The ceremony was scheduled at 3:30 pm on June 6, 2009 at the Trinity Lutheran Church, Medford, Minnesota. Sangram had to reach at 12:30 noon for signing the wedding license. Since we had nothing better to do, we decided to accompany him. That meant getting ready 3 hours before the actual ceremony. Most girls would complain about that. But I didn't want to miss anything, though the thought of lazing about on a Saturday morning felt tempting.
It was pouring when we reached the church. A professional photographer was directing the poses for the bride and the groom. The couple looked beautiful and very much in love. I always thought that Mitch and Sushma complement each other very well. That is how a husband-wife pair should be- like a team, making up for the weaknesses of the other by one's strengths.
I had already wept at the rehearsal, and John had offered to bring tissues on the day of the wedding. I felt choked with emotion again. It was like watching a very romantic movie. Most guys will never understand what is there to be sentimental about a wedding. Well, I don't blame them. They are emotionally less evolved than women. (Do I hear protests?)
In the afternoon, Arindam, John and I went out to fetch coffee for the groom and the best man. I had pancakes and apple juice in the morning. In fact, I liked the pancakes at our hotel so much that for three days in a row I had nothing else for breakfast.
I had seen a Caribou coffee joint somewhere on our way the previous day, but it was on the highway and we did not want to drive into the traffic. We couldn't find coffee shops nearby so we checked a couple of gas stations. The first one had only cold frappucino from Starbucks' and I was dying for a hot, brewed coffee. The next one had a coffee maker but the coffee was cold in the pot and there was no way we could reheat it. John lost his appetite for coffee. I decided to settle for a cup of hot chocolate and took French vanilla toast for the others. Though the guys insisted on paying, I rushed to pay in cash. That was the only thing I paid for the whole trip, except for the flight tickets. I kept track of my expenses, but Sangram wouldn't hear of it.
Before him, I had dated mostly losers who felt shy to take out their wallets. And since my father's first lesson was : 'There's no free lunch', I always ended up paying the bills. It feels good to have someone pay for you instead. After my father, I think it is him, who has me taken care of every little whim of mine. One more reason to feel special.
Fast forward to the ceremony. The ushers escorted the lady guests to their seats. The groomsmen walked first and laid down the white drape for the wedding party to walk on. I didn't see when the groom and the best man had appeared from the door beside the altar. The maid of honor and the flower girl walked in, followed by the bride.
We sang hymns in unison. One that particularly appealed to me was from ,' O Perfect Love'.
Of tender charity and steadfast faith,
Of patient hope and quiet brave endurance,
With childlike trust that fears nor pain nor death.
The Pastor gave a humorous speech about love. He said that it started with Eros, 'Oh you are so hot', but it isn't enough to sustain a long-term commitment. The next stage is Philia, where you are more like companions, the husband is shouting : Where's my beer? But that isn't enough either. The ultimate stage is the love for God, with childlike innocence.
Neither Sangram nor I am very religious, but we have our own beliefs. And over the years, our relation wouldn't have sustained if we did not believe in each other. We were the oldest couple there, but I was the youngest in age. Naturally, there were questions about our wedding plans too. I told Mitch's Dad that we are just enjoying a long courtship.
Mark (Mitch's elder brother) asked Sangram if I were his sister. We have been asked that often. I wonder if we look like siblings. John negated that. Sangram told Mark that I was his girl and showed my picture on the wallpaper of his phone as proof. I didn't realize it then why those two were looking at me and smiling. I believe that was exactly the moment he sent me the text message: 'I love you.'
Sushma had asked me to wear a saree for the ceremony. Indian clothes can be really gorgeous. They were about five of us wearing sarees: The bride, the maid of honor, Sushma's aunt, Mrs. Seelan ( the wife of Dr. Santosh Seelan from the University of North Dakota, Mitch's undergrad guide) Someone feared what if they came unwrapped. That didn't materialize. I changed for the reception into a dress I had got exclusively for the wedding.
Soon after dinner, and after quite a few number of audible requests from the guests for the couple to kiss (the traditional clinking of glasses with silverware), the speeches were made. Sangram mentioned that he and Mitch lived on Taco Bell's for a year until they discovered it was not healthy; they strummed the guitar and jammed the piano at odd hours; played racquetball and Mitch hit him every time Mitch lost. George Bernard Shaw was quoted and the speech emphasized: To be happy with a man, you must understand a lot and love him a little. To be happy with a woman, you must love her a lot and not try to understand her at all.
I agree somewhat. A plausible explanation could be that most men need space to breathe, unless you understand him, you can not respect his need to be on his own sometimes. And women need to be loved, they love getting pampered (at least I do) by the special person. But we have the most ephemeral emotions with a very dynamic internal environment, by the time our men get to understand us, we have hopped into some other mental state.
Mitch's eldest brother-in-law said that Mitch was a kid when he married into the family. He followed him around asking all sorts of questions. 'He still does that' he quipped. :D Matt and Mark welcomed Sushma to the family and said : It's great if you understand Mitch, because we don't. The audience was in splits.
The floor was prepared for dancing. Sushma had requested a couple of Hindi songs too. You should have seen everyone dance at that. But imagine my surprise to see Sangram dance to a song of 'Disco Dancer' ! He hates to dance in public; I think he feels too conscious. Though, I had tried teaching him Salsa before and he had picked the steps really fast.
John teased, 'I thought you said that your guy doesn't dance.' Me : 'I thought so too', with my mouth agape. Sometimes, I think he does all the nakhra just to surprise me in the end. John went to Sangram and asked, 'You should teach me how to dance.' He snapped back, 'Are you kidding me?', his feet still tapping.
Soon, they played one of my favorite romantic numbers: 'Have I told you lately?' I wrapped my arms around his neck while he held me by my waist. The floor cleared except for the couples and I looked into his eyes, like we were the only one in the whole universe. He joked what if some of the couples were talking about household expenses and their kids' school. I cracked up and thought that some day maybe we will too and enjoy it equally. But until then...
I closed my eyes, rested my head on his shoulders and found peace in a long, long time.