I was six when my mom's brother got married. Weddings are fun when you are a child- stealing 'supari', drinking an extra glass of sharbat, dancing in the courtyard to the wedding music, siphoning and saving the various wedding decorations. My mother and other ladies dressed up in multi-colored kancheepuram silk sarees and my dad in soft, white veshti are some of my most vivid memories.
But the one that stands out, is my cousin's ghagra.
I come from the South-Indian world of silk pavadai, where a ghagra (though less expensive) was a novelty. My cousin Vidhya's parents had purchased one for both of us. On the day of the wedding, my aunt, in a rush, instead of asking which ones we wanted to wear, just thrust a red one in my hand and a blue one in Vid's.
You may now guess where this is going.
I loved her dress. It was a shimmering, palest-sky blue you could ever imagine. It was light, flowing... Like the breeze or the waves.
Even at that tender age, I guess I knew something about etiquette. I kept my mouth shut, throwing lustful gazes at the red ghagra and sullen ones at my aunt. My shrewd aunt immediately asked me if I wanted Vid's ghagra. But I refused and told her that I liked mine, thank you very much.
I didn't dare look at my cousin's face lest she guessed my heart's desire.
We both dressed up and I looked at mine... It was a gaudy, shiny magenta with green and golden embroidery running all over it. It was heavy and clung to me like castle-style drapes. I not only hated it, I was embarrassed to wear something this vulgar.
Both of us are married now (ambiguous, I know – so let me clarify- not to each other) and have a daughter (each). We keep in touch over phone and check up on each other's lives, discussing the growing prices and baby-food.
In the most recent call, we were reminiscing about lack of responsibilities during childhood and how that made the days fun. Somehow the wedding thing came up and I confessed that I loved her dress.
Surprise, surprise.. She wanted mine.
Vid thought her's was a boring, plain, simple blue dress... but mine was a fun, girly pink with embroidery, mirrors and colors...
Wish we had spoken long ago.