"I want you to know something before we get married. I was in love with a guy in my college days and we were close to getting married."
"Well....So what?" asked Siddharth coldly.
(surprised)"So what? Is that your reaction?"
"Yes. Why do you expect me to react wildly?"
"Siddharth. I wanted to tell this to you many times. But every time we talked, I felt a deep connection to you. And I found myself procrastinating this....and it has come today. I don't want us to start our life on a bed of lies."
"Why do you think that it would bother me?"
"We live in a country of opinions Siddharth. Everyone might have different opinions on different issues, but the unanimous opinion in the issue of marriage is that the women should be the man's first love."
"You must be living in rock ages Shobhana. Any half-decent looking girl is chased by minimum 3-4 guys everyday on her way to home from outside world. Pardon my language, but admittedly we are a country of sexually frustrated citizens who lie to ourselves and the rest. You are beautiful and it is obvious that boys must have resorted to all kind of tomfoolery to get your attention. Infact I would have done the same if I had met you in my teenage days." (smiles)
Both smile but are still uncomfortable.
"Sorry to interrupt your dream Siddharath, but we still live in rock ages. You belong to the new-generation of city-bred, pizza-munching and accented English speaking group of educated punks. I don't even think you know that even today women die on account of dowry burns…and most of them are from your upper class society as well. Those who appear educated on the outside are still savage inside and the greater crime is that everyone walks scot-free."
Siddharth remains silent. Frankly, he never even bothered to think about it.
"Just because, we wear jeans and T-Shirts, drive cars and work doesn't change the popular mindset. We might be developing software for the next generation, but more than half of the population hasn't got past the independence era."
"Well....since you know that I am not from the usual crowd, I think we can put this issue to rest."
"But this is different Siddharth. I was in love with him as well."
"Everybody loves Shobhana. We are not living in Taliban regime if you count out the senas and sanghs. It is a free country and we are creatures with emotions. Everyone wants to be loved Shobhana. Love is not a matter of ability but opportunity. Given a chance, every one of us would fall in love. Some don't because they are shy to accept or because they cherish their ambitions or because of their circumstances. Safe to say that atleast 7 out of 10 people fall in love with some, but less than half of them are fortunate enough to walk hand-in-hand with the same people for their whole life."
She looks at him with a puzzled expression as he continues hesitantly.
"I loved a girl in my college days too."
"What happened then?"
"The same that must have possibly happened to you and to most other innocent fellow innocent of my dear country. Caste and religious differences. Is it the same thing with you?"
"Yes." She replies coldly with tears brimming her little eyes.
"Look. I didn't tell this to you, because apparently no woman wants to share her man. And I thought that sharing this news would....you know...make you feel alien to me."
"Frankly, aren't you bothered about my past?"
"Let's be practical Shobhana. Tell me, after a week what will happen to us?"
"We will share our life?"
"Our joys...happiness...today and tomorrow."
"Exactly. We are going to share our today and tomorrow. The past is over and out. You and I have dealt with it and thats why we are here today. If I was bothered about your past, then so must be you about mine. Maybe it is written that we must be together. Maybe its a start that we must know more about each other and understand every little detail about us."
"But...marraige is different Siddharth."
"Marriage is same like any relationship Shobhana. Every relationship should withstand the tide of doubts and issues and must be firmly based on trust. The day we lose our trust on each other....it is over."
"What if we fight over this issue sometime in the future?"
"Now you know the skeletons in my cupboard as well. You fire back." smiles looking at her.
"Are you sure Siddharth?"
"Let me put it very simply for you. It is impossible to marry any man or women without a romantic past or a shred of love for someone else in their heart. The people who marry the only ones they loved are blessed...and not all of us are acceptably blessed. So...wisely let's make use of an opportunity that destiny has presented before us."
"I AM NOT PERFECT" said Shobana in between sobs.
Siddharth replied "Well...since you have told me your dark secret, I guess it is time I tell you mine."
He went near her, gently pressed his lips on hers and whispered.
"NEITHER AM I".