She looked beautiful yet tense and silent; she resembled a doll wrapped in grandeur. The Indian bridal outfit she wore had shimmers of gold and delicate red fabric. A red stole covered her braided head showing glimpses of white jasmine flowers decorating her hair. Her jewels reflected simplicity with a red bindi, maang tikka, tiny nose stud, black kohled eyes and subtle stained lips. A small round black kohl mark beneath her ear aligned with the tradition to ward off the ‘evil eyes’.
These seemed to fit her shapely body, accentuating its obvious charm perfectly. But she didn’t seem to be aware of the hustle and bustle around her. She was lost in her own world.
She was conscious that she should fill her eyes with a sparkle for her big day. But where was her mind?Was she happy with the wedding?
Her phone beeped and a text message appeared. As soon as she read “Yahin hoon mein”, a smile blossomed on her lips.She looked ahead and saw a briskness building up around her. With a deep breath, she tried bringing her mind back to the present – “It’s my wedding day- the day!” she told herself.
No matter how much she pretended to be normal, she could not hold back the creeping feeling of being on the verge of transitioning to an entirely different ambience. “Was this called the cusp of a change, a life changing moment?” she wondered.
A nervousness, with a tinge of pleasant hues, enveloped her. A chain of memories and thoughts rushed in, reminding her about the uniqueness of the experience unfolding, the changeover to someone different, like a larva counting down to emerge from hibernation. How would she manage her new life in a strange place amidst a new family, possibly with entirely different cultural dimensions? The only thread of tenuous continuity would be provided by him! The thought created an effervescence to be with him instantly, though she knew that not possible.
True, they belonged to two different States with almost everything different – language, religion, culture, cuisine, tradition etc. These differences never crossed their minds when they fell in love. How much did such a short period of closeness change their hopes, dreams and expectations? In the proximity of each other, far away from the home and familiar faces, they had come to see each other’s company as a very secure, comforting and private shell to crawl in, sooner than later.
Just moments away from the much looked for occasion, thoughts of adjustments and alignment sprouted in her mind. It brought in an uneasiness quite out of place with the emotional build-up over the past few days.
The family never stood against her happiness. A smile returned to her lips even as she remembered how smooth and supportive her parents were when she broke the news, quite nervously, about her choice of life partner. The refreshing thought of the ease with which she managed to convince her parents of her choice soothed her nerves, when she was eager to push away the nagging uneasiness.
“Thank you, mom; I know you are always there for me when I need”, suddenly out of nowhere, she thought of the cuddling arms of her mother which used to comfort her in her teenage mood swings.
Her thoughts crept back to him, and the time they had together. Whenever she slipped into her pensive mood, somehow, he sensed it. And he brought her up either with a call or message.How can someone get your vibes, silent and distant, when he is not around?
Even now, he seemed to have read her creeping restlessness. His message brought her back to the present. She looked through the text message and moved her hand over the lines, as if she was caressing his cheeks.
She did not see him for the last two days after the preliminary wedding rituals like mehndi and haldi. They could see each other only briefly at the time of the ceremonies. Whenever she complained about it over the phone, he just laughed aloud. He could sense her impatience to melt into an intense hug. She knew he felt the same, but he wouldn’t express it.
She conveyed her anxiety about his absence.Was she becoming too possessive, even before the ceremonies were over?
She brooded over the days that brought them closer. He had uprooted her from her routine shyness and aloofness. She didn’t realise the change until it became apparent with his presence. The realisation that he was the one who could afford her mood tantrums dawned on her even as they cozied up in the campus life.She never liked anyone imposing likes, dislikes and strong views. Even now she wonders, how they jelled together so seamlessly. He had the right spell on her, and she felt the intensity of reciprocation deep in her heart. Slowly yet within no time, he adapted to her nomadic spirit. She was madly in love with him.
Thinking of him and their relationship made her breathe brisker. Yes, now she was not hesitant or muted to express her love. Is maturity a step ladder that one crucial step makes you emboldened to proclaim your independence and attachment in one breath?
His little sister came and informed that it was time for the ceremony. The families were present in full strength. Smiling faces and inquisitive glances greeted her when she stepped into the hall.
Her sisters and cousins stood beside her. There were a few her classmates, their common friends. They, too, have been longing for this day. Her parents joined hurriedly, though dad seemed a little tenser than mom. Her brother was standing near the stage. It was his moment to appear serious and obviously proud of his responsibilities in the show.
Shenoticed many smiling faces but felt too nervous to respond with the usual demeanour. Her eyes were searching for the face that she so desperately longed to see. She could see his smiling little sister and parents near the mandap waiting for the moment. After fleeting moments, her eyes caught up with what shewas desperately searching.
There he was, wearing a golden outfit with a red tilak on his forehead. He had his amazing naughty smile. She wanted to show her disappointment for his staying away the last two days. He could read it too. He just smiled mischievously. In another second, he got back his intense gaze over me. His face had so many unsaid expressions which she could read. He wanted to hug her; she could get it. She could not stop smiling, and obviously, he looked irritated by the taunting expressions she so succinctly wore. There were those rare moments, that generation after generation, young men and women lived through, cherished and kept enduringly safe, deep down their memory lane.
Their eye-to-eye talk was subdued and silent. Both could read the meanings of their unspoken expressions. Her brother came forward, held her hands, and led her to climb the steps of the stage. His one hand was over her shoulder. He was still the cute little sibling whom she loved so much. Now he was grown up and big enough to protect her, she thought playfully. Her eyes were on his face, smiling, yet her eyes became wet.
As soon as she reached, the smiling face at the mandap caught herglance.She could see his face glowing with happiness.The priest began reciting the hymns and rituals. She didn’t understand much;she had only seen these mainly on the Bollywood screens.
When the time came to tie the knot, he came forward, smiling and reading her face. He opened an embellished slender box that held a beautiful thin chain with tiny black beads and a pendant. He kept his word! “The chain was fragile and cute. He did not want the remembrance of our matrimony to be heavy on me!”, she thought.
The flower shower distracted them, and they looked around. Rituals continued for a few more minutes. He came forward and whispered in her ears,“And now I am legally your loving husband.”
She just poked his nose and said, “Oh, is that so? Then I am your lovely wife for life”. Her voice was a little louder. The gathering broke into a spontaneous laughter.
May be years later, she would narrate the experience to her daughter, possibly even as she gets ready to ascend the steps to her own wedding ceremony. Life is like that, enriched with fun, love and sweet recollections.