Living in a place where the majority of time it is cold, summer brings with it relief along with loads of fun, travel, flowers, mangoes and ice cream to a soiree of barbeques, picnics, graduations and weddings. Weddings are always good entertainment. I know mine was. My wife still calls it one big joke or maybe it was just about me.
Anyway, weddings have changed over the years. Nowadays they sometimes seem like attending a seminar. Talk about people murdering fun when given a chance to speak on a microphone. People just keep going on and on like an infomercial rather than giving a simple toast for the bride and groom with some leg pulling, funny stories and a medley of sentiment and emotions. The poor Dulha is already stressed behind a Sehra, in a Sherwani, a permanent smile plastered on his face, sweat trickling down due to camera lights shining on him; thinking about the trying events ahead and the life to come; and on top of all that he still has to cross this Pul- e-Sirat of boredom.
It has not been that the groom and bride had it easy till the D-day; what with going for pre marriage counseling, compatibility sessions and financial training in-between coordinating their dress colors with décor at the banquet hall, practicing dance moves for the sangeet or sanchak function, shopping, distributing invitation cards and listening to people complain about who was invited and who was not along with invitations being delivered by kids instead of the elders of the family or how the invitation did not address them properly as Janab e Aali or Hazrath or Buzrug contrary to our Hyderabadi Tehzeeb and threatening to not attend the wedding.
Getting married during my time was easy and fun. One evening while my parents were sitting in the veranda after dinner, my mom said, “Aji baccha bada hogaya, kamara dhamara bhi. Shaadi kardo jaldi.” My dad nodded his assent in between sips of tea sans any discussion. They asked me and I vehemently agreed. In no time after that, my mom found a family who was ready to take a risk and gamble their daughter for my good looks. They might have thought of me as the pick of the century but guess who had the last laugh.
Within no time a date was set and before I realized it, it was time to get married. I wasn’t given a manual nor sent for any training, no compatibility sessions or counseling; it was straight, throw him in the water and let him learn swimming. Not even the birds and the bees talk, probably with the view of “Potta hoshyar hai, figure out kar leta.” The guilty pleasures gleaned from the late night reads from the novelettes of Enid Blyton, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and Ibne Safi were to come in handy, I suppose.
Everything else was taken care of by the family, from making arrangements for the functions, to organizing dinners to selecting the color of my Sherwani. The only thing left for me to decide was whether I want a nada or elastic band in my pajama. I still remember that fateful day. Me in all my glory beaming in a gleaming Sherwani and flower garlands up to my ears. The Qazi was overbooked and in a hurry to move on to the next wedding. He was doing everything fast; he gave a short sermon and then kept on pushing papers towards me to sign while mumbling loudly in Arabic and chaste Urdu that I could barely comprehend. Looking at my puzzled look, my brother whispered Khaali mundi hilate raho. I remember nodding my head vigorously the next few minutes akin to a bull with a bell around his neck. Now whenever I think about how harried my married life is, I blame the Qazi and his hastily read Nikah for the aggressive start.
But I digress. Going back to the wedding the other day, the young Imam acting like the Desi uncles who does not let go of the microphone once they get a chance to hold it, went on and on lecturing the bride and groom about how to live happily after the marriage. He seemed to know all the ataps of a successful marriage. But I got perturbed when I heard him advice “Tell the truth to each other all the time” for a happy married life. I knew now that this guy was a rookie and was not speaking from experience but some theoretical mumbo jumbo from a textbook.
As a newlywed that very same advice from a Buzrug got me into loads of hot water and brought back memories of some agonizing moments of my life but I will get back to that later. I approached the Imam after the speech and asked, “Baba, aap shaadi shuda hai.” To which he sheepishly replied “No, per umeed se hoon ke bahut jald.” I felt pity and did not berae him on his nadaani for if we were to listen to his advice then ghar ke jagah do eenth ke dhele rah jaate.
The “Tell the truth all the time” advice is a disaster in the making for newlyweds or anybody wishing to remain married for long. I am not suggesting lying either for it gets you into more trouble than you can imagine. Using truth judiciously is the way to go; tell the truth most of the time but sometime embellish it and sometimes keep the truth to yourself. That wisdom is the best remedy for an amazing married life as well as physical wellbeing.
When I got married, I was still masoom so when anybody who gave me any advice, I bought it fully. Like I suggested before, one was about telling the truth all the time. It was on our honeymoon trip and after an exhausting day, me and my wife were watching a movie on TV and my wife asked me about who my favorite actress was and why. I followed the truth dictum and named a famous actress of that time and said because “She is hot and sexy.” That truth made my honey freeze and the moon disappear. The benefits of honeymoon had to be re-earned back through a lot of mashaqqat and aajizee. Now when that same question pops up, I always name Lalita Pawar, Tuntun and Nirupa Roy as my favorite actresses even though I might be thinking of Katrina dancing in front of the Pyramids or Madhubala in the Sheesh-Mahal. Talk about Doodh ka jala, chach bhi phoonk phoonk kar pita.
Another time, she showed me a picture of her brother riding a horse and I commented that it looks like a Ghada ghoda ki sawari per. Well he did and I told the truth. I got a time out for that; two days and I had to admit in writing that her brother looks like George Clooney. Another time, I told the truth on the Masala Chai she brewed that it was so bad that I could probably use it as a weed killer in the lawn. Guess what, I still get the same kind of chai but I now drink it likening it to Mano Salwa or a drink from the heavens regardless of how it tastes. For I have been threatened with blasphemy if I were to repeat that mistake again and risk of going faaqah for life.
With this kind of existential threat to my married life, do you think I tell the truth all the time? I plead the fifth even on inane queries like “Does this dress make me look fat or old” or “Isn’t my brother handsome” or “Will you commission a Taj Mahal in my memory?” or “Do you like the fuchsia color shirt I bought for you” or “I don’t shop a lot, right?” I have now become lot wiser from all my experiences and lead a happy life with my wife, judicious truth and sometimes the proverbial golden silence for I now know the value of Shaadi aur kadvaa such.