Kanthi stood in front of the full length mirror of her armoire and adjusted her beautiful powder blue saree which had a thin silver border. She wore a pair of dull silver colour slippers and silver jewellery to match.
Her make up was light, with a hint of blush and a light shade of pink lipstick to accentuate her simple features. She decided to wear her hair in a bun complete with a fresh fragrant Araliya flower which she had picked that morning from the garden.
She smiled at herself through the mirror pleased with her effort. She wasn’t the prettiest of girls, but she had some rather pleasant features. She was tall and slender with fair skin.
She took one final look at herself and turned to walk out of the room, just then her mother peeped through the curtain and said, “Darling have you finished dressing? They'll be here soon, hurry up!”
Kanthi replied “Yes Amma, I am done, do you need any help in the kitchen?”
“No darling everything’s arranged, Nangi helped me to finish everything on time. You just wait here and relax” her mother replied beaming with pride as she said “You look so beautiful duwa."
Kanthi blushed at her mother's compliment and looked away shyly. Just then they heard her father calling from the sitting room “Are you people ready? They are here, the car just pulled up through the gate!”
Her mother scurried away in a flash to welcome their guests while Kanthi slowly made her way to the kitchen.
She could hear their voices as she peered through the curtain separating the kitchen from the hallway, to see whether she could catch a glimpse of her intended. She had only seen a photograph of him which was sent with a copy of his horoscope.
Kanthi had been in love before, when she was in teacher training school. She had fallen in love with a boy named Malik who was studying to be a doctor of medicine.
They had even planned to get married once they were done with their studies. But unfortunately for the two love birds, his parents didn't give their blessing. They felt that their son could find a better match than Kanthi. Someone prettier, more accomplished, even rich.
So with a heavy heart she said goodbye to the love of her life, one sunny day at the beach and vowed never to see him, write him or even call him again. It had been the saddest day of her life. She remembered that day so well. The memory was so vivid, as if it happened just yesterday.
Her parents had answered an add from the Matrimonial section in the paper, of two parents seeking a suitable bride for their twenty eight year old son who was a lawyer. Their horoscopes were exchanged and checked before the visit. To the delight of both parties they were a match.
She didn't like it at first. Her heart belonged to Malik. No matter how hard she tried she couldn't forget him. She was going ahead with this arrangement only to make her parents happy.
She knew deep down that what she's doing is wrong, saying yes to an arranged marriage, when her heart wasn't in it. She knew she was lying to her parents. But, most of all she was lying to herself.
Even though she promised Malik that she will not seek him out, there had been instances where she almost called him. She even went to the beach, where they used to meet, a couple of times hoping to run into him.
Malik had wanted to marry her despite his parents objections. She was the one who ended the affair because she didn't want him defying his parents.
A few minutes later her mother walked into the kitchen with her younger sister in tow who had sneaked out to get a good look at her future brother-in-law.
Her mother scolded her younger sister saying, “I thought I told you to stay here in the kitchen, try to behave like a good girl, do not embarrass your sister!”
Kamini started giggling as she teased her older sister saying “Wow Akka your future husband looks so dashing and handsome. Finally you get to see him in person!"
Her mother hit her younger daughter on the arm lightly, saying “That's enough from you, behave now!”
Kamini pulled up a chair at the kitchen table and sat down still giggling.
“Darling are you ready? It's time. They are dying to see you.” said her mother handing her the Bulath Heppuwa.
Kanthi nodded nervously, to which her mother replied “Don't be nervous, they are not going to swallow you!"
Her mother's words of reassurance made Kamini giggle even more.
As her mother led her oldest daughter out of the kitchen, she looked back and gave her younger daughter a stern look, while Kanthi stuck her tongue out at her sister playfully.
When she walked into the sitting room with her eyes cast down, holding the traditional Bulath Heppuwa, the first thing her eyes caught was his shiny black shoes, then her eyes darted to his grey trousers, then his light blue shirt and finally she lifted her eyes and looked at his face, gazing at her with the kindest eyes, complete with the most charming smile.
Suddenly she gasped in shock as she recognised him.
It was the face she remembered so well. The same face she gazed at, all those years ago when they were dating. Her Malik was standing right in front of her!
But how? The photograph she received was of another man who claimed to be a lawyer named Janith.
She glanced from Malik to her parents, and back to Malik again, confused.
Malik stepped forward and took the Bulath Heppuwa from her and kept it on the coffee table next to him.
He took her hand and said "I can explain everything, if you'll let me"
Kanthi nodded, looking down, suddenly feeling shy as he held her hand and began to explain.
"I haven't been able to forget you, no matter how hard I tried. You haunted my dreams. I saw your face everywhere I went. So I made a decision to seek you out once again. I explained everything to my parents and somehow got them to give their blessing to our union. And then one day I met your father, and explained everything and got his blessing, but I told him to keep you in the dark, because I wanted to surprise you. The photograph you received was of one of my colleagues, but the horoscope was mine Malik said grinning. Kanthi, will you accept me? As you once did years ago? Will you accept my proposal? Please say yes!” He pleaded.
Kanthi lifted her face, her eyes brimming with tears, looked into his eyes and said, "yes Malik, I will accept you, I will accept your proposal!"