It was yesterday when realization suddenly struck me. Barely a week to go, there’s a wedding in the family and what am I doing, stuck halfway across the world. It sinks in slowly that I will be missing the wedding. Though I knew right from day one when they fixed the date that I would be missing it, I guess I chose to ignore the fact. Veteran escapist that I am, I just pushed the thought away, tucked it into the remotest corner of my mind and refused to let it out. And like all things that you prefer to keep hidden away have the tendency to pop up when you least expect it, this has popped out too. Like my messy kitchen cabinet that one fine day decided it could take no more of my stashaways and burst open right in the middle of a fancy dinner party I threw.If I just sit back and close my eyes for a moment I could be transported right back home.
I can see the utter pandemonium reigning supreme there. I can just hear my bro-in-law yelling at my sis for having forgotten to remind him to invite that cranky old neighbor who fortunately moved to the other end of the country two years ago, while she desperately hunts for that all important telephone directory that contains all the addresses and phone numbers of anybody who is anybody. “I swear —-, that I just left it on the table for a while when I went to answer the door. When I came back it had simply disappeared. It’s eerie,” she griped to me over the phone. Supernatural forces at work I am sure.
And all the other one million little things that were adding chaos to the utter confusion. If the painter came, the carpenter wouldn’t. If both decided to honor the house with their presence they would manage to trample all the newly planted shrubs and plants underfoot. Or the borewell motor that just decided to stop working a week before the wedding. Well, that particular mechanic… he was off to a wedding himself. “Close wedding sir, my wife’s third cousin’s grandfather’s uncle’s neighbor sir. How can I not go? How will I face them again?” of course, he had to attend it.
I can hear my brothers arguing about which color would be best as the stage backdrop at the reception or whether the stage should be decorated with just flower bouquets or whether a couple of bonsais need to be thrown in too, for effect; my elder-bro-in-law quietly and efficiently giving instructions for hall-arrangements-public relations etc. he is a miracle worker who can get things done without any of the accompanying turmoil that usually accompanies the other members in the family; my elder sister is probably busy trying to decide the day’s menu while my sisters in-law are doubtless trying to keep the early, ‘much-too eager- to- help,- but- hindrance- actually-visitors’ entertained. My mom’s probably happily swapping tales with my bro-in-law’s mom. And the kids? My umpteen nephews and nieces? While the guys are probably being chased around on errands, the gals must be sitting around discussing… what else, but what to wear?
Sitting here with my eyes closed I can just imagine them all sitting around the dining table, hear the carefree chatter, the querulous complaints, the hysteric laughter (courtesy my sister – oh, you should hear us three sisters get together, we’d give the three witches of Macbeth a run for their money any day when it comes to cackling), the giggling fits and loud arguments that must be going on. Why I can even smell the jasmine strands they must be tying up, the sambhar bubbling in my sister’s kitchen, and the rasavadas they must be having with tea.
Over the past few weeks every phone call home has been an update on the wedding scenario. Whether it was the trip to RmKV, Thirunelveli for the ‘sari to be given to the bride’ or the trip to Balaramapuram for the ‘mundum neriyathum’, again to be given to the bride, and the groom’s ‘mundu’, or the myriad trips to bhima/alukkas/josco/our family goldsmith for you know whats. Or how exhausted my sis-in-law and sister ended up after having ‘invited’ 80 houses in a single day!
Right now I know the colors of everyone’s sari, both the ones for the wedding at Trivandrum and the reception at Nagercoil, what each person is wearing the day before the wedding and so on and so forth. Right from my sister’s ‘third- layer- of –onion- skin- color’ (which she believes is not too flashy and is befitting to the dignified ‘mother-in-law’ look) to my niece’s ripe mango bordered by apple peel a day after its been peeled. (Note to guys who read this: don’t even go there. You wouldn’t even be able to envision those colors. It’s a gal thing. Unfortunately you lack the gene. That’s why pumpkin and peach are just fruits to you).
I wonder if they’ll rag this couple too, like they did when my eldest nephew got married. Well, things had quietened down and it was time for the bride and groom to retire to their room. All the kids under the able leadership of my husband locked up their room and refused to part with the key unless my nephew shelled out good money. And then started the craziest auction of all. Finally when the price reached Rs.10000 and there still seemed to be no sign of going, going, gone, my nephew decided enough was enough and decided to move on to one of the posh hotels in the city. Even they wouldn’t charge that much for a night’s stay. And best of all they could have some peace and quiet and ‘quality’ time away from the jingbang. Anyway, things were settled then for a modest Rs.2500/- and the money was handed over to my husband, him being the oldest among the ‘kids’.
Anyway, the tale of that money is not over yet. We decided to give it to my sis for safekeeping until such a date when the whole family had gathered together under one roof. Unfortunately, it’s been 7 years and 4 months now and the family has grown bigger by 6 (that particular couple themselves have a couple of kids now) but the day has not yet arrived. Hopefully that will happen sometime soon and when it does, my sis has some serious accounting to do. Seven years worth of interest you see ;)… From what I hear, this nephew, the one getting married now is gearing up for all eventualities. With a crazy family like ours, you can never be sure.
And why am I missing the wedding or rather weddings (because a couple of months later, my niece is getting married too). I miss my nephew’s because my daughter has exams just then, vacation does not start yet. And my niece? She’s getting married a week after my kids’ school reopens after summer vacation. Methinks I smell a strong conspiracy. My bro and my sis, along with the numerous planets and stars in their ascents and descents ruling and lording it over their respective houses, have hatched a sinister plot to keep me away. How come they couldn’t find a date to accommodate me otherwise? Chechi and chetta dears, you have some serious answering to do.
I know we’re going to be sorely missed and when you all pose for that big family photo on June 4th, there’s going to be a big void that only the four of us can fill and I know what each one of you will be thinking at that moment,-“Wish they were here!”
It ain’t any different when you think about it, really.