The guests arrive, one by one. The mellifluous notes from the shehnai waft into your room. The butterflies in your stomach flutter at a frenzied pace. But that doesn’t bother you. This is the day you have been waiting for.
You hark back to the day he sauntered into your life. Oxford Bookstore, Park Street. You had just picked up Ulysses. You were leafing through its pages when you froze. Someone was behind you. Your heart skipped a beat as you turned around. He smiled at you, and you went weak in the knees. But it was his line that drew you instantly towards him. I thought I was the only relic who relished this.
Over countless cups of coffee in Barista, you discussed Marxism with him. You felt like the center of his universe when he called you his Bengali biplobi. You loved how the tomato sauce oozed down his lips, caressing his stubble, as he bit into that juicy mutton roll at a noisy Nizam’s. When he put his arm around your shoulder, laughing at your silly jokes, your heartbeats reached a crescendo. You wanted more. When he kissed you at your doorstep, you responded with equal fervour.
You smile as you think of your trips. Nestled against him in the hotel bed, you knew he was special.
A drop of tear trickles down your eye. Baba didn’t speak to you for a month. It was maa who asked you to follow your heart. And you did. When he proposed to you in his kitchen, you giggled. Who says I do while stirring the maacher jhol? You did.
Somewhere you hear baba doling out instructions to the caterer. It’s been six months since Bijoyadashami, but it seems like only yesterday. After bidding adieu to the Goddess, he hugged you. I want to meet him, he winked at you.
They adored him. His Punjabi swag, coupled with a promise to cook butter chicken for them, bowled them over. You wished you could do the same to his parents. But you had to be patient.
“Look! The baraat has arrived,” a girl squeals. You peep out of the window. He looks dapper in his maroon sherwani. The sehra covers his face, but you know his eyes search for you. A lump forms in your throat when you see his parents dancing in a way so unlike the boisterous Punjabis. How you wish they could accept you with genuine happiness. It is then he looks up.
You know he will be with you in happy times. He will hold your hand as you cross the hurdles one by one. You wave at him and amble to the mirror. It’s your day, you whisper. You hear your name being called out. You run your hand over your beard. Adjusting the pleats of your silk dhoti one last time, you exit the room.
This #PrideMonth, may we eradicate our prejudices and accept love in its purest form.
Saptapadi – The seven steps, the most important rite in a Hindu wedding, with Agni (the fire) as the witness
Shehnai – Musical instrument playing in Bengali & North Indian weddings
Biplobi – Revolutionary
Nizam’s – Eatery dating back to 1937, probably one of the original sources of kathi rolls
Maacher Jhol – Bengali style fish curry
Bijoyadashami – Last day of Durga Puja
Baraat – Celebratory wedding procession accompanying the groom
Sherwani – A knee-length coat, buttoned to the neck.
Sehra – Headdress worn by grooms
Dhoti – Garment tied around the waist, worn by men