Joined: 17 November 2012
PT 1: Laal Sari
There she was, the blushing bride, covered from head to toe in a fabric as earthy as her: khaadi. She was the epitome of serenity, a calm hidden underneath the havoc of her jet black blouse. Hairs, darker than the massya night sky, fell right above her waist. She was smiling ever so slightly at the corner eye from her groom. The red flowery lace of the sari pleats looked up its mermaid in admiration. She was beaming by now. He had not taken his eyes of her for even a split second.
Mehndi ve, Mehndi
A lone piece of jewellery adorned her neck: the modest silver. Nonetheless, she carried the metal like a royal. Her mother in law had loving eyes. The kind who can want everything but do nothing. She sat back and praised her bahu from afar, reassuring herself this girl was a good choice for her less than perfect son.
The groom was still busy inspecting his fiance's laal sari. How it hugged her warm skin; showing no flesh and yet, aggravating his nerves. Just a glimpse at her silky flesh would have sufficed.
It was time for another rasam. The elders handed him a kada: a gold bracelet with exotic stones. He took her hand in his. As gently as possible, he slipped the metal on her arm. The extended ritual bought him some time to observe her complexion; she was sunny and vibrant. Maybe even luminescent. Yet, something about her was uninviting, off-putting, repulsive. He couldn't quite figure it out but, he did not love her.
You will grow to love her. That is what the elders said. Also, we know best; this is for your own good; had you been obedient...were the other phrases they liked to throw around every time he protested this marriage arrangement. He should have a fair chance to find love. He certainly earns enough cash, enough respect and enough fame to hold a girl. Yet, after all this, he has never been able to commit to a single female for more than three weeks.
He wondered what his bride was like. She had been awfully quiet when he met her. At one point, he had decided she was mute until he heard her scream in pain.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes, I think...I hit a rock".
"It's pretty hot out. Do you always wear a red sari?"
"Umm this is the only fancy outfit I own. Was either this or the sweatpants".
"Glad you're honest".
They shared a laugh and that was the end of it. The elders interrupted, the deal was finalized. All said and done, Madhubala would marry Rishabh and join the Kundra clan at the Ides of March.
Fast forward the pre-wedding parties, the Rishabh to Madhu stare downs, it was finally time for the big day. Two hours to dawn, the bride and groom took saat phere around a holy fire. At last, she would meet him again, have a good look and perhaps, share another laugh. She took off her wedding dress in favour the laal sari. Her mother in law had instructed wohhi pehno jo Rishabh ko accha lagta hai. How would she know what he liked after one meeting? So, she went with the safest choice: the laal sari. Just as she draped her outfit together, he made an entry. Her groom tugged on her pallu and pulled the bride closer. He clutched on her silver necklace until it broke open. He began to undo her hair. Soon enough, her wedding jewellery kissed the floor. He undraped the sari pleats until some flesh was in sight. He grabbed on to the first visible patch of skin and whispered in her ear. "I don't love you".
She looked at him with blind eyes.
"You are a muse. I will use you for inspiration, artists need that".
"You are beautiful, don't you think?" His fingers ran through her waves changing the ocean currents. A storm brewing in her forehead: what was he saying?
"Just like that. Stand just like that", he locked her in uncomfortable position. Half naked, she was vulnerable.
A lonely tear escaped her eye.
"Don't cry just now. Do it when I tell you", he picked up a painting brush and began sketching her misery.
He shut her up, "don't interrupt until I am done. More tears, I want to see emotion".
She complied not because he said so but, because there was nothing else to do. Nothing but cry: he had bought her out of poverty into slavery. She was not his equal, not his wife but a manikin in a laal sari.
She cried and she cried until the tears dried up.
"Cry, hurry up and do it. I am almost done".
He paced back and forth with a dangerously sharp instrument in hand. She was fearful of his next move. Was it the same man from the sunny day?
Was it the same man with the radiant laugh, the inviting touch, the curious glances? Who was this monster talking to her? Not her husband, it couldn't be. He looked nothing like the redness in this man's eyes. The lust in his voice was piercing her flesh. He was ruthless, cunning and passionate about paint more than a human being.
He stepped closer in, she managed to tear up in fear of what would happen if she did not. The orange garden, her day dreams during the night time flew her away to an orange garden. Full of fruits, all juicy and within her reach.
"Don't blink too much".
She was sucking on the rasa dripping from the fruit. It was hers to keep. Suddenly, all time stood still. He licked a finger with his tongue and wiped clean a dried tear.
