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Creative Nonfiction

“Wakey-wakey! Rise and shine! Get that butt out of bed!”

I groaned. Why oh why did my best friend and roommate have to be such a morning person? And why extra chipper today? Then I remembered.

“Five more minutes, actually make that ten.”

I shouldn’t have spoken, that meant I was awake.

“No! Vidya, this is the first time I’m attending an Indian wedding and you are not going to make me late!”

Lori gathered a bottom edge of my duvet and whisked it off me before I could hold on to it. I groaned again.

“I could have been naked you know, or been hiding a man in my bed.”

“Nothing I haven’t seen or done before now come on wake up!”

“Yes ma’am.”

It had been three weeks, and for every single day of those three weeks he was the first person I thought of when I opened my eyes when I woke up. I sighed. I wanted to text him, maybe call, I missed the silly good morning messages. But I had promised myself I would not beg or grovel. He didn’t want me and that was it, I was not going to force him to be with me out of pity. More so since he had never told me the actual reason why he wanted to break up with me. Lori’s voice rang out from the hallway, “If you dare to go back to sleep Vidya Singh, I will come and drench you in cold water!”

I smiled, not at the threat though, Lori did not make empty threats and I did not fancy a soaked bed. It was her tenacity that had drawn me to her, something I had grown to love about her. We made an odd pair, the tall dark Indian girl and the blonde blue eyed English girl with skin so pale it was almost translucent. Lori made up for her petite frame by being the personification of the phrase “dynamite comes in small packages”. As I sat up and got ready to make the bed, I thought back to the day that we first met. Both new in town, freshmen at the same university and apartment hunting in a city we did not know. We had different agents but we somehow ended up at the same apartment at the same time and we both loved it. There were however issues, not only was it too big for one, it was way out of either our budgets. My agent had then suggested that we share it since we both liked it. Splitting the rent would make it affordable and the space would still be spacious with two people. I was hesitant, how could I move in with a total stranger? Lori on the other hand had not seemed to even think about it. Her immediate response had been, “Awesome! Hie I am Lori Taylor. You can pick your room first I’m happy with either.”

I was stunned, and in a way bulldozed into agreeing to this partnership. Three years later, I still considered it one of the smartest decisions I had made since leaving home. Lori was heaven sent and I could not imagine going through the past three weeks without her, in some ways I envied her. She lived her life with such energy, head and heart all in. When things didn’t work out, she picked herself up and went off in search of the next rainbow to colour her world. A lot of people said she rebounded so fast because she was never emotionally invested in anything. Living with her had however shown me that it wasn’t that she didn’t love hard; she just had it in her genes not to dwell on anything that no longer brought her joy. Unlike me, three weeks on and I was still hung up over my ex.

“You’re brooding again”, a voice said from behind me and I turned to see Lori, two cups of coffee in hand. She really was a life saver.

Lori and I were actually part of a trio. The third person in our little clique was Yasmeen and she was the reason Lori was all so hyped up. Yasmeen was getting married, to a man she had never met, an arranged marriage. To me, that was pretty normal. Although I was not all for it, it was something I had grown up with. My parents and aunts had all had arranged marriages and my brother, the first born in our family had also had an arranged marriage and the worked just as well as any other marriages. Lori on the other hand thought it was a form of puppeteering. When Yasmeen had told us she was getting married, Lori had in her typical blunt say it first and think later manner had blurted, “You don’t even have a boyfriend!”

Between Yasmeen and I we had then attempted to explain how the whole arranged marriage thing works but she still wasn’t convinced. “What if the guy is a total idiot?” she had countered.

“You just pray he isn’t I guess”, Yasmeen had responded and the look on Lori’s face had been priceless. Though the idea of an arranged marriage did not sit well with her, the idea of attending an Indian wedding was beyond fascinating. I tried to tell her that Bollywood tended to go over the top with everything and there was more to an Indian wedding than the dancing. She however would not allow me to rain on her parade. In her opinion, an Indian wedding, Bollywood or not was still going to be unlike the church English weddings she had attended at home. I wasn’t surprised; it was very much like her to always seek out the best in everyone and everything.

After a slow start to our morning, we finally got our act together and got ready to get our show on the road. Being the bride’s best friends, we planned on arriving early enough to see her before the ceremony began. Two hours later we were all dolled up and good to go.

We had been to Yasmeen’s home before but today it looked nothing like it usually did. The decorations were stunning and there was no mistaking the air of celebration that surrounded the whole place. Lori was like a child in a candy store and I could see the amount of self-control it took her not to whip out her phone and start taking pictures and selfies.                    “I’ll do the pictures later when everyone is too drunk to notice”, she whispered to me and I laughed. We entered the main entrance of the house and were met by Yasmeen’s mother who gushed over how good we looked.

“Ooh Lori dear you look absolutely stunning, maybe we should get you an Indian husband too, you were made to wear a sari!”

“Once I know how to make biriyani as good as yours then we can start looking.”

Yasmeen’s mother laughed as she shooed us off indicating that Yasmeen was in her room. We quickly went upstairs and found the bride with her two younger sisters fussing over makeup in front of the mirror. In that moment all my troubles were forgotten. Yasmeen looked so beautiful and so happy. I wished her the best from the bottom of my heart. From her red sari with the intricate gold embroidery which matched the gold jewellery to the symmetrical henna patterns she was what every Indian girl dreamed to look like on their wedding day. I gave her a careful hug so as not to mess up her hair or make up and she smiled shyly. It was weird and sad to realise that our trio would not be a trio as often anymore.

