into a family. You don't know this, but when we were first approached for the rishta and the elders met to discuss it, I had a chance to talk to Savitriji and Sonaliji alone. I spoke to them about your father's plans for you and your dreams of doing not just a BA, but a Masters. They assured me that they had no problems with you continuing your education. I feel that if the family you marry into has Sonaliji and Savitriji guiding it, you will do well. The only way for you to achieve your dreams is to agree to this marriage."
"Maan, I need you to agree to this marriage and come immediately!"
Maan Singh Khurana was extremely busy and didn't feel like entertaining his grandmother's foolish notions. And it was a foolish notion. He was never going to marry, and she knew that very well. He told her as much and chided her for bothering him.
"Listen Beta, this is serious. Dev has totally abandoned this little girl, and you are the only one who can rectify the situation."
Maan was tired of always cleaning up after Dev. Not that he ever had to do anything personally, but he'd had to spend enough money over the years, and send enough people out to take care of Dev's problems that he had lost count. Since both his Dadi and Nani were there, he didn't see the need to get himself involved.
Savitri Dev sighed at the stubbornness of her grandson. "Maan, this isn't just about fixing Dev's mistake or saving our family name. These people are from a small village and their culture and values are still very much rooted in the past. I can't even explain to you the violent reaction Sukhdev Handa had when he found out what Dev had done."
Maan thought that if the family was resorting to violence, she and Nani should leave immediately, but Savitri forestalled his objections. "It's not us I'm worried about, Maan, it's that little girl. This whole situation has left her in a very bad position. I don't know what the family will do to her, but I don't think it will be anything good."
Maan couldn't see what that had to do with them. How this girl's family treated her was their own problem, not his. Savitri didn't see it that way and argued profusely. Maan finally suggested that if she was so worried, she should just take the girl with her, but not to involve him. His dadi wanted to know if he was crazy, suggesting that they could just take a girl away from her family. They could be accused of kidnapping, and even if it wasn't true, it would not be the right thing to do. The only way to protect the girl and take her with them, was to do it legally by making her their bahu. As Dev had run off, that responsibility now fell to Maan.
Maan protested some more, while Savitri continued to argue, eventually wearing him down. Maan agreed to come right away, but he was only willing to do the bear minimum necessary to see the marriage completed. He was extremely busy and it was going to be a great inconvenience for him to leave Rewari at this time, and he needed to be back as soon as possible.
"Maan, I understand your business concerns, and the difficulties involved, but you need to get here as soon as possible. It is important that the marriage takes place before the auspicious time has passed."
Maan grumbled about superstitious nonsense, but Savitri informed him that these things were very important to the Handas. She felt that as their family had already caused enough difficulties, they should do everything in their power to show respect for the Handas. Maan promised that he would do everything he could to come as soon as he could, but warned that it would still take him several hours. When he got off the phone with his dadi, he immediately contacted Aditya Ghosh, his right hand man. He very quickly explained the situation and what he required.
When Savitri got off the phone with her pota, she immediately went to speak with the elder Handas. She found Sonali speaking with Sukhdev Handa, telling them a bit about Maan. Savitri interrupted and explained that Maan had agreed to the marriage, but that it would take him some time to arrive. Brij was upset at the delay, and vowed that if anything went wrong, he would not leave the Khurana and Singh families. He hated the thought of the Handa parivaar being humiliated in front of the village. His father, Ramdeep, calmed him down and said that it was more important for them to get prepared. Since the dulha would be arriving late, they would need to adjust their plans. His wife, Rupinder, thought that it would be a good idea to check their kundali, and see if there were any difficulties.
Daarji left that task to the women, and Rupinder took Savitri and Sonali away to consult with the pandit. The men gathered together to discus what next had to be done. Since their future son-in-law would be coming much later than expected, many of the ceremonies and rituals would have to be kept short or abandoned. They needed to decide which essential parts of the marriage they wanted done, and which were unnecessary. Ramdeep suggested that they talk with Purohitji to ensure that things were done correctly.
As tense as the atmosphere was, time flew by for everyone except Geet. They all had much to do and prepare, to guarantee the success of the wedding. Some of the wedding guests became restless with the long wait, but a few words from Brij and they settled down. All knew of Brij's reputation, and were frightened enough that they kept their mouths shut. Throughout all of this, Geet was alone in her room, with her mother coming periodically to check on her. After waiting for more than three hours, her mother finally came to tell her that the dulha had arrived, and that she had just completed his welcoming arti.
Geet took a deep breath and tried to calm her nerves as her mother and tayi escorted her out of her room and down the stairs. She really didn't want this marriage. At least when it was Devji, it was someone that she had met and talked to. She only knew this stranger as Savitri Devi's grandson. Somehow, the nameless, faceless nature of the dulha made the situation ten times worse. The only thing keeping her upright and moving was the echo of her mother's words. The combination of fear of her male relatives and excitement at thoughts of obtaining her goals, produced a strange sort of adrenalin rush that had her hands shaking and her feet walking.
As much as she didn't want the wedding, she was still curious as to what this substitute groom looked like. She had never been much interested in boys at school, but she was still female and had a female's natural curiosity. With the ghoonghat covering her head her view was obscured, not that she could really look up. Looking up was frowned upon in her family, so she tried to covertly glance around, even with her head down.
