Two years ago, around the same time of the year, I had very enthusiastically written about my cousin’s upcoming wedding. A wedding I had been looking forward to attending after a long time of steering clear of all celebrations in the family.
More correctly, at that point, I felt I had moved on from mourning the death of my marriage and was back to my normal self, to enjoy the occasion in the right spirits.
But little did I know what lay ahead of me. An impending feeling of loss had been waiting to drag me into the pits. A fear clutched me by my ankles and refused to let go of me. Every move I’d make to stay my normal self, my feet wouldn’t budge.
Two years ago, I couldn’t muster enough courage to write about this overwhelming experience, but today, I can’t sit at peace till I am done pouring my heart in this space.
The change in me, the desperation to talk about my fears has its roots in the recent experiences I had at a family wedding and I want this out of my system ASAP because I am to attend another grand wedding in the next few days.
Anyway, let’s get back to what happened two years ago.
The very idea of a Bollywood theme wedding left me feeling uneasy with the anticipation of an overdose of drama, especially when the hosts were the most dramatic members of my family. Trying hard to keep my sinking heart in check, for the sake of Pari, we finally landed at the venue.
I wanted the hard work I’d invested in getting fitter than I had been in over 5 years keep my spirits high, but nothing, not even the lure of wearing the latest designer dresses could make me look forward to the ceremonies.
At this point, I want to highlight, that in the past few years, I have come to trust my gut more than I’ve ever listened to my heart or the mind for that matter.
An unknown sense of restlessness was slowly filling up my system. The cold treatment being meted out to me, by every member of the extended family, didn’t go unnoticed. What would start with an enthusiastic hello would lose all energy by the time, “So where are you working these days?” was asked, hardly 30 seconds later.
Though my mother, like always, defending her side of the family, said, that the coldness was a mere figment of my imagination, I couldn’t seem to overlook the sneering glances my 3-year-old darling was attracting, being stuck with a good-for-nothing single mom.
Though I had anticipated it all, I was stunned by the fact, how these remarks still affected me. It came as a blow to my belief that I had overcome my past, had moved on in life and was comfortable with the status of being a work-from-home, single mom.
I know, my financial situation isn’t even worth a mention, especially when my cousins, younger to me by 5 to 6 years are earning 8 figure salaries. But that shouldn’t be a point of discussion because I am neither financially dependent on anyone nor am I shedding tears to gain sympathy in my current state.
However, society doesn’t behave in ways that are logical to our sensibilities. In the protective presence of my parents, no overtly hurtful comments came my way, but I still missed the candor, the purity of meeting the extended family after a long pause. The plastic smiles, the synthetic busyness was very new and made the food difficult to swallow despite its richness and my hungry stomach.
In my mind, I was busy doing the math, that I had arrived around an hour back and had to stay for 54 more hours midst these cold hearts, trying to act happy, when I could barely breathe normally in that smoke-free, AC hall that still had room for 100 more people despite around 150 people already present there.
I couldn’t stop my mind from wavering to the thoughts of why the uncles, aunts and my cousins couldn’t see me beyond my marital status. I was unable to fathom their small-heartedness that refused to warm up to an innocent 3-year-old, so many of them were meeting for the first time.
I was much relieved when Pari and I stepped in our hotel room and locked the door shut. I had never before experienced freedom in the confines of a locked hotel room like I did then.
The afternoon sped fast, chitchatting with a couple of friendlier cousins and not-so-nosy aunts. The early evening was spent savoring the delish snacks with hot tea because Pari and I hadn’t eaten our lunches properly.
All was well, till we dressed up and were ready to put our best foot forward for the engagement ceremony around 7 pm. As I had dressed up Pari before I started getting ready, she wanted to go out and play with other kids than watch me get dressed up.
So, Pari left with my parents while I half-heartedly started getting ready for the ceremonies. While I was still deciding on my shade of lipstick, I could clearly hear the crowd cheer as the DJ played Yo Yo Honey Singh’s hit numbers.
After dillydallying for another half an hour, I stepped out of my hotel room, not a single soul was in the corridors. Not even the hotel staff. The glittering lights, the shimmering chandeliers, made me reminisce how my baby cousin used to yearn for a princess’ wedding as a kid.
As I reached the elevator, a strong scent of cologne blinded my thoughts. I was startled by its striking similarity to the cologne my ex-used and was too numb to think anything. Inside the elevator were three couples, more or less my age, who were too excited and busy in themselves, taking selfies to even notice my quiet presence.
The one thing that my dazed mind couldn’t miss was how much in love these youngsters looked. I felt a pang of loss rise in the pit of my stomach that moistened my eyes in less than the time the elevator took in reaching from the third to the ground floor.
Suddenly, I was the only one who didn’t have a hand to hold. I was the only girl who wasn’t looking forward to anything that evening. I was the only soul who was smiling on the outside but was crying on the inside, or so it seemed.
I have no memory of who all I met at the ceremony, what I ate and how the evening went past. I was too busy pitying myself for the absence of love in my life. I know, for a mother, a child’s love can mean the world, but despite having Pari in my life, that evening made me realize how much I longed for companionship.
