Weddings are beautiful, colorful, joyous occasions. In this country especially, where weddings involve a lot of drunk dancing, colorful, shimmery clothes, horse-back riding, henna designs, fat aunts pulling your cheeks, and whatnot. As a child, I had attended several weddings with my parents, but my main aim in those days used to be sampling the various dishes at the buffet table. I was not a big eater (back then, at least *wink wink*), but I simply had to have more than one serving of gulab jamun, if nothing else. The first wedding that I was really a “part of” was my brother’s wedding. That was fun. I was his only sister, and being a delusional teenager, I was convinced all eyes were on me (the bride was right there of course, looking really beautiful; but sure, all eyes on me!). All the cousins were at home and we all talked late into the night, kept pulling my brother’s legs for being the first one of us to get hitched and all the customary wedding jokes made their rounds. Best time of my life, I thought.
Many years later, preparations for my own engagement were going on at home. I had assumed (as a delusional teenager years ago) that if my brother’s wedding was so much fun, and all eyes were on me, then mine would be bigger, better, with more eyes on me (cos, you know, I am the bride). But on my engagement, I felt like a spectator. The relatives, the cousins, were all the same. The clothes were shiny. The henna was deep on my palms. But I stood in a corner, watching things unfold. I knew everyone was there to celebrate a new chapter in my life. But I felt disconnected from everything. I watched and watched like everything was happening to someone else, like it was a movie I was watching. My ears felt hollow, like I had a cold. All the conversations were just a buzzing in my ears. I did not know why. I was bored. I stood there, updating my Facebook status, because I did not know what else to do. Even the cousins left me alone. No one pulled my legs (they did, after the engagement; it was quite hilarious)
After the engagement, there was the wedding. Now, I could say I was too influenced by that one episode of How I Met Your Mother, where Lily and Marshall were getting married, and Barney would make absolutely irrational demands, all in the name of “the bride”. I must say, I expected a similar sort of treatment. I thought I’d be lazing around and people would pamper me just because, you know, I am the bride. But bookworm that I am, my idea of lazing and bossing people around was sitting in a corner and reading a book (Mario Puzo’s Omerta, to be exact (oh yeah, I remember which book I was reading the day before my wedding!)). This angered my parents a little bit, as there was a lot of work to be done before the relatives started pouring in and I was not helping. “But I am the bride!” I said, scandalized. I was made to shut my book, and march straight into the kitchen. I consoled myself that this is just a glimpse of the rest of my life, and the earlier I get started, the better. I was in a grumpy mood.
The guests arrived that evening for the day-before-the-wedding party. People I had never seen before walked up to me with very wide smiles to tell me how beautiful I looked. I was still in a grumpy mood. The photographers wanted me to change clothes every half an hour and pose for them with one hand up in the air, one strand of hair flying, one flower too close to my nose blah bla. The grumpy mood became grumpier.
In most Indian families, the daughter’s wedding, though a happy occasion, has elements of tragedy in it. The scripture says that a woman is an object merely meant to be protected by the parents till the day she gets married, after which she is not allowed to keep in touch with her parents. Most Indian parents adhere to this strictly (even today, from what I hear!) and don’t ever meet their daughter once she’s married off. While some may argue that times have changed and parents do meet their daughters after marriage, the elements of tragedy exists in terms of dowry (in some Indian cultures, even after the daughter is married off, the parents still have to keep paying the groom and his family, like a never-ending EMI!) Where I belong, women are held in very high esteem and we are a matriarchal society (yeah, what else can be expected from blasphemous beef-eaters, right?) So, even after I got married, my parents could come and visit as they like (the family I married into is from a different region, but anyway). But, when I think of other families, I got to thinking, if I am so grumpy, then how would brides of other regions feel? Truly happy and excited? Or scared sh*tless?
I was nervous, ill-at-ease. Like when you’re joining a new school. You know you’ll probably make new friends. But you’re leaving all the old ones behind. You will miss them. And you don’t know what sort of an environment you’re stepping into (Indian marriage = Dulha le lo, dulha… ji, madam, rishtedaar muft mein milenge! Har rang aur har size mein!)
Weddings are beautiful, colorful, joyous occasions. If they are happening to someone else, and you’re merely watching from the sidelines with a bowl of popcorn in hand. Not when it’s your own, and you feel you’re merely watching from the sidelines and even the popcorn doesn’t cheer you up.
Here’s the status I updated that day: