Aug 30, 2011

Of Weddings and Funerals.

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!!


Khuma Chhakchhuak said...

Ziak ngaihnom thiam hle mai.. Thumps up!!

benjamin rualthanzauva said...

"As if that's ever gonna happen in a society like ours"

It will. Given some years.

But you got a point. I've always thought of a small wedding. You've just given me a second thought.

I didn't read till the end because I got your point.

ruolngulworld said...

one of the best and touching posts i've read in a while. very well written. made me think of my own wedding, a lifetime ago. and my mum's funeral, which i couldn't attend, but watched on video. all filled with 'removed' people, most of whom i didn't know personally. but they were all there, on the most important days of my life. sharing in my happiness and my sadness. yes, there's nothing like living life as a Mizo.

ku2 said...

thought-provoking post, as always.
Ive always said Im not comfortable with the thought of strangers coming to my wedding or the funeral of a closed one. Ive always thought those moments should be private and special. Se, your take on your mom's funeral made me re-think..

eL said...

ka dictionary a lo hlui deuh tawh alawm mawle....

Senmami said...

@Khuma thank you

@benjamin rualthanzauva. Maybe so... But not in my generation! Alas! Thanx! :)

@roulngulworld Thank you :)

@ku2 thank you!

@eL engnge i sawi awmzia le!!??

Anonymous said...

i van ziak thiam ve...kalo tum dan i thlak daih lawm le...:-)

remsang said...

Good post. Sad momemnts of our lives do gives us new reflection of life. Loved the terminology 'removed people'.
Though it is saddening to observe many in our society practice 'removed people' not for exclusivity but due to economic pressures.

Senmami said...

@Anonymous. Thank ye! :)

@remsang... I couldn't agree more with your view! I know people who dare not get married in the church because of such pressures! Sad!

But I guess you also know that my discarded views were based solely on exclusivity, on intimacy and on privacy.

Thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

So wonderfully written and thoroughly enjoyable!
p.s. Tomorrow I'll be attending a big Italian wedding!
I'm one of her dad's best friends... (wink)

Senmami said...

@E thank you!

Big Italian wedding... Why am I reminded of the first few chapters of a certain Mario Puzo's book???

blackestred said...

You've put perfectly, something I've always thought of, in words.. "Have a wedding before your wedding" How I met Your Mom S2Ep21..
Invite close friends and family members for an "intimate Outdoor Ceremony with an Acoustic Guitar", that way, you can meet and greet all the "removed" people with genuine happiness at your "2nd" wedding, cos' the real and "perfect" wedding has already happened..
And I agree, there is no better society than to be Mizo in times of sorrow and grief!

Andy Varte said...

Nice post there. Very elegantly put. I really appreciate people with proper erudition as you :-) Unfortunately though, I have to disagree. My father passed away a few years back - and from my experience of a funeral like that, I've nothing but sour points on our current system I'm afraid. As soon as we realised we were going to have a funeral, the first thing we have to do was cram all our valuables and others stuff into rooms, which was a pain - I didn't even have a proper place to sleep for days... because people tend to steal things, and things get lost. I've always wanted to start a business where I could provide a funeral home, where funerals can be held. On the note of a wedding, my brother got married a month back, and from my experience of the needless politics between families, expenditure (my poor brother had to spend all of his bonus pay!), and the amount of CLEAN-UP one had to do after, I've often yearned for the simple wedding somewhere off of church. Even our Naga brethen have wedding halls where the Pastor simply goes and conducts the service. It simplifies things. I could go on, but I think I'd better stop here! Nice post though.

Anonymous said...

ziak thyam hle mai u seni nge2