I first read about Yashodhara Lal’s new book “Just Married Please Excuse” on my friend MM‘s page, saw there was a contest happening, thought “Hmmm…!” and moved on. (Yes, I really have monosyllabic monologues. In monotones. With monolithic points of view. In fact the only mono I don’t like is this. All hail the Diva of Digression.)
Four days and some hours later, right after I had honked on about being hitched a full 21 months……..
(*pause for applause*)
(Thank you, thank you!)
……..I recalled a little nugget of information. I was once just-married!
(Yashodhara, do people with multiple marriages have a better shot at winning? Are you looking at me funny? Is she?)
Anyhoo, here’s my story, more in solidarity with the other institutionalized folks, because I may be disqualified on the basis of timing: It happens on my wedding day, but half of it occurs an hour before I signed my singledom away.
But don’t be like me. Share your legally married tale and you may just win the book I probably won’t and the meal at Mamagoto that I definitely won’t . You’re welcome.
One of the unforgettable people at my wedding was my dress-up lady. I think her name was Aban, although I suspect she’d just as willingly respond to George, such a darling space-cadet was she. I had hired her on the basis of two criteria:
1) She had to be Parsi. So she could drape my very white, very lacy, very Parsi wedding saree the right Parsi way: Gujarati style, with the pallu longer and pointed at the knee, and pinned together with a very Parsi pearl wreath brooch. Yes, I’m aware there are 5 Parsis in this paragraph. Make population jokes at your own risk.
2) She had to make me up like I wasn’t wearing more than a smidgen of make-up. Given that it was a daytime affair, I was not going to look like those ghastly fuchsia-faced brides that could star in The Revenge of the Make-up Lady. I was NOT interested in looking fairer than my normal yellow, thank you very much. And being of one blood and color, Her and I, we looked deep into each other’s eyes and saw a glimmer of understanding.
So things were going swimmingly, and there I was, being draped and dolled-up, with my BFF plying me with sips of water and holding my hand like she’d never let it go. Our lady Aban and her wordless assistant, yet another Parsi lady, expertly trotted along, being their classic quirky selves and doling out the funnies, Bawa-style, until I looked up to face the mirror and this is what I saw:
I saw me. A prettier version, yes, but all me. My skin, the same color, albeit with a beautiful glow that much impressed me, my glasses–buddies and guides since the age of 9– perched firmly on my nose, my hair naturally straight and cascading down my back, just the way the Boy loves it, with the concession of two white flowers pinned behind the ear, nails French-manicured and my toes a pastel pink. Diamonds and pearls glinted around my neck and earlobes, my grandmother’s ring comfortingly grasped my finger, and I was every inch the Parsi bride of my non-dreams. (Yup, never dreamed about my wedding day growing up–so sue me.)
Slipping into my strappy silver kitten heels, I was all set to proceed, when Aban had one more idea.
“Wait, wait!” she bustled.
And produced a coconut from the depths of her bag.
“I bought this for you. From the station this morning. Carry it with you,” she said, and pressed it into my hands.
You think I’m eloquent, don’t you? Know that I stared at her blankly.
“Yes! A coconut!”
“I see that, but why?”
“Arre, chhokri, just carry it!”
“And then what?”
“When your mother-in-law greets you at the entrance, give it to her.”
“You want me to give his mother a coconut?”
“Arre haan! You don’t know. Hindoos do these things.”
“Hindus want coconuts from their almost daughters-in-law?”
The Bohri BFF had no clue either, but ‘South Indian’ and ‘coconuts’ seemed to join some dots in her head. No pun intended.
“Are you sure it’s a custom?” I insisted, now wondering if it was something important the Boy had forgotten to mention.
“Chaal aveh, you’re getting late!” Aban commanded, hugged me generously, and I was on my way to the waiting car, with the Boy’s family chauffer beaming like it was his wedding day.
On arrival at the venue, my soon-to-be mother-in-law greeted me at the door. Thanking her for the stunning orchid arch and other floral arrangements she had made, I handed over the coconut, was swept up among cousins and friends, and forgot all about the brown, husky topic of conversation from a little while ago.
Somewhere amidst much clapping, hooting, hugging, applause, signing, ring-slipping, rose-garlanding, kissing, champagne-toasting, leg-pulling and general chaos, we became spouses, and off everyone went for our celebratory lunch. (Although it must be said for the sake of historical accuracy that it was only after the Parsi wedding feast at the reception party that I felt truly hitched.)
At lunch, I overheard my newly minted ma-in-law chatting with her close friend, a dear Punjabi lady I’ve come to be quite fond of. And here’s how the conversation went:
“Achha, you got a coconut when OJ came in, what was that for?”
“Oh it must be a Parsi tradition, she should also feel like her customs are included, na?”
“Haan haan, of course!”
And with that, I returned to my plate of tawa fish and generic chicken and ROFLed in my head.
I don’t quite know what became of the worthy coconut; perhaps it found itself in a curry the next day, but it did show me an instance of my ma-in-law’s inclusiveness, and for that–in addition to the laugh we later shared over it–I am grateful.