Tag Archives: emotions

The Noteworthy Bridegroom

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Photo Credits : Namish Gulati

I must clarify before you read on, this is not a post on demonetisation even though the title  may be a trifle misleading in the present times where the note is more worthy.

At a much younger cousin’s wedding recently a thought struck that has stayed in my mind, growing bigger by the day. This thought has nagged and niggled away at my peace. I must enunciate this now or I shall lose more sleep over as thoughts the fiends that they are, only strike me when I’m comfortably ensconced in my warm blanket half way here and the other half in la-la-land.

It struck at the ‘sehra bandi’ ceremony, the cousin as you would have guessed by now was the bridegroom. Dressed in a golden shervani and safa, the dear fellow was radiant (now that’s generally a commendation reserved for the bride from whom I’m borrowing it for just this occasion, and as I know her to be a rather sporting sort I’m confident she will not mind.) So while participating with all seriousness in the ceremony where the sisters of the bridegroom tie the sehra on his safa (now it’s a known fact that the sisters of the bridegroom don’t really get too much footage at a wedding, so we take our relatively small roles quite seriously.) In our community, the sehra is composed of two parts a silver mukut and a veil made of flowers that is tied over the mukut. This particular mukut that was tied by the sisters has a unique history which will need another post to do it proper justice.

So now back to the thought that crept into my mind as I helped tie his  sehra was how much we hear, read, talk about the bride’s shringaar. We go into raptures describing to the bride her stunning clothes and accessories. From the bindi gracing her forehead to the ring sparkling on her toe, from the gajras perfuming her hair to the chunnari framing her beauty. From the lehngas twinkle to her payals tinkle, poetry has been written, songs have been sung, paintings have replicated the gorgeousness of the bride and the loveliness of her emotions. We cannot stop complimenting her on her happy glow. And we continue to congratulate her as she embarks on her journey towards love, towards a new life.

But, as for the poor bridegroom, he is rarely given the same consideration. Ribald jokes, loss of freedom, being tied to the yoke, a noose scarfing his neck are the only things the poor fellow is thrown in the way of attention. As he laughs letting slide the jokes and expendable dissuasion, the chappie camouflages his gladness effectively. Why does this happen, I question? The two are beginning a journey together, are they not? I wonder at this discrimination!

Discrimination! One would question that word. Women are discriminated against, not men some would say. Yet, I stand by discrimination. I really do feel sorry for the poor sod, who’s the bridegroom for he must hide behind his manliness and is not allowed to emote. Is he fearful of ridicule? Or is it because it’s the done thing? Whatever the reason that’s a quandary for me, that goes unanswered. The woman on the threshold of her wedding day is encouraged to be starry eyed, to express her hopes for a happy days full of love, whereas the man is made anxious with thoughts heavy pressing down on him. We allow the woman soft feelings to nurture on the other hand we don’t permit the man any display of  his.

They do, you know, have those soft feelings but hide them under brashness and bravado. You can see through the screens that they shadow behind, you just need to watch out for the signs. So, the next time you see the young boy who to the despair of his mother has never woken before the evening after a night of reveling with his friends, is up and ready for an early morning wedding puja. Or you witness the eagerness of the young man, who has never been on time for anything in his life, the first to turn up for his sehra bandi don’t be slack-jawed in surprise.

And while we are doing that let us also when telling the bride that she looks beautiful and ethereal praise the bridegroom letting him know that he looks handsome and regal.  We women will continue to hog the limelight with our embellished lehngas or sarees or suits and gorgeous jewelry, let’s pause to consider that the man does so only once, on this day, his wedding day. So, just let us take our eyes off the young lady for one brief moment and look upon this dazzling young man, donned in his magnificent brocade sherwani, hosting a symbolic pearl mala around his neck. Let’s gaze in admiration at the elegant kamarbandh encircling his waist where a sword within a bejeweled scabbard is jauntily fixed. Stop for a bit to appreciate his elegant dupatta and his stately jutis. Stare a little while with wonder at the embellished safa he proudly wears on his head onto which the mukut is affixed by loving sisters, proclaiming to all that he is the bridegroom and it is the happiest day of his life. And let us bless with hearts kind, as he sits astride the ceremonial horse with the confidence of a king, back straight in all his splendor while his sehra hides his joyful glow from any evil eye. Get together and applaud as he travels the last mile to bring love, companionship and happiness home. Allow him this day to express his pleasure just like my cousin did as he danced on the carriage that carried him to his equally and now I shall share the word with her ‘radiant’ bride as their long-held dream was on the threshold of coming true.

