I sang a happy note while my hands were busy packing. For the next couple of weeks I would be with my family back home in India and I was so glad. Here yes we had made a home but missed India. The joys of walking on the streets, the informality everything.
‘See, how happy she is to be going to her maayka(parental home)’, that was my hubby talking to my daughter Sheena. ‘ yes, she will be pampered to the core by Aajo and mamamma ( grandfather and grandmother)’, Sheena said. I smiled at her.
Yes, parents do that to you. They take care of you like a princess even though you have advanced to middle age.
‘But amma why these heavy sarees, it’s summer isn’t it?’, she asked to the kanjeevarams that I was packing.
‘You forgot. Dileep is getting married’, I said accusingly.
Dileep, my cousin’s son was getting married and I was so excited about it. The whole family would be getting together after so many years.
Two weeks later we were getting ready to go for Dileep’s sangeet. I picked up one saree. My mother came in and asked, Is this what you will be wearing’. I nodded a yes. She appeared unhappy. I said, ‘It looks good on me’.
‘But this if ‘old-fashioned’. Now its embroidery and crystals which are in vogue……See Priya I know you live far off and you don’t know changing fashions here….’.
‘Its okay Amma’, I will wear these and for tomorrow maybe I will borrow something from akka or vanhi (sister-in-law)’, I said.
Alright then,’ she said and then after a minute, ‘Priya, a lot of things are different now, don’t get startled and get upset’.
‘Meaning’, I asked
‘You will come to know’, she said.
Traditionally on the night prior to the marriage, both he parties will have a kolmbe jawan in their respective places. Kolmbe jawan literally means sambar meal. There would be a simple meal of sambar, rice, some side dish like kooka upkari (chinese potato stir fry), papad, pickle and a sweet. But nowadays there is a sangeet. I thought it must be an occasion where people would sing and maybe shake a leg or two.
But I was amazed. The whole hall was decorated like it is for a marriage or any other function. People wore trendy clothes, trendy meaning well trendy. There were backless gowns, halter necks and what not.
Then the orchestra began. And it began with ‘Mere hothon ko’, the famous fevicol song in which the bride danced and my eyes popped out. I mean what was this. Her would be mother in law looked on in pride and looked here and there as if to tell everyone that see how talented she is. And so the show progressed to the groom giving an item next and so on. The able, the not so able, the heavy and the light, all joined in and I was scared that the stage might fall.
My eyes became wider and wider. Amma gave me a “I told you so” look.
By the time the music stopped everyone had pain in their limbs, I had pain in my heart.
The next day dawned, I dragged myself to get ready. My vanhi brought some sarees for me to select. I refused. I was going to wear what I had and what I was comfortable with. The hall was empty in the morning. The rituals went on, Sheen kept on asking me questions and I kept on answering them. Some other children came and sat beside us. One of them said, ‘Mayi you stay so far and still you know so much of all these, my mom does not even know half of what you just told us’
The hall was slowly getting corded. By the time the kanyadaan was about to happen there was an avalanche of people. As soon as it was over, the people disappeared ……to eat.
It was quite some time later that we went for our lunch. I wanted to wait, to eat with the groom and bride’s family. It would have been nice then. The bride would serve a little to all of us, then the bride would feed a ladoo to the groom and vice versa. But Sheena was hungry and she would not eat without me by her side.
So we three went. There were different stalls. One was traditional, one Italian,one North Indian and so on. ‘Pastaaa’, Sheena cried and ran off. Me and hubby looked at each other and then he pulled me to the section where in food was served on banana leaves and people sat cross-legged and ate.