At long last, my family and I settled on a suitable guy for me. I remember writing about Tanu's and Anuradha's engagements almost immediately after it happened. But I've been at a bit of a loss on how and what to write about my own roka ceremony. I've also been sleep deprived for various reasons. First, there was Tanu's sangeet and wedding. Then there was the mad rush to prepare for my own roka.
So Jatin and I had been in touch over the phone for a few months. My family and I had met his family. It was only a question of him taking a couple of days off from work and coming home to India, which was something that got delayed due to various reasons. But I guess it was meant to be this way - we were not supposed to meet at Christmas or New Year's, as we'd originally planned, but on Valentine's Day.
He was in Delhi for just about forty eight hours. In that time, we needed to meet up, finalise everything, and have a small ceremony to formalise things. And that's how it happened. On the fourteenth of February, my would-be in-laws came over to our place to meet us, and told us that they'd call us after they were back home. I spent a few jittery hours waiting for that phone call. But when it came, all that registered in my mind was that there was lots to be done and I needed to get up, get the car and get going. Which is what I did. I went with my mom and brother in my car in one direction, and my dad went off with a friend of his in another direction. None of us had either lunch or dinner properly that day. But I guess the effort was worth it. My dad managed to book a nice, little hall at the India Habitat Centre for the whole thing. Now IHC is not the kind of place where one would normally expect such functions to take place, but I loved the place. Classy, peaceful, no loud music, no drama involving making the bride and groom sit down on large, fancy chairs like dolls in the dolls' museum. And oh, when I walked in, I peacefully made my way in, with only a jovial comment from my brother, asking if I wanted to do the dramatic walk. Which I obviously did not.
A lot of my immediate family could not make it there at such short notice, including the bua with an injured shoulder, the cousin who's in Kharagpur, the mamaji in America, and the other mamaji in Bangalore. I asked a few friends to compensate for the absence of six out of my seven first cousins.
My mom has been telling my brother to polish his driving skills, because it will be a tad difficult for me to drive myself to such functions, all dressed up in a saaree or a lehenga. He said he would instead arrange for his business partner, Ashish, to drive me around. He is a tad lazy, you know, but his friends are pretty helpful. Ashish was more than willing to render any help that might be needed. Nikhil's childhood buddy, Abhinav, who was stuck in a remote town in Maharashtra, hundreds of kilometres away from the nearest airport, offered to send his driver and/or his car. Abhinav grew up pretty close by from where we live, and has no siblings of his own, so he used to spend a lot of time with us. He's always been like the other brother that I have.
Eventually it was my friend Varun, with whom I carpool to work, who drove me there, along with Ruchi and Aarti. This was in accordance with our deal. Since Varun has a habit of injuring his feet from time to time, I have been driving to work more than my fair share. I told him that he could compensate for that by driving around when I needed something done around my wedding.
My friends tell me that it did not seem like it was my own ceremony. I was talking to people in my usual style, scolding the likes of Alok and Abhinav (a friend from work, different from the above mentioned Abhinav.) from time to time, a far call from the demure bride that an Indian woman is normally expected to be. I was handing out the boxes of mithaai myself, and people found that rather odd.
Once the guests were gone, and we were left only with immediate family from my side, and Nikhil's friends, there was a bit of a wait while my dad was settling the accounts and Ashish and the other guys were packing up things. I allowed myself to admit that the bangles were irritating me a little. Fished out the bangle box, and packed them up. A couple of minutes later, it was the necklace that my mother-in-law had gifted me. Back into its box. And then my earrings. And then my neck piece that I'd originally been wearing.
Things happened pretty fast, and there wasn't much time for it to sink in and for me to fully comprehend what was happening. On Sunday evening, after the ceremony, and before Jatin had to leave for the airport, we were talking on the phone and then it started to sink in. Over the last three days, Bhavna, Abhinav, and my boss, Mohit, have been making me realise what I will be leaving and all the little things and the big things that I will miss. I've also begun to comprehend everything that I have to look forward to. I'm feeling happy, excited, a little sad, and very emotional, all at the same time. It's not like anything that I've ever experienced before. I don't think it is supposed to be anything like anything I've experienced. It's supposed to be a once in a lifetime thing.
And yes, I must add, like I already mentioned in the post on Tanu's wedding, it's because of Tanu and Gaurav that I have been able to believe in the concept of an arranged marriage and that I have been able to make this decision. Incidentally, their last function, the reception, was on the same day as our first. And it was not even in the same city. So we had to miss each other's functions. But I was there for their wedding, and they will certainly be there for mine. Won't you, guys?