Every girl dreams of a fairytale wedding. Being fed with Cinderella and Rapunzel from childhood, I was no exception. My prince charming was a banjo strumming, chest-nut haired, boom-voiced gorgeous hunk. I was not too keen on the horse though. But, well, as they say…dreams are dreams afterall.
So, what I got in the bargain was a hardly-into-music, black-haired, seriously-South-Indian moustached life partner who loved reading newspaper and serious English novels. The only saving grace was his looks and voice…that somehow came close to my standard of ‘prince charming’.
But I was sure, pretty damn sure that I wouldn’t ever have a fairytale wedding! A Bengali, Christian girl marrying a Tamil Hindu Brahmin boy was the worse combination that could ever happen! And so, the doubt about having a flawless wedding was always there. But, as I have harped time and again, ‘disaster’ was and is my nickname. So, my duel with disaster began much before the wedding day. It began with my to-be-husband appearing at our door step four days before the wedding with a slight itch in his eyes.
“No, no..I don’t want to enter. Just came to tell you about the arrangements. My eyes are itching and I am not sure if it is conjunctivitis”.
In normal circumstances I would have been too glad to have a conjunctivitis-infected person on the other side of the door, but drunk in love that I was, I insisted that he came in.
The result was disastrous. It began with me and caught on with the entire wedding team – my mother, brother, grandfather, grandmother, cousins, aunts…to the extent of my pet dog Mij!
And when we ultimately reached the venue on the wedding day we discovered that the groom’s side out-numbered us in terms of Rajnikants, Lalita Pawars and Pirates of the Caribbean. Majority of the wedding invitees had either donned dark glasses or were blinking in their single-eyed vision!
Out of so many years, why Calcutta chose to have a conjunctivitis epidemic that year is beyond my comprehension!
Ours was a sandwich wedding – a thoroughly south Indian wedding in the morning and a Christian wedding blessing cum registration in the evening!
When I arrived at the venue, I was greeted with a glass of hot milk. My hot drinks normally precede my visits to the loo! And here I was, handed a tumbler full of bubbling, hot milk. I stared at the milk for seconds and then looked at the keen eyes of my would be mother-in-law. I gulped the entire liquid in a go. From then on I had a hard time convincing my stomach that it was a out-of-routine procedure – nothing to be bothered about. Every two minutes my stomach would growl – shall we?
To top my agony the fire-wood used for the ceremony was not dry enough. Thick smoke billowed from the hawan making most of the relatives sit outside the hall. Most of the guests having red, infected eyes it was extremely difficult to battle coughing spree as well. Water streamed down my eyes with gusto.
In the second set of the ceremony I was required to wear a 9 yard saree that is normally longer than the usual saree and worn almost in the form of a dhoti. My sisters-in-law helped me put on the saree and gave instructions on how to handle it as well. But being just a student I hardly had the experience of wearing a saree ! So with the saree swirling above my knees I resembled a farmer having tucked his dhoti high up during sowing!
Having somehow managed the first half, I rushed back home to have a change of dress for the evening look. A parlour was booked for fixing my hair. Midway through the curls, the power went off and the curlers wouldn’t work without electricity.
The owner was perplexed. “This is an emergency area, power never goes off”.
“Tadaaaa…It did today, because I am here”, I had a good mind to exclaim.
And this was not all. This was just the beginning.
The marriage officer arrived one and half hours late because of all days, Calcutta had one of the worst traffic snarls that day!
Hold on, there is more to it! Mid way through the reception my mother-in-law’s broken foot and damaged back began to ache so badly that the poor lady had to almost howl for many moments before she was carried back home with the assistance of my sisters-in-law!
Having battled all the infections and circus, most of the cousins were too petrified to stay on. So by the time my husband and I reached our house there were only three people to welcome us other than my parents and grand-parents.
My imaginative soul wouldn’t give up!
‘May be tomorrow – at my in-laws place…The movies show so many gorgeous games that the couple play with the sisters and brothers. May be such surprises are waiting for me?”, I convinced my sinking confidence.
The next day when I arrive at the door step of my in-laws there are four people waiting to welcome us! My in-laws and one elderly aunt and uncle of my husband.
“All the young ones have gone for an outing. Tomorrow is their train and they wouldn’t have time for shopping after this”, my mother-in-law explained.
My dreams of having a bollywood wedding crashed to umpteen pieces. I spent the rest of the day unpacking my goods and folding the clothes of my sisters-in-law and their families that were strewn around!
When night came and I was left alone, I stood in the balcony and saw the stars. I missed my Ma, the smell of her hands as she force fed me, my brother, my Dad, my grandparents and the warm touch of my doggy. I felt caged all of a sudden.
Discovering no one around I held my husabnd’s hands and sobbed inconsolably.
‘I want to go home. Take me to Daddy…please.”, I cried.
“You are still a baby”, my husband laughed.
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Disasters have never left me alone – not even after marriage. But my quest for a perfect wedding day has ended in a beautiful story of togetherness. Now that there is so much of hullaboo and tweets and trolls about religious intolerance, we read the newspaper together and laugh out loud when people make insensitive remarks about religion and cultural differences. For so many years that we are together, we have happily blended our individual identities as one. There has been adjustments – from our parents, neighbours, children and it was never easy initially. But we are convinced that what stands the test of time is human bonding! Our children are one lucky bunch – having the privilege of getting new dresses for Diwali and Christmas, getting the opportunity to savour sweets and cakes equally….
And after all these years I’ve come to believe that it isn’t about how grand a wedding it is, it is about a beautiful togetherness thereafter. Like they say in the fairytales:….And they lived happily ever after!