It is highly advisable that you read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of this story to follow the thread.
She sat on her bed, staring at the phone in her hand. She had tried to call him for the nth time in the past fifteen minutes, but without any luck. This was supposed to be the happiest day of her life. She had always dreamt so too. But it was turning out to be the saddest one. Finally, she decided to text him. But she had barely completed typing when suddenly the door burst open and in came her father.
She felt as if her heart had stopped beating. Her hands shivered uncontrollably as she felt the stare of his eyes. She could hardly breathe.
Her heart jumped into her throat as she was startled by a deafening shout in complete rage.
“GIVE ME THAT PHONE !!!”
As if in a reflex, she lifted the shaking hand towards him. She almost let out a gasp as he snatched the device from her palm. She could sense him reading the contents of the screen.
“You are not to put a step out of this room without my permission !” Her father snapped. She felt too mortified even to look up into his eyes.
“DO YOU UNDERSTAND ?” He roared again.
She simply nodded her head while the man turned and slammed the door shut, locking it from outside. She looked up just as drops of tears rolled down her face. There was no hope now.
She sat quietly on her bed, clasping her knees close to her chest. She wondered what had gone wrong. How did her father know ? Did her Mom know too ? Nobody even cared to bring her lunch. What was going to happen to her ? She had decided she wouldn’t cry. But her eyes seemed to have a mind of their own.
It was late in the afternoon when she heard some sound outside her door. She quickly wiped off her face and dabbed at her eyes. She suddenly felt very emotional and vulnerable once she saw her friend Nancy walk in.
“Get up and get ready. Uncle asked me to take you to the bridal parlor. It’s getting late. We have to get you ready by seven.” Nancy exclaimed.
She had to make a great effort to register what her friend said. She tried to stand but her legs felt like wooden logs.
“I’ll just wash my face and come.” She replied before dragging herself towards the washroom.
Ten minutes later as she accompanied her friend through the corridor, she looked around for anything different. But everything was the same. People were running around for various errands. The house looked more decorated than ever. Music and the scent of flowers filled the atmosphere. But she couldn’t see her father anywhere around.
“Come on quick. Uncle has strictly instructed me to get you back as soon as possible. He looked kind of angry too. I wouldn’t want to upset him. Come on hurry…” Nancy pleaded as the two girls got into the big white car.
She looked out of the window as she saw various shades of life fly past. She had always wanted to go to America. And she was going to get married to a guy who lived there. She was going to experience what she had always dreamed of. But was she happy ?
She came back to her senses as she noticed Nancy pulling her out of the car and shoving her inside the door of the parlor. They were greeted by a short and well mannered lady.
“Hello. Please wait in the room backside. We’ll be right with you.”
“Go on. I’ll wait here for you. Just call me when you are ready.” Said Nancy as she shoved a bag into her hands and pushed her.
She had hardly shut the door behind her when she felt a hand on her shoulder. Startled, she turned around. She simply couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw him standing there with a slight smile on his face.
“You…??? here… ??”
“Yes.” He continued to smile.
“But…” she tried to speak.
“Do you trust me ?” He asked.
“Then come on.” He picked up her bag, held her hand and guided her towards another door on the opposite end of the room.
Before she could understand a thing, they were out on a backside street. She was still trying her best to think as he took her up to a parked car and got her seated in it.
“What… I mean… where did you get this car ?? What’s happening ?” She asked him frantically.
“We are eloping !” He looked at her, smiled and turned on the ignition.
She was almost numb to all sensations by the time she noticed that they were now driving on the highway. The city was behind them. She pinched herself to make sure this wasn’t a dream. And suddenly she realized she was breathing. Breathing in a strange sense of relief.
She was startled by the sound of a musical tone. And even more so as she realized that it was the ring-tone of her own phone. He pulled the phone out of his pocket handing it to her.
“Here. Your phone. Must be for you.”
And her eyes split wide in utmost horror as she saw the name on the screen.
“PAPA !!!” She screamed.
“Oh. Let me see”. He said taking the phone from her trembling hands. She watched in horror as he pushed the green button and put the device to his ear.
“Hello. Ah… Yes. She’s with me.” He said into the phone as she stared terrified. “Ok. Here…” He said again as he pushed the phone towards her. “He wants to talk to you.”
Her body shivering with mortal fear, she felt as if her heart would jump out of her body. Her throat was dry and her tongue had stuck to the base of her mouth. But, to her own shock, she managed to put the phone to her ear and say, “Papa…”
“Shuggy… ?” came a voice from the device. “Are you okay ?”
She felt stunned for probably the hundredth time in a matter of hours. Her father hadn’t called her by his favorite nickname in years.
“Y… Yes…” She managed to whisper back.
“Good. Though I knew you would be fine, I just called because I wanted to tell you something. Are you listening ?” He asked.
“Hmmm…” She managed to mumble.
“You know dear, thirty years ago, I faced the biggest test of my life. To fight for something that was more important to me than anything else. But back then, I failed myself as I didn’t have the courage to fight the world. Not even for the person who mattered the most to me. I backed off. And I think life tested me again today when I met a man who had the courage which I lacked in me thirty years ago. But I have learned my lesson well. Today I have the courage to fight the world for something that matters the most to me. And that is you !”
She listened on with tears rolling down her face, biting her lips not to let a sound escape.
“And I want to tell you that your papa is there to fight for you. You don’t have to worry for anything. And remember this… even if at times, your own decisions don’t work out well for you, I won’t stop supporting you just because they were your decisions. I’ll be there for you. Always…”
“Papa…” she sobbed hysterically.
“Shhhh… Listen up. You both will be getting married tomorrow. I’ve fixed up everything. Though I had to be discreet about it. Had to throw in a bit of drama. You know how it is. One has got to give it to the world the way they expect it. You just take care. Will you ?”
“Yes papa !” she replied.
“And you hadn’t eaten anything all day. There are some sandwiches for you in your bag. Have a nice meal at some good place once you reach. Ah, and I also sneaked in a couple of your chocolates. But share it with the young man too. Okay ?”
“Yes papa.” She looked across at him smiling at her and simultaneously laughed and cried in an emotion which only she could perceive.
She looked out at the sunflower fields across the road which looked more beautiful than ever in the late afternoon sunshine. This was going to be the happiest day of her life.