Wednesday, November 4, 2009

On Beholding a Night of Solemnities

Really, I should be grading, or finishing my latest short story, or beginning a new poem. But my mind keeps skittering away, so I guess my "work" shall have to await my discombobulated brain's leisure.

I am in the middle of packing for a weekend away, to attend a wedding. We have our finery ironed and packed, the accessories boxed and arranged, and only the trivia to touch upon before we leave on our road trip. I have planned to prep my daughter on the road, about proper, expected behaviour; I have remembered to pack back up fine clothing in case our first choices don't work out; I have also taken my entire collection of earrings and bangles in case someone else needs just the right shade of periwinkle or electric blue.

I am very excited, of course, at the prospect of meeting my family, dressing up, and celebrating not just a festival, but an official addition to our tribe! And even though I packed my outfits after much deliberation and discussion, I know I won't really care what I look like, an odd attitude towards an occasion sure to result in photographs. It's true, though! My excitement about attending this wedding is one of the gifts my present, older self does not share with my 21 year old self, with whom I am in constant comparison.

I remember hating weddings when I was younger. Instead of celebrations, these were obligations to be squeezed in a madly busy schedule; they were just so numerous that during the wedding season (after the monsoons and Diwali), we sometimes attended at least a couple in any given week. I remember I did my best to plead off, and on more than one occasion, even offered to wash all the dishes, a chore I hate to this day.

I also remember preferring to attend receptions rather than the actual ceremonies (which were slotted around noon), since the ceremonial fire made my eyes water and I invariably developed a headache in the middle of the day, what with the monotonous, incomprehensible intonations of the priests, the extra-spicy, extra-oily food, and the constant longing to be done here so I could get on with my day. The people I usually met during these day-weddings were retired, curious relatives, whom I was to bow to, and to whom individually and smilingly, I was asked to report and defend my current and past academic pursuits and interests, as well as extra-curricular activities that would reflect well on my up-bringing and family background.

The receptions were usually held in the evenings, in less crowded spaces, and there was enough time and breathing air to actually socialize against a background of instrumental music. The bride and groom were usually ignored, distant beings to be spared a glance and forgotten, worth a moment's notice of a handshake and picture, excuses, merely, to spend a few hours in a picturesque locale, to dress up but not uncomfortably so, and to indulge in a nice dinner with friends sometimes too busy to meet elsewhere, or during the day.

However, this anticipated wedding is going to be different. Since I am much older, and by that corollary, more attuned to the universe, I anticipate an awareness of a cosmic union, which the gods themselves attend to bless a human event. Also, I hope to see sheer magic since I shall get to see this wedding through the eyes of my daughter, for whom weddings are a rarity, making her immune to the boredom I felt when I was her age and told to get ready to attend one.

Like Diwali celebrations, Navratri nights, my beach twilight, and well-loved texts, then, I expect that attending this event shall anchor me, affirm my designation in a universe that constantly demands reconstruction of the self, and present a perch on a threshold of eternity as I witness a ritual older than five millenia, along with other generations of my tribe to provide a sense of continuity and rightful belonging.

4 comments:

  1. Safe travels--I hope it's wonderful!

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  2. It is the human condition to seek a place where we belong... and sometimes it may not be the place where we believe we should be. Great piece of work.

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  3. I agree. Thank you for visiting. I am so glad you enjoyed it. This gives me more incentive to keep up this space! Thanks.

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  4. I hope you, and your sanity, survived the wedding :-)

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