I always liked weddings.
Mind you, not as a main performer. Me, I never liked being that much the center of the attention. People may tell you otherwise, but don’t believe it. As an uncharitable friend put it, "When he went to a funeral, he wanted to be the corpse". It is totally untrue!! I just would love to be the minister or may be the care taker, whom everybody has to ask something.
Coming back to weddings, as I said, I don’t like being the center of attention. I was an uncomfortable groom, and I would have been much more uncomfortable bride. I prefer to be star attraction, only unofficially.
This dream of mine almost never came true when I was young. I mean, all these weddings were way past midnight, as though they were PG-13 affairs, and being under thirteen, I always fell asleep at the big moment. I never got to see the ceremony in its entirety, or even the essential part of the set-up.
It all changed one day, well, actually one night. That evening, I was dragged off my bed, carried off by my mother and dumped on the wedding pedestal next to the bride. All this, when I was just ten. I am sure some child psychologists say such events could result in life-long trauma. As far I could see, it resulted in short-term embarrassment and long-term love of weddings.
It all started like this. There was this girl, roughly 18 years of age who lived in the opposite house in our village, Sowpadu. She was being married off, so I was told, and I started participating in the preparations full gusto. It mostly involved eating cashews from the kitchen and pretending to do lots of work. Then without a full explanation of my duties I was made to agree to serve as a _tODi peLli koDuku_ for her. Not that I didn’t like her, but long after I thought I discharged my duties, which were going to the temple etc, I was woken up from my sleep, and made to sit next to her and do some puja. I started protesting but nobody let me go. Somebody even sought to bribe me with a five rupee note, which temporarily made me quiet. Eventually though, in that daze, I started wondering.
"What if I am really being married? What would the guys think of me? Won’t they make fun of me? Why, I would be practically the only boy with a wife in the whole school!! Can I still live in my house? Boy, this is such a bummer!
May be it is not such a bad thing. She is certainly stronger than any of my classmates — that is sure to count to something when they make fun of me! May be I can run to her house whenever they make some goodies there! She is not too good at studies, but I am sure she can do my homework!!"
Just as I was reconciling, and even started looking at the positive aspects of my being married off to her, the ceremony ended. They unceremoniously carried me off to my bed and married her off to the real groom.
And the only thing I got out of this wedding was that five rupee note. Also, may be my love of weddings, and fear/fascination of being there on the wedding pedestal myself. As I say, I love weddings. Not as a central figure though. Well, may be once or twice. And, that’s it.
Apr 11, 1994.