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Monday, 29 July 2013

The Bride!

My sister-in-law stepped back with a tired sigh to indicate that she was through with me. Her job done and nothing will keep her away from her filter kaapi anymore. I stood up gingerly and stared into the mirror in front of me. The result was quite satisfactory even to my critical eyes. In fact I am lying. I looked beautiful, almost angelic. Hair combed in a tight plait yet easy enough to breath. The long length of my hair of course deserved the best kunjalam which I adorned now. The parting of the same deftly camouflaged by the netthi chutti and a hint of kunkumam visible just near the forehead. Jasmine and kanakambaram blended nicely along the length of the locks. The vermillion dot on my forehead competing for attention with the kaajal. Earrings with the most elegant pieces of jimikki and the diamond mukkuththi shining on my nose rounded off the angel lookalike. The saree, copper sulphate blue with magenta border in colour embellished with the embroidery skills of the most consummate artisans of Benaras who had possibly spent millions of painstaking hours on this six yards of poetry on silk. Yes, the same one which I had worn on the day of my nischayadhartham, my sagaai. The one for which my husband had supposedly carpet bombed the whole of Benaras to ensure I wore it on the day of our engagement. My long bony fingers and wrists sported the most exquisite platinum bangles that money can buy and the deep maroon shade of mehendi which no money can buy. The shakha pola bangles and feet coloured with alta, the symbols of a Bengali suhaagan, a sumangali being the handiwork of yet another sis-in-law who was based in Kolkata. And standing out among all this bridal finery was the most precious nugget of gold that I wore, my taali. The mangalsutra tied lovingly around my neck by my adoring husband on my wedding muhoortham as I sat on my teary eyed father’s lap. I had one last look at the mirror! Aah! I looked so beautiful that a tear almost escaped its dams. And I was led away to my room where my husband awaited me.

 The divine fragrance of the incense sticks welcomed me into the room possibly reinforcing the belief of the holiness of an Indian wedlock. An artistically decorated UruLi with every possible flower that nature had bestowed on us grabbing the attention on the stand near the bed. Jasmine and rose petals lay spread all over the bed blending into a riot of colours, in a perfect jugalbandi. And gently crushing the petals, my husband lay on the bed, seemingly asleep.  A hint of a smile on his lips. This was the old tease act of his which he had first unleashed upon me on our suhaag raat, our nuptial night. The night when two bodies became one soul.  And almost every other night since then, enjoying it thoroughly as I blushed shyly. Maybe it was his style of reminding me of the night when I became his. Not that I needed any reminding! I remember every moment of that night, as vividly as humanely possible. The night of discovery, of a man, a human, my mate, my husband.

For all his bravado during our infrequent meetings and equally infrequent telecons before our wedding, he turned out to be far more nervous that night than I imagined he could ever be! As the night progressed, I was to find out to my good fortune that I had married the gentlest of men, of very modern thinking despite being part of a very conservative and orthodox family, one bestowed with gender sensitivity and one who believed in empowerment of the women. I have heard of myths about the Indian arranged marriage. How can you love a stranger they often asked? By the time the night wore off, I was in love. Truly, madly, passionately in love with this stranger.  Every day, every minute since then of our fifteen years of wedded life, he has practiced his beliefs to the fullest and I have loved him like no one before or after me can. Even after fifteen years of togetherness and two children later, of good times and difficult ones, of happy togetherness and occasional domestic tiffs, that night never ended for me, not for a moment. Those wonderful, stolen moments of togetherness in a joint family choc-a-bloc with people.  A smile escaped me as I remembered his playful prank all over again.

A gentle knock at my doors woke me up from my ride down the memory lane. God! It was dawn already. It was the time then! My sister-in-law walked in, glanced at my husband lying peacefully on the bed and embraced me tightly as tears welled in both our eyes. She wiped my tears and wiped away my sindoor. She held my hands tightly and crushed my shakha pola bangles. The hands that tied the moondram mudichu (third knot) of my mangalsutra as is the practice, untied all the knots now.  As we parted, her hands reached for the white saree.

“The barber is here!” somebody called out.



Shakha Pola:








Muhoortham:  Auspicious Hour.
Sumangali/Suhaagan: Women whose husband is alive.
Nishchayadhartam/Sagaai : Engagement ceremony.
Suhaag Raat: Nuptial night.
Jugalbandhi: generally associated with music, competition/fusion of two musical instruments/vocalists.
Moondram Mudichu: Third knot of the mangalsutra.


  1. the last paragraph made me shiver... its difficult for every womn to grasp it even in wildest dearm a girl dont wanna see it.. or face such situation bt der is the piont which never made sense to me.. why the life of a women stops der the very momnt her life partner dies... and never understood the ritual of white saree... the haircut d crushing of bangles... why cant a womn wear all such evn after her husbands death... dont wanna hurt religious belifs bt.. all such dnt make sense.. WILL THE MAN RETURN TO HER IF SHE WEARS WHITE SAREE OR STOP EATING (AMISH)NON.VEG ...

    got emotional bt me marriage is a rollercoaster ride till u puke..

  2. Religion has nothing to do with this. The misogynists have masked their attempt to suppress the women with religion. Of course the women is more than just her husband. Hopefully we will see the eradication of such practices just like Sati and hopefully the empowered women and the progressive men will not wait for another Raja Ram Mohun Roy to do it. Thanks for reading.

  3. Oh My God! So beautifully written from a girl's perspective! The 1st para was just beautiful, described so well. Just how every girl would feel when she becomes a bride! The last para felt cold, made a chill run down my spine. //As the night progressed, I was to find out to my good fortune that I had married the gentlest of men, of very modern thinking despite being part of a very conservative and orthodox family, one bestowed with gender sensitivity and one who believed in empowerment of the women.// this line-awesome, but what happens is contradictory to it, not what the husband would wish for his wife. really wish we would get rid of these stupid customs and so something that would make sense and help a girl recover from her husband's death!

  4. Precisely the point. A women should not be 'killed' once her husband dies. It is not just what an individual thinks but what you, me and all of us who make the society practice. Women's empowerment by education and financial independence can stop this practice. Thanks for reading.

  5. Mate, It was quite different from your usual post which are mostly humour, sarcastic types. As the previous comments rightly metioned, description of bride and her emotional state was excellent. I did expected a twist in the tale as it use to be in your most blogs, but this was bloody unexpected one ..though bit depressing. .Good read it was!

  6. Yes! Most people found the twist shocking. But then the issue the post discusses is not less shocking. The fact that such a quarantine of a widow still occurs in this country/society is shameful and deserves a 'shock treatment' to wake the misogynist out of their slumber. Thanks for reading Mate.