I had just seen her silhouette framed on the thin curtain of my room window on sunny days. I had never met her nor talked to her. But we had been privy to each others' lives for almost three years now; hearing muffled sobs, hummed songs, angry curses, unrestrained laughter, nervous pacing, bored yawns, incomprehensible snatches of conversations; just by the architectural accident of adjacent windows. A month ago I wrote about her here.
Yesterday was her wedding, the culmination of a romance to which I had been a forced audience, as if it was played on a radio that I couldn't turn off. Her mother had invited our family to the wedding, despite no prior interaction and belonging to different housing complex; maybe because the families had seen each others' most intimate items of clothing left to dry on the balconies at the back (which again faced each other); or could identify a shared liking for pickled olives, the bottles of which were left out in the winter sun in both homes; or because we are Indians and our weddings should accommodate all humans in the periphery of a hundred metres, apart from the typical stockpile of relatives, friends and vague acquaintances.
So, last evening I reluctantly wore a coral red dress with a sort of fishnet lining over it and a little too much glitter for my liking, but it had fitted my mother's idea of appropriate wedding wear. Soon, my cousin and I, awkwardly followed our mothers into a stranger's wedding. I was worried about what to answer if someone asked how do I know the bride or the groom. I didn't even know their names, having never read the wedding invitation card. But I sat among those unfamiliar faces, covered in that coral fishnet thing. The bride's mother greeted us as if the past seven generations of our families had been inseparable friends, but her effusive greeting made it feel like we belonged.
Then I had to congratulate the girl who knows which songs I hear in a loop, how I shout for breakfast in bed on weekends, and I know not how many intimate details of my life, just as I knew few in her life. We smiled awkwardly and I congratulated her. The groom looked bored with the whole world, and sat staring right through everyone; maybe contemplating the long hours left till he could be alone with his wife, away from all the strange, grinning people. Or maybe it was his normal facial expression. The bride, though shrunken in the heavy jewellery inflicted on her, looked radiant in a blue mekhela-sador.
I sat shivering on a rickety chair, whose uncovered seat was chilled by the night air and froze my back, and looked at the newly married couple. Weddings, not marriage, scare me. The blinding glitz of jewellery, the dresses that restrict free movement of limbs, the loud music, the inane grinning throughout the long evening, the routine of stuffing your faces with the same delicacies, the outlandish expenditure on an evening that somehow reduces the two people, whose union is celebrated, into nothing more than (tired) statues on a pedestal. Many of my friends had caught this wedding virus, it surely feels like a scary pandemic; and as I stood next to them on their wedding day, they complained in whispers about the ritual fasts, the suffocating attire, the long and tiring evening of grinning at guests. They don't get to enjoy the somewhat cliched 'most special day' of their lives.
Marriage is the validation of a commitment of a lifetime, the union of two people in mind, body and soul. I believe that weddings, which celebrate this union, should be simple, tasteful with the distinct impression of the bride and the groom's personalities. I like the idea of small and intimate weddings; comprising of family and close friends, and not get lost in a throng of unfamiliar faces. An outdoor wedding on a bright, sunny day, under a leafy canopy; surrounded by the people who matter; being served a simple yet delicious and slightly inventive platter of food; while the bride and the groom freely mingled with the people they love, sharing their joy; maybe even partaking in necessary, traditional rituals; a day of love, laughter and togetherness. No stifling rules. The freedom to play your favorite music, to laugh out loud, and no fuss. I feel that would be a wonderful start to a life together.