"The Last Three Vows" an article by Danish Ahmed
A successful marriage hinges upon seven solemn vows that are taken by the bride and the
groom, as they complete seven circumambulations. Each vow entangles them to each other to establish a relationship of love, trust and compassion. But among those vows, the ones that really contribute to a happy married life are final three vows of the seven.
Maya and Rajneesh were variedly different from each other. Maya grew up in a conservative Hindu family. She was overprotected by her family. While many of her friends would rebel against their parents, she never complained about the way she was being brought up. She understood that they loved her enough to keep her away from anything that might harm her in the long run. But none of it meant that she was a subdued and reticent little girl. She was bold enough to speak for herself, if necessity arose.
When Maya was 13-years old, she was bullied by a group of three girls in her classroom. Most students had gone out for recess, but she had been cornered before she could leave.‘Did daddy give little Maya her lunch money?’ asked one of them.
‘I’m sure he must have. As a matter of fact, daddy might have given her enough for all four of us, considering that he’s a millionaire’ replied another girl, in a mocking tone.
‘Stop behaving childish and let me go’ said Maya, with authority in her voice.
‘Alright. We’ll let you go. Give us your pocket money, and you are free to go wherever you want’
‘You do realize that all I have to do is tell my father that you were bullying me, and the three of you would be suspended, don’t you? You are right. My dad is a very rich man, and one of the trustees of this school. Unfortunately, your father isn’t. So, are you willing to challenge my father’s position?’ she said, in a stern voice. The girls swallowed hard, and walked out of there, embarrassed.
Maya was engaged to marry Rajneesh when she turned 21. Rajneesh, on the other hand, was a world apart. He was his father’s favourite among the three children. His father would fulfil every desire of his, all he had to do was ask for it. He had the freedom to do anything he wished. Rajneesh loved his father and shared all his problems and secrets with him. From getting his first beating in school to losing his virginity, he shared all his secrets with his father.
On his father’s 55th birthday party, he had laid eyes upon a strikingly beautiful girl. He had the urge of going up to her and starting a conversation, but he resisted it. Instead he stood at a considerable distance and watched her. Each time she smiled, he felt as though the time had slowed down from one second to one million micro seconds. He was able to read every minute expression in her face, as she went from smiling to getting bored. By the time, the guests had retired for the evening, he was convinced that he had fallen for her.
‘Dad, do you think ‘love at first sight’ is a valid expression?’ he asked his father.
‘It depends on each individual. Why do you ask?’
‘I think I might have fallen in love with a girl’
His father broke into an innocent laughter. But when he realized that Rajneesh was being
serious, he had taken the proposal to Maya’s family.
Once her father accepted the proposal, Maya never complained. Despite being drastically
different from each other, Rajneesh and Maya were convinced that they were a match
made in heaven.
Groom: We are now husband and wife, and are one. You are mine and I am yours for eternity
Bride: As God is witness, I am now your wife. We will love, honour and cherish each other forever
And thus began the marriage between two strangers. They started with a romantic honeymoon to the exotic coastal town of Bentota in Sri Lanka. As they watched the turtles caper in the Kasgoda Turtle Hatchery, they held hands together in excitement. As they kneeled before the statue of Buddha in the Galapatha Raja Maha Vihare Buddhist Temple, they thanked the almighty for bringing them together. As they walked across the Beach, they found tranquillity in each other’s arms.
Rajneesh had expressed his desire of making a career of his own, and being independent. His father had respected his decision, and allowed him to live his life as he pleased. He worked for a reputed financial sector, as the Area Sales Manager. He had his own mortgaged house, and he fulfilled all the requirements of his family. Five months through their wedding, Maya was accustomed to his daily routine. He would return from work in the evening, and they would spend the night watching television. They would visit both of their parents weekly, and every month he would take her out on a weekend’s trip. During the end of the month, she would know that Rajneesh would be late returning from office, but she would still wait for him until he came back.
She would ask him about his work, and Rajneesh would avoid the topic saying, ‘I get bored enough in the office, if I start bringing up conversations about work at home, then there would literally be no place, where I could find peace’
Rajneesh treated Maya with respect and affection when he took her out on dinners, with his friends. Sanjay was his colleague and also his close associate. They made it a point to go out on double dates with their wives, every alternate weekend.
Eleven months had passed, and their married life had been reduced to a monotonous cycle that repeated itself every month. Maya had never had any problems with the way their lives unfolded, but Rajneesh was getting tired of this daily routine. Rajneesh was now returning late from office every day. Maya had asked him for a reason, to which he had replied, ‘We have taken up a new project. So, I’ve been keeping busy working for it.’
‘But Sanjay seems to be coming home at time’ she remarked.
Rajneesh tried to lighten the mood and in a playful tone, he replied ‘Are you jealous of something Mrs. Rajneesh?’
Maya stared at him and replied with a straight face, ‘Don’t try to avoid the conversation. I spoke to Sanjay. Who is this Swathi?’ Rajneesh’s expressions had changed. He was now getting angry. ‘If you want to know who she is, ask me nicely’ he said and turned to walk away.
