I woke up. Not like I had slept at all that night, but I woke up and walked towards the door of the compartment of the Alleppey Express on my way to Kochi. A phone that has run out of charge really leaves you with less choices. I am glad I had none because when I looked out that door, I only saw beauty. Now, I am a terrible Malayalee. I don’t know any Malayalam that could save my ass in any part of the world, but that view could have knocked anyone out.
The clouds covered the tops of every hill we passed and the weather was cold enough to make me want to hug myself and twirl around in that cramped corridor of the compartment.
I would have done that even if the weather wasn’t that good. You see, I was going to be a bridesmaid at Gloria’s wedding.
Gloria and Emil’s love story had been the center of attention ever since they started dating two years back and we’d been awaiting the wedding for a year now. I don’t necessarily believe in happy endings, but I just witnessed one in those two days.
I met friends from college and hostel who I hadn’t seen in months. We spent the entire day regaling each other with tales of hostel and college. As I looked into the faces of my laughing friends in the cramped backseat of a car, I forgot I was there for a visit. It was like Bombay came with them. It was as if we’d never left at all, in fact.
The day dawned upon us and flew past us. I guess when you’re dealing with your own preparation and that of someone on the verge of setting up a new life, you take up a responsibility to make sure that transition is as smooth as it can be. Luckily for us, we had never met someone who was as prepared to take the plunge as Gloria was.
After a tearful hair catastrophe, tearful wedding sermon and a few more tears shed at the toasts – I went back to collect my luggage. In the dark, any place’s landscape completely changes and so does your reaction to the place. As we rode back in that car, Atheena and I spoke our hearts out. Now, let me give you a small disclaimer here. I love growing old. I embrace every birthday like any other day. But, that ride made me realise how old I really was. The realities we assumed were 10 years away were now shoving itself in our faces. It scared and exhilarated me all at once. We all knew that we would not be going back the same people that we were when we came to attend the wedding on the first day. But, that day when I looked out the window at the light drizzle, I knew we had already grown up.
As Gloria was about to throw the bouquet at the small crowd of single girls, I thought of the last time I was a bridesmaid. 21st November 1999 – the same date 14 yrs ago – I was six years old and slept through half the ceremony. The groom was my uncle and my pillow that afternoon in the church. All I knew was that I felt like the prettiest person in the crowd even if the spotlight was not on me. I knew I wanted that spotlight on me someday, but I knew it was a long time before I’d have it. So, I ducked the bouquet
As I remembered this coincidence of being at a wedding on the same date when preparing on the morning of the wedding, I got a lot of nudges from old aunties and Atheena who is just trying to get people to stop talking about her impending doom. I shrugged it off with a shudder and a smile. What else are we Indian girls best at, right?
But, that’s not as important as what I was left with.
I am still dizzy from the sounds of the cheesy wedding music I could not get enough of. My foot still has the mark of a torn blister because my shoes killed me. I am still up for dancing to the same playlist of pop music with my friends I hadn’t seen in forever. I am still at that wedding.