Chapter 2 - second chances

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Papa was in the hospital for about a week.

He had had a major heart attack and was warned that if he didn't get his stress levels down, improve his diet, got more exercise and took his meds on time, he would need surgery in the future or the next heart attack would kill him.

He needed an entire diet overhaul.

No more fats, no more spicy food, more vegetables and less meat.

And let me tell you this was hard for a man who loved his meat and spice.

We never spoke about my attempt to run away. It was too stressful for him.

Every time I brought up the Malhotra's and my impending marriage he would brush it off and say it wasn't the right time to talk about it, or he would complain his chest was heavy or that he was tired.

He was shutting me down and I didn't push the situation, I couldn't.

I had caused his heart attack and didn't want to cause the next one.

The next few weeks were busier than ever. Dad needed extra care at home, Mumma was being run ragged taking on more responsibilities for the hotel and I had semester end exams.

My older brother was another state away after getting himself a full scholarship and would be home for semester break. He was the families golden boy and I missed him. I couldn't wait for him to come home, if I had any hope of getting out of this predicament, it was him.

For weeks we hadn't heard from the Malhotra's, and I secretly hoped that they had changed their minds but then the call came that I had been dreaming.

The pundit had set the date. It was in 3 weeks time and during my semester break.

My mother was beside herself, there was no way she could sort out an Indian wedding in three weeks time.

My heart sank. I wanted to run, I wanted to cry, I wanted my family to reject the proposal, but the offer they had gotten was too good to turn down, and I was the sacrificial lamb.

Mumma spent the whole night on the phone calling relatives from all over the world. So many of them confirmed. We had enough space at the hotel so there was no need to hire a venue or hotels. We only had a few guests confirmed for that timeframe and we managed to cancel the bookings without too much trouble.

I put the phone receiver down after cancelling the last booking, my head was pounding and my heart ached.

Mumma was in wedding planner mode and within a few hours of the date confirmation she had informed most of the relatives, organized caterers, decorators and entertainment.

' We are going to Indiatown tomorrow to pick out your outfits, you will have the most beautiful wedding lengha there is to offer!" Mumma declared.( lengha - an Indian traditional dress made up of a top, skirt and veil).

This was too much for me to process and I excused myself to go for a shower.

As the water washed over me all I could do was cry angry hot tears.

Why was Mumma so happy for this wedding to go ahead?

Papa was sick, if I wasn't here, who would look after him?

Who would make sure he took his medications? Who would take him for his afternoon runs?

This was not how I wanted to get married.

I was supposed to meet 'the one' , fall hopelessly in love and get married in grand fashion to the man I loved. This was a farce. I wrapped myself up an a warm robe and climbed into bed, pulling the covers around me. I lay on my side facing the wall, tears still falling when I felt the bed dip and Papas hand on my shoulder.

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