The Dried Flowers

October 21, 2022

The first rays of the risen sun pierced through the window of the Shetty family. The light spread through their small brick house in the small town of Sirsi in Karnataka. Anand Shetty, the owner of a small grocery store in the market was busy chanting his prayers accompanied by his wife of 28 years Mrs. Savitha Shetty, a simple homely lady whose world revolved around her husband and kids. The couple was blessed with 2 children, the elder one Prathik having completed his graduation was working in an insurance company in Mangalore and supporting his parents while the younger one Pratheeksha, the apple of his father’s eye, was pursuing her degree in the nearby college. Love, peace, and joy were seen abundantly amidst them making them the perfect family.

On a typical day, Anand Shetty would finish his morning rituals and sit together with his family to eat breakfast after which he leaves along with his daughter on his old TVS. After dropping Prateeksha at college, he heads off to his shop. Prathik leaves to work early and Mrs. Savitha after finishing her household chores would join her husband at the grocery store.

Prateeksha was a simple girl throughout her 21 years. The only places she remembers visiting were Mangalore and Mysore. As a bright student, she excelled in school and took up Bachelor’s in Arts. Being an introvert, she managed to make only a few friends with whom her contact was only within the boundaries of college. Sharp at the strike of 5 she would return back to the house and start cooking for the family. She enjoyed taking care of her family and watching a few serials at night along with her mother. Prateeksha found great satisfaction in penning down her thoughts, every night. Her only hobby and interest were writing. She wrote because it made her happy.

Anand Shetty was a happy and content man . The grocery store had helped him run the family smoothly. The few acres of land around the house with areca nut trees had helped the family financially. But for a few days, the Shetty family was worried about Prateeksha. The young girls of her age were all getting married; Anand Shetty’s family was forcing him to get his daughter married. Being a patient man, he knew it was not an easy job to get his daughter married. He had to select the best one for his darling daughter. He knew he would search for the best amongst the best.

On one fine day, there was a visitor at Anand Shetty’s grocery store. The gentleman was well dressed and seemed familiar. Ater the initial greetings, Anand was happy and overwhelmed to meet his childhood friend Mr. Raman, a well-educated man who had moved to Mysore with his family and settled down, Mr. Raman had now come to ask for Prateeksha’s hand in marriage for his only son Raghav, a software engineer in Bangalore. Anand was a little apprehensive but promised to get back to Mr. Raman.

Mr. Raman, a successful businessman wanted to get his son married to a girl with good family values. He had great regard for Anand Shetty and knew his daughter was the right one.

Raghav, a typical youth with high ambitions and dreams, having studied in prestigious schools and colleges, had obtained his bachelor’s degree in engineering and completed his master’s abroad. Having returned back, he settled in Bangalore, and his life revolved around friends, drinks, partying, and merry outings. He was not a spoilt kid but he had his own expectations. When Raghav was informed that he had to marry a girl from the small town of Sirsi, his dreams were disrupted. He knew his dream of marrying a modern girl was completely shattered. He faced the biggest dilemma. He knew his parents had asked him nothing but had given him everything throughout his life, and this was the best way to give them back for all that they had done. He agreed to get married to Mr. Anand Shetty’s daughter even without knowing her name.

Anand Shetty’s family was very happy since Raghav’s proposal for Prateeksha was more than the family could ask for. After all the discussions, on an auspicious day, Mr. Raman arrived with his wife Mrs. Veena and son Raghav for the formal ceremonies.

Mr. Shetty’s house was filled with relatives far and near, the ladies were whispering and wishing deep down that their daughters would have been blessed with the same proposal, and the men were busy making arrangements. In the room, a few young girls were getting Prateeksha dressed up, she was clad in a pink sari, her long hair was oiled and plaited and jasmine was dropped down to cover the line of her hair. As her friends teased her, she silently smiled in her heart, deep down she was happy and was waiting to see the man whom she would spend the rest of her life with.

At the stroke of 12, Mr. Raman arrived with his family, Raghav was well dressed in cream pants and a crisp blue shirt making him the perfect gentleman. The families after initial greetings called out for Prateeksha and asked her to come in. She looked beautiful and elegant to all the people seated, especially Mrs . Veena was happy to see the beautiful daughter-in-law. Raghav was unhappy and sulking. He knew exactly this would be the outcome. Having been prepared for everything, he did not even bother to look at Prateeksha. After all the discussions, the dates were finalized for the ceremonies and the families bid adieu to each other.

