In case you missed, read Part 4 here.
My phone rang. The assistant make-up artist had arrived. We booked Avijit Paul for my wedding and reception looks. Another good decision like Srejon Imagery. He had sent over a talented lady to do my hair and drape the saree. Before the wedding, Avijit Paul had sat with me and discussed the kind of look that we would be achieving. He was very calm and patient throughout and understood exactly how I wanted to look. I wanted to look myself, simple. And he ensured that I did. The result was amazing.
I had chosen a pink Benarasi (a type of saree) for the wedding. While Benarasi is customary for a Bengali wedding, pink isn’t. People usually choose red. Red is the colour of marriage (for the bride; a particular shade of beige for the groom, called kora). Yet, I couldn’t take my eyes off the pink. And pink Benarasi it was.
Looking at the mirror, I couldn’t help think back to the first time I wore a saree. It was my mother’s. I was always mesmerized by her neat pleats, the measured pallu and the red bindi. An Indian woman inherits her first saree from her mother. It is like a rite of passage. With the saree, she also inherits the insiders on how to drape it and look confident in it. Within the folds of a saree, lie immense strength and power. With time, you learn to feel and respect it.
By the time the assistant make-up artist was done with my hair, Avijit Paul had arrived. He brushed my face here and there with some great-smelling stuff for a few minutes. And in a whiff of powder and brush, I looked like a bride! It was as if I had been tapped with a magic wand!
I could hear people talking outside. The guests had started arriving.
It was showtime!
A large room had been decorated with flowers and lights. A seating arrangement had also been done. Right at the end of the room, where the light was the brightest and the flowers smelled the strongest, a very nicely decorated chair had been placed on a dais. It was going to be my hot-seat for the evening.
The dressing room led to a balcony that opened up to this hall area. Srejon’s 3 talented staff had me pose in the balcony and then in the hall room for the photographs.
I had all eyes on me that evening. It felt both, uneasy and exhilarating at the same time. Quickly I watched the number of guests multiply. Everyone had their widest smiles on. People were coming up with presents and depositing them beside me before posing with me for photographs. A photograph with the bride is special. As a child, the prospect of standing next to the bride excited me. Oh, the thrill of enjoying a few seconds in the limelight!
Of the guests, some of the faces I knew very well, some not so much. What felt nice was that everybody in the room had come together after a long time to celebrate a happy occasion. They were greeting each other, cracking jokes, laughing out loud, reminiscing their fun and happy memories while sipping on coffee. It was nice to watch them for some time. But then I couldn’t help but join in on the fun. So I stepped down from the dais, walked among them, sat with them and laughed with them. It was nice to be surrounded by my loved ones, all in one room.
But one person was missing. Dida. My grandmother on my mother’s side. We were close. Until she left us on 28th August, 2015. The loss of a loved one is life-altering. When we lost her, it took me more than a year to realize that she is never coming back. But in the days that ensued after she passed away, I felt God closer to me than ever. She had shown up for me in personal ways – through the support of my well-wishers, my mother’s love, the kindness of strangers. It gives me the strength to move forward knowing that she is with me, shining on from the heaven above. It always reminds me that you still stay connected with your loved ones, even in death.
Dida would have been the happiest on my wedding day. Even today, I tell Tathagata about her. She was a fiercely independent woman. She made managing a full-time job and raising three children alone look like a walk in the park. She had been through a lot of struggles in life. But never for once had she let any of that pull her down. No, sir. She wasn’t a woman of weakness.
She was the Devi Durga she worshipped.
I kept her picture in my purse and made sure she doesn’t miss a thing on my wedding day. She was there. I knew it in my bones. She was smiling at me and blessing me like she used to.
Read Part 6 here.
All images except the first 2 and the last have been taken by Srejon Imagery.