‘Don’t you dare walk away from me Rajneesh. Sanjay told me that you’ve been leaving from office by your usual timings. So please tell me, what official business happens outside the office, after your work timings every night?’ He looked away.‘I’m talking to you Rajneesh’
He angrily replied ‘We have undertaken a new project damn it. And Sanjay comes home on time, because he isn’t involved with the project. And if you should know, Swathi is the woman, who has been assigned to assist me’
Rajneesh stormed into the bedroom. Maya felt guilty for being suspicious, but a part of
her still wasn’t convinced with his story.
Groom: You are my best friend, and staunchest well-wisher. You have come into my life, enriching it. God bless you
Bride: I promise to love and cherish you for as long as I live. Your happiness is my happiness, and your sorrow is my sorrow. I will trust and honour you, and will strive to honour all your wishes
Two weeks later, Rajneesh had invited Swathi to their routine dinner date. Sanjay had
recognized and welcomed her.
‘You look beautiful today’ said Rajneesh addressing her.
He spoke again introducing them, ‘This is my wife Maya, and Maya, this is Swathi’‘So how is the project shaping up?’ asked Sanjay.
‘Oh I think it’s coming out really good. I have to admit, Swathi is amazing. She knows in and out about the kind of people there. So, I have no doubt that this project will be a massive success’ replied Rajneesh.
‘Well, all I can say is, I’m with good company’ she replied, looking at Rajneesh. While they were about to order food, Swathi went through the menu and said, ‘Rajneesh, I’ve never come to this restaurant before. Can you place the order on my behalf?’
Rajneesh placed the order and said, ‘You are going to love this dish. I can promise you
‘I’m sure I will.’
After they were done with their dinner, Rajneesh offered to drive Swathi home. This had Maya fuming in anger. She straight away declared, ‘Sanjay, can you drop me home?’ After an awkward exchange of looks, they all dispersed.
When he dropped Maya, she said, ‘I need to speak with you Sanjay’ Sanjay signalled his wife to accompany him, as they went into Rajneesh’s house. Maya could not hold it any longer.
‘What the hell is going on between my husband and that bitch?’Maya’s patience was at its lowest ebb and she was ready to burst.
Sanjay knew that she was serious. ‘Look Maya. There is nothing going on between the two
of them. Just a little bit of healthy flirting, I’d say’‘Flirting? Healthy flirting? Really Sanjay...’ she rolled her eyes in disgust. ‘That’s what you men call it? There is nothing healthy about flirting, Sanjay, not for a married man. Healthy flirting is a word introduced by perverted men who want to lend legitimacy to their extramarital dalliances. Flirting invariably has a sexual connotation to it.’
She got up from her seat and walked around the room gesticulating and muttering something to herself. Suddenly she stopped, turned back, looked at Sanjay and asked, ‘Did my husband sleep with her? You are his friend. Did he ever tell you anything about it?’
‘I think it’s time for us to leave’ he replied.
‘Don’t avoid my question, Sanjay’
‘Don’t be ridiculous Maya. Out of all the people, you should know him better!’ he said, and left with his wife.
Maya was feeling scorned. She felt hatred for Rajneesh. She wanted to call her parents, but she resisted the urge. She did not want them to get worried. She was trying to think of the moment in which her life had toppled. She tried to think of a fight or a quarrel or any kind of bickering between them that might have originated the downfall of their relationship. But, she eventually realized that there was nothing to blame, except that he had fallen out of love.
The next morning, Rajneesh was feeling bleak. Sanjay came into his office and said, ‘She thinks you’re having sex with Swathi’
Rajneesh lazily looked up at him and said, ‘I don’t know what to say, Sanjay’
‘Tell her the truth. Tell her before it all falls apart’
Groom: May you be filled with joy and peace
Bride: I will always be by your side
Maya was sitting on the sofa and looking around the house, as though she had never seen the place before in her life. She turned to look at the calendar and she realized that it had been an entire year, since their wedding. She tried to remember their romantic honeymoon, but her memories were fuzzy. It seemed to her as though an eternity had passed between now and then. She decided that it was too painful for her to stay in the same house any longer. She purposely left behind her mobile phone and took a cab to a hotel. She checked-in and locked herself in the room. She wished to be alone, she wished to fight the pain and most of all, she wished that Swathi ended up feeling the soreness that she had made her feel.
Rajneesh returned back home, rejuvenated. He went around the house calling out her name, to no answer. When he could not find her, he drove to his father’s place where the entire bungalow had been glowing with embellishments. He rushed to his father-in-law and asked him about Maya. He seemed as surprised as Rajneesh was.
Sanjay came up to him and said, ‘Do you know of any place, she could go?’
Rajneesh was speechless. He was trying to battle his tears. He had been getting worn out of his daily routine life, and he had wanted to do something exciting in his married life. He now hated himself for encouraging the idea. He stayed back late, every night at Sanjay’s apartment wanting Maya to be insecure. He had asked one of his colleagues, named Swathi, to play out the entire dinner scene. All this while, he had been trying to look at her surprised face when he eventually expressed his undying love for her on their first wedding anniversary. He had been waiting for the moment when he told her that it was all an act.
He knew that he would meet her sometime, the next day and all the air would be cleared. But he also knew that his first anniversary was never coming back. He now wished to go back and live the routine life all over again, and celebrate his first anniversary with hiswife. He stood on the lawn of his father’s garden, staring at a huge three-tier cake which had ‘We made it! Happy Anniversary’ written over it, an air ticket to Switzerland, and a wrapped diamond necklace which had a gift paper designed with their last three vows printed all over it.
Story written by Danish Ahmed