Two Weddings and a Funeral (India Group serial)

Written by: SameerNagarajan
Maximum number of words per chapter: 500
Minimum number of words per chapter: 450

The Oberoi Hotel in South Mumbai is a classy venue for a marriage, thought Shweta, as she distractedly pushed a strand of hair back into place. There were less than three hours for the big moment and she knew she would have to head down in a few minutes to the mandap[1] that had already been set up in the main ballroom. Her traditional nine-yard saree, offset by elegant gold jewellery, looked resplendent - she had initially thought it was overdressing but had yielded to the urge to try something new.

So much has happened in just six weeks, she reflected. Her mother Lakshmi walked in and Shweta partially caught something about some guests who had already arrived and Lakshmi’s uncle receiving them formally. She read the wetness in her mother’s eyes, despite her outward exuberance.

“Amma,[2] she said, and hugged her. “I love you.” They savoured the moment, and then Lakshmi said, “Aditya is going to look very good today. I saw him as he returned from the hairdressers. Though I must say,” she said, her eyes twinkling, “he looks good every day.

Shweta pretended to frown; Lakshmi’s face changed as she said, quietly, “I really wish Akshay hadn’t come. He’s already here and I wonder what is going to happen as the function progresses. He is never good news”.

                                                                 ******

Byculla is a few kilometers away from South Mumbai, and half a planet away considering the social and economic differences between the two localities. There was a buzz of energy at the Hotel Plaza; the nikah[3] of Munira and Ahmed had just concluded and guests were arriving for the walima. Ahmed’s brother Salim smiled at the kids running around him, listening to their excited chatter – the older ones talking about dresses and cricket (depending on their gender) and the younger ones trying to decode the menu from the aromas wafting from the downstairs kitchen. He stiffened as their father approached him, looking quietly dignified in his black sherwani[4] with gold embroidery. Bowing slightly in deference, he followed his father to a corner. Ahmed saw sorrow and tension in his eyes.  “The news from Shweta’s family isn’t good,” his father whispered, as he related what he had heard.

                                                                   ******

Varanasi is 1500 kms from Mumbai and per Hindu custom, anyone who dies – or is cremated - there goes straight to heaven. Rahul looked blankly at the pyre, his father’s body on it, and mumbled the Sanskrit[5] words after the priest. He could barely see now, tears blurred his vision; he felt overwhelmingly old and tired. Wearing nothing but a veshti[6], he shivered partially from the winter morning and partially from his emotions; holding the earthen pot of water over his shoulder, he walked around the pyre. He let the pot slip from his shoulder thinking, “Appa[7], maybe I failed you this time, but was never scared of trying and my intent was to succeed”.

He wondered what Lakshmi and Shweta were doing just then and bitterness tinged his eyes.

 

 



[1] A mandap is a decorated platform where the actual marriage ceremony is conducted during a Hindu wedding.

[2] Mother

[3] Nikah is the formal Muslim wedding ceremony. It is followed by the Walima- the formal marriage banquet.

[4] Sherwani – a formal, traditional coat-like dress worn largely by Muslim men.

[5] Sanskrit is not a spoken language any more in India, though rituals and prayers continue to be performed by priests, whose training includes an extensive understanding of the language. 

[6] A veshti is the Tamil synonym for the Hindi word dhoti, which refers to a traditional men’s garment worn in India at religious ceremonies – a rectangular piece of unstitched cloth that is knotted around the waist and extends to the ankles.

 

[7] Father

 

I agree to the terms and conditions of this website.

Terms and Conditions

Publication schedule and notes

Please note

All existing content in this chapter will be deleted and that chapter will be made available for other users to book

You have to be have a "Writer account" (paid subscription) to continue. Please login or follow this link to register for the site as a writer.

Comments

This is The Story Mint's first serial for our newly formed India group. I look forward to reading it once it gets underway.
Great chapter as always Sameer. You have deftly created three different plot lines running simultaneously so it will be interesting to see how other authors develop the story and which plot will take precedence over the others. Since this is exclusively an Indian authors group serial, I look forward to see how each of us will add our own cultural insights and experiences to the story.
Thank you for taking the initiative.
My pleasure Hemali and thanks for the feedback! While I am interested in seeing how the plot develops, you've hit the nail on the head - let's see how cultural nuances emerge in the course of the storytelling. Promises to be an exciting journey ahead!