Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 - 3 comments

Eavesdropping on a Wedding

(image courtesy of undhimmi.com)

Accompanied by the tinkling of spoons in tea glasses on nearby balconies and the sound of airplanes transporting sunburned tourists home, I can hear a wedding in full swing. A lively melody fills the night air, punctuated by alternating bursts of fireworks and explosions of celebratory gunfire.

From my spot on the terrace, I can’t see the festivities, and I can only make out the glow from the fireworks as they flare and fizzle behind the house across the way, but still, in my mind, I can picture the scene. Fifty rented white plastic chairs arranged in a circle in a vacant lot, a string of white lights marking the perimeter. A car is backed up to the edge of the scene, trunk open to expose a set of powerful speakers blaring whatever music tickles the front-seat DJ’s fancy. A group of twenty-something guys sporting shirts as shiny as their slicked-back hair and a cluster of teenaged girls with that “fresh from the coiffeur” look pretend not to notice each other as they groove in their segregated huddles. Little girls wearing lipstick for the first time mimic the motions of their big sisters while little boys in clip-on bowties alternately play hide and seek among the long-legged crowd and try to sneak bites of cake from the plates of the old aunties who are too busy gossiping to notice.

The only detail uncertain in my mind is the bride herself. Is she dazzling in her beauty, her eyes reflecting the joy of marrying the neighbour boy who locked her in the cowshed when she was nine and snuck a kiss there when she was sixteen? Or is she trembling behind all that makeup as her parents marry her off to the ugly cousin with the promising job and the violent temper? Has she finished her education and decided it’s time to settle down, or is she a frightened teenager who has left her village in the east for the first time in order to become the second wife of a widower twice her age?

Perhaps she is the bride I saw on my walk this morning, all dolled up in lacy white, whizzing by in a pickup truck, likely on her way to the photographer. I only caught a glimpse of her face, but what I saw there was enough to make me wonder if she’d woken up to this first morning of the rest of her life with a heart full of exuberant anticipation or quiet, resigned terror.

I sit here alone, eavesdropping on her wedding and so wishing it were mine. I long to trade my independence and the solitude of my rooftop for a man to make dinner for and a mosquito net full of kids. But the truth is, in some backwards way, I chose this empty terrace. Unlike so many girls in this world, I’ve had the freedom to have standards and preferences, to be picky, to “hold out for the best.” I wait impatiently for the day I get to say, “Yes,” but I’m still here because I’ve been afforded the chance to say, “No.” But what about that white-frosted bride whose fireworks are my Saturday night entertainment as I sit here with my chai and my starry sky? Does the wedding music that fuels my girlish dreams also mean the death of hers?


oh jamie, that last paragraph speaks to my heart.

oh friend, that was good. really good. i can relate on far too many levels! i love your freedom and transparency. it's so beautiful how you are honest in your wishing and hoping, but are grateful for the freedom you have had to choose. love, love, love it!