This summer I was part and parcel of the wedding of a person near, dear and true – My sister. With it came all the drama & shenanigans of any Indian wedding. But while I was unfailingly devoted to the cause – Get her and my brother in law married amidst all the ruckus & ballyhoo and come out of it sane ( though that is still debatable ) – I never predicted the varying degrees of discomfiture my queer self would face throughout the entire process that lasted a good 8 months, with particularly brutal intensity in the last 30 days. I say my queer self almost as if it were another part of me. But somehow, and in retrospect it seems incredibly silly of me to think that, but somehow I figured because of that queer self I would never ever want this – A great big fat Indian wedding.
Now I don’t believe in many things – God, Religion, Horoscopes, Astrology, Witch doctors and Ghosts. But I do believe in Love, Family, Civility and Myself. I figure it is ok to valiantly fight on account of the latter four as quaint as it may sound [ and no, I am not a mob wife in New Jersey] The way I saw it in Indian weddings, the things I do believe in get lost amidst the things I don’t and why would I ever suffer through such an antagonizing ordeal should that be the case? And that was how I had it written down in my head. To touch and reassure myself when I made my frequent eyerolls at bridal magazines, gushing newly weds, pomp, custom, tradition and overbearing relatives. Till this summer.
This summer was not easy. My rational reasoned thoughts came head to head with my feelings. Make no mistake, Part of me was still horrified as I watched my poor sister sit through endless ceremonies, grin at a 1000 relatives she disliked and singly change into as many outfits in a few days as all the models in fashion week. But to my even greater horror, my queer hardened heart kept squeaking feelings of a vague and warm fuzzy nature when I saw my favourite aunt look upon my sister and brother in law adoringly. When 4 grown adults very dear to me burst out into tears when the knot was tied. When friends of the family who I hadn’t seen in years yet genuinely liked turned out in hoards to wish these two young kids getting married, well. Suddenly, regardless of the insanity and ostentatious facade of the entire exercise – I wondered if it was all worth it ? Such good will floating around and so much of it directed your way must surely be worth it ? With bizarre clarity, I understood the significance of the oft repeated words of my mother quoting my grandfather quoting William Butler Yeats…
“How but in custom and in ceremony
Are innocence and beauty born?” – (A Prayer for my daughter, 1919)
Such was the positive. I believed in great big fat Indian weddings again. If only a wee bit.
But my utter dismay was not far behind. Every time, A young aunt teased me that I would get the chance to trouble my sister as much when it was my turn to get wed. Every time, a geriatric relative said “I don’t know if I will be around for your wedding but I will bless you from heaven”. Every time my father would put his hand around my shoulders while talking to random Uncle-ji and go “Next time we meet, it’ll be chotu’s wedding!! Ha ha ha!”
Ha-Ha-Ha Indeed. Chotu was crushed. Not since I was 11 and deciphering my queerness and utterly terrified that being gay meant I now had to be a boy because only boys liked girls and I liked girls and I didn’t want to be a boy but I had to now become one because I liked girls – have I sunk into such lowly depths of my soul. “I can never have all of this” – This inanity kept running through my waking thoughts with all the cheeriness of the Sept 08 Dow ticker.
So I tacked onto my post wedding trauma to-do list – “Find yourself again” And guess what I found ? I found that I knew the day I meet and fall in love with someone and realise that I want to spend the rest of my life with them – Come hell or high water. Or laws. Or Anti-gay sentiments. Or any other conceivable hogwash. Because of Love, Family, Civility and Myself – I will have my big fat Gaysi wedding. And you are all invited. As my gaysi family. RSVP below.