Thursday, April 30, 2015

April 2015 A to Z Blogging Challenge- Chapter 26- Zero Hour

I'll Be There Beside You 
Chapter 26

Today’s Idiom – Zero Hour

Meaning-the particular time when any crucial act is supposed to take place.

*7 years later*

Lalitha and I stood opposite to each other, in the center of the Mantapa, which was beautifully decorated with flowers of all hues, a white cloth, held by the pundits, separating us. I stood eagerly with a garland in my hand, goaded by my relatives and friends to put the garland first. It’s believed that whoever puts the garland first on their partner, will have an upper hand in their marriage. I could see Lalitha’s relatives lifting her up in the air, so that I could have tough time putting the garland on her. As soon as the white cloth was pulled down, I allowed Lalitha to garland me. My relatives made fun of me, saying that I’d be “Joru ka gulam” (wife’s slave) after marriage.

I didn’t mind being Lalitha’s slave for the rest of my life. Lalitha looked beautiful and resplendent in all her wedding finery and I couldn’t help wondering how drastically she had changed in the past years. She leaned forward and whispered in my ears. “Sudhir, stop staring at me. And save some of your energy for our honeymoon.”

She smiled mischievously and I struggled to control myself. I wanted to lift her in my arms in front of all my relatives, whisk her away from the crowd and kiss her soft, luscious lips. We had waited so long – 7 years – for this moment, when we would be declared as husband and wife. And the past 7 years were anything but smooth sailing.

There were times when Lalitha and I were literally at each other’s throat, there were times when we went without speaking to each other for days and then there were times when we couldn’t stand to be separated even for a second. It had been a roller-coaster ride but we did tide through it. Lalitha’s recovery through therapy was slow and arduous and it took a tremendous toll on our relationship.

Lalitha looks like a completely new person now – the shy, fragile and sensitive girl has been replaced by a confident and strong woman. I had even seen her standing tall and arguing with her father, about why she should be allowed to travel as part of her job to Mumbai.

Bala uncle had relatively softened. He had seen the error of his ways, by curbing Lalitha’s freedom he was not protecting her but causing more damage. He had also taken a surprising liking to me and went around the town declaring that he was very fortunate to have a son-in-law like me.

My mother and Asha aunty were animatedly chatting. They had become good friends and Asha aunty considered me to be her son rather than son-in-law. Rashmi and my sister, Shilpa, were helping Lalitha adjust her long braid adorned with flowers. They had formed a triumvirate and would often coerce Lalitha to go shopping or for a girl’s night out with them. I was indebted to them because they gave company to Lalitha when her dark, sinister thoughts threatened to drown her in despair.

I saw my friends Santhosh and Karthik clicking photos.  Santhosh remained a bachelor, happy in bar hopping with his friends and partying with women, where as Karthik had married a few years ago and was now the proud father of a baby girl.

I saw Vishnu sitting in the front seat and smiling at me. Lalitha waved at him and asked him to come on the stage. She spoke to him with affection. Vishnu and Lalitha had become friends – a bond that was formed despite the intense and excruciating therapy sessions. There had been many days when Lalitha wanted to give up. She was physically and mentally exhausted and I’d’ve lost heart seeing Lalitha’s condition and quit too, if it wasn’t for Vishnu’s unwavering encouragement and his staunch belief that one day Lalitha would be able to overcome her MPD disorder. He showed us cases of people all around the world who had suffered from similar conditions and yet now led normal, healthy life. His words had given us hope. I felt eternally grateful to him.

At last the zero hour arrives and it’s time for me to tie the mangalsutra around Lalitha’s neck. This is the moment that we have been waiting for, the moment when we would be officially joined in holy matrimony. Of course, even without these rituals Lalitha and I know that our souls, our hearts and bodies belong to each other. We know that we were destined to be together.

As I tie the mangalsutra I whisper in Lalitha’s ear. “Now you are my wife, for today, tomorrow and for the rest of my life. I promise to love you and cherish you till my last breath. And I promise you that I’ll be there beside you always.”

As I tie the mangalsutra I whisper in Lalitha’s ear. “Now you are my wife, for today, tomorrow and for the rest of my life. I promise to love you and cherish you till my last breath. And I promise you that I’ll be there beside you always.” 

* Mantapa- pillared outdoor hall or pavilion for public rituals.

*Mangalsutra- a sacred thread of love worn by women as a symbol of their marriage

You can read the previous chapters here-
Chapter 1                                     Chapter 8                             Chapter 15                        Chapter 22
Chapter 2                                     Chapter 9                             Chapter 16                        Chapter 23
Chapter 3                                     Chapter 10                           Chapter 17                        Chapter 24
Chapter 4                                     Chapter 11                           Chapter 18                        Chapter 25
Chapter 5                                     Chapter 12                           Chapter 19
Chapter 6                                     Chapter 13                           Chapter 20
Chapter 7                                     Chapter 14                           Chapter 21


  1. Ahh!! Loved it!!

    what a wonderful month this has been...I thoroughly enjoyed your series...and I think, this deserves to be made into a takes great pains to develop a story like this, and you did a wonderful job my dear! applause!!

  2. Yayyy!!! A happy ending:) Loved this chapter where you have tied off all loose threads nicely! Congrats on completing the challenge, Hon! Do consider turning this into a book.

  3. aaaaaaaaaaah! Beautiful! An awesome ending to a lovely story Prasanna :D
    Congratulations on completing A-Z Challenge :D
    My A-Z posts:

  4. wooooowww!!! So the story comes to an end..what a wonderful it has been..lovely..
    From Chapter 1 to Chapter 26, I have loved each and every word there..Congratulations and an awesome job done!!

  5. Ooh, that's a nice idiom, thanks for sharing!

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  6. clappings!!!!! I love happy endings :D
    I totally enjoyed reading this series :D

  7. A beautiful end that makes justice, poetic justice, Prasanna:)

  8. What an amazingly appropriate end. Realistic yet romantic.
    *Shantala @ ShanayaTales*

  9. Perfect ending Prasanna :) Loved this novella of yours :) And now I am waiting for the nove; you are going to write :) You will, won't you?

  10. Oh, what a wonderful happily ever after!!! Loved it:-) you have aced the atoz! What a great story teller you are:-) keep writing!

  11. I loved the story,glad i came across such a beauty.. Very happy that i got to read all the stories in a go.

    Couldn't have waited everyday for the suspense.

    Keep writing.You have a good flair and am looking forward for more..

  12. Loved this story! Congratulations for keeping us engaged and enthralled all through April, Prasanna! Well done and looking forward to read more from you! ♥