A NEW BEGINNING Standing at the threshold of a new life, Shalini found herself immersed in the thoughts of her past. She could recall that day , three years ago, so vividly yet. ****************************** Shalini was dumbstruck. She just couldn't believe what she was hearing. Her parents, who had gone to market for the last minute purchases for the next day's engagement , HER ENGAGEMENT, had come back all tears and now were very angry. " The engagement is off. We shall not go ahead with this" her father Venkatachalam was telling his son, Ramanan. "First, we have to call the wretched people and order them not to come tomorrow, seeking Shalini's hand. Then we shall attend to other details. " "Appa, first sit down, drink this lemon juice , relax and then tell us what is the reason for your such anguish " Ramanan tried to pacify his father. His mother was sitting in a corner chair and weeping her heart out. Vekatachalam obediently followed his son's instructions. In the meantime, Ramanan noticed his shocked and silent sister and went near her and taking her hand, led her to the sofa and made her sit down. " Now, appa. Tell us what happened. There has to be a very great reason for you to have taken this drastic decision of calling off the engagement" ! Ramanan requested his father. Sighing, Venkatachalam began......."We met my friend Sundaram in the market. Hadn't seen him since 10/12 years. When I invited him for tomorrow's function, naturally he wanted to know all the details of the groom. Alas! He was quite shocked and worried when I told him about Vijayan. After a lot of hesitation, he finally revealed that he was a neighbour of Vijayan's paternal family for many years and he had a first hand knowledge that Vijayan is a confirmed mentally sick person, undergoing psychiatric treatment since several years and even now he has frequent bouts of depression and violence it seems. If anybody other than Sundaram had said this, I would have had doubts and disbeliefs. But I know for certain that Sundaram would never lie and he has Shalini's best interests at heart.' Venkatachalam sighed again. Ramanan became serious. "If that is so, they should not have gone ahead with the plans for their son's wedding. But appa, it is still believed in these parts of India that a boy's mental sickness will vanish , once he is married. When will our society grow? Anyway , let us first call and confront them and find out if it is true. However close one's friend might be, we should give the benefit of doubt before accusing." Venkatachalam nodded his approval. Turning to his wife, he said, " See, Kanaka, our children are more matured than us ." Then taking a deep breath, he pressed the now familiar number on his phone . The affirmation from the other party and the crying and begging that followed fell on deaf ears. Venkatachalam was firm in his decision. Shalini tried to hide her tears and feelings in front of her family but was inconsolable when she was alone or with her friends. What a social stigma it was if a girl's wedding was off , though it was no fault of hers. !! But later, when they tried to continue their efforts to find a suitable boy, she told her family that she had decided against marriage. The one time when the search had actually proceeded till engagement, after parading for 25 or so possible bridegrooms and their families, had ended in a flop show. She felt she had bad luck , indeed a very bad luck, when it came to the matter of wedding bells. No amount of advice and consolation could move her from her decision. After about 2 years, she met a charming, lively , chirpy person in the form her brother's friend. Madhav was Ramanan's colleague in his new office. They had become very close friends as their wave lengths matched perfectly. Madhav became a regular visitor at Ramanan's place. He was attracted to Shalini and he asked for her hand with Ramanan and his parents. Though he belonged to a different sect, they were happy with Madhav , and they left the choice of proposing to Shalini in the hands of Madhav. Before long, Madhav could break open the barrier she had built around herself and she was won over by his charm and by the way he could make her laugh and laugh for hours together. She finally said 'yes' to his proposal to the joy of all. ******************************** She was brought out of her thoughts of the past by the loud cheers and clapping that followed Madhav's announcement. Yes ..... It was THE NEW BEGINNING. 💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐 (Based on the real life incident of a relative)
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