WEST: This is so awkward….I haven’t seen Sam since I told him I couldn’t marry him – six years ago. I didn’t think he’d be here tonight….and he brought his wife. I need to guzzle another glass of champagne. I cannot believe that the only mutual friend Sam and I have is getting married, and we both decided we needed to attend this wedding. Just my luck.
EAST: I knew that I’d be intimidated by her presence tonight, but I didn’t realise that I wouldn’t be able to stop staring at her. I wonder if she knows that she’s the third person in my coerced marriage. Sam was devastated when she left him, and then his parents forced him to marry me. That’s her second glass of champagne in ten minutes. It must be nice to be able to indulge in an alcoholic beverage. Sam’s parents would be so upset if they ever found out I drank alcohol.
WEST: What is she wearing? I didn’t know that women still loved the Laura Ashley bedding look? Seriously, how did Sam let her leave the hotel looking like that? Does her eye shadow match one of the pink hues on her dress? Someone needs to tell her that darker girls cannot pull off baby pink eye shadow….and that no grown woman should want to pull off eye shadow matching her outfit….
EAST: Her dress is bewitching. I wish I could wear strapless pieces…but that would upset my in laws. She has a fabulous figure….but she probably has a lot more time to exercise than I do, since she doesn’t have to spend all of her time tending to her in laws. And those shoes….I wish I could splurge on such shoes…but now any money I get is given to me from Sam, since his parents made me quit my job so I could essentially be their shadow.
WEST: I’m going to stall on this side of the room for as long as I can so I can procrastinate greeting them. What will I even say to her? I remember Sam told me she’s an architect….maybe I can ask her about her current projects. Oh! He told me she loves to read! Maybe I can tell her about my next novel. I wonder if she knows I’m an author. She looks bored. Why doesn’t she try and engage in conversation with someone?
EAST: I wonder if Sam knows that I’ve noticed him staring at her since the moment she walked in the room. I’m surprisingly at peace with it. It’s comforting to actually see the woman who he’s still in love with. Her laughter is infectious. She seems chatty. I wonder if she’s aware that my husband is still in love with her. I wonder if she knows that if she’d just married him, I could be living a very different life right now. My marriage probably would have still been arranged, but at least I would have been married to someone who isn’t absorbed by his past.
WEST: I haven’t seen Sam since I broke it off. I don’t think he’s ever forgiven me. I couldn’t be what his parents wanted; and he wanted what they wanted more than what he wanted for himself. Despite having Indian ancestry, I’m still very much a first generation American; it would have been impossible for me to move to Chennai, give up my career and independence and be a housewife in the apartment we would have shared with his parents. We had a different life when we lived together in San Francisco – when it was just the two of us. If we’d gotten married, I would have been divorced by the time I was twenty-four. I know he knows all of this, but I don’t know if he’s forgiven me yet.
EAST: Sam doesn’t know this, but I’ve read every single one of her books. She’s an amazing writer, and it’s no wonder she’s a New York Time’s bestselling author of eight books. He once told me that he loved her because of her ambition. I never got the chance to be ambitious in my career; his parents told me to me quit my job at the firm the week after our wedding. I loved my job at the firm. Sam doesn’t know how much I know about her: how many times I’ve looked at her Facebook profile, Google searched her interviews and dug up as much as I possibly could.
WEST: I hope they’re happy together. She is what his parents wanted for him – which is the total opposite of me. She doesn’t eat meat, she’s grown up in the culture, she is cooperative, she is calm, she is respectful, she was willing to give up her job and live in an apartment with her in laws….she is exactly what they wanted. I would have been too much for them; I can’t compromise as much as I should be able to, I’m too opinionated and I’m...
EAST: She’s lucky. She’s going to end up with someone who is genuinely in love with her, who will support her dreams and who will have a marriage with her and not his own parents. It must have been so hard for her to walk away from Sam, but she knew that she needed different things out of life and so she did it. She was destined for more than to be confined by the obligations of a traditional, south Indian marriage. And so he settled for me. I know that when he’s looking into my eyes, he’s really looking for her. I know that he often writes to her, hoping to get a response, despite her final email to him nearly five years ago when she firmly told him she wouldn’t be responding anymore. I know he misses her everyday. I know that the reason we’re at this wedding is because he knew he would get to see her again. I know that I simply exist in this marriage to fulfill his parents wishes…and this is my destiny.