Prateeksha was on top of the world. Somehow through her entire teenage, she was never ever fascinated by any man. When her friends were secretly roaming around with village boys, she did not feel she wanted any companion, but the very sight of Raghav made her happy, she was excited and dreamt of a perfect life with him.
The marriage took place, and though Anand Shetty could not arrange for a lavish ceremony, he could pull up a decent gathering. After marriage, Prateeksha was sadly sent to Mysore. They had sent their princess along with the prince. Prateeksha stayed for a few days with her in-laws in Mysore visiting all the houses and then she drove to Bangalore to stay with her husband, her new home, and her permanent home, that perfect world she had dreamt about from the day she had seen Raghav.

Bangalore, the dream city was completely a new experience for Prateeksha. Never had she seen such posh buildings, and the vehicles and the shops astonished her. The people here seemed like aliens. Women dressed in tight jeans and t-shirts zoomed around in bikes and cars. All this seemed like a movie to Prateeksha. Raghav stayed in a posh apartment in H.S.R Layout. His 3bhk house was fully furnished and set tastefully. Prateeksha was delighted to see her new home. She had never seen such a big house, that huge sofa set, and TV attached to a wall. Everything seemed like a dream. While Prateeksha was still busy admiring the beauty of the house, Raghav explained to her the basic normality of staying in the apartment, dos, and donts, and tells her he would be heading to the office as he had a lot of work to complete. He also tells her that, their maid Jaya was informed about their arrival, she would come in at any hour and that she would explain to her the household chores and how to use the equipment around. Saying so, he goes off to the bedroom, freshens up, and leaves for the office. He did not even bother to say bye to Prateeksha. All this was a little strange for her. The movies she had seen and books she had read, were all hinting at a romantic beginning in marriage but this seemed completely opposite. From the start, Raghav remained very cold and expressed no emotions. When Prateeksha, began wondering what could be wrong, she remembered her mother’s advice, to always remain patient in one’s marital relationship and hence decided to remain quiet and wait for her husband’s acceptance.

Days quickly pass into weeks and Prateeksha had almost adjusted herself to the routine. Every day, she would wake up early and prepare breakfast and lunch for Raghav. Though initially, Raghav had protested and did not want to carry lunch, slowly he had got accustomed to her wonderful cooking and looked forward to it. That was the only quality in Prateesksha, Raghav had noticed and faintly appreciated. Once, Raghav was off to work, Prateeksha would help Jaya with the household chores. Having Jaya around for some time was a relief for her since she had begun to see a great companion in her. She did not venture out much to anyone’s apartment, since Raghav had warned her not to, the only friend she had, was the next-door Shyla. Shyla was a woman in her early 30s, she was beautiful and glamorous, and most of her time was spent in beauty salons and malls. Prateeksha and Jaya bonded very well. Shyla understood what was happening with Prateeksha and sympathized with her. She encouraged her to pursue any hobby or look for a job. Sometimes Shyla, would take her along and both of them would go exploring eateries. Shyla herself led a lonely life. Her husband Jayesh would be traveling most of the time, but Shyla had gotten accustomed to this, she would spend her money lavishly and lead a life she always wanted.

Life for Raghav hadn’t changed much, he would go to work as a ritual and evening accompany his friends to the pub, drink to his heart’s content and get back home late. Every weekend, he would set out on trips and trekking leaving Prateeksha behind. Life for Prateeksha was getting difficult, loneliness was killing her. Most of the time she spent time sitting alone on her balcony, reminiscing her time back in the village. Though they did not have comforts, their life was filled with joy, love, and laughter.

The only solace for Prateeksha was spending time with Shyla and her writing. Shyla had lent her old laptop to Prateeksha and had taught her to type in Kannada using the app. Shyla, found this really amazing, as she felt she had finally found something to kill her loneliness. She wrote day and night and poured her heart and thoughts into the blank pages of the old laptop.

One fine day, Raghav as usual while at the breakfast table initiates a conversation with Prateeksha and informs her that, evening there would be a party, and she would have to accompany him. He also warns her, to dress up in modern attire and not to wear her saree. He leaves the table, instructing her to take a cab and come to the location he would share with her once he reached the office.

