Overheard in a certain girl's hostel room at a certain University.
" For my wedding, I want it to be a small affair with only close friends and family. I want it to be held at some resort not necessarily the..."
"Oh Please!! As if that's ever gonna happen in a society like ours"
Rude interruption to cut off a blissful dreamlike wish!
The rude girl was me. Excuse my language. But I stopped dreaming a long time ago. Not about weddings but about small affairs.
I wasn't always like this though!
For a long time, I didn't find the need to send wedding invites to 'removed' people like my Dad's high school friend or my aunt's husband's family. I would complain with the pile of wedding invites when cousin's get married. It didn't make sense to me why people who knew me only as my Dad's daughter should be invited to my wedding. Well, for starters, it's MY wedding and not my Dad's. I didn't find the need to send out wedding invites to people I know are not attending or the need to kill so many animals for my wedding feast (I'm a carnivore turned non-vegetarian!).
The idea of me wearing a white gown and white shoes didn't sound appealing at all. Or the fact that I have to be all prim, no smiles, no laughter, all serious for the ceremony. Why can't my dad walk me down the aisle instead of my brother?? Why can't I flash a smile at the man waiting at the altar??? Or why is it inappropriate to have fun, sing or dance at my own wedding reception?? Why can't it be only close family and friends for my wedding?? Why Why??
The funeral I went to last month was an exceptionally sad one. A young woman of 30 years died in her rented place in Munirka, Delhi. She had been sick for a long period and lack of treatment and negligence seemed to be the main cause of the demise. And no one knew about her. No friends, no family. The most painful thing was that there was hardly anyone who could come forward to talk about her life (or her death) during the service. The person who came forward to talk was an old friend of her mother who haven't even met the girl in person yet! As we sit there after the service, we questioned one another if they knew anything about anything at all. There were so many questions yet no answers.
Which got me thinking....
When my mother passed away 8 years back, people we don't even know pop up from everywhere. People who knew her when she was a child, people who went to school with her, people who knew her family, people who knew her kids, her husband, people who were vaguely associated with her. Half the people who cried with me and half the people who held me and prayed for me were people whose names I don't know. And later as I rearranged the flowers and the puans, I have to call my dad and asked who send them because I didn't know the person whose name was on the cards. To see so many 'removed' people care for me and my family, moved me immensely.
If I have to pick only one thing I love about being a Mizo. It would be funerals. Hands down! I speak from experience when I say that having people mourn with you, friends and acquaintances who show up out of the blue to be there for you at a loved one's funeral gives you comfort that words can't describe.
The comfort that I felt at my Ma's funeral echoed through the years. Here in Delhi, everytime I receive an SMS telling me that someone passed away, I always make it a point to be there for the service and for the night. It doesn't matter who the person is. Being there is the least I could do to give back. And I am at peace when I give back.
Now everytime I think about how many people I want for my wedding, I also think about how many people would be there for my funeral. Everytime I think about all the 'removed' people I have to list down as my wedding invitees, I think of all the 'removed' people who will show up at my funeral because I am a daughter of an old high school friend.
I admit, I still want to go offbeat for my wedding. (If there ever comes a day) I'll wear green shoes for the ceremony and keds for the photo-shoot. I would be more of a laughing bride than a shy smiling bride. I'll wink at the man standing at the altar, say my vows loud enough for the whole church to hear (what's the use of the witnesses if you just whisper your vows?) and scream "I'm married" right after we walk out the door. OK! Maybe that's a bit too much. But one thing I would go strictly traditional with would be the guest list. But I'll leave that to my uncles who always do the job of combing through every locality, every street, every town, every city and every village to find families, friends and acquaintances who should be send the wedding invite. It won't make my day to see animals slaughtered for the wedding feast. But let's face it, people are more important than animals. And I'll safely turn my blindside to it! Sorry PETA!!
Call me a conformist but if people I hardly know, are graceful enough to be there on the saddest, loneliest day of my life, I would be too selfish of a person to leave them out on my happiest day!! And I am sure this would be one privilege I wouldn't enjoy had I been born out of this colorful, compassionate tribal community that I love.
You may say that there is no intimacy and less privacy in such events, but there is definitely more compassion and more self-sacrifice. I hope to have a big fat Mizo wedding and I pray that I will also have the Mizo funeral. And once again, I am proud to be born and to live life as a Mizo!!