“You don’t expect me to be wearing THAT???” and both of us smiled. We just knew this is what Anju would have said. Shaila, anju and I had been friends for the last thirty years. We met as 8 years old. Through thick and thin, marriages and divorces, birth and death, across time zones and continents we had stayed connected. For the last couple of years we were all in Bombay and each other’s support system. Kudos to girl bonding, though at 38 none of us would actually qualify as girls!
Sometimes we envied anju’s single status and sometimes we pitied her because of it. She knew that and loved us all the same. She seemed pretty reconciled to singledom and led a full life with her practice and patients, plants and nieces she doted on. Yet it seemed unfair that such a loving, giving person was actually alone.
Cupid struck unexpectedly and soon she was spending a considerable amount of time with her new found “friend” Ashish. He was her co-worker’s brother. A widower who was much of a workaholic as her! Of course our approval mattered and on a dinner organised by me, ashish won hands down. They had similar interests and seemed comfortable in each other’s company. None of the awkwardness and trying too hard that usually happened. They were also old enough to know the differences were vital too. Anju admitted that she liked his company yet didn’t know if marriage was really needed. A holiday in the hills...a bout of flu and she said yes when he proposed yet again. Anju being anju was matter of fact about it even when she told us.
Ashish was a lot more excited and so were we. She wanted the wedding over a weekend so everyone could go to work on Monday. We all scoffed the idea but agreed that a simple court wedding was a good idea. She wanted everything simple and low key and reminded us sternly. We tried to look suitably mature about it but her thirteen year old niece one evening declared that this wasn’t fun. Anju said it wasn’t aishwarya abhishek’s wedding so everyone needed to calm down.
She forced us so we had to do things behind her back. Like organise a lunch post the court wedding at her favourite restaurant with her favourite people. We got her bookings at the fancy spa and beauty parlour. She had to be begged and cajoled to go but came back looking and feeling awesome. Next came shopping and as usual the muted shades and practical saris is what she wanted. So we bought the peach and pink chiffon with zardozi work, behind her back.
She kept working and going through life like it was someone else’s wedding. There was just a week to go and ashish casually mentioned that she was seeming so edgy these days. One evening she snapped at shailia’s daughter when she mentioned a mendiwaali. It was clearly a case of nerves and we decided to do an all girls dinner. We told her it was ok, everyone goes through this before they get married. Whatever age and stage. She stopped mid sentence and looked at me...”really?” then she started talking. She didn’t want any fuss because she was scared. She didn’t want ashish to think of his first wedding, she didn’t want his family to compare and she didn’t want to look silly.
Amidst much hugging and moist eyes, we assured anju that nobody was judging her. she knew she was being illogical. A trait that she was so unfamiliar with. We promised not to rib her about this or tell ashish ever. We told her what we had done and how her masi was also arriving from Gorakhpur the next day.
It was a lovely evening at home, with a dholak and folk songs. Anju and all of us had mehndi applied. Ashish’s mom sang Marathi wedding songs and anju blushed as much as any bride to be...