Hairclips! That is what I remember most. Honestly, that is all I remember.
By 3AM in the morning, the hullaballoo was over. Our wedding party had reached Dhaka, the ceremonial welcome of the new bride over and done with, and J, my kid sister ushered us to the room.
As I locked the door, I experienced an epiphany — two in a 10 by 10 room, under the same roof, for the rest of our lives. What was I thinking?!
I have no intention of scaring your hearts out with the whole conundrum that is arranged marriage, but yes, this is a reality check, and if you think love marriage is any different, you may consider thinking again.
So there we were, two strangers brought together by destiny. We had met each other only once. What followed next was some chit-chat on Facebook, and the moment she said, “Yes,” I made the best of her momentary insanity, and reciprocated with an even more decisive, “yes!”
I sat there with her. Both of us silent. The seven-hour bus ride from Sylhet to Dhaka was an ice-breaker, but when it comes to the first night of your marriage, there is way too much ice to break.
There she was, a beautiful bride, clad in a beautiful sari; the makeup, the bling — everything only adding to her mesmerising glow. That, however, was only the first 20 minutes of the reception. What followed next was a barrage of photographs and selfies. It was expected that I would not recognise half the people. Well as it turned out, none of us recognised the faces. And the band played on until the door was shut.
Now back to our room —
Maybe just to put an end to the moment of awkward silence, or being just pragmatic, she quickly moved to the next set of tasks — getting out of the wedding garb.
It was a rather simple affair for me, somewhat routine — tossed the sherwani, took off the panjabi and became comfortable in a T in no time. She, on the other hand, had layers. If you thought onions have layers, a Bengali bride will certainly have your heads spinning.
I had a career in fashion and lifestyle journalism. I already knew everything one needs to know about makeup, saris, cleansers and what not, but what I experienced was sheer horror, straight out of a Stephen King book.
She was using cotton balls to cleanse her face and I was removing pins that safely held her sari. From the shoulders to the last edge of the 'kuchi', there were pins — hundreds of them…thousands of pins…hundreds and thousands of pins. There were pins everywhere.
The first task was to remove the ornaments of course, but what to do with these precious metals? She was as clueless as I was. The jewellery box was safely locked in the suitcase along with her wedding trousseau, and as unfortunate as it was, none of us had the key.
The jewellery piled up on the bed, and so did the pins. And after about an hour of ordeal, the mountainous pins outgrew the jewels, and we swiftly moved on to the sari. (If you are expecting any rated content, read no further because my friend, the first night of union is PG).
If you like Byron, you would agree, “She walks in beauty.” Perhaps, none more so than the dusky Bengali belle! Us men being what we are, never know the hidden secret that all women have mastered to pull off the sari with grace and panache. Pins my friend…humble pins!
Time stood still, or so it seemed. I accomplished removing the pins, damaging the sari in the process, I shamefully admit.
And then came the hairclips…thousands of clips…hundreds and thousands of clips. There were clips everywhere. To cut the long story short, it was a whole new ball game, and it felt like I was not on my turf. Once done, dear wife took out a tiny bottle, pored some liquid and applied on her hair.
The permed bun fluffed up, and now with all the makeup removed, the beautiful…beautiful bride turned into a blanched banshee. Without even pausing for me to understand what was happening, out came a paper towel from the purse, and placing it neatly on the pillow, she smirked and said, “Goodnight Mr Mashhur.”
I rested my head on my pillow, and said, “Goodnight Mrs Mashhur.” What she did not hear me say, was: “Thank you, god!”
PS: A friend called two days later hoping to learn from my experience. I paused, and could only manage, “Learn to remove hairclips before you learn to unhook…”
He chuckled. I smiled.
“We will see who has the last laugh,” I told myself…he was getting hitched within a week.
Photo: LS Archive/Sazzad Ibne Sayed