First published in Write Now Anthology (2016). Published by the University of Worcester.
Rashmi is an 18-year-old Indian girl, about to be married to a man chosen by her parents. She says goodbye to the woman she fell in love with.
I was always a good girl. I didn't make out with boys in the back of cars, I've never even been kissed. I felt like a bird trapped in a cage whenever a man held my hand. Everyone assumed I was just shy, and so did I, until I met you.
My family and friends say being a good girl paid off. I'll be married soon, to a very respectable young man. I was so lucky to be chosen. But, the truth is, I never chose this. You have to believe me. My parents want the best for me, and so my destiny had been written before I was even born. Even if I had taken a different path with you, I would have ended up at exactly the same place. Just later in life, and more messed up. Still destined to marry a man I don't know or love.
Our prison isn't a cell, it's a maze of roads and streets where the choice of direction isn't ours to make. We have only the illusion of being free. I feel so ungrateful. My parents have given me such a good match, a good life. But I feel like the world is caving in around me. Maybe, if I try really hard to ignore my heart weeping, it'll eventually drown and be silent. That's what I pray for.
My parents say that marriage comes first, and love comes after. The Disney movies are just propaganda. It takes years of hard work to fall in love. The problem is, I already fell in love. At first sight. Just like in the movies. With us it was magic, it was pure. We weren't pretending or settling for the best we got. Love isn't something you can grow from convenience, it sweeps in and whisks you off your feet. Before you even have time to catch your breath, you're already doomed.
It was a hot summer evening. I wore my prom dress. You wore shorts. I felt so stupid. But you just smiled, and said I looked beautiful. And I was doomed. The heart is a terrible organ. It's nearly impossible to tune unless the keys are twisted just right. A fraction off and it won't play. Isn't it a cruel joke that ours had to play a slightly different tune?
Our short time together is forever burnt on my memory. I'll never forget how it felt when you touched my hand. It was like getting an electric shock. But, for the first time, I didn't want to pull away. I knew I never wanted to touch a man ever again.
Two months later I was in hospital. Two very different roads lay before me and, for the first time in my life, I didn't want to choose. I couldn't stand all the lies and the secrets. I couldn't stand looking at myself in the mirror and knowing that the person I saw there wasn't really me.
When I woke up, my parents were sat by my bed. I've never seen my father look so old and worn down. My mother looked so sorry for me that it made me weep. They must have found out. The marriage arrangement came not long after. They told our family and friends I had suddenly been taken ill. A nasty bug. Another secret.
I'm in the grip of a cobra, unable even to cry out as the snake tightens itself around my neck. I'm choking around the truth I need to admit - to myself, to everyone - but I just can't. You see, next to the image of you smiling at me in the moonlight, is one of my parents crying. It's either my happy ending or one for all of us, and I'm not that selfish. So I put on my smile, and at night I dream of your face. But not here. We're somewhere else, holding hands, walking down the street, whichever way we choose to go. It's a beautiful dream.
Georgie Bull is a freelance writer and published author living in Worcester, England.
Author: Georgie Bull
1. You Can Go Home Again
2. A Beautiful Dream
5. Let Me Tell You A Story
6. The Haunting Of Verno House
7. The C Word
8. A Ghost Story
9. Father's Son
10. Time (poem)
11. Poems - Unheard and Silent Musician
12. The Ultimate Dystopia - part one
13. The Ultimate Dystopia - part two
1. The Desert - Peregrin Jones
2. The Being Verse - Peregrin Jones
3. Who Will Feel The Rain Now? - Leena Batchelor
The Blue Hour by Dreena Collins
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