The following two days were spent, restlessly wanting to escape from that lover’s paradise that was a holiday resort 20 kilometers outside the metro city that wasn’t my home.
The following month was spent reflecting, reevaluating my emotional well-being, reassuring myself that it was perfectly normal to miss being in a romantic relationship after having spent three-quarter of a decade in love (one sided or not isn’t the point of concern at this time).
Time flew and though I attended many weddings in the past two years, another wedding of a close cousin happened just last week. This time, I was sure that nothing could set disturb my newfound state of calm. Not even PDA or being the only single woman (of my age group) in the vast length and breadth of my family, present there.
The good news was, this time around, the wedding involved the extended family of my father’s side, unlike last time. The cousins of this side have been more understanding, warm towards Pari, with many kids of her age, too happy to have found a spirited mate in her.
For a change, I enjoyed myself, eating, chatting (as little as I normally do), meeting new people, I did not feel conscious of my marital status. I wasn’t feeling suffocated (having ceremonies in the lush lawns had a huge role to play in this) and neither was I struggling to keep tears away. Being myself was a happy change, despite the palpable coldness and the deafening silence on any topic pertaining to my existence from various corners.
Being myself was a happy change, despite the palpable coldness and the deafening silence on any topic pertaining to my existence from various corners.
The weird sense of loss dared to breeze past me but seeing my new-found composure decided to stay away, not daring to rub its shoulders with me.
It almost felt like an achievement to have been an active part of a family wedding without feeling left out. I am hoping the upcoming wedding shall prove to be a similarly exciting experience because now I am ready to answer anyone asking me “What do you do to keep yourself busy?” with “I write” without a hint of guilt or the need to explain myself.
The song on my mind: Ye kya jagah hai doston ~ Umrao Jaan
23 thoughts on “At the Wedding”
Being a single mother has social stigma attached to it . Our society still feels that a woman’s identity is attached to her husband’s. Sometimes somethings just don’t work out, be it marriage or anything else important in life. Why be cold to a person with no reason or rhyme.
ME, its perfectly normal to feel whatever you felt, but dress for yourself, walk out proud for you have every reason to. You have Pari’s hand to hold on to. Always!
And yeah, get the perfect shade of lipstick and with a proud smile, tell the world what you do. 🙂
And enjoy the wedding. A little dance with Pari maybe. 😉
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You’re right, Ramya. I have to believe in myself and walk with a head held high, often our confidence is the best ice-breaker.
Thank you dear for reminding me that I have Pari’s hand to hold anytime and every time I feel lonely and scared.
As I read your post, I was with you all along those decorated corridors and amidst people. You shared this beautifully and I don’t have words to comfort you. I know that in all of ours, there comes a time when we know in our heart of hearts that what we long for today, wasn’t good when it was around. I think that would keep me moving. Open to new friendships.
Hugs and lots of love. I am glad you chose to write about this. I am sure it’s not easy.
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Thank you for saying this, “what we long for today, wasn’t good when it was around.”
Small affirmations like these can often act as a balm on the wounds that scrape the soul.
Hugs & lots of love to you too ❤
i read this as I sat outside for a bit of sunshine from working indoors in a cold room and I felt colder reading you ME, your sadness overcame me and I want to hug you tight and say you are amazing and don’t ever let anyone make you feel any less. your feelings reflect in your actions and words and Pari needs a strong mother, single or not, you are here baseline, her guide, her yardstick to measure how she is valued too. I have been alone for so long, still hoping for companionship but know that happiness is elusive, instead build your confidence and character, don’t allow anyone to take that away from you, and the knowledge for learning and skills. We as single mothers know the values of life and friendship above the romantic connection which is fickle and soul damaging at times. Know you are loved by many who know your strength my dear friend. Your story is much appreciated for your sincerity and heartfelt emotions!
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Tight hugs and lots of love to you for always saying just the right things ❤
P.S.- Love your new DP ❤
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Thank you ME! I was touched by your words. Always hugs to you! Thank you for the like! It’s a new me!
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Er, “What do you do to keep yourself busy?” I thought in India at least it was taken for granted that a woman with a child would have enough to do, given that women are usually expected to handle cooking and general household chores to. Has the dismissive attitude to stay at home mums struck in india too? Or is it because you’re in a single mum?
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Most of my extended family (if not all) are well aware of the fact that I work from home, but because of my educational qualifications, I am often asked when am I joining full-time work. It wouldn’t be wrong if the question was posed worrying about my and my child’s future, but what usually follows is making fun of the money I make in my current position, as compared to what I was making, say 10 years down the line or compared to my younger cousins.
As far keeping busy (in the literal sense) everyone is aware I have too much on my plate with elderly parents to take care of, besides the regular household chores and juggling work-from-home scene.
Very touching post. In tears thinking about how you must have felt. Society , especially families are cruel when it comes to single mom. But chin up girl, you are a rock star in your own might. To be able to write so beautifully and touch so many lives is a boon.
