When I say my best friend of twenty five years got married, one would imagine that this other best friend of the best friendship in question, looked gorgeous in the wedding. Perfectly draped silk walkalam, perfect nails, pretty make up, sexy heels, charming, smiling and greeting everyone with perfect grace.
And I so did not live up to that pretty image.
Throughout the wedding I was running around like the mad hatter. Tucking her saree, looking for a pin, holding her veil, wiping her kajal, wiping her sweat (in January!!!), picking up flowers that fell from her pretty bun (she had about eight carnations and three roses in her hair on her wedding day!), snatching gifts from her hands as soon as they were given to her, shooing off unnecessary relatives and friends, checking for safety pins poking in unusual places (hers not mine), wiping her sweat (did I tell you she had a winter wedding!!), frowning furiously at the Pandit who kept on pouring ghee in a roaring fire, making her wear a saree, folding her clothes, counting and tucking away her jewellery, packing the gifts, getting her water, feeding her, taking her phone calls, doing the screaming for her, covering her in a blanket, putting her to sleep, sneaking her a drink when she needed it and occasionally reminding myself to breathe.
When she left there were too many people who were too eager to hug her and bless her. I saw her later, with her helpless eyes puffed up and all I could do was to pat her back, wipe off the kajal which ran along with her tears and let her walk into a mass of unknown people waiting to welcome her. I couldn’t see her at all when she walked into her in laws place. There were new people who tried to make her smile. I walked in last with two other friends with her bags stuffed with comfort clothes and the comfort night suit and the strawberry flavored lip balm and the tattered sweater that she needed at night and her good luck charms that the new people did not know about. I waited in the corner of the room and bit my nails off looking at the ones who were trying very hard to make her comfortable. I just saw her once when I had to leave and say goodbye. I left her crying and a small packet of soft tissues to help her wipe all that eye make up when needed.
A day later at her reception, I saw someone else helping her throughout. Tucking in her saree with safety pins, making sure her hair was alright and wiping her sweat when she got too nervous. Someone else sat beside her receiving gifts and getting her water to drink. I mingled with others, did my share of catching up with acquaintances and wondered if she was alright. I didn’t see her the whole night. Just before I left, I went looking for her and saw her standing lost in an empty room. I hugged her and let her cry.
It was hard to watch her getting married, you know. It was like a part of me had to let go of her. In what way and why I cannot explain. I don’t know why I died every time I saw her crying her eyes out over those four days. I don’t know why I looked upon her in laws, whom she had already known for eight whole years, as complete strangers. I guess I wanted to protect her, cry with her, sit beside her, hug her and smile with her all at once. When I look back I don’t remember much about my chipped nail paint, my mismatched make up, my clumsily draped saree and my spectacular absence in photo ops. But. I do remember being there when she needed to be held, I remember watching her smile, I remember what she hurriedly whispered into my ear right before she got married, I remember how she looked sitting in the make up studio restlessly twitching her fingers.
And being the very best of friends for twenty five years now, I don’t think I could have asked for anything more.
Edited to add later: This post was written on Feb 22, 2010. Was lying in my drafts folder. I was hunting some snaps of her wedding to put up to realize that I had not taken even one picture during her wedding. *Sigh*
My entry for Blogadaa’s Friends Forever Contest.