Through the sea of people she could see the madap set up in the courtyard, and a tall figure standing next to Sonaliji and Savitriji. Geet wasn't sure, but she thought it looked like he was wearing one of Brji veerji's sherwanis. It seemed strange to her, until she realized that he wouldn't have had time to get his own. He stood very still, almost as if he was a statue. Geet wondered what he thought of the whole situation. She had at least been aware that she was going to be married, but he had had no idea. Geet was also curious about what Savitriji had said to get him to agree to come. In fact, it was strange that his brother was getting married, yet he had not been planning to attend the wedding. These were all questions that she intended to ask once the wedding ceremonies were over, but at the moment it was time to participate in that very wedding.
Her uncle, veerji, and other male relatives held the traditional cloth over her head as she made her way toward the mandap. She could hear people in the crowd murmuring about how beautiful she looked, but that hardly made a difference to her. What Geet wondered was if they could see the apprehension on her face. Did no one feel as strange as she did, with this swapping of grooms? All too soon she was at the mandap and standing head bowed before her soon-to-be husband. The garlands were brought forward and they each took one in their hands. As the bride went first, Geet looked up and for the first time got a fairly good look at the man who she had agreed to marry.
Geet was scared. More scared than she had been earlier. The handsome stranger stood before her, stone faced. He stood so still that a person could be forgiven for thinking him a statue. She couldn't do this. She wanted to run away, from this stranger, from her family, from her life. What was holding her back? Only one thing, those eyes. There were a thousand emotions in those eyes that pulled her, kept her from fleeing. She didn't know why those eyes didn't let her go. She only knew that she could do nothing but stay.
Geet just stood there staring, while the silent man looked somewhere above her head. It wasn't until she heard Daarji speak her name, that Geet realized she needed to place the garland around his neck. She did so, and then moved back, lowering her head once more. She felt the garland being place around her neck, and the marriage began.
All the typical rituals were completed, perhaps with a bit less speaking on the purohit's part, but completed. Daarji performed the Kanya Danam, and it was at this point that Geet really felt the loss of her father. She wondered what he would think of how the course of her life had changed after his death. She knew that he would not like the way this marriage had been forced on her. Geet was so lost in her father's memories that she was unaware of her dupatta being tied by Sonaliji to her husband's scarf for the Gaanth Dandhan. Like a sleep walker, with no conscious knowledge of her actions, she followed her husband around the fire four times, and then walked ahead of him three times. When he placed sindoor on her mang and the mangalsutra around her neck, she had no idea that he'd done it without even looking at her face. All she was aware of were memories of a beloved man, who had taken her with him everywhere, insisted that she spend lots of time reading, snuck her sweets at night before bedtime, and finally failed to come home one day after an accident on one of their farms.
Geet came out of her past thoughts when Purohitji directed them both to take the aashirvaad of the elders. This was again an upsetting thing for Geet, as she could not have the blessing of the one family member she missed the most. However, this time she did not become lost in memories as she had become aware of the man standing beside her, whose every movement matched her own. It was a strange way to acquire a husband, groom swapping. Too filmy, and if it had been a story she had heard, she would have thought the girl involved to be a very silly creature. But now, having gone through a situation where the only way out was to marry a stranger, Geet began to see that life could sometimes be filmier than films.
Geet knew what was coming next, but she was unprepared for how soon it would happen. Since her new family did not live in Hoshiarpur, Geet had been prepared to leave her home. Her mother and tayi had been busy for days packing her things. However, since the groom had changed, and everything was in great confusion, she had thought that they might not be leaving as soon as had been originally planned. She found out differently when her bidaai began and the plate of laja was brought to her. She couldn't stop the tears that fell down her cheeks as she picked up handfuls of rice and threw them behind her. It was inconceivable to Geet that she was leaving the home that she had spent 20 years of her life in, and going to a strange place with a strange, silent man.
Even as she felt the terrible pain at the loss of her pre-married life, Geet realized that she had not heard her husband speak one word. That realization just added to the strangeness of the situation. Stepping out of her home and up to the car that would take her away forever, she felt that she couldn't go through with it. She tearfully whispered as much to her mother when they hugged each other tightly.
"Ro mat," said her mother softly, wiping her tears gently. "Ek ladki bari ho jati hai aur usaka pati ke saath chala jaati hai. Yeh maine kiya, aur yeh meri maa thi. Yeh hamari sanskriti hai." (Don't cry. A girl grows up and goes away with her husband. I did this, and my mother did this. It is our way.)
"But, Maa, how can I leave you here?"
"Beti, don't worry about me, I'll be fine. And we will see each other again. Now it's time for you to leave."
Geet wanted to protest more, but she could feel the impatience of her groom. She got into the car without saying another word, but couldn't stop herself from pressing her face against the car window. As they drove away, she looked back at her old home, and the family she was leaving behind for as long as she could. It was not as long as she would have liked, as the darkness of the night quickly obscured all that represented her old life from view.
First some good stuff: Geet's outfit, mehendi designs and jewelry.
Now, I deserved a medal, a medal I tell you! Why? Well, let me explain. So, I wanted to get a feel for what Geet's wedding would be like at her home. To do this, I decided to watch the episodes of her wedding with Dev. I skipped them when they were aired, as well as all Dev-Geet scenes because I knew he was supposed to be a crook, and I didn't want to watch him cheating her.
Anyway, I can not tell you how many times I felt like gagging while I watched that fake marriage. The way Dev just sat there, with a tiny smirk on his face. Boy, did I feel like killing him! I had to watch Maaneet's wedding several times just to get over it. The things I do to make these FF's better!
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