"What the hell is wrong with you? How can you dress up like this to go for the wedding functions? You should not even be going? And who told you to wear a bindi."

As this was routine conversation for Anu, she went about her work. Before finally wearing her saree, she had to lay out the dinner for her parents.

Everyone said that in-laws treat you badly, but here, her parents thought that she had no right to live her life.

She had lost her husband at twenty-nine, when she had been married for a year. As he had lost his parents in a plane crash long ago and had had no siblings, Anu had come back to her parents.

She tried to put all other thoughts behind her and tried to enjoy the Sangeet. There was fun and frolic all around with everyone dancing to choreographed dance sequences.

All her friends pulled her to the corner where henna was being applied by a team of professionals. She loved getting henna put and the lady lovingly took her hand and started making a beautiful design. The intoxicating fragrance of the crushed leaves always pepped Anu up.As she finished one hand, another lady got free and started applying on the other hand as well.

Anu's thoughts went back to her wedding day. The memory was still fresh in her mind, of how the person applying it had put the name of Aroop mysteriously so that he would have a tough time looking for it.But, Aroop being Aroop had found it in a second.

Anu was flush with happiness when she reached back home at around twelve at night. Her friends had dropped her home.

Next morning, as she was preparing tea for her parents, her mother came into the kitchen and saw her hennaed hands. And even before she could say anything, her eyes went to the packed bags near the doorway.

Anu wished her parents well after serving the last cup of tea and left in the taxi. She did not wait for them to question her.

Not anymore.