Divya’s wedding was on Saturday, so I planned to go down on Thursday afternoon and stay till Sunday morning. The wedding would go on through most of Saturday night, Divya had said, and there was the mehndi and sangeet on Friday evening.
So on Thursday morning, after a leisurely breakfast, I sat on the floor and pulled out the suitcase that contained my fancy clothes to see what I would wear. I had three choices for Saturday evening: a dark red silk saree, a black chiffon sari with blue sequins, and a traditional Assamese muga mekhela sador. I realised I needed to try on the blouses.
I tried the black one first: it was so tight I was afraid it would tear if I kept it on any longer. I hurriedly pulled it off and tried on the red cotton. This was easier: though it wasn’t much less tight, the fabric was stronger so it would probably last through the night if I held my breath and didn’t move my arms.
“And if you don’t eat more than a few mouthfuls at the buffet,” reminded Mandakini.
“Fat chance of that,” retorted Miki.
The red silk blouse was too small even to squeeze on. All these blouses had been stitched back when I was in college in Guwahati: I hadn’t needed to wear sarees after I came to Delhi. With the cotton blouse I could wear either the red silk or the muga. The red silk had been a gift from Ba to wear at her wedding: I hadn’t worn it since. I caressed the muga with the bright red flowers: Aruna mami had woven it and given it to my mom as a wedding gift. Age had mellowed it and made it softer and more yellow.
I put aside the mekhela sador to take to the wedding. Now I needed something for the sangeet. Not a sari – something I could dance in.
I looked through my stack of salwar kameez, trying to find something dressy enough. This was much more difficult, because all of them were more work wear than anything else. At the end of my hunt, I found two that would remotely do: a golden-beige kameez with blue embroidery that I paired with a blue churidar, and a white sleeveless one with white lace and embroidery that came with a shimmery white dupatta and white Patiala salwar. Both were barely worn, but I had worn the beige one in office just a couple of weeks ago, so the white one it was.
“I’ll look totally out of place among all the bright shiny clothes,” said Mandakini.
“Actually, that’s a good thing,” said Miki. “I’ll stand out.”
I packed my clothes, showered and got dressed, and called Divya to tell her I was coming over. She promised to meet me at the bus stop.
I hadn’t been looking forward to the long bus ride, but I actually enjoyed it. It was afternoon, so there weren’t many passengers, and I got myself a window seat near the back. The weather had suddenly got warmer: it was sunny, but a cool breeze blew in through the window. My hair would be a mess by the time I reached, but I stuck my head near the window and settled down to enjoy the ride.
The bus took me on its rambling way through the old Mehrauli road and South Delhi. We passed by farms and I drank in the greenery with pleasure. I got off at Munirka to change buses. I waited for half an hour, letting the first two buses for my destination go as I couldn’t see any empty seats. I bought a glass of sugarcane juice and sipped it happily. I sat at the bus stop and watched the traffic go by. It was such a lovely day and I was so glad to be in Delhi again that I didn’t mind waiting.
Finally a bus arrived that was relatively empty, and I hauled myself and my bag up on it with a sigh of relief.
I got off the bus and settled down on the bus stop to wait for Divya. I didn’t have long to wait before I saw her black Santro turning into the street, and I stood up and waved furiously.
Divya didn’t seem to be in the best of moods. I barely shut the car door before she moved the car forward, and I fumbled for the seatbelt.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“Oh, everything’s in a mess,” she wailed. “The photographer is sick, my clothes aren’t ready, my best friend isn’t coming, and my mom is driving me crazy.”
“Why isn’t Sheena coming?” I asked, focusing on what seemed to me the most important issue.
“I don’t know!”
“Didn’t she say?”
“No! Yeah, she did say… She said she can’t make it. One of her in-laws is ill: a grandfather, I think.”
“I suppose she couldn’t help it, then…”
“But it’s my wedding! She promised she would come. I haven’t seen her in over a year!”
“I’m sorry she can’t make it, sweetheart. But I’m here, and your family is here. It’ll be fine.”
I quickly moved on to the next item, figuring that only distraction could help her with the first one.
“About the photographer, can’t you get someone else?”
“Yeah, well, he’s referred me to someone else and that guy has agreed.”
“So that’s one problem solved, isn’t it?” I said cheerfully.
“God only knows what he’ll be like,” said Divya darkly. “If he was free and agreed to come at such short notice, he can’t be very good.”
“Don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll be fine. But what’s wrong with your clothes?”
“I had given the tailor a heap of clothes, with instructions about what I want before the wedding and what will do even if he delivers it later. The clothes for the wedding came yesterday, but my wedding lehenga was not among them.”
“Oh! But wasn’t your lehenga ready-made?”
“Yes,” she said slowly and loudly, as if I were deaf, “but it needed some alterations. I wasn’t at home last evening when the clothes came – I was off meeting the mehndiwallah. And my mom did not check whether all the clothes were in there. By the time I got home and discovered it, the shop had closed. I went down first thing this morning, and at first they couldn’t even find it.”
“Finally they found it after half an hour – it was in the wrong heap, apparently.”
“So now what? They’ll deliver it by tomorrow, right?”
“I’ll kill them if they don’t.” She looked like she meant it. “I’ve told them I’ll kill them if even a stitch is out of place. It has to be perfect the first time, we don’t have time to re-do it.”
“Relax, I’m sure it’ll be fine.”
“So tomorrow afternoon, you and I are going down to the tailor’s. I’ll try it on, and if there’s anything wrong I’ll make them fix it right away. And then we have to come back and get dressed for the sangeet.”
“That sounds like a plan,” I said brightly, but her frown remained intact.
Divya had turned into a small lane, and then we were at her house, marked by a name plate at the gate that proclaimed, in golden letters on black, “Mr Manoj Joshi/Mrs Aradhana Joshi”. She manoeuvred her car into a space that had looked smaller than the car. When we went in, Aunty insisted we sit down to lunch as soon as I had washed up.
At lunch, Divya regaled me with everything else that was going wrong with her wedding.
“Nice weekend this is going to be,” remarked Miki.
“Shut up,” said Mandakini, as I put on my most sympathetic face and listened to Divya.