My mother was fidgeting. She was standing still, only because her earlier pacings earned a LOUD suggestion from my grandfather to go ‘empty her bladder’. She was convinced half of India must have heard that. Speaking of India, this man wasn’t even staying here, he was in some far off land with Arabs! How can she,a woman who preferred the twigs to toothbrushes, a woman who only wore sarees in college, a woman with no worldy sense even match up to his sophistication? She glanced at the clock and couldn’t breathe.
My dad was celebrating. India had beat Pakistan at a cricket match, against all odds. His friends were passing shrewd comments about how it will be a night of celebrations which got him anxious as he had forgotten about the event amidst the celebrations and he reeked of booze and celebration-sweat. He glanced at the clock and was debating on which was of more importance, punctuality or presentation?
My maternal grandfather was ecstatic. He had found the perfect match for his daughter despite that smile of hers, he was worried that the bridegroom’s family will comment about her ‘gummy smile’ which made the bride less than perfect but they were least bothered. Horoscopes were matched and that’s all that mattered for both sides at the end.
The crowd consisted of a bunch of misfits who didn’t know the bride and groom personally, but had come to offer their opinions on the manner in which the ceremony would be conducted and then to analyze each movement, each smile, each frown and break it down to the ones who missed it.
It was time.
The pandit called their names in a bored voice, according to my mom- he seemed like he would have passed out any moment, according to my dad- he didn’t notice anything. My dad had to be seated cross-legged and was viewed as a specimen by the crowd. He was comfortable in his own skin and seemed oblivious to the stares. My mother walked along with her parents with her gaze down and she was aware of each and every breath, comment, gaze that was dispatched to her. She sat down next to him, but still didn’t lift her gaze from the floor. The music changed, and my dad fidgeted with the knot but with assistance from his sister finally managed to tie it around my mother’s neck. And that’s it, they were officially wed. They completed three rounds hand in hand around the fire. My mother was still gazing at the floor, she was taught obedience and humility above all things by sexist people who believed that a woman shouldn’t have a say in any matter. After the ceremony, she heard him playfully bickering with his sister and found it appalling since she was taught respect was equivalent to complete mindless obedience. She peeked a glance at him and saw that he was a big man but she felt something that defied logic. She felt safe. He noticed that his bride had finally taken her eyes off the floor and took that opportunity to look at her. At last, they looked at each other. For the first time.
My parents met each other on their wedding day, and it used to always fascinate and freak me out. I mean, imagine you found out that you married a guy who sings Bieber songs in the shower, or worse a girl who wants to be the next Kardashian? Fortunately, my dad is still stuck in the 60’s and doesn’t sing Bieber songs and my mother would assume that Kardashian is an exotic fruit. 25 years ago, they took off without any expectations of any kind, and decided to live life together. Without expectations, there wasn’t many disappointments. They were really lucky. How a woman who was taught to behave like a loyal dog to people ended up with a man from a feminist family is intriguing. Now when conservative aunts/uncles widen their eyes as my mother playfully argue with my dad, I get mental images of an athlete running around in Adidas shoes and sprouting- ‘Nothing is impossible’.
These days we hear about inhumane acts of betrayal done by close and loved ones, this post is to remind you that every story has a flip side to it. A close one may break your heart and ruin you, but you never know a stranger could also end up saving you when you find it hard to do it yourself. Although I’m sure I am not that naive and trusting to go ahead and marry one. Would you?