Sanjana sits demurely, a royal blue, Banarsi silk saree draped around her head, in a ghunghat (veil).
Last evening she took the saath phere (seven rounds around the sacred fire) with Suraj amidst the chants of Vedic mantras, to culminate their 5-year-old relationship into marriage. Both sides of the family, from the rural interiors of Uttar Pradesh had congregated to witness the ceremony. The Band Baja Barat, clad in their usual garish red, had sung and played, blaring the loudspeakers through the night with Mera Piya Ghar Aaya O Ramji (Happy Homecoming of my Husband), Subah Hone Na De, Saath Khone Na De, Ek Doosre Ko Hum Sone Na De, Tu Mera Hero Oo Oo (Won’t let the Mornings come, Won’t lose you for Nothing, Won’t let each Other Sleep, You are my Hero, Ooo) and the likes.
Next day sitting on the wooden sofa, Sanjana is surrounded by Suraj’s aunts, sisters, and a whole ilk of relatives who are excited to see the new bride. But Sanjana feels like a goat who is about to be slaughtered. Her mother-in-law, a querulous old woman, with a bulging mid-rif that sticks out like a Good Year tyre; sits across the chair staring, at Sanjana. The stare is good enough to make the most confident person crumble to ground. The mother-in-law thinks, “I need to have the upper hand from day one, and she needs to know I rule the roost. These educated, city-bred girls, I tell you, think no end of themselves!”
Sanjana on the other hand consoles herself, “I’m doing all this for Suraj, after all he’s the love of my life. It’s a matter of a few days, till then I will grin and bear the stares, and all things that I have feared.”
10 years hence
Photo Source: www.ungree.com
Sanjana is at Chaayos, the tea cafe; her hands cupped around the masala chai kullhad, as she is engaged in a conversation. Her companion is thoroughly enjoying the anecdotes she is narrating, from her office offsite. Sanjana has a spark in her eyes, and she continues to chat animatedly. “Oh, Ma, did I tell you I picked up two Kanjevaram sarees for you?” Sanjana quips to her mother-in-law excitedly.