Namma veetu kalyanam

My sister just got married. Life is never going to be the same for us cousins henceforth. It all started in Feb 2015. I was out chilling with the dudes during a free hour when suddenly +Varshini Raghavan calls and says, "Vishu I'm getting married!" Now when your cousin, who you've grown up with, who you pretty much shared everything with, with who you have infinite stories together, tells you those words, your first reaction is generally not, "Congratulations!" Especially not when it comes out the blue. Your reaction would be, "WHAT?!" And give that reaction I did! We spoke for about an hour, about how it started, what transpired with the folks at home, her roller coaster ride to getting them on board with her decision. I happened to bunk the next hour but who cares? History will speak of how I stood transfixed in one place with my phone to my right ear staring away into nothingness. It will not speak of how I missed taking notes about HLA receptors. But of course, I was happy. I was so happy I didn't know what to do! I was grinning like an idiot at random passersby and I think the emotion was not lost on my cousin because she commented about my joy when I met her in Chennai later that month.

And so she set the ball rolling. A few months down the line we (that's a pretty large we; we're a first circle family of nearly 40) invited the "maapla" (that's groom in Tamil) and his family for an informal meeting at Varsh's place. It was all quite silent. Random formalities were exchanged. People were introduced to each other. It was all too formal (not really my thing). Looking back at that day now, it seems quite funny that that bunch of people got along so well a few months down the line. Anyway, the families did meet one more time in that period but it was all too quaint to mention or elaborate upon.

Fast forward a few months to her engagement to +Varun Prakash in December last year. It was quite a fun affair. We colour coded our costumes, blue for relatives of the bride and green for the groom's. The event didn't really see too much hullabaloo but it was fun. People dressed up in fancy clothes, Varsh got a new accessory on her ring finger, and everybody just started recognising the new faces. By this time, it had been almost a year since I was told about her impending wedlock. You probably assume that I was used to her having a fiancé, her not being my irritating cousin sister (yes I just said cousin sister), her not being available any time of the day anymore to just hang out or go for a drive. But no, I wasn't. She was still the same old Varshini for me, except she had a boyfriend now, and her folks knew and approved of it. That was the state of affairs as I saw it.

Roll forward to June. I'm meandering down a street in Bangalore when suddenly I get a call from Peripa (her dad) asking me to catch the next train back home. He wanted me involved in the discussions for the Sangeet event. Now the Sangeet is an event I haven't actually understood. From what I saw this week, it is just for the women to wear marudhani on their arms and feet, and for everybody to just have a gala time. So anyway, I do catch the next train back home and get to her place. We chit chat and then get down to business. There's singing, dancing and a skit to be put up. And not just random dancing. The bride wanted all of us to dance for about 20 songs, all put together. My first reaction was, "Sure! Okay!" (because wth, it's for the bride) but my mind was screaming, "You're going to dance in front of new faces, with a bunch of people you will have met only for a matter of a few hours at the most?" I'm not a dancer. I'm not even the type of dancer that will transform from violent hip shakes to graceful moves after a few glasses. I'm a BAD DANCER. Dot.

And I guess she knew that. She planned out the playlist, the dancers for each song, gave me the easier ones and chalked out dance practice sessions for the next 2 months. I must've diligently attended only about 50% of these sessions but by the time we were ready for the Sangeet, I was not just on talking terms with Varun's cousins, I was on jovial laughing and philosophical discussions terms with them. The Sangeet was a blast. I forgot every single dance move but that's a different story :P I had a LOT of fun dancing like an idiot, organising the event, running around for this and that and basically just being a part of it.

There is a joy that is derived from being included and it is particularly strong in such cases. It is quite amazing too, that the cousins from both sides of the wedlock got along so well so soon! Later after the wedding another sister and I was commenting upon this very phenomenon. I have seen no other wedding where people who have met each other for no more than a few weeks, sit around in a circle and talk about philosophy, life, girlfriends and play "current pass" at the end of it all! XD

So it was during the Sangeet that it sort of brushed my head. The one emotion that I was hoping I'd never come across but did anyway. Anxiety. It isn't one of those things where you start hyperventilating because you're anxious about your scores from a test. It isn't the anxiousness that follows when you drop your friend at the railway station and hope she gets home safely. This is the anxiety that hits you when you realise shit ain't going to be the same anymore. And this is exactly what hit me. But it was still an under the surface emotion. It had yet to gain enough traction.

The Sangeet was a ball - right from driving all the way to Mylapore to get her surprise cake to impromptu dance steps because pretty much everyone forgot the moves for the songs - I'm pretty sure everyone who attended had fun (Especially with laughing at me wearing pink wings).

And so her wedding came by. The weekend on August 20&21, 2016 was hectic yet fun, tiring yet enjoyable. I'll not go into the details of each ritual and practice. Rather, I'd go into what went through in my head (because blog :P). So this was probably the first wedding that I was a part of, and witnessed, right from start to finish. And for the better part of the process, I took part in the proceedings with involvement, yet no anxiety as mentioned above. It started on August 19, 2016. My uncle +Srinivasan Devanathan decided to get all emotional about how the flock was flying out. That's when it hit me like a train that life was never going to be the same again.

It happened multiple times over the next few days. For instance, when at home, we were discussing meeting up after her marriage for lunch. So I said, "Just the 5 of us should meet for lunch before you leave" and my brother corrected me, "You mean 6 of us?" 6 of us. One new entrant into the close knit group of cousins that I've shared the last 22 years of my life with. You don't just adapt to it overnight. But it's a fine change. It helps that the new entrant and his cousins are fun, sociable and as boisterous a bunch as we are. :)

The marriage came and went sooner than I could blink. The emotional waterfall that should've happened on the outside (like it did for some people who were on stage) when he tied the knot didn't. But inside, it did. A friend of Harini's pointed out that I was tearing up. I don't think I did but maybe I actually did? I don't know. There wasn't a mirror nearby and there is no photographic evidence of the event ever having occurred (phew!)

So when all the activity and excitement had died down, I was left with sore legs, a tired body but a fresh mind. I had gained not just a "maapla" but many new cousins to share the rest of my life with. :)

Happy married life Varshini and Varun! :D

P.S. Photos coming soon

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