“Now, in the 4th phera, Aarti, you have to take the lead and step ahead to make some promises to Nitin. With this round, you promise to step ahead & promise to take care of Nitin forever. Stand by him through thick & thin; and fight against all odds to protect him. Do you agree?” said Pandit Ji in his usual singing tone. Aarti closed her eyes and thanked God for the moment. Both Aarti and Nitin had waited with 5 years for this day. After several “No” and “Never”, the families finally had agreed to get this inter-caste marriage done. Their courtship of 6 months not just made their relationship even stronger but also got the families closer. Aarti wanted to open her eyes to say “Yes” to Pandit Ji but neither the words were ready to come out nor the eyes were ready to open. She felt a lump in her through and heaviness in her eyes, yet she finally managed to move her eye lids finally. Neither the lights were lid, nor was the room bright. There was no one around. Sitting at the corner of the room was Aarti alone with the picture of Nitin on her phone in her hand and his death certificate in the other.
With an adorable bouquet of Aarti’s favorite white roses and a bottle of champagne, Nitin was returning home a little early from work to celebrate his 2nd anniversary with Aarti. It just took a non-operational traffic signal and a group of drunk college students to end it all for Aarti. The bang of the collision was heard by people across meters yet no one bothered to offer a helping hand and left the victims to suffer. While all the college students had major injuries, Nitin was declared dead on arrival by the doctors in the hospital. He was the only child of his parents who were blessed with him after 15 years of their marriage. Life now had no meaning and aim for them yet Aarti knew what she wanted. Gathering her compose, she grabbed the laptop bag that was earlier owner by Nitin and exited the room. Sitting on the dining table, with untouched plate of their breakfast, were Mrs. & Mr. Madhur. It had been more than 8 months now that their son had gone, yet the parents still hadn’t come over it. All the three members of the family; mom, dad and Aarti, cried behind the close doors and smiled in front of each other. Looking at Aarti approaching, the parents started eating and behaved normally. Making her sit next to her, the mom-in law again took out the topic that Aarti hated the most. “I wasn’t able to keep one of the vows that I made during our wedding mom. I will keep the rest”, said Aarti with tearful eyes and left home for office. She managed Nitin’s business quite well, not to forget those hundreds of mistakes she learnt from. Settling in the driving seat, she firmly grasped the hand of her co-passenger which made her feel so better.
“Nitin, nothing can take me away from my responsibilities. They are not just your parents, they are mine too. And I would be there for them till my last breath. Neither am I going back to my mom’s place nor am I getting remarried ever. I still can recall you saying that a marriage happens between families and not two individuals. I wasn’t able to keep my promise to take care of you but will keep my promise to love, guard and protect our family forever. I will always be by their side, just like you are by me. I broke a vow then, won’t brake the others.”
The car drove off….