Prateekasha’s heart skipped a beat with joy, she felt Raghav had slowly started accepting her and this was a subtle sign. She did not want to disappoint her husband and rushed to Shyla and explained to her what had happened. She asks her help, to get ready, and Shyla readily agreed to do so. They both set out, and the first stop was at the salon. Prateeksha was not sure what would happen, but she decided to follow Shyla’s instructions without questioning. Prateeksha’s hair was chopped in beautiful layers, and the extra hair on her body was pulled out, as she screamed and wailed in pain. Her eyebrows were shaped, and her nails were trimmed, in short, she was turned into a pretty barbie doll. Shyla was surprised looking at Prateeksha. Though she looked beautiful even in her simple salwar or cotton sarees, the grooming had changed her into a beauty anyone would be mesmerized with. Feeling happy, Shyla takes her to a mall and starts looking for clothes. Though Prateeksha was hesitant and did not want to wear a cocktail dress, she gives in to Shyla’s demand and picks a beautiful black bodycon dress that highlighted her features and made her look nothing less than a model.

Having got ready, Prateeksha hugs Shyla and leaves in the cab to the party. On arriving at the boutique resort, she is immediately taken aback by its astounding beauty. The place was lit up with lights, the entrance was decorated with flowers of pastel colors. It was breathtaking. As Prateeksha was lost in her thoughts, she sees Raghav arriving. Raghav was shocked to see Prateeksha, he was in a way spellbound by her beauty. He takes her hand and walks in and introduces her to his managers and other dignitaries. Everyone around was taken aback by her beauty, composure, and elegance. After the initial greetings, the party begins and everyone begins to drink, dance and chatter. Raghav slowly moves away from Prateeksha and joins his friends for a drink. Prateeksha stands alone again, the noise and commotion were irritating her. Initially, though she was glancing at Raghav and waiting for him to come back to her, after a few minutes she loses sight of him and slowly walks out looking for the restroom. While she walks towards the restroom, she overhears giggles. Curiously turning aside to see, she notices Raghav in the arms of his friend Shreya. They were hugging and kissing, the sight of which terrified Prateeksha. She runs towards the washroom and begins to sob, her world came crashing. She looked at herself in the mirror and for the first time, she pitied herself and felt aghast. She mustered her courage, walked out of the party, and reached home.

Still, crying she glanced through her belongings and in her diary found some flowers, which were given to her by Raghav on the day of their engagement. She looks at the dried, colorless flowers and realizes her life had turned the same. She knew, if she continued to live like this she would also remain just like those flowers dormant and emotionless and she had to start working on herself.

Not knowing what to do, she ran to Shyla and poured her heart out. Shyla unable to see her plight encourages her to start living a new life. Shyla then reminds her of the various job offers, she had suggested long back. Prateeksha decides to restart her life and requests Shyla if she could stay with her for a few days until she finds a place of her own. Shyla was more than happy to have her. Prateeska gathers her belongings, and shifts to Shyla’s place leaving a note to Raghav. When Raghav arrives home late at night, not bothered to know where his wife had vanished from the party, he retires to sleep, and on the next day when he finds the note, he feels relieved and has finally had gotten rid of her.

Prateeksha begins her new life, she begins her job hunting and after a few days, she lands a job as a librarian in a college. She loved her job as books were her great stress buster. After receiving her first month’s salary, she pledges her gold and rents a small house for herself with the help of her friend Shyla and begins to lead a life of her own. Living alone seemed better for her, staying with Raghav was no less than a prison, but by staying alone she was enjoying her freedom. Her routine was set, she worked till 6 in the evening, and while returning, she purchased a few groceries. Once after reaching home she finished her daily chores and used to sit down to write. After an hour or 2, she would retire to sleep, wake up early the next day morning and complete her chores and rush to work. She had made a few friends at work and on weekends, she would spent time with them or her beloved friend Shyla.

Though she was longing to see her parents, she dared not to go and meet them. She knew they would be devastated at the plight of their daughter and she limited her communication only to phone calls and occasional letters. At times she wondered if she had taken the right decision, but seeing no efforts from Raghav even to call her and find out about her well-being, she knew she had made the right move.

One evening, Shyla arrived at her home asking for the laptop. Shyla had stored some details and wanted to retrieve them. After Prateeksha hands over the laptop, Shyla makes herself comfortable and begins searching in the laptop for her data, just then she notices a document, created by Prateeksha. She opens and begins reading it. It was a novel that Prateeksha was penning down, Shyla was moved to tears and absolutely loved the writing style of Prateeksha. She forces Prateeksha to get her work published. Initially though she was reluctant, eventually she gives in and agrees with Shyla.

The next day, Shyla and Prateeksha approached a couple of publishers with the manuscript. Since Prateeksha was not an established writer, most of them did not even want to read her manuscript. They roam around for days and finally, a not so established publisher accepts to publish her book. After a month of work, her book was in her hand, she titled it “Onagida Huvu” (Meaning dried flowers in Kannada).

