The Wedding

I was a lonely five year old when I discovered to my delight that I had cousins in faraway India, and that one was about to get married. My mother chatted excitedly over a twirl-corded home phone to my grandmother of wedding dates and such. Soon it was decided that we would attend my cousin Preethi’s wedding. From that day on, I cherished thoughts of my cousins becoming my best friends and playing tea-party with me.

The drive home from the airport in India was through a tarred road, grey and steaming in the summer heat. I gleefully sat in the back of a rickety ambassador car, savouring the sights and smells. Rows of coconut trees stood like sentinels along the sides of winding streets, their long trunks framing the lush green landscape. Small thatched roof homes, red tiled houses and elite hotels were arranged like blocks in a Tetris game. The air was a fruit flavoured cocktail of jackfruits and mangoes. On arriving at grandma’s house, a young lady with bouncing black curls came rushing towards us and lifted me out of the car. The sunlight daintily danced on her nose stud and her eyes glistened as she exclaimed how fast I had grown. My cousin, Preethi, was much taller than I had imagined her to be and I regretfully realised that she was too big to fit in my tea-party chair.

Soon, however, my thoughts flitted away from tea parties and flew towards wedding celebrations, inspired by the daily bustle of wedding talks and plans. The dusky mornings and evenings were spent with my cousin whom I started to grow quite fond of. We chased dragonflies in the garden and made garlands of jasmine flowers. Soft, orange sun-beams dribbled on napkins of green leaves and blossoming buds, as we listened to grandmother’s hilarious marriage advices while sucking the nectar from hibiscus flowers. Days flicked past like pages of a fairy tale and the magical wedding day dawned.

The wedding hall was a riot of colours. Enchanting melodies floated from the two-reeded nadaswaram ensemble. It gave wings to my heart and feet as I twirled like a peacock in my fabulous bottle-green skirt. The golden borders of my skirt weaved like waves into the green sea of silk as I pranced and danced. A train of girls with lighted lamps greeted and led the groom, Rajesh, to the dais whilst Preethi waited nervously at the entrance of the hall. Her lashes fluttered like butterflies around the auburn pools of her eyes. I found myself gazing at the rippling sari wrapped around her frame. Fringes of blazing gold, cobalt blue and bronze cascades shimmered, dazzling two hundred pairs of eyes as she swept forwards… The nadaswaram maestro’s ringing tunes rose to a crescendo and flowers rained down as Rajesh tied the knot.

The wedding feast that followed was fit for a king. Fluffy, aromatic rice was served on one side of the emerald banana leaf. Chutneys and curries of varied colours and flavours decorated the rest of the green platter like a painter’s palette. Fiery-red blobs of mango, lime and ginger pickles speckled the leaf’s tapering end. The creamy pudding dessert soothed and sweetened two-hundred tongues.

Soon, however, the sweet moments turned bitter when I saw my cousin leave in a car with Rajesh. A little while later, we too drove away and arrived at a houseboat swaying on rippling waters. The deck was sundrenched and fragrant with the polish of cashew resin. Coconut groves bent over the banks to greet us as we glided along the meandering backwaters. Melancholy gripped me as my thoughts sailed to the painful memories of my cousin who was no longer by my side. It was apparent that Rajesh had stolen her. My eyes shed hot tears and I felt my little world crumble before me. In those devastating moments I strung together the beads of my pain into a verse. The off-key strings of an old guitar echoed my pain as I sang:

Rajesh! You’re so mean… You’re taking my cousin a-way…

Why couldn’t, you marry.., some other, girl today…

The next evening at the reception, I scooted over to the newlyweds and sang my composition with animation. Rajesh seemed to be slightly intimidated by my lyrics and rile.

Weeks after the wedding, I was back at my grandma’s home. The house was still and silent though my mind resonated with the sounds of laughter and excitement of the days gone by. Mustard seeds spluttered in a pan as my mom fluttered around in the kitchen, cooking for guests who were expected for lunch. I peered through the curtains as a blue car streaked in through the driveway. On seeing my cousin emerge, I shot off like an arrow towards her. Rajesh stood by us as I hugged her. Her black curls still bounced and her nose stud still gleamed. She still smelt of the jasmine blossoms that we used to string together. The couple stayed till the next day and in that time I learnt how jovial and jolly Rajesh really was. He turned into a child who played tea-party with Preethi and me. I taught him how to make garlands and draw nectar from crimson hibiscuses. Rajesh was not so mean after all…

The next evening, as night inked its darkness over daylight’s horizon, my mother came to bid me goodnight and asked whether I was still upset about Preethi leaving. She received a vigorous head shake in the negative. I mumbled my happy reasoning of how I had not lost one cousin, but gained one more.

The memory of the wedding is still green in my mind. It was not only the first celebration that I was a part of, but also the first time that I felt the pangs of parting from loved ones. Most profoundly, I realised that when you lose something, you gain something from it too.

© Copyright 2015-2016  A Cup of Strawberries

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Published in: on October 2, 2014 at 12:39 PM  Comments (1)  

One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Beautiful.. When you lose something, you gain something from it too..thumbsup to this one.omg waiting for onam to eat a sadya like that one:)

    Like


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