Chapter 2 - second chances

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' Veronica, please don't be too upset. Arranged marriages are still fairly common. Your mother and I had an arranged marriage and we have worked out fine.

I know this is not what you expected. We had different hopes for you as well, but being married into the Malhotra family will not only ensure that you have a life where you could want for nothing, being married to Phillip would mean that our entire family would be protected by him.'

I said nothing, I couldn't even look at him at the moment.

' Don't be too hard on your mother, she has been dreaming about your wedding since the day you were born. She's just super excited. She thinks that Phillip is an extremely good match and she never dreamed you could be married to someone so wealthy. You'll see, it will all work out."

The next three weeks passed in a blur.

Mumma was in her zone, organizing every minute detail like a superwoman. It took a solid week to find the perfect outfits for the wedding, mum would walk out of each store shaking her had saying that they were so expensive and that she should have just gotten them from India. Every outfit she showed me seemed fine.

I really didn't care, she could have made me wear a plastic sac and I still wouldn't have been interested. In the end she chose about a dozen outfits from saris, lenghas and floor length kameeze to wear during the three day wedding saga.

Then there were the endless visits to tailors, cake tasting, menu tasting and finalizing decorations. Mumma took care of everything, making the choices where she thought necessary, I barely talked, self absorbed in my grief that at 21 years old I was essentially being sold off to the highest bidder.

A week before the wedding the relatives started to arrive. Most I had never met as I had never travelled to India. The hotel was alive with excitement.

Kids were running and laughing everywhere, strings of marigolds were used to drape around the inside of the house . Strings of fairy lights covered every available space and there was music from the break of dawn until the last person slept.

Ladies showed off their finery, each trying to dress to impress and outdo each other with thier colorful bejeweled outfits.

There were outfits in every colour of the rainbow , embellished in glitter, rhinestones and gold, silver and coloured embroidery and there was chatter everywhere.

Mumma had set out and given everyone tasks.

I had aunties making Indian sweets, cousins practicing dance routines, uncles setting up the huge cooking area outside for the catering staff.

The entire even was vegetarian as it was forbidden to eat meat or eggs for at least a week before the wedding ceremony.

We were expecting about 500 people which Mumma said was a small wedding by Indian standards and Mumma describe the wedding preparations as ' a state of organized chaos.'

Mumma had pulled out all the stops and I knew from the way she was lavishly preparing everything, she had taken on even more considerable debt, spending money we didn't have.

Then there were the lessons in sari draping. As a married woman I was expected to wear a sari at every formal occasion and I spent hours with well meaning aunties as they tried their best to teach me the fine art of sari draping.

It was frustrating as every time I tried to fold the soft material into neat even pleats they would fall apart leaving me flustered and upset.

I could read entire books on facts and statistics, write 5000 word assignments, navigate the internet and drive a bloody car but I could not, for the life of me, wear a sari.

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