“Ok, enough moping, save the tears for later. How do I look?” Trust Lori to lighten the mood at the perfect time. She did a twirl and a little Bollywood dance which had us all in laughter. Lori had all the passion in the world but absolutely zero co-ordination and her dancing was the most entertaining and hilarious thing to watch.

“You look amazing in a sari, just don’t dance in front of anyone you like, ok?” Yasmeen responded with a giggle which had all of us laughing again. Once the final beauty tweaks were done it was time to get downstairs and officially welcome the groom. As we all watched him arrive on a white horse right into the house Lori gave a little squeal which she squashed quickly. The groom’s entrance certainly had received her approval. The groom descended from his horse which was then led out and Yasmeen’s father proceeded to wash his right foot with milk and honey before leading him to the mandap. Next Lori and I made the procession that led Yasmeen to the mandap as well which was led by her maternal uncle. Once both sets of parents had consented to the marriage, the white curtain which had been separating the bride and groom was lowered. They both however still had their faces covered so technically couldn’t see each other.

“Well if they arranged the marriage why do they need to consent to it again? Can’t have changed their mind already!” Lori whispered . I must admit, she had a point. An elder of the house then put a white cotton cord around the couple’s shoulders then made them hold hands before saying their vows. I loved the vows. They made me wish I had someone to pledge their undying love to me for always too. Though my parents had not made any specific plans concerning my marriage, an arranged marriage was something I felt I would not fight against. I wondered though if I was just thinking that way because I was single and if my sentiments would be the same if I was dating someone. My daydreaming resulted in me missing parts of the ceremony and I realised the couple had already completed the saptapadi. I felt my phone vibrate in my purse and I looked down at it contemplating whether to answer it or not. I decided against it, the number of people I would have to ask to move so I could get outside to answer were just too many. And by the time I would have gone out the call might have been dropped anyway. I figured I would deal with it later. Just then I heard Lori cuss under her breath, Low as it was, I heard it and so did other people close by. This was one of those times I wished Lori was a bit more tactful. I raised my eyes from my purse to turn to her and find out what had happened but I never got to her. As I raised my eyes, I met Yasmeen’s eyes and her face had a look of pure horror. She looked like she had seen a ghost. Beneath all that makeup she actually looked pale. The bride and groom had uncovered their faces so he could bless her by placing vermillion powder at the parting of her hair. Whoever he was, she certainly was not happy to see him. Shocked as she was, her eyes were fixed on me and her groom soon turned to see what she was looking at. The moment he did however, I felt the colour drain from my face. It was Abhay. My Abhay. The Abhay who had been mine till three weeks ago when he had abruptly ended things. One of my best friends and my ex had just realised they were married. Abhay’s face mirrored the look of horror on Yasmeen and probably mine too. Everyone else sensed something was wrong but no one knew what it was. A tiny voice in my head broke through the shock and reminded me that I was not going to ruin my best friend’s wedding by making a scene. With my eyes still fixed on both Yasmeen and Abhay I mouthed, “Its okay.” To Lori I reached out and grabbed her hand then muttered, “Take me out of here, please.”

The people around us assumed I was unwell and immediately made way for us to leave which made our exit faster that would have normally been possible. Lori quickly took me to Yasmeen’s room, closed the door and then wrapped her arms around me and I immediately broke down. This was the first time I had actually cried since Abhay and I had broken up. I believe a part of me was still hoping for reconciliation and I had just realised that it was never going to happen and I couldn’t even hate him or Yasmeen for it.

An hour after my hasty exit from the ceremony, Lori helped me redo my makeup. All this time she had not said anything and it suddenly dawned on me. She was never one not to have an opinion. “What do you think about this whole situation?” I asked her as our eyes locked in the mirror. “Life is screwed up for starters. Secondly we need to find you a new man & this time marry him quickly before I do.” I smiled as I squeezed her hand which was on my shoulder. I was once again grateful for having her in my life. She was like a ray of sunshine. I knew everything was going to work out alright. Just then we heard a light knock on the door followed by a familiar voice asking if they could come in. Lori looked at me and I nodded. She went to open the door and Yasmeen entered closely followed by Abhay who was looking terribly uncomfortable. I felt bad for him; this was like an unintentional love triangle.

“I’m sorry Vidya, Yas. I really am.”

I managed a brief smile to which I added, “We know none of us had any control over this. I admit it is weird and awkward but we’ll be okay right?”

He reached out his hands, one to me and one to Yasmeen and nodded adding, “We’ll be ok.”

“Aaaw, oh so cute and mushy. Look at this way Abhay, you’re officially my best-friend in law, meaning I can bug you till dooms day!”

“Stuck with you till eternity. Is it too early to change my mind about this marriage? I was not aware that wives came with extra baggage.”

Lori rolled her eyes at Abhay and proceeded to drag him out of the room.

“Enough complaining, your first assignment awaits. How about you introduce to some of your handsome single friends?”

Once Lori and Abhay had left, Yasmeen turned me to face her, questions written all over her face. “I’m alright. It kind of stings right now but it doesn’t change us. Remember boyfriends can be replaced but best friends can’t.” I could see her eyes get all misty and knew if she started crying that would get me crying too so I pulled her close for a tight hug.

“I love you Vidya Singh.”

“& I love you too Yas, forever and always.”

February 14, 2020 15:51

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1 comment

Annabelle Cserni
18:28 Apr 03, 2020

this is great sorry no one liked it except me


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