You already know this – but just a reminder that a lot of people stay in unhappy marriages, some are in compromise marriages, some are in lackluster marriages with no meaning or purpose, just bound together by convenience. So, being married does not confer happiness or companionship on us.
Of course you know all this – but just wanted to reiterate – it is precious to have someone who loves you and that someone doesn’t need to be a man – you have Pari and that’s a precious thing.
And those people who treat you coldly – unfortunately they don’t know any better. They belong to a society that confers worth on a person through marriage. They don’t understand what true worth is – that is comes from honesty, compassion, warmth, unconditional love. Those people will continue to process the world through superficial terms (wealth, marital status, etc.) and they will never experience real friendships and genuine happiness. If they can’t love and respect you for who you are as an individual, it is their loss. Surround yourself with genuine people.
So glad to know that this post has a happy ending!!
And that you have found peace!! ❤ ❤
See, everything gets sorted out with time – even the reactions of others. I am sure it will be much better in the years to come.
Enjoy your upcoming wedding, and much love to Pari ☺️
So much I want to say but for now, I am going to just reach out and hug you for the absolute candour in this post. I hope many women in your position can have the authenticity to deal with this situation the way you have, the courage to lay it all bare and share it with all your readers. I wish you nothing but happiness. Always. ❤
I can completely relate to this one, been there done that. Just when we think we have moved on, ready to step out of our inner world and face the public world, a trigger is enough to take us back into the victim mode. It is awful, the social alienation that comes directly or indirectly with divorce in India. We single moms are looked at differently, so are our kids.
With time I have learnt to muster inner strength to participate in social gatherings. I remind myself that having faced my darkest fears and continuing to raise my kids with a steel heart and a firm head on the shoulder – I have emerged the strong one here. Then whatever people say or think should not concern me. And sometimes when it does hurt, its a good reminder that I’m still sensitive and not thick-skinned.
I’m sure you will enjoy the forthcoming weddings. Hugs! 🙂
Oh! I’m so glad to stop by your blog! And I feel simply happy and blessed to have you known! Please… like literally please… always write your heart out… it always makes one feel much better! And the wedding instances you mentioned.. I know how society looks at single women and it isn’t good as well… seeing those couples and missing the companionship in life is only natural but I am so happy to know that you are happy in your skin, you are happy and comfortable with things around you and at the end of the day, it is your happiness that matters the most!
So stay happy and keep writing… Also, just in case if ever you need to talk/share or anything… just know that I’m a ping away 🙂
Lots of hugs to you 🙂
hugs ME.. I love your way of writing and the way you express it. hugs again and wishing you to have fun time at the upcoming wedding..
Hugs hugs and more hugs ME …. I’m so sorry you had to go through this shitty stuff…. it just reflects the low level of those relatives… but what made feel so sad was the loneliness I read…. you have a beautiful way with words …. I hope you have a wonderful time at the upcoming wedding and may you find the trust, friendship and companionship soon ❤❤
I can so relate to this. I had just announced my decision to get a divorce , when my younger sis got engaged. At her wedding, HE was invited with his clan and introduced as the older son-in-law while I watched in numb horror. That wedding was so totally ruined for me by my parents insistence to “not tell anyone” and pretend all us well while all around me relatives buzzed in whispers . Damn that was a horrid week for me and I swore not to put myself there again. I gave since then gotten my divorce, attended every wedding and danced at them too.
I salute you for being brave enough to face it all too. I empathise with you over “why can’t they look beyond my marital status?”
Well express Era. More power to you!!! 🙂
Whoops looks like I mis posted a comment that was to go for another post. Sincere Apologies. Kindly delete it.
I know the feeling, I was a single mom for a while, so I know what it feels to be there.
All I can say to you is keep that beautiful chin up. And don’t give two hoots to what people think. That’s the best way to deal with life. After all it’s your life your journey. No one dare pass judgements on that.
I pray some day you find a good soul will make this journey of life even more magical for you. I did so yet again, and I know what it means to be experience the difference.
Meanwhile loads of hugs and love to you and Pari 💕💕💕💕
ME I admire your candour and courage 🙂 You have come a looooong way and strangely what I feel for you is – pride 🙂
I can relate to you to a certain extent. Me and my family have always been blatantly honest about my choice. A very wise friend had told me – if you are not ashamed of your choice no one can make you feel that way. Just own it and throw it in their face instead of hiding it. I have followed her advise to the T. And it has worked for me. I say ‘I am divorced’ so confidently that it leaves people speechless at times. To those who reply ‘I am sorry’ , I just say “Dont be. I am not” 🙂
I wish you, us, peace ME 🙂
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I am glad to note that you have dealt with past demons and emotional upheavals…love you for your courage and resilience. Life unfolds new chapters everyday…keep shining and stay blessed!
There is so much honesty in this post. My heart goes out to you…tight hugs from me all the way here ❤ ❤
The best part is that you yourself have lifted yourself up in this situation and made yourself strong enough to face this big, bad world……so cheer up! And keep believing in love 🙂
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