Book Extract from https://www.amazon.in/dp/B075YCQGXC, < ‘Rathna, will you trust and marry me despite what anyone may say?’ he asked mouthing what she was worried about. She actually started weeping understanding that he had indeed accepted her completely as a soul mate. Life had been so kind to her. All her bad period seemed to have ended and she knew she would always be happy with this wonderful man.< He continued holding her tight and told her the marriage would take place and the Ustad will surely be there. He ensured nobody knew anything about this decision and informed all his close friends to keep it a secret. At this time, India was fuming with riots and communal anarchy and Ghanshyam knew he would need to handle this as well as the displeasure of his parents. However, he definitely did not want to give up on Rathna. In the political turmoil and religious animosity that was prevailing then, the marriage could not be performed in a temple with the Ustad being present there. Finally, they decided to have a marriage in their home in the presence of the students singing songs of love and unity. They also made sure that people from all faiths were present so that nobody could be blamed. They certainly did not want publicity but only peace. That day not just them but everyone around definitely felt life was indeed not as bad as it seemed to be because of a few people who had become crazy. The only ‘family’ who came from Ghanshyam’s side were Tora and Rustom. He decided not to involve his family for some time as they then would have surely objected and created a furore. He did not want to take any kind of chance. While Rathna’s family could have stopped the wedding for their greed, his family would have created an emotional drama in the midst of all the happy celebrations. For the students, it was a welcome change that something extremely positive was going to happen instead of worrying about what the future had in store for the nation and their lives. They all did all they could do to ensure it was a complete success. Rathna was given jewellery, sarees and they together performed all the ceremonies they knew of. The day seemed more magical because of the zest and vigour of all the students. Ghanshyam could not have asked for a better wedding than this. Of course, as in most wedding ceremonies, the bride was given most of the gifts while his only gift was his bride. This was anyhow all that he needed. Of course, Ghanshyam could actually do anything for his wife and even after marriage, felt truly proud when others clapped and were enamoured by her singing. Everyone around resented it and asked him to stop her singing. Ghanshyam, of course, was one of a kind. He never really understood why other men used to become disturbed when their wives were liked by others. He actually felt proud that he had chosen someone who was admired by so many around him. Once a couple of young boys seems to be ogling at her and not really listening to her music, Rathna stopped appearing with the maestro on stage after telling him she would only learn and not perform on stage. ‘Rathna, be yourself and don’t worry about the boys who anyhow would have ogled at any lady who passed their way. As far as safety is concerned, we are with you. If they actually make any comment or create a disturbance, I shall, of course, ban this immediately. Why are you bothered, my dear? Be as you are.’ said the Ustad. At the end of the marriage, there was utter silence with all the friends returning home, praying for their togetherness and also on a parallel track, praying and hoping for the togetherness of their family and friends as the entire world seemed to be going crazy, with all kinds of divisions. Among the celebrations, Abdul also noted that the regions based on religion that was done earlier did not make sense as Hindus and Muslims were there in every village of India. Where was the logic based on dividing people based on religion? If that was the criteria, there should be several states and not just three. If they felt Hindus and Muslims had always fought before the British came, then why were people fighting to drive out the British? How could the British agree to divide a nation and leave it fractured and maimed? Why did everyone agree to this crazy division, without thinking about what they were doing? No amount of politics, statecraft or even ideologies could explain the madness of the situation then. From a wonderful cultural experience, India at that time had now become a war field from which they would have to escape. From synthesis, the whole region was exploding into bits and pieces. The birth of the nation was now severely soiled and tattered. Most people did not know whether to celebrate or cry. There were homes which had their homes in one nation while most of their friends and family were in another nation. The independence which many people had fought for and dreamt about had actually become a nightmare. They really did not know what the next day had in store for them, what the children would experience, whom to revere and whom to hate. People who had been revered earlier were now looked down upon. Simple acts of friendship were suspected. Acts of prayer were condemned while acts of violence were commended. Nature has its way of diverting attention with small blessings. Rathna soon conceived a child and was relieved and excited. She knew a baby would perhaps bring her closer not just to Ghanshyam but probably his clan too. She knew most families would love a child and decided she would go to Ghanshyam’s house with the child. When Rathna told Ghanshyam that he probably is going to become a father, he was extremely thrilled and made arrangements to take care of her to the best extent possible. He befriended a doctor and told him to keep coming and checking on her. Not just him but the entire colony waited on her. ‘This is the time you should take her home, Ghanshyam,’ Ustad said and accompanied them till the end of the street. He knew that things had to be resolved as early as possible. Of course, everyone knew what the situation was and knew how Ghanshyam married Rathna. In fact, Ghanshyam and Rathna were actually always the subject of everyone’s gossip. The fact that Rathna lived in a Muslim household too had many people shocked, scandalized and most actually quite envious that she had attracted someone as ‘eligible’ as Ghanshyam. Though reluctantly, Ghanshyam’s parents accepted the bonny baby and even performed a little welcoming ceremony for the entire group, social acceptance was indeed necessary for all of them. They all pretended that they had always known Ghanshyam was away for a while and they always knew he was married. ‘As a suitable date was not found for bringing her home, we postponed it for some time. We have actually waited for them to come home for a long time, but perhaps it was the will of God that they should come home as a threesome. So, now we have two Devis in the house, a little one and a beautiful daughter-in-law.’ They knew Rathna was an orphan from a house of ill-repute. What sort of character could such a girl have? Perhaps she was trained how to attract men by the Ustad.
Jamuna Rangachari is a software professional who manages the websites of Life Positive magazine. She is also a writer and author who authored three books for children, two of which were published by Rupa and one by Life Positive. She has also compiled and interpreted Teaching Stories I and II for Life Positive and has authored Dancing with Life: Living with Multiple Sclerosis published by HayHouse in 2015.