I was angry, frustrated and helpless all at the same time. People say this day is suppose to be the best day of your life, but for me it was a nightmare. I had never met him, Dad had showed me his photo a week before and he left me with no choice but to agree to it because according to Indian parents in majority of Indian geography think that girls don't have the right to choose and they are too immature to take decisions even if they have a masters is sociology. They put up all the emotional drama to convince what they decide for you. As I was lost in my thoughts my little sister Rimi came running to me and told me to get ready soon as the Baraath was about to reach our gate. I wore my grand lehenga which weighed close to 30 kilos and felt like a slaughter goat as I sat in front of my own reflection.
The fire beamed at me as if it was a wrath or curse over my independence and freedom. All I knew was that the guy I am going to tie knots with was a scientist and belonged to a good family as mentioned by my parents. As I sat beside him he turned towards me for a second and then faced the pandit who was chanting mantras which hardly anyone understood. Every single ritual was taken care like it was a recipe to perfection. I stopped my mind to think any further as I knew there was no point running through my thoughts at this point.
I was all alone waiting for Adithya in the dim lit room decorated with roses and sweet smelling jasmines. He knocked at the door and entered timidly. He spoke nothing and went to the washroom to change. I didn't react much. He came back took a pillow from the cupboard with a bright spotless cover over it and got into the bed beside me. I was sitting there silently like a statue. He gave me a blank stare, came closer as he moved his arm towards my shoulder and switched off the bed side lamp on my left. He wished me good night and fell asleep in no time.
Next day like a sanskari bahu I woke up at 6 but Adithya was already up. I went to the kitchen and prepared some tea for everyone. By that time Adithya was back from his morning walk and was sitting beside his mom. He appeared weird and didn't look at me even once. I wondered if he was against this wedding too. As I passed him the cup of tea he started ranting,
"No tea, no no I don't drink tea. Take it back, take it back."
He repeated the same thing over and over in a robotic tone until I went back to the kitchen. I felt quite taken aback from his reaction but later I ignored it.
In the afternoon he was working on his thesis as I went and sat beside him. He acted uncomfortable so I moved aside.
"Smitha don't sit closer, don't don't."
Even this time he spoke in the same robotic manner. I couldn't figure out the reason behind his weirdness.
"Smitha, Adi has his appointment scheduled for today. Please take him to the hospital."
"Haan Maa, but why hospital?"
"His regular check-up."
I was confused and took the details of the doctor from my MIL.
"Hi, am I speaking to Dr.Suresh Gupta?"
"Yes Suresh speaking."
"I am Adithya's wife, I have just called to confirm his appointment for today."
"Come around 1 PM and yeah congratulations to both of you. You are truly an angelic soul as you married someone like Adi. Though he is the smartest of all we can't deny the misfortune added on to him."
"I didn't understand Doctor, could you be clear about what you actually want to say?"
"Even after knowing that he is autistic you took a decision to marry him, I must say you are no less than an angel to their family. Honestly Adi is a very smart and intelligent guy much better than anyone."
I was in total shock and could not take it casually. I literally collapsed right there. I have no idea what happened further. When I gained my consciousness I was on my bed and Adi was sitting beside me, he appeared a little panic struck and I heard him repeating something to himself.
"Smitha not well, Smitha not well."
He continued repeating it with his usual monotonous tone. I was upset and heartbroken. I wanted to go away from everyone. I was cheated and betrayed by my own parents. As my MIL entered my room I asked her,
"Why was I not told about Adithya?"
"About what beta?"
"About his autism."
"We thought you already knew."
"No I wasn't told."
"We had told your parents forehand to avoid any confusions in future. We also asked if you are okay about it. I was very surprised and happy after I came to know that you agreed for the proposal. We felt blessed to have you as our daughter in law. Our son is a pure soul, he is very honest and caring. He was very happy when I told him that you will be his partner. He felt very lonely after his sister got married and shifted to Canada an year back. He doesn't talk to everyone like how we all do but he is very intelligent. He also has a Master's degree in physics. He is currently working on his PHD. He is better than any regular guy. My son is special, trust me. Only thing is he can't express emotions like us but his actions are much louder than words."
