Love can manifest itself in the most ardent and intense of fashions. When I was growing up, I remember the story of my parents’ wedding providing a ready shock factor. They dated for two years, but decided to get married on the same day he proposed to her.
As someone who finds it difficult to be swayed by the romantic urgency of the here and now, I was more than a little perturbed when I noticed that I had seven missed calls on my phone earlier today, when I woke up. My cousin was about to commit a mom-and-dad move. My maternal aunt, when we spoke, was brief. “Your cousin Raheel is getting married,” she said.
“Now? I thought the wedding was in May or June.”
“Yes, now. We were waiting for you but we couldn’t get through.”
What proceeded were the usual trivialities and complaints- plentiful from me, intermingled with copious curses at having to wear inappropriate cotton clothing to a first cousin’s wedding. Additionally, I was up till five AM chatting with friends at a party last night- much needed after a harrowing week at work.
The mosquitoes in my friends’ living room provided an erratic and frustrating sleep. I was, to put it mildly- not in the mood to attend a wedding.
A quick conversation with my mother proved that she too, was shocked. Mom wasn’t going to be able to attend because she has to attend a weekend retreat with an INGO she heads up in Chittagong, and she told me, “Just go with it. Show up in jeans if you have to. After all, you weren’t given any notice.”
The cosmos, however, was filled with eclectic felicitations despite my mother’s blessings encouraging me to be rebellious. I’ve been in Dhaka for about a week and a half, interspersed with visits to Sylhet, and the suburbs of Bangladesh’s capital, documenting the CSR programming behind the ICC T20 World Cup. The message this year is HIV awareness. No mean feat in a Muslim country filled with stigma regarding the topic, but in anticipation, all my clothes have been practical- cottons, jeans, some T-shirts, and of course, only flat shoes so as to easily walk in and out of slums and brothels.
CNGs, often difficult to find in Dhaka, and certainly, always unwilling to go anywhere without a bribe (bakshish) above the metered fare, proved to be more than willing to take me, once I explained I had a wedding to attend, that it was an emergency, and it was all last minute. I managed to cross time in record time, took a shower, and then cajoled another driver, who was unwilling to take the ride, by basically insisting that my cousin was getting married.
I think the world lives for romantic over-gestures. Why he wanted to get married today, I will not know. What I do know, however, is that for the first time in my time being in Dhaka, local transportation workers wanted to make sure I got to where I needed to be.
I know I looked like a riot- my hair was still wet, my white pants and black kurti provided a sharp contrast to the heavily adorned and sari clad South Asian female the entire world has come to expect at weddings.
I know the whole day was spent waiting around for things to happen, whilst, as the groom’s party, we had no real obligations besides lounging around and being fed. Whilst doing thus, my aunt and I reminisced how we ourselves had to run around during my sister’s wedding, and felt utter relief that we did not have to do thus today.
But something happened, halfway through the day. Somewhere between the relief of not hosting and eating copious amounts of laddoo and shondesh, and drinking tea, panicking about my contacts which fog up incessantly in Dhaka’s dirty streets, and finally proceeding to take them off and exercise blurred vision willingly, I realized there is a real beauty in mobilizing families into action.
Watching my cousin relax as the nuptials arrived, I asked him, “Don’t you feel nervous?”
“No,” he replied. “It’s more like it’s a competition and I feel I’m winning.”
“How do you feel?”
I couldn’t argue with that. Instead, to make myself useful in the rushed ceremonial overtures which were being conducted, I decided to get flowers and garlands for the impending nuptials.
Perhaps love really is that simple- once you know, you know, and for those of us who are lucky enough to witness it, adding to the decor can serve as an illuminating reminder that the world is beautiful, and nature can help intensify what we feel inside.
Perhaps, once you’re bitten by the bug and commitment is simplified into an epic win, the battle becomes one which is shared, and the other person is seen as such an asset to one’s happiness and survival that the only feeling possible is an immense satisfaction with institutionalizing one’s relationship.
I’m a commitment phobe myself, and several cousins joked that Raheel has cut six of us (me leading the pack), in order to make a point with his unannounced wedding to his gorgeous bride. I know it doesn’t matter. Once my current beau found out what was happening with my day, he responded saying the gesture that the immediacy and urgency was lovely, and that if it were him, he’d ensure that the pretty girl had food.
I laughed at first, but something struck a chord- perhaps life really is that simple. Good food, a roof under your bed, and a family that will run halfway across the city or the country, in order to ensure your happiness.
I’ve learned an important lesson today- every moment is of essence to lovers, and even simple acts can be profound. And sometimes, even those you don’t ever expect will help you witness wedding nuptials, will go out of their way to make sure that you witness beauty in the making.
Additionally, I may just use the excuse of having a wedding to attend, in order to get CNG drivers to do what I need them to. Fun times beckon.