For the first time in so many years, Nishi had seen a male member in Dalia’s house. Dalia’s mother was busy in the kitchen and Dalia was purportedly showing her storybook collection to the young man. Nishi had noticed their hands, clasped together.“Nishi, this is Imran”,Dalia had almost whispered in Nishi’s ears. Later, Dalia had enthusiastically narrated Nishi about their chance meeting ,their deep connection and friendship.“Do you love him? ” Nishi had candidly asked Dalia. “I love his presence, long for his company and imagine a great deal abouthim.I have never experienced this spontaneous chemistry before. I believe that is what love is all about– the spontaneous bond, the realization that you have known each other forever. ““You know Nishi …when Imran holds my hand, my fears dissipate and I feel inspired to be more than I am . “Dalia had acknowledged.
Dalia had celebrated her 20th Birthday with Imran, her cousin Jyoti and Nishi as her guests.Though Imran was 6 years older than Dalia, his boyish charm made him appear like one of their own .They almost appeared like man and wife, the way Imran held Dalia, displayed his affectionate and protective bent towards her. Nishi remembered Dalia ‘s description of the first ethereal kiss shared with Imran, by the lake, under the clear blue skies. Dalia had described about her stimulating conversations with Imran on religion, literature, poetry, politics, theatre, music!. Nishi was certain that Imran was Dalia’s soul mate .
On a Sunday evening, the entire neighborhood was jolted by the sudden pandemonium in Dalia’s house. Nishi’s uncles and the other elders in the neighborhood had decided to run to the site of commotion and counsel as best as they could to tame the sudden uproar. Only Nishi knew of the reasons for the sudden commotion. That Dalia was in trouble beyond a peaceful solution was all Nishi could think of. In one corner of the room, Dalia’s mother was crying inconsolably. Dalia’s father had bloodshot eyes and his lips were hurling Verbal blows at Dalia. Dalia was repeating assertively“I! love Imran” over and again.
Nishi had stealthily gone to meet Dalia, the next day afternoon.Dalia had disclosed her sole recourse,that of eloping with Imran. Nishi was shocked and astonished to witness the power of love that made abandoning a seemingly indispensable part of one’s life, a possibility. Dalia went to her lover’s home without an elaborate or ostentatious farewell.
Dalia’s parents had cut the cord with Dalia and disowned her after her “deplorable marriage” with a man from another religion. Nishi had innocently asked Dalia’s mother, “does love have a religion?“.Dalia’s mother had sobbed,the thick kohl in her eyes had melted away with tears. Nishi wondered whether it was ego or the fear of re-surfacing of murmurs in the neighborhood and their social circles that prevented Dalia’s parents from patching up with their precious child. Were they scared that the new Dalia would disappoint them, adding to the huge pool of pain and emptiness?
Nishi wondered whether Dalia had a new Muslim name, whether she wore the hijab, whether she fasted in the holy month of Ramadan.In her mind,Nishi lauded Dalia for her faith in love and the courage to live that love.