Then, he mixed some pigments on the paint palette and marked her forehead in a deep hue of red. She smelled of turpentine and breathed in humility. He showed her the true place: a musing of his art, an inspiration or, in simpler terms, a replacement for the lamp shades, curtains and watches that previously adorned his studio collection.
If only she hailed from a two parent family: the dream homes with white picket fences who send their children to the most expensive private schools. With her assigned distant relative, she had ended up in the minimalist education system by default aka the sarkaari kid. Art was the only subject she excelled at because, truthfully, all the other teachers were too busy making private tuition money to show up to school. College had been a distant dream. Married off at eighteen to a considerable older eccentric artist, her future was not looking up.
"I am done. Come have a look".
He proudly showed of his creation. Or, was it hers? The toil and suffering was certainly hers. The woman in the picture had infinite limbs emanating from her core. Some futurist twisted dream to the eyes of a commoner. But, she saw a story; her story.
"The girl is sad. All she wants is love and all she gets is hurt. Hands, legs, people wanting a piece of her. I can'."
"You are a good storyteller", he looked rather impressed. "I don't really know what my art means. I let people like you judge it". He smirked, content at his pigmented torture that would sell for top dollar. If only he understood what it meant.
"Let us get you washed up". He covered her with the undone sari cloth. "I will heat up the water".
She simply followed behind, mute and dumbfounded. She did not know how to react to this rare and painful circumstance. A cry of help reached every God of the universe. Madhubala needed direction.
He barged into the kitchen as she was busy making her first rasoyi.
"Madhu, studio, now".
The entire Kundra household gathered around to witness their drama unfold.
"No, I am not coming", she roared back. Her tone invited a glaring eye and a mumble or two from the mother in law.
"Either you get down this second or, I will make you come".
She did not pay heed to his warning and continued chopping vegetables.
"You asked for it". He swept her up from the ground and scooped her in his arms. The knife in her hands marked a slight cut on her elbow. She swallowed the pain without a flinch.
"Rishabh, this is not the wise way to do things. There are guests in the corridor", Radha ran after her son.
"Maa, if you are so worried about the guests, tell them I was taming a wild one. That is how you treat your women anyway", he snorted on the bigotry in the air and displayed his possession with pride.
The wound was bloody and painful by this time. Madhu pressed on the cut vessel in hopes of numbing the heat radiating from its epicenter.
that, up there?" He mercilessly threw some antiseptic on the wound and
watched his muse flinch side to side. "Why didn't you come when I asked
"Find yourself another muse. I am not interested". She snatched away the dressing from his hands.
"I didn't ask. Your family was going to sell you off anyway. Might as well be of some use. Think about it, your body on my masterpieces. Timeless creations, you will be remember as the girl who wed a genius".
She mentally laughed at his egoist argument. Hardly an argument, it qualified more as feeding the pride.
"Now, put on that damn sari so I can touch up from yesterday".
"I threw it in the wash".
"You threw it
in the wash?"
"When you knew I was going to paint you?"
"You said you were finished earlier".
"That was the first stage. You are responsible for keeping my mood at ease. What part of muse do you not understand?"
"Any of it". She threw his paint palette on the floor. "I married a man who is forcing me to pose half naked for a portrait he will sell off to a stranger. Their hungry eyes will eat my flesh and you are fine with it? You say you don't love me. So, be it! What right does that give you to make me your property. I am not becoming a wall hanger for any one".
"Are you done? Get back to work and for the heck of it, grab a pair scissors and show some cleavage off".
She gave him a deadly stare. He scooted closer and bit her on the neck.
"Love mark. My mother is not going to let you get out of this studio until you give her a baby".
He had pressed the right button. She slid down the wall in defeat. He ruffled her hair into a bird's nest, removed most of the fabric covering her modesty and began sketching colorful strokes that mimicked the curves of her body.
"What if I run", she spoke up out of the blue. "I will run away and never show up again. What will you do then? I got nothing to lose".
A/N: I saw this beautiful red sari and I was in awe just looking at the simplicity of the design. Filmy, I know but, I have never liked a piece of clothing so much. No one in my family/friends own a sari so, imagine how possessed I was. Just had to write a piece. This is not the sari but the closest I could find:
Joined: 07 March 2013
Joined: 17 November 2012
Joined: 12 December 2009
Joined: 17 November 2012
Joined: 21 June 2007
Joined: 17 November 2012
Joined: 21 June 2007
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