I was getting ready for the evening, tunelessly humming a popular song. I was concentrating on what to choose to wear. I purposely wanted to appear very non-formal. Finally, I settled on a faded light blue ‘abused’ pair of jeans and a striped black full arm t-shirt. I deliberately accessorized it with a weird ‘un-matching’ red scarf and off-color casual shoes.
Thus clothed, and convinced it was casual enough that I could be mistaken for someone out for the night with friends, I stepped out to attend the wedding reception of a very special person. He would see the humor in my clothes.
I wanted to reach the reception venue well ahead of time to get a few minutes alone with the bride and the groom. Oh! How I hated thinking of him that way? How I wish I was standing there next to him?
I thumbed the invitation to look for the ‘landmark’ information. The invitation was pretentious to the core. Should have been her choosing! Surely he would not have chosen such fancy and gaudy prints. If not anything, he had good taste.
Finally after many twists and turns I reached the party-hall. The board at the entrance announced the details. I entered the heavily decorated room. Though it was quarter past the time mentioned in the invite the celebrations had not started. On enquiring I was informed that the couple had not yet arrived. So, I settled myself in a seat far away from the blaring ‘light music' troupe that was yelling some supposedly popular songs.
The air was too warm inside. I loosened the scarf around my neck. I remembered the scarf only too well. He had gifted it to me, on a very significant occasion, kind of like a closing-a-deal thing. But that was all past, slotted to be forgotten, forbidden to be remembered.
We were together, happily, for a few years. It was wonderful. We never imagined that we could be separated. But it happened. We parted the moment he informed me of the alliance and the arrangement to marry her. How could he forget the time we spent together and go away to marry someone else, some stranger? I pleaded, begged and even threatened, to stop him from committing to her. But he did it anyway. With good reason, I hoped. He explained about his family and pressure and other stuffs which forced him to choose that marriage.
After weeks of moaning, mourning and tantrums, I was back to sanity. At least that was what I was letting the world know. The fact that he had chosen her, chosen her over me, pained me badly. I had no choice but had to get used to that fact. We met again, talked, and slowly things got normal as it could. We were back together as friends and just. I know it was not right. But I let it, for the simple reason of not being able to stay away from him. He, it seemed to me, encouraged it too. My continued presence even after his engagement, as expected, did not raise any suspicion. Such being the nature of our secret!
Those he gave as reasons when he invited me to his wedding. But I intentionally did not want to attend the ceremony for I didn’t imagine I could bear it. Though I pretended things were fine I could not stand to witness him becoming someone else’s and hear him reciting promising vows. It would haunt me for a long time, and such I had many other nightmares to care for already.
Time seemed to tick very slowly as I was in and out of my reverie. I got curious. What need for him to visit a Beauty-Salon? Why would he need make-up and grooming? He would look his best as it were and she wouldn’t look half as nice and half as worthy of him, I thought. I was also curious on how he would introduce me to her.
But wasn’t it true form of love to wish that your loved one’s happy with whoever they were with?
Finally the couple made an entrance, to raucous singing from the troupe, he in a faded pink Sherwani and she in a gaudy designer sari. He looked positively lovely. She looked like she would drip a kilo of oil by the time the functions would wind up.
He was holding her hands and was whispering something in her ears as they walked on to the dais. Cameras clicked madly trying to capture the bride blush. I would have done a better job faking it.
He saw me seated in the third row and waved. That was my cue. A queue had already formed to wish the couple. I joined the insanely slow processes of the march up the dais, listening to everyone’s opinion on the wedding. As I neared the end of the queue and was next in line to step into the limelight, he winked at me. I felt myself slipping into an involuntary smile, which I had promised I wouldn’t present him.
There was that one guy who was regulating our line. He would let a guest get near the couple and would give a meaningful look toward the professional cameraman. If even after the photo-op when the guest was not rushing to dinner, that person would significantly clear his throat, step forward to remove the gifts the guest had laid in the hands of the bride or the groom and would push the next-in-line-to-wish person to step forward.
Finally, I shook hands with the groom and wished the bride a happy and content married life. As I was talking to them, I heard a veiled cough from behind. A pair of hands came into view to remove the gift I normally should have given the couple. Finding none, he verbally asked the photo guy to hurry things along.
The photographer then dully looked at me and said, ‘Sir, neenga konjam Mapillai sidela nillunga!’