By Shobha Diwakar
It gurgled, it throttled, it thundered, it howled, it growled it hounded. My heart missed a beat at the sudden change of mood in the system. The clouds were shrilly barking their lungs out. Now what? I murmured to myself. There was a cool reception that evening, a lavish one at that with the city’s gayest, merry making elite members of society of which I too would be a part, but this plush change of atmospheric roughening of weather seemed to drown all the fun and along with it my hopes to attend. The twist was unexpected, however, after a slight drizzle the clouds beat retreat and though the moon, hidden behind the clouds thought of springing out, the sky darkened once again. My spirit dampened along with the splash of rain as I realized I may not make it… but then I did.
The sound of music rented the air as a beautiful mellifluous voice sang some old melodies that thrilled your spirit. A lonely man standing out with a permanent smile fixed on his face welcomed me. Saying ‘Namaste’ we walked further to be welcomed by another with another welcoming smile and then I spied a group of friends chatting and soon joined the fray.
It was an entertaining evening where every other person was enjoying his/ her own company while the bride and the groom were surrounded with their near and dear ones. Those who were/ had hoisted themselves to bestow their blessings upon the newly married and transfer the gifts they held to the young couple were queuing up, while the bubbling duo smiled sweetly and received the tokens.
I raised myself on the stairs to deposit my gift and it struck me that the groom and the bride were the most simple dressed albeit this was their big day. The glamour and decked feathers dragged my eyes from the pretty newly married/s to the glorifying husky dusky middle aged women who swung around in their finery and overloaded jewelry that invited envious eyes to steal a look at the humorous and haughty display of riches. One chimed in, “You see we are famous jewelers and at present I am taking my daughter-in-law around to meet my other (equally rich) relatives and social acquaintances so she can learn the ways of our family and how to adjust.”
This was enough to put me on my guard. The impaired mentality had already thrust the arrow exactly where it was meant to hit the targeted simple dressed so- called unadorned ‘exhibitionists’ at the fashion parade. I wondered if this was a marriage reception or a high profile fashion parade where so called dainty ‘maids’ wearing, and dragging their lehangas (long skirts) as though it was a robe, styled with deeply cut low neckline tops with a string to keep it (top) in order, in its rightful place. I faintly heard someone mutter under his breath “Lovely sight, but what if the string broke?”
I quietly moved out of earshot and reconciled myself with my musings. Every one of the guests were so busy entertaining themselves in their groups that no had any time for anyone else. The fashionable rich sided with folks of their status while the other invitees (not of their class it seemed) were left to entertain themselves and sit for some time listening to the now raucous menacing orchestra and blaring singing, to which no one in particular lent a happy ear.
Well I commented to myself this is what happens when you are invited to a rich showy party, which so- called elite people only attend to flaunt their riches. Yet, you may stall me and say “why not? If people don’t dress up for marriages, especially in India for Indian weddings then when and where are they going to display their wealth?” Truly said “… but does that mean that such ‘exhibitionists’ are given the liberty to downright insult others by their stupid statements?
Anyway, the reception dragged on amidst a lot of show and pomp with the partying dames dancing back and forth with dragging ‘pallus’ and ‘chunnis’ licking dust exhibiting their ‘bounteous gifts’ lest someone missed eyeing them. Just then another tripped over… her dainty heel gave way and lo and behold helping arms rushed forth to gather the forlorn maid in their hands while with coy bashfulness she seated herself reluctantly on a chair someone thrust before her… and that was the end of this damsel’s dolling up and tribulation.
The evening rapture continued for quite some time. The newly married chirped sweet nothings into each other’s ears, probably hoping to be left alone for a while, but the constant train of guests waiting to be clicked with the couple refused to come down the stage. It seemed as though these fancy dainties did not wish to miss the chance of being photographed and be remembered forever … over the years it would click some ancient memory.
Finally someone whispered (loud enough for those within earshot), the food laid out was ‘receding’ and soon the train of guests quickly moved away from the stage and rushed to adorn the laid out table of Chinese food unlimited. There was hardly anything you called Indian food except ‘jelabis’ and ‘gajar halwa’. Well some mumbled “… no good food!”
Well, not all enjoy Chinese food… it seems to have become more of a fad and probably cuts down the cost, may be by a few thousand… I racked my head seeing not only children but also men and women hogging the noodles as if they had never eaten it before or probably would never get another chance to load their overloaded plates again.
Just then, the clouds cracked once again and pelted down suddenly with such a force that the gush of wind blew away the paper cups all over while a few landed right up on the stage posing to be clicked. All this while the new couple stood silent with a cute smile spread across their face until finally some good ‘Samaritan’ climbed up and escorted the young bubbling couple down the stage.
Once again there was commotion as the photographers pursued the newlyweds and a host of well wishers suddenly out of nowhere perched themselves around in their sweeping gowns and a permanent smile fixed on their faces, some arranging their disarranged hair, others fixing their hair style and some applying lipstick secretly… but quite openly… as if anyone would object. Amidst all this hullaballoo, the coy couple remained most unconcerned, albeit it was their big day.
The gurgling thunder had now stopped; once again, the sky was clear and somewhere behind the dark clouds, a silvery moon made an attempt to sneak out and bless the glorious young couple while the merry twinkling stars continued to play hide and seek…
About the Author: Dr. Shobha Diwakar lives in Jabalpur, India and retired as the head of English department at C.P. Mahila Mahavidhyalaya, Jabalpur. She has published many research papers, stories, poems and essays in national, international and online journals. She contributes regularly to writerslifeline and Indian Periodical. Dr Diwakar servers on the Advisory Board of www.writerslifeline.ca and editorial board of CLRI (contemporary literary journal India) for poetry and short story section.