I listened to every word she spoke but I was drowned in my own misery. I was still thinking if I really deserved this betrayal.
"I want to go home Maa. Right now."
"Okay I will call the driver."
"Maa I will also go with her. Smitha is not well."
"No Adithya I am fine. I will be back in a while."
As I reached home my parents welcomed me quite happily though I seemed dead inside. I asked them every single question that I had in my mind. I could just see tears in my Mom's eyes. I wasn't sure why she had tears anyway, they were the ones who got me married to a guy who didn't belong to my world. I lost my career, my life, everything to become a caretaker of someone who is not normal. They had no answer for any of my questions. Last thing I heard from my Dad was,
"You were already 28 and it was difficult to find a suitable guy for you at this age, also I had no money to give away as your dowry. I was helpless beta."
I looked at him with immense shock and drove back to the home I belonged hereafter. This was the first and the last day I visited this place after I got married.
Three years passed, I still lived in dismay and hatred towards Adithya though he was not to be blamed. He suffered for all the mistakes he never did. One day my MIL came to me and told me something that changed my life forever,
"You remember the day you came to know about his Autism?"
"Yes, how can I forget that."
"Do you know who carried you till your room?"
"It was Adi and that day he didn't sleep all night. He was just repeating that -'Smitha hates me.'"
"He can't cry but being his mother I realised how much he cried that day from inside. When you went to your parents' place he actually came behind you even though you tried to stop him. When he saw you firing questions on your parents he was right there and he didn't tell me anything about this. The driver who took him there narrated me the whole scene. My son may not be perfect like you but he is more sensible than any regular guy. He loves you Smitha. I am not saying you are not being a good wife or daughter-in-law. You have been the best you could be. But in past two years I haven't seen you living for yourself even for a day. We all want to see you happy. Adi wants to see you happy."
**A Week Later**
It took me some time to sink in all the lecture my MIL gave me that day. I was still the same arrogant woman.
Once Adi came up to me and asked,
"Don't you go to work?"
"No, I don't."
"I was not allowed to look for a job."
"Who has to allow?"
"My parents never wanted me to and I am sure even your parents would also prefer the same."
"I always believed people choose for themselves what they want to do. How can others decide?"
That one statement changed something inside me that day. I had a new found respect for Adi. I thought my in-laws were against my career aspirations but they were not. I regretted that it took me two years to realise their selflessness and humility towards me. I kept blaming everyone for my misery. Adi did not need a caretaker, he was capable enough to take care of himself and his parents. He worked as a scientist in a private firm. His parents got him married so that he would have a companion and not a maid as they worried about his future like any other parents. The people who were selfish were my parents and not his. I was a failure, I couldn't fight for myself, I surrendered for everything they told all my life. Adi was a fighter, he fought over all the norms of the society and stood for himself. He studied in a normal school though he had no friends. He took over all the bullying of kids and made himself grow stronger day by day. He worked regularly over his inabilities, made a point to see his doctor regularly even if there was nothing wrong with him. He always made sure that he could be capable enough to be my husband. But the reality was I was a failure, I was not capable enough for a person like him. That night I couldn't sleep, I felt awakened from darkness.
I stepped out of my room around 6 AM. As usual Adi was out for a walk. I made some tea for myself, after ages I actually had a real smile on my face and I wondered why. I walked towards the seating area with my warm mug of tea and I found a note lying on Adi's desk. As I went through, I realised it was a list of colleges and their contact details. As I was going through the list suddenly I turned back when I heard Adi,
"I have picked up a list of few colleges. You may send your CV to them for the post of a professor. Most of these have vacancy for Sociology professors."
I couldn't say anything further, I kept the mug aside and just hugged him with tears in my eyes. He didn't react but he stayed quiet and didn't seem uncomfortable like the initial days. I hugged him tighter and remained in his arms a little longer as he kept repeating,
"No crying, no crying."
The warmth I felt that day was something I never experienced. Yes, now I could proudly say that day I fell in love with a guy who had no emotions to express but every bit of his actions spoke louder than his words.
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