[This post was previously titled Mehen'died', but I decided to change it, because one of my readers thought that it was about a girl named Mehen who died. :) Also, I didn't like the title much myself]
She gazed at her henna-stained hands. At the deep red, almost-black colour, the intricate and elaborate design. She brought her palms up to her face and breathed in the fragrance of the mehendi deeply. “Aah…”
She had always loved mehendi. She loved the fragrance of it (that most people hated), she loved how the wet mehendi felt so cold against her palms, she loved how beatiful the dark-green colour paste looked on her palms, she loved how the colour turned from a dull orange to a deep maroon overnight. Her hands never used to be henna-free. Soon as the colour started fading, she would mix a fresh batch, make a cone out of empty milk packets, add tea decoction to it (for the colour), and apply it meticulously to her left hand. She would dab it with a lemon juice-sugar mixture once it dried, and she would do it at regular intervals. She would sleep with her left hand outstretched, so as to not stain her mom’s freakishly clean bed-sheets. And then she would excitedly jump out of bed the next morning and run to scrub the dried sticky mehendi off. By the next day, the colour would have deepened. She was famous in her school for her perpetually henna-stained hands.
But more than anything, she loved how the mehendi depicted the idea of marriage. She had seen hundreds of brides with their henna-stained hands, glowing on their wedding day. She hardly noticed the colour of their sari or the shine of their jewels. The first thing she noticed was their hands. And if the bride was someone she knew very well, she wouldn’t hesitate to take their hands and take in the fragrance of the mehendi. She couldn’t wait for her own wedding so that she could apply elaborate, intricate designs on both her hands and feet. Somehow, others just didn’t get how heavenly the smell was. To her, it smelled of hope, love, happiness. It symbolized the future. It symbolized the warmth of the man she loved.
“If the colour of your mehendi turns out to be very dark, your husband will love you very much”, her cousins had giggled. She sat there, gazing at her palms, at the deep red colour that matched the colour of the deep red Kancheevaram wedding saree that she was wearing.
But today, the mehendi didn’t smell of hope or love or happiness. It smelled of broken dreams, broken hearts and broken lives. Of promises that couldn’t be kept and moments that couldn’t be forgotten. Of compromises and apologies. Of a future that was unimaginable and a warmth that could not be replaced. She felt weighed down by the weight of the sari, the jewelry and the jasmine flowers that decorated her hair.
She took one last look at his message before deleting it from her inbox and her life. “I’m sorry, for everything. For entering into your life, for falling in love with you, for giving you hope. But I had to let you go. Maybe in another life, another birth… Take care, be happy, and always remember that I love you like no one else can love you. You deserve the best, and I’m sure your husband will give you just that. Love…”
But she couldn't delete it. Would deleting a message help her delete him from her heart or her mind? She saved the message to another folder, like how she had saved everything about him, about them together, to a folder named 'Past', and got up from the chair. It was time for the muhurtham. Time for her to move on to her future. Time for her to get married to the man who the Gods of Mehendi had predicted will love her a lot, because the colour says so.