December 14, 2018 10:25 AM NPT
By: Aditi Sharma
It’s the most dreaded season of the year – the season of weddings. This is when you have to meet people you don’t want to meet, smile when you feel like tearing your hair out and eat so much oily food that you have to go on a month-long detox diet once it’s over. I might be exaggerating here but the actual truth isn’t that far off either. Weddings bring out the worst in me. It’s when I shrivel up from the inside and feel really inadequate too.
Winter weddings are even worse. Just when you want to curl up and stay home with a good book and a hot cup of coffee after a long day at work, you have to dress up (often in clothes that do nothing to shield the cold) and go out. If you dare put on a coat or layer up in sweaters and shawls, you risk being the ‘unfashionable’ one. You basically have no option but to wear summer clothes in the dead of winter and hope the party is indoors. It usually isn’t. And even if it is, the indoor section will be stiflingly hot with too many people crammed in for warmth that you will decide to brace the cold instead.
Another thing I don’t like about weddings is the fact that you have to meet the same people over and over again because there are multiple functions. And to make matters worse, we have recently taken up incorporating functions like sangeet, bachelor’s party, and even pre-wedding parties (really now!) into an already elaborate affair. At all these functions, you meet the same people where you will talk about everything under the sun and still run out of topics when there are still two or more functions to go. After that, it’s awkward smiles and sighs as your limbs freeze till it’s time to line up at the buffet table.
I recently attended one of the preliminary events of a cousin’s wedding and all my extended family members could talk about was the many pieces of jewelry they had bought specifically for this wedding. Many were showing off their newly acquired diamond rings and bangles, one was boasting about the rubies she bought during her recent trip to Burma, and another was talking about how she will take her husband to New Road before the wedding reception to purchase a diamond necklace she has set her eyes on.
Bored of this chitchat, I headed to the bar and got myself a drink. Reaching for a glass of whiskey, I was conscious of the fact that some elder male relatives were glancing my way. First, I was at the bar. Alone. My husband was nowhere in sight. And second, I hadn’t reached for a glass of wine like many lehenga- or saree-clad girls and women had. I had done the unthinkable – gotten myself a glass of ‘hard’ drink. When an uncle told me that I should drink something ‘soft’ like wine or beer, I told him that alcohol was alcohol to which he promptly replied that some alcohol weren’t for girls.
Sometimes, before going to a wedding function, I console myself that if nothing at least I get a free drink and, if I’m lucky, meet someone I don’t mind having a conversation with. Sometimes I really enjoy catching up with my cousins and their partners. They say the most amusing things and we have a really good time. But more often than not, I’m stuck between jewelry discussions and lectures on how I shouldn’t drink. On good days, I will have company to drink with – usually a male cousin who is as bored as I am. But on these days, going by my past, I will probably have one too many drinks and upset my parents who, apparently, don’t mind me drinking but I should stop after a single drink. It doesn’t matter that my husband downs three glasses of whiskey.
But these aren’t the only reasons why I dread weddings. Inevitably, at weddings, I end up meeting a relative or two who will comment on why I don’t have kids and how they are desperate to hold my baby in their arms. I tell them I’m not as desperate as they are to hold my own baby and they laugh and tell me to ‘hurry up’. Sure, I’ll leave before dinner then I want to tell them but I know if I say that I will have to hear a lecture from my mother for the rest of eternity.
I just don’t understand how a couple choosing to have (or not have) kids is a matter of family discussions and curiosity. My mother tells me they speak with my best interest at heart. I ask her if they will bear the expenses of my child – because, by god, raising a child is expensive these days – and she gives me a look that stops me from saying anything further. I’m not scared of her – we have a very amicable relationship except when the conversation is about babies – but the looks my mother gives me could melt the polar ice caps.
When I wasn’t married, it was talks about marriage that used to make me dread wedding functions. Then I got married and thought I would finally be let off the hook. But now they have moved on to another topic. I know if and when I have a kid, they will pester me to have another one because everybody needs a sibling they will say. I have heard them say that to some of my cousins with a single child. It’s a never-ending cycle and the best way to avoid it would be to steer clear of all occasions that call for socialization. But, unfortunately, it’s not that easy. There are only so many times you can pretend to be ill or out of town.
I have a wedding to go to this weekend and I know, once again, I’ll be oscillating between groups of ladies discussing sarees and ‘gahana’ and the bar, where I hope there will be good booze this time around, unlike the really bad whiskey and flat beer last time. It’s the only thing I can count on.