Maya was so happy. She was getting married in a month’s time. Like all village belles, the marriage day was something that Maya had dreamt about from childhood. It did not matter, that she had never before seen the face of the person that she was going to get married to. This is how her mother and her mother got married and this is how every other woman in the village got married. Still she was happy, in fact, her mind was conditioned by the traditions of the village life to be and feel happy at this time.
However, there still lingered a hint of sadness in her little heart. Her father had left them more than four years ago and since then her mother had led a life of abstinence and of minimal comfort, never socialising with people of the village nor enjoying life as she could. On this occasion Maya decided to cheer her up.
Her wedding sari, already bought, was a deep hue of crimson and was striking. It was the most beautiful thing that Maya had laid her eyes upon. Maya pleaded her mother to wear it and see how it looked on her. Her mother refused to wear it, being deprived from worldly pleasures for so long she could not even think of wearing it. However, on further pleading, her mother relented. She wore the sari and looked like an angel in the eyes of her daughter. She convinced her mother to keep it on for the night.
At night, a knock on the door of their house woke Maya’s mother up. She left a sleeping Maya to respond to the call. As she saw through the eye-hole, she froze. She could not open the door. She should not open the door. “I can feel your presence. I have waited for long enough my love; please do not say no this time.” Said the voice of the sturdily built village Sarpanch. “You must not punish yourself for so long for no fault of yours. Please do open the door and come with me.” Maya could move now. The gentle voice of the man outside swayed her into opening the door. She covered her head with the sari and hand-in-hand they fled into the fields.
Alas, they were unaware of two watching eyes in the darkness.
Next morning, there was a huge crowd in the front of the house. People shouting, alleged that Maya had slept with an unknown man in the fields. One man said that she had unmistakably seen Maya in her new wedding sari. Maya could not speak. Nor could she meet her mother’s eyes. The wedding was cancelled. People cursed her and called her names, but Maya could not even defend her innocence. In the confusion, she slowly slipped away from the crowd. Later that day, her body was found on the rail tracks.