That was my first get-together party in a foreign land, just two weeks after I had joined my husband ,who had left me two weeks after our marriage. That knowing each other stage in an arranged marriage that turns butterflies in to your stomach at the turn of every event, most females reading this, I hope, are familiar with. And on top of that was the turmoil and the nervousness of how to make that first public appearance as an important person- until marriage a girl is unimportant in the Indian culture- Now things are changing I know. Says like, first appearance is the best appearance; in what you do for the first time is concealed the destiny of your entire life; if the first thing you see on a day is not auspicious you will be riddled with misfortunes for the entire day began to ring in my ears from nowhere. Oh those crazy Indian concepts that are intended to saddle you to the tradition are amazing.
My present incredulity about all those came through all my years of learning and thinking. The way I was immersed in all those things then, make me truly embarrassed now.
The first and the foremost thing that popped into my mind was how to choose the appropriate sari. At home nobody faces such a dilemma. But poor me, far removed from home, having no girl-friends in the vicinity to ask for an opinion, I felt I was truly tested by the forces of destiny.
While letting me know the travel conditions, one thing my husband stressed was that I should try to accommodate all my favorite saris and the accessories within the 20 kg mass (people say weight) that was allowed in the air carrier. He added that no sari was available where he worked means I had to learn how to economize on my saris or I should say goodbye to the practice of buying the sari in the latest design to appear at birth day party, a wedding or anything like that.
My wedding sari alone came up to 4 kg. How torturous it was to discard all my old but favorite saris for the weight not to exceed 16 kg.
Finally, I settled with one in turquoise with a brown boarder. There was not even a fly to ask for an opinion when I wore it as a trial. The only fly around was my husband and that fly i did no trust very much with such a question, for many reasons. No1, I did not want to show him that I was nervous about my appearance at the party and wanted to put up an image that I was the super cooler, confident, easy-going, mature, sensible lady on earth. 2. This is the most important one; I was ambivalent about his sense of fashion. I had noticed that the dress he wore on the day he came to collect me, he wore for another three days. And finally I had to intervene by dropping it in the wash basket. (If I hadn’t?) 3. Yet he showed an air of overconfidence on his style and fashion. He had mentioned that it was hypocrisy to be known for the dress one wears rather than how he can conduct the business of life. I did not understand anything he meant.
Though I tried hard to conceal my turmoil, it seemed he had picked up a bit of it. In an attempt to console me, he said, like a fashion guru, ‘need not worry, they are all very nice people’. He meant the people who had invited us for the party.
That was a nice piece; it elevated my confidence in him that he did care for me. But my not- so-straight, introvert mind tried to squeeze out a negative point out of what he said after a while. Did he mean that they are all nice, but not me.
The turmoil of a newly wed is not that easy. The real issue was that there was very little communication between us for the sake of knowing each other.
Days passed by. On the day of the party, early morning he gazed at his diary with an air of confusion.
‘I have a meeting to attend this evening’. He told me after a while. He lectured in a college. It was a residential one, meant, his responsibilities, as a lecturer did not end by classroom teaching. ‘Learners are going on a sports trip. I may have to accompany them. This meeting is all about that. So I cannot take leave’
Means, no going for the party, I thought,
Then he said in an air of a problem-solver, ‘I shall drop you early and I will come to the party once the meeting was over.
When would the meeting be over’ I had only thought of asking that.
So I had to go alone for the party. The venue was a home that looked like a mansion, remnant of the colonial extravaganza.
The lady and the man, Mrs and Mr.Mohan, of the house came out to greet us ceremoniously; a lean, tall, simple looking man in his forties and a short, plump sweet lady, his wife. My husband explained to both of them about the meeting and that he had forgotten to mention him when the invitation came, he being the coordinator of the party. By the time he explained his contingency plan he rode off in an air of confidence, that now I am no more a bachelor.
Mrs. Mohan ushered me inside the house. She kept a meaningful smile on her face, as though telling me, ‘oh girl, you have started getting your share of these men’s ways of doing things’.
She was busy making the final touches in the cooking. When I went to the kitchen to know whether she needed any help, she asked me not to spoil my sari. Then she took me to one of their bedrooms, opened up her wedding album and asked her children to help me. After finding me comfortable with the children she went back to the kitchen. I paged through the album, and the children introduced the unknown people in it to me. Time went by. I slowly began to feel at home.
By 7, people started arriving. In another half an hour all guests had arrived, except my husband. Oh! Where is he? What meeting now? Hey he should not have left you here alone! He should learn how to manage his family life! When such jokes started pouring in from the ladies, the man of the house came to my rescue. He made a public announcement about the reasons why Mr. R our main guest was not there, and that he would be joining us in any moment.
‘No, that is not fair, he cannot leave his wife lone at this time’ it came from Mrs.M the most talkative and the most boisterous among the group. And all laughed. I thought by then that all of them were passing a sympathetic look in my direction.
‘Has he forgotten that his madam is here’ somebody raised that doubt and giggled.
‘Any way by bed time he will remember’. I know they were all jokes. Just to enliven the party time. A few of the lady characters were very famous for that. I came to know all those later. But then, all their sounded very embarrassing to me. I feared, that was the worst start of my life, and hence everything from then on would be following that way.
By eight o clock, he was not yet in the vicinity. I am taking about a time when there was very little phone connections available in places. His college had a phone in the principal’s office. They managed to make a call, but with no response. The meeting is in the staff room, far away from the office room, somebody informed.
Then somebody volunteered to drive to our place in search of him. By the time they were about to strike it, his motor bike made a turn in at the gate.
I heard him repeating about his sports trip and so on to the people who were outside.
Then he came in, all the ladies swarmed around him making funny comments about how he got late. And that I was crying there all that time without seeing him and I thought that he had forgotten me. I could not stand the embarrassment so I decided to go hide in the toilet.
Until the clamoring in the sitting room was over, I stayed in the toilet. When I came out I I saw my husband eagerly looking for me.
Oh My God! It was then I got the real fun. He came with the same shirt and trousers he wore to the meeting and he had been wearing that set for the past two days.
I thought what about the suit I took out of his wardrobe, pressed and kept on the bed side so that there was no chance for him to forget that.
I noticed that all male guests were in suit, except him. But he was very jovial, as though he had not even taken note that only he had no suit on. As time went by, I began to loose tension. I began to slowly realize in my life that he was a man of queer taste and personality and that was how he was, and I need not be bothered much about those things. Gradually I realized the meaning of what he said, one need not be known for the dress she wears but how she can conduct the business of life.
This is a post to the The ''Just Married, Please Excuse'' Contest