Within a few weeks, her book began to sell like hotcakes, her writing had touched the hearts of millions of women. Her writing was different, it was a beautiful combination of simplicity and reality weaved into a simple regional language. Many publishers, who had rejected her manuscript had begun approaching her for manuscripts. Prateeksha had found a purpose in her life. She knew she had to write.

Her interviews began appearing in newspapers and magazines. She was featured, talked about, and appreciated. Prateeksha’s parents were proud of her achievements and so were Raghav’s parents. But, both of them were not aware of their state of marriage and the pain Prateeksha had gone through.

The literary committee had organized a huge event to honor Prateeksha and the news of it was published in all the leading newspapers. When Raghav read about it, he was shocked. He suddenly realized that Prateeksha was his wife, he became greedy and thought, he was also entitled to be in the limelight and decided to bring her home. He rushed to Shyla’s home and got her address and drives down to bring home his wife.

When Prateeksha opened the door, she was shocked to see Raghav. Raghav on the other hand does not apologize to her and demands she comes home. When she refuses, he reminds her of a wife’s duties and that she was committing a grave sin if she ignored him. Listening to him, Prateeksha walks into her room and comes out carrying some dried flowers and places them in Raghav’s hand. She reminds him that they were given by him and she had preserved them as tokens of their love. She continues to tell him, how they had dried due to lack of water and sunlight, in the same way, their relationship had lost its essence due to lack of his love, acceptance, and appreciation. She tells him, even now he had not accepted her for who she was, but he had come to claim her as mere property because of her popularity and name. She assures him, that she would wait for him and come along with him, only on that day, when he actually realizes her worth and values her for who she is. Saying so, she asks him to walk out and shuts the door wiping her tears.

The next day, Prateeksha packed her bag and left for her little tiny village. It was more than 1.5 years now, she had seen her parents. Her heart was yearning to see them and cry out to them, but she had stopped herself, fearing what the consequences would be if they came to know about her marriage. But, now she was no longer scared, she was ready to face her parents and society. She would not shy away and dodge the question, she was ready to talk about her pain and the trauma. She was a new Prateeksha.

After signing a few pages and clicking a few selfies with people around, she sits inside the train. She looked outside the window and as the train begins to move, she openes her diary and stares at the dried flowers. She shed a tear that falls on the flower and it begins to glisten. Prateeksha then quietly whisperes, “I will wait for you my dear Raghav, wait till the day you come to take me home, the day you accept me as your wife, with all your heart and mind, and give me respect and love I deserve, I will wait.” Saying so, she closed the diary and hugged it, and looked at the setting sun and the birds flying high around.


From the archives:




By Sonal Lobo
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Comment on this article

  • Candria Shyla, Mangalore

    Thu, Oct 27 2022

    That's a nice story, really liked it. Looking forward for more such stories

  • Tiniza Lopes, Bangalore/Goa

    Thu, Oct 27 2022

    Lovely story by a beautiful writer. Keep it up my dear❤️

  • Apoorva, Bangalore

    Thu, Oct 27 2022

    So heart touching and emotional. Love the way you write ❤. All your writeups are like an addition, can't pause reading even a bit. Looking forward to your next article.

  • Ivan & Lydwin, Mississauga

    Tue, Oct 25 2022

    Amazing story Sonal. You have depicted it very well.

  • Dan, Mangalore

    Mon, Oct 24 2022

    Amazing !!!!! Waiting for more stories..

  • Lidwin, Mangaluru

    Sat, Oct 22 2022

    Superb story. I really liked it. Liked the fact that you ended the story on a positive note and with a message of hope for a married couple. Beautiful

  • Alastair, Mumbai/Mangalore

    Sat, Oct 22 2022

    Its a very nice and interesting story. I have been, reading your poetry and articles in this column, so happy to read a story. Looking forward for more.

  • Martha, Mangalore

    Sat, Oct 22 2022

    Story is very good. Loved reading it. I think you must start writing more stories

  • Alisha, Mangalore

    Fri, Oct 21 2022

    Amazinggg work Sonu..loved it..keep writing..❤❤

  • Santhosh, Bengaluru

    Fri, Oct 21 2022

    Very nice. Superb

  • Rita, Germany

    Fri, Oct 21 2022

    Dear Sonal ,what a story .Cant stop from reading .What a dried flowers have to tell here is clear..Love your stories and hope for more .Wish these flowers may remain in your life more live and make you happy.

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