Her big day was just a week away and still, she was not over her greatest grief. On top of that, it was she, herself, who had to do all the shopping, burying her sorrow for the time being. Seven days before her impending marriage with Anil and there was so much to arrange for. Grief-stricken, she knew that the void would be there forever. She didn’t have time to lament her loss, but still, she had to rebuild herself for the sake of her Dad, whose last wish was to see his darling daughter taking wedding vows.
Marriage had always excited Suvarna, even during her childhood. Her memory took her back to the day when she was all of four and had worn Maa’s bright red saree posing as a newlywed bride. Baba was there with his old camera to take shots and within a week, Suvarna had found the image hanging on their bedroom wall. With time Suvarna, too, harbored feelings to be the perfect bride on her big day. But again Life is an exam where the syllabus is unknown. With Baba’s untimely death a month ago, Suvarna was hardly left with any choice. She was devastated and wanted to run away from the chaos of the marriage preparations to the quietude of her inner soul, but she couldn’t. She had to do this for her Maa and Anil, two other people who loved her deeply.
9.30 am – Suvarna was ready to go bridal shopping.
“Hey, Suvarna! Did u get your bridal outfit ordered?” Neha asked as she accompanied Suvarna to the market.
“Hmmm, no” Suvarna answered awkwardly.
It took no time for Neha to guess her best friend’s mindset and reluctantly, in a strong tone she quipped, “It’s not done, dear.” I empathize with you but please think about Aunty. She is already depressed and is on medication. Not only that, what about Anil? Have you ever thought how difficult it would be for him to see you like this?”
Suvarna gave Neha a blank stare and then suddenly got through the main door to arrive at the reception of JK Jewelers, located in the heart of the City Centre Mall.
“Good morning, ma’am. Welcome to JK Jewelers. Would you like to see Gold or Diamond?” a saree clad lady sporting a charming smile questioned Suvarna.
Suvarna was about to answer when Neha came rushing forward, and in a loud voice uttered: “We want to see Gold jewelry, mostly heavy ones like bridal sets.”
“Oh! Sure, ma’am, all our gold collections like necklaces, pendants, earrings are on the first floor and our Diamond collections are on the second floor, just in case you want to check. Myself, Sneha and let will guide you.” Sneha’s cheerful face made Suvarna smile a little and they followed her to the first floor.
“Oh my God, Padmavat Collection Suv! It looks so good and heavy. ” Neha exclaimed and turned to Suvarna, who by then had already marched few steps ahead and had taken a seat opposite Sneha.
Sneha unlocked the glass door and got hold of a heavy bridal neck piece displayed in the center. She added, “This is our Temple Bridal Collection which was recently launched and it will look good on you ma’am.”
Neha nodded her head in affirmation but before she could say anything Suvarna said.
“Please don’t show such heavy pieces, it’s beyond our budget. Please show us something which is reasonable, maybe within 30 to 40 gms.”Suvarna added while signaling Neha to keep mum.
Suddenly Sneha’s cheerful smile faded away and without thinking twice she immediately opened the lower cupboard with a key, thereby taking out fifteen to twenty sets. Then, leaving the pile on one end of the table, she went on showing each and every piece to the two ladies.
“These are the pieces we have with us ma’am, within your budget. You may check and finalize the ones which you like.”
As Suvarna went on checking out the pieces, tears started rolling down her eyes. She remembered the day when she had just attained puberty and Baba got her a set of new bangles. It was so expensive that Maa didn’t allow Suvarna to wear them to school and scolded Baba. But Baba was in no mood to surrender. With his jovial tone, he said “Anything for my Mishti Dhana”. Mishti Dhana was the name by which Baba used to call his darling daughter. Today if Baba would have been there, he would have danced with joy, but alas! He wasn’t. He died of Covid 19 last month. Moreover, Maa’s pension was yet to come and she needed to be cautious with her spending. Immersed in these thoughts and wiping her tears with a crumpled cloth, Suvarna shortlisted three pieces and with eager eyes looked at Neha for her consent.
Neha hesitantly answered “What? Why are you looking at me? It’s your call, so you make a decision…If I would have been there in your place, I would have gone for that ‘Temple collection’; so elegant and grand. But anyways I am fine with whatever you choose.”
It took no time for Suvarna to decide, as her curious eyes went through a quick scan.22carat gold 35.67 gms, being the cheapest stood out amongst the three.
“Ya, this one“, said Suvarna as she handed over the set to Sneha for billing.
“Ma’am, here is the mirror. You can see for yourself how it looks on you” Sneha added.
“No, it’s perfect, you may do the needful” Suvarna answered while opening her purse.
By that time Neha had moved to the adjacent seat and was engrossed checking the Temple collection. “Come Suv; just see how beautiful these look; especially this redone.”
Suvarna reluctantly looked but was immediately taken aback by the sparkling radiance of the rare piece. Red Kundan polki set with heavy stonework was definitely going to add that spark to any bride’s life. She couldn’t keep her eyes off it and immediately touched it with her fingers.
“Simply awesome Suv!”Suddenly Suvarna’s thoughts got a jolt with Neha’s words and she took her hands off that exclusive piece.
It seemed Sneha was another silent spectator, who was eagerly waiting for this moment like a hungry cheetah and she immediately pounced on the opportunity. “Ya, ma’am. This is the best. If you want I can get a similar one for you from our main branch in Ghatkopar East.”
Before Suvarna could answer, Neha fuming with her usual arrogance said, “Similar one, I mean why not this one?”
Sneha, keeping her smile intact, replied “Ya, as this is for Mishti Dhana. I mean Sudeep sir’s daughter. He is our customer and for the last eleven months, he has been contributing Rs.30,000 every month in our monthly scheme. Last month when he had come to pay the instalment, he had categorically asked me to keep this for his daughter’s marriage which is supposed to happen in a couple of days. I am expecting him any time, so please.” Then, swallowing a lump in her throat she added, “Sorry, but I hope you understand.”
Suvarna was speechless, her heart sank and the composure she was maintaining went for a toss, as she yelled at the top of her voice like an ignorant toddler pushing her vocal cord to the maximum. Maybe that was the only way by which she could express her emotions, which she has been holding back for so long.
How Baba has selected the best piece for her? Why has destiny been so cruel in snatching her dearest Dad? And how she is going to spend the rest of her life with this loss. All sorts of questions were creating a storm in her mind and she was unable to hold herself together until Neha held her tight in her arms.
Sneha along with the entire staff came rushing to Suvarna’s rescue when with watery eyes Neha said “Sudeep sir is not going to come but this neckpiece will be definitely worn by his Mishti Dhana”