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Photo Credit: Richa Pandey Wadhwa

 

 

 

A Caregivers Dilemma

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This is in continuation to yesterday’s post – Empty Platitudes https://vasudhachandnagulati.wordpress.com/2016/08/23/empty-platitudes/ you might want to go through that first to understand what I’m trying to communicate here. My friend who despite all her difficulties still manages to make me laugh responded to the post with, “Imagine I used to keep telling my son to write about Mom dealing with Dad’s Alzheimer and here you’ve gone and made me the subject of your post.”

As I begin this post there is a feeling of trepidation. My concern is not on where I stand about what I plan to write today, but on what you my reader, may make out of this. Nevertheless.

We talk about those who have been wondrously sacrificing in tones full of deep respect. Those who do not take on their responsibilities we judge in hushed whispers laced with condescension. Poets have expounded on the virtues of stepping up and our movies have made good money glorifying ‘the right thing to do’.  And we do, that is do, what is right, what is expected of us. But, that is not my purpose here, to sit in moral judgment or to glorify the vigor of the person who is living up to the expectations of honor.

My question to you, dear reader is, have you ever thought about what a caregiver to a sick child, parent, spouse or sibling is going through? Let me answer for myself. I had not.

Up until my earnest conversations with my vibrant friend began, I saw others in her situation as brave souls admiring them from afar. I imagined them to be so strong and selfless that their circumstances were immaterial to their happiness. What I now realize is that they are definitely strong and selfless. But happy?

So my friend sent me a text right now, “My great aunt just left, she’s advised me to feed Mom ‘kabooter meat’ apparently it helps counteract paralysis!!” I call her up, this cannot be discussed over a text, shaking with laughter, I ask her, cooked or raw? Then I tell her to stand on the balcony with a net and catch a fresh pigeon to feed her mom. On the speaker aunty laughs along with us as she says, “Bring on the pigeons I’ll soon spring up from my bed and strut like one gutergooing.” Now this may seem completely irreverent to some of you, but, that is one of the small harmless doses of laughter my friend will have in her day where she measures out medications, props up her parents into comfortable positions and where her conversations will be with doctors, nurses and physiotherapists.

As she goes about being the responsible child that she is we have a number of discussions about her day. She tells me of the various demands that her relatives place on her ‘by wanting to be helpful.’ The aunt who insists on making her special ‘biryani’ for the invalids and then hands her a long list of ingredients to be procured from the market.  The incessant calling of another for updates, who could not visit as her daughter had an allergy in her armpits! Another who decides to help by accompanying her to the hospital and takes up the doctor’s time by discussing her own problems with him. Such people who are a ‘disease’ themselves for which there is no cure, how do you tell them to keep away while trying not to ‘hurt’ their sentiments (that being of prime importance.)

She tells me with empathy about her mother who is going through the depression that comes with the loss of mobility. She tells me about how she does sweet little things to cheer up her mother, like painting her nails and cutting her hair into a bob.  And then we talk about the depression that she herself is going through. She says that she gets a lot of calls daily from friends and family asking her how her parents are. The strange thing she says is very rarely does anyone ask me how am I doing. How am I dealing with the anxiety? The sleepless nights! The endless pressures! The loneliness! This total change in my life, no one asks! Is a caregiver no longer a person? She tells me of an incident and I am taken aback at the callousness of people. When her mother was in the hospital and after a hectic day of rushing around she was very hungry, the first thing she found to eat were golgappas and she ate them. On returning to the hospital when she told someone they were aghast at her ‘enjoying golagappas’ while her mother lay in hospital. Excuse me!! Why is khichdi acceptable and golgappas not?

So those of you judging take a moment and reflect. She is a young person who by all rights should be out pursuing her interests or her career. She should be with her son who will leave for college next year and needs her support, her counsel critically. She should be sitting with a coffee in her hand as she gossips with her friends in a café. She should spend the nights dancing and being drunk on the headiness of life.  She should be on holiday with her spouse with whom she has spent the years of struggle as they climbed up the ladder of success. These are her prime years. Does she not deserve this and more that most of us take for granted?

Shouldn’t she be running with the wind on her face, not sitting looking out of the window of dismay, wondering what the next day will bring!