21st of November 2015
It was the eve of the wedding, and as much as I envisioned myself being a nervous wreck, I was strangely calm. It was almost as if the next day was going to be like any other Sunday, instead of it being the day that would change my whole life as I knew it. The day I was going to get married. With my mom and brother out running errands, I had the house to myself. I was around the house, from room to room, soaking in the flood of memories that ran through my mind. It was the last night I was going to live in the house as just my parent’s daughter. While I would always be my parent’s girl, the next day would bring with it a new identity as someone’s wife and with it, a whole host of responsibilities and expectations.
I gazed at the picture of my dad, hanging by the kitchen wall, and thought about how different things would be had he been around. I allowed myself the rare indulgence of speaking to his photograph, something that I usually refrain from, simply because it made me feel weak, and vulnerable.
I ventured into the prayer room. I had spent many hours in there, pouring out my woes, and thanking God for my many blessings. It was the one room in the house I felt entirely peaceful in. I knew I was going to miss this room the most, and vowed to myself that I would create a space just like this in my new home.
I walked through the living room, where the decorations from the bangle ceremony looked oddly out of place. It was the first happy occasion in this house since we had moved in, and I wasn’t used to seeing the house adorned. As I sat in the regal-looking chair, it finally sunk in, that I was no longer going to be living in that house. I held back tears that had thus far evaded me. I had no idea why I was so afraid of being emotional. Whenever someone asked me if I was sad about leaving my parent’s home and getting married, I always scoffed at them, and said no, and that I was happy to be getting married. But that moment, when I was all alone, dealing with a myriad of emotions, I thought I might be coming close to understanding what everyone was on about.
The doorbell rang, and I sprang up to answer it, thankful for the distraction. It was my best friend. She had come to spend the night, to keep me company, and to keep me from running away should I have cold feet. We spent the next hour talking about the fact that I was having what could only be described as an out of body experience. The moment I had been dreaming about for years was finally here, and yet there I was, discussing it as if it was happening to someone else, instead of being hyper and screaming for joy. Perhaps, it was the movies? Deluding us and creating unreal expectations of how we ought to feel?
22nd November 2015.
It was about 6.30am in the morning. I had woken up at an ungodly hour, and had my wedding face painted on by my makeup artist. I kept alternating between not recognising myself, and feeling that every woman should always feel and look the way I did that morning, beautiful, and radiating so much happiness that it was almost a tangible presence in the room. I looked calm, but I was anything but. I couldn’t help but wonder what my husband-to-be was doing that very moment, and suddenly, I could wait for the wedding to be over, to be called Mrs N.
We reached the temple in 3 seconds. It was 30 minutes I was told, but it sure felt like 3 seconds. My entire family on my mother’s side was waiting outside the temple, but I searched out for the one person I wanted to see. My grandmother. My grandmother is really old, and very fragile. Every time I visited her, her one wish was for me to get married, and she always made sure to shower me with her blessings that I would find a good man who would take care of me. In the deepest recesses of my heart, I always harboured the fear that she wouldn’t be around when I eventually did get married. It was therefore a blessing of the highest order to be able to catch her eye, and to see her smile contently.
I was made to wait in the dressing room behind the stage, and as I waited, my heart started palpitating and I couldn’t control the jitters. I couldn’t believe it. I had had weeks and months to freak out, and I chose to do it minutes before the wedding ceremony. It was always as though my heart and brain decided to gang up and betray me in the worst way possible. It helped though, to have all my loved ones visit me and give me moral support. I felt so much of love on that day. I never knew I deserved that much of love, but I do know that I am still figuring out how to thank these people. From my family members, to my bridesmaids, to my friends, to N’s friends (whom I have come to treat as my own), they all played a part in trying to calm me down.
Before long, I heard the sound of the Chenda Melam (traditional Kerala percussion instrument), signalling the arrival of the groom, MY groom to the stage. I must have stopped breathing for abit because when my respiratory system finally started to work again, I was fully aware of gasping for breath like a dying fish. Suddenly, someone came in to the room and said it was my turn to come out. And I knew something was wrong. It was far too soon. When we had spoken to the priest, he clearly said there would be at least 20 mins between N arriving, and me needing to go up on stage. I tried to reassure myself that perhaps I had lost track of time. We made our way down a secret stairway, so that we could make our grand entrance into the hall. As I went down the stairs, I couldn’t shake away the feeling that we were going up too fast. The drums started sounding, and we made our way up. As we walked up, I saw the confused expression on the faces of some of our friends who were helping us, and I knew we had gone up too soon.
The walk-in music couldn’t start on time, and I felt like I was going to faint from nervousness. I had dreamt of this walk-in since forever. I had spent weeks choosing the walk-in song. I had spent hours practicing my smile and the way I would hold my bouquet in front of the mirror. None of that was happening and I didn’t know what to do. Miraculously, the song that I had painstakingly chosen suddenly came on midway through the way in. I snuck a glance up at the stage, and saw N smiling at me, with so so so much of love, and suddenly none of it mattered. I forgot to worry about the walk-in. I forgot to care about whether the hall seemed full (one of my biggest worries since it was a morning wedding). I forgot to see if the deco was what I wanted. All that mattered, in that one moment of clarity, was that I had made the right decision in choosing who I wanted to marry, and that was the most important decision I would have had to make. That and where to cater the food from of course. Oh and my saree too. Oh and…ok never mind.
I sat down next to him, and promptly chose that moment to forget all the Tamil I knew, which meant that the priest had to repeat every instruction, sometimes more than twice. He gave Naren vaguely sympathetic looks, presumably sympathising with him for having to living with someone so clueless. And then, before I knew it, the Thali was around my neck. I wish I could say more about those momentous few minutes, but any further elaboration would be a lie. I honestly, for the life of me, cannot remember anything. The one thing I will forever remember of course, is the expression the faces of everyone around me. My family, my friends, and of course, the man who just married me. Everyone was so incredibly happy for me, for us.
And with that, the weight I had been carrying around for the past year (since wedding preparations started) just melted away, and I could finally bask in the happiness of everyone around us.
Did I cry at all?
I thought I would, when we had to go back to my parent’s house, and make our way to our new place from there. I honestly think it is a cruel tradition. It dramatizes the emotional upheaval the girl has to undergo by leaving her parents’ house by making an event out of it. But funnily, I was rather put together and calm. Perhaps because we had just had a gate crashing type event where the bridesmaids made the groomsmen dance before he could enter the house (sorry guys!).
I did cry though, when N and I were finally alone in our new home. Everyone had left, the house was extremely quiet, and after a day of nothing but loud, exuberant sounds, the silence was deafening. And at that moment, when I was in N’s arms, I finally broke down and cried. I cried because I was going to miss living in my home so much. I cried for the silliest of things, over the fact that my mom would no longer be making for me my favourite tea in the morning. Over the fact that she would no longer be there at home when I got home after a long day of work, for me to talk to. But through all of those tears, I can safely say that that was the most perfect day of my life, and all went well, walk-in saga none withstanding, because it was the day I married the person I was meant to be with. And wore a gorgeous saree…and…ok nevermind.