Chapter 3

Written by: SameerNagarajan

Salim was aware that their relationship faced challenges and had initially worked hard at them. He believed religion was a deeply personal matter and that mutual respect and accommodation were key in relationships. His family was supportive; her family however had strong objections. Facing verbal attacks from them, he left the choice to Shweta. He was deeply disappointed with her decision, but his eyes said more than he ever did.

He wondered if she ever noticed.

Cold anger gripped him as the call on behalf of Akshay came.


A fortnight before the wedding, Akshay walked into Shweta’s room. “Just a minute,” he said, “Is this your choice? Really? What Salim and you shared means nothing? I am telling you as a well-wisher - your heart doesn’t seem to be with Adi.”

“I should have asked this long back,” he said tentatively.  “Are you happy?”

Sudden tears welled up. She buried her face in his shoulder. They spoke.

The door opened and her uncle walked in.


Shweta knew that after her uncle had physically thrown Akshay out of the house with a few choice warnings, Akshay had contacted Salim.

Salim messaged her a single word: True? She had responded honestly.  

He had simply replied: Wait for me.

Her congratulatory message to Ahmed on her wedding day had an enigmatic reply: “Salim isn’t too far away.”

She wondered what that was supposed to mean.


It was a high-profile wedding and Page 3 [1] was buzzing. Aditya’s old friends reappeared and there were whispers about a prior affair. No further details were provided to Adi. He was initially unsure, maintaining that relationships were not built on suspicion.

But the story stayed and he saw a photo of Salim and Shweta from times past. Something about the way they were looking at each other aroused envy.

He consulted the family and decided not to call off the wedding based on rumours. He could speak to her after marriage. He had his own confessions to make. They would be honest with each other, leave the past behind and build a new future together.


Fourteen days before the wedding, Shweta’s father paid a visit. They had never been very close, but she was courteous and accepted his blessings and gifts. Her uncle and mother were in the room throughout.

“I wish I had spent more time with you,” he said.

Too late, she thought, without speaking.

Abruptly, he got up and said, “I will always wish the best for you Shweta, and I don’t think Adi is the best for you.”

Her uncle turned purple with rage and her mother looked confused. In one single stride, her father walked out.


The short man carrying a backpack lurked in the shadows. His cellphone showed November 26, 2008. Another text came in: Any moment, now. Your partner should fire first and you should follow, rapidly.

He smiled to himself. Payback time.


Aditya froze as he recognized Salim walking in through the entrance.



  1. Page 3: The gossipy, social buzz pages in Indian newspapers covering Bollywood stars and other minor celebrities are referred to as Page 3. Typically they report rumours, gossip and glitz – information of no particular ‘news’ value. It is not a particularly complimentary description.



Very nicely written Sameer. You have described the state of each character involved in the story viz-a-viz the doomed wedding. Towards the ending, you spring a great surprise by mentioning the ominous date on which the actual wedding is taking place. You have portrayed a wonderful parallel between the inner turmoil taking place in the lives of the characters and the upheaval that is to follow on the outside - a dark chapter in the history of Mumbai. You have diverted the story very deftly from personal backstories to an incidence that affected an entire nation. Well done!!
Thanks Hemali! Enjoyed writing this one and your editing inputs helped a lot too!
4 AM was the time when I read this chapter, sleep deprived of course. My reaction to November 26 was a blend of Ooooooh and a few unparliamentary words that Suraya might not approve of (all in appreciation of course) This is awesome Sameer, made my day.
Thanks Abhimanyu!