I'm back in Bombay now, wondering how ten days could've gone so fast and wondering how to sum up the last three days into one little blog post. There's still fading mehendi on my palms, that sickly orange colour that looks like a skin disease. My future mother-in-law (and I feel for that poor, unsuspecting woman, I really do) clearly will not love me. But, as a faithful chronicler of my life and times, I suppose I should do this properly. I'm not in an excellent mood though, today, my brand new budding relationship ended, quite fittingly, on the last day of the wedding festivities, right before the bidayi, where everyone wept and said goodbye to Leela. So this week, I'm wallowing in self pity, trying not to think too much.
Volt came down for the wedding though, and he was my date for all of the events, which was nice and when we look at the photos twenty years from now and sigh over how young and pretty we once were, I'm sure it'll be a happy memory. For the most part, it was happy. The mehendi was at Leela's house which was where we had to do our item number, which I chickened out of at the last minute, because the steps looked so damn coordinated and I was sure I'd fall and trip over myself. Plus my mehendi was still wet, and I really, really had to pee, which was hard, because it involved yanking my churidar down without touching it with anything except my thumbs. I'm sorry--was that too much information? Tough. I've never seen such a happy looking couple though, Leela and Ishan were supremely chilled out, hugging people, dancing, and looking at ease with the whole concept of getting married. God, married. Imagine Leela being someone's wife.
The next day was the sangeet at Ishan's aunt's house, which is this ENORMOUS white bungalow near Connaught Place, which all of us duly marvelled at. It takes so much work to make a wedding, I realise now, it's not just all pretty clothes and flowers, there were valet guys and a DJ and caterers and stuff, and I clearly need to start saving now for a wedding I'll have when I'm 45. The sangeet was the night everyone got completely out of their mind hammered. There was so much alcohol and the most vile shots I've ever drunk in my life, some strange pink concotion that everyone was throwing back into their throats with great gusto, and which made me retch thrice, so the next time someone handed me a shot, I pretended to drink it and then replaced it back on the bar counter. Luckily, by this time, everyone was so drunk that no one noticed. And there was much dancing. Around one in the morning, Leela came up to me, and said, "By the way, the chooda ceremony is at my house at nine tomorrow morning, and you have to be there." "Nine?" I said, laughing sardonically. "If I have to be awake, you have to be awake," she said, in somewhat puzzling logic and sashayed away leaving me yelling after her, "But you're the BRIDE. No one's marrying ME." By the time I finally got home at four am and murmured to my mother that I had to be woken at eight, I had pretty much forgotten all about the chooda.
That is, until eight am, when my mother came in going, "Wake up, wake up! You're going to be late!" I was so late, I didn't even have time to look for an appropriate outfit, so I put on a skirt and a tank top, expecting there to be an intimate ceremony, with just her family and friends. Um... again, I was proved wrong. My first sign of this was a tent where brunch was being laid out outside her house and by the time I got to her terrace, the priestess was in full flow with a bunch of people I had never seen before. My other partners in crime gave me wan smiles from where they sat on the diwan, looking demure despite being rollicking the night before, and you wouldn't have been able to tell any of us were ferociously hungover, except we must have consumed about five bottles of water between us. The brunch was excellent though, and we all ate like pigs. There was all sorts of chaat laid out, so I began with the gol gappas and made my way through aloo tikki and channa kulcha. I was so full that sadly I had to forgo the papri chaat and the aloo puri, both of which looked very tempting. But the wedding was at six and everyone had to leave and get ready (read: nap). I went to hang out with Volt before the wedding, and wound up falling asleep till four when I rushed home, rushed into my sari (which was still much too long by the time I got to the wedding and I kept tripping over it) and made it to the wedding by the skin of my teeth. I was so sure I had missed the actual ceremony because Leela and Ishan were having photos taken, something I associate with the end of the wedding and Bani looked at me and mouthed, "Didi's going to KILL you." So, I was pleasantly surprised when they made their way to the little mandap and sat down to be properly married.
It's been so long since I've cried, I think I might've forgotten how. I felt like crying at many points, when they walked around the fire, when we tossed rose petals on them and cheered, when I watched my friend, who looked so incredibly lovely, turn her head and smile at something. And despite the fact that she's been living abroad for many years and that the two of them have been dating for ages, marriage changes something, it made her look so young and yet so grown up. But she was remarkably composed, only breaking down at the very end when she hugged us all tight, and whispered, "Bye." Humour is my defence mechanism and so I babbled on through everything, even while all the other young girls around me got teary eyed, even when Volt and I broke up, I smiled as broadly as I could, I laughed when she clanged her bangles over my head (legend has it that when one of the dangly things, the name of which I have forgotten, falls on your head, you'll be the next bride) and I knew she was trying extra hard to get one to dislodge over me. But it didn't. Oh well.
I didn't want to worry Leela on her wedding day, so I didn't say anything about the break up or why I had been AWOL for the last couple of hours before I finally rejoined her table. "What's wrong?" she asked, and I shrugged, hoping that through my own unhappiness she could see how much I loved her and how much I wanted her to be happy.
Weddings are a funny time, really, especially if you're at a certain age. They're a time of contemplation, of what-do-I-want-next, of oh-will-this-ever-happen-to-me. They're a time of beginnings, sure, but they're also a time of endings.
When you read this, Leela and Ishan, post your honeymoon and when you return to London, know that my heart brims over with all sorts of congratulations and good wishes that would sound completely cliche if I vocalised them.
Just look at us being all grown up.