A Wedding (Part 2/4): The Groom’s House

(A Wedding is a single essay that I chose to break into 4 parts because of its length. This is the 2nd part. The feature photo was obtained from http://photos.merinews.com)

***

A pile of furniture items, plus a television arrive the groom’s house. The furniture set includes everything: a double-size bed, a sofa set, a glass table, a dining table, six chairs, the TV drawer, and a beautiful wardrobe. There is a problem. Where are they going to keep everything?

The groom’s house is not that small but renting two other flats have made it smaller. The porters do a good job of bringing the furniture set up to the terrace. They scatter the items all over, one after the other.

Dark clouds are hovering close to the hills. They have not hidden the sun but the cold wind is threatening to bring a downpour. I look at the groom’s house. I don’t see anyone. I find it a little strange. Where are all the people?

***

A couple of hours have passed. The clouds have darkened. My mom comes home from her work. She is curious. She opens the curtain and looks. “Who piled all those? And where are all the people?”

“Don’t know,” my sister and I say.
“It’s going to rain. If the furniture all get wet, they’ll damage soon.”

I look up again. It’s really strange. There is no hustle and bustle. What’s going on?

“Before my wedding, I’m going to sell everything and empty the house. A part of the expenses will also be covered,” I say, laugh and roll on my bed.

“What are you saying? Why would you do that?” Mom and sister are shocked and then they understand. “To avoid this situation?”

I reply with a nod. Mom starts laughing. I laugh more. Sister stops me.

“What would we do with the double furniture set?” I ask.

“One set for us, one for you and your wife. Don’t you understand?”

“No, I don’t. Why should the bride’s family should give everything to the groom? And why should a groom accept everything he is given? As if he does not have anything. As if they cannot buy anything on their own.”

“This strange new custom is making things difficult for the bride’s parents.”

“Exactly! They are not only sending off their daughter, they are also drowing themselves in debt in their old age. If they’re in their youth, we can expect them to earn again. How will they spend the rest of their life?”

Mom agrees. She understands the problems but can’t solve them. Neither can I, but point out another problem, “The bride’s parents send everything with their daughter so that the couple can easily separate from the family.”

“Yeah, she has everything already. She has every right to use her stuffs. She can also fight when others use her stuffs.”

“Couples also get lazy. They don’t have to work to earn anything. They don’t know the value of the stuffs.”
As I was preaching, I remembered that Mom too had got some furniture and stuffs from her parents. When I said that, Mom said, “But I left them in the home (in Terai). We had only a couple of utensils when we came Kathmandu. We earned everything one after the other. We didn’t expect anything from our parents.”

Will I expect anything from my parents once I get independent? Will bringing stuffs from my wife’s parents damage my self-esteem.

I can’t decide. The bride’s parents love their daughter, obviously. However, back in their mind they have other issues:

  1. showing off
  2. daughter’s security

“Showing off” is what Mom said “the strange new custom”. A part of our society is always better off. They can afford anything. Another part copies them. They don’t “cut their coat according to the cloth they have”. They borrow money and stuffs. They fall in debt. They show to the society that they are better than that uncle with the biggest house in the community.

I can’t describe the feelings parents go through when they send their daughters to someone else’s home. In rural areas, parents cannot meet their daughter for years. In some places, daughters-in-law have suffered for “not bringing enough dowry”. The groom’s family beat, burn and kill the bride. In urban areas, particularly in Kathmandu, such cases are rare. Daughters can visit their parents whenever they want. And the parents send away stuffs even if the groom opposes. Still, they are scared.

They are scared that their daughter may not get the love and affection she gets with them. They are scared that the mother-in-law and/or sister(s)-in-law may not stay in harmony for long. In their subconscious mind, they have implanted a thought that the bride and the groom may/will have to separate themselves from the family.

“Parents should teach daughters to be independent,” I say. “They should not show that their parents can do everything for them. They should also focus on their family’s integrity. They should not provide their daughters a backup for separation.”

Mom disagrees a little on my last statement. “They are not giving backup for separation. They do it thinking it is the best for their daughter. The bride should also take care of the husband’s parents as her own and she should not boast of what her parents gave. Her excessive pride can cause separation.”

We come to the same conclusion through different routes blaming the bride and her family completely and overlooking the problems that the groom and his parents might bring up. In almost every part of the world, a girl leaves her birth home at marriage. It is etched as one of the most important gender roles. Accommodation in the new home is always difficult. In absence of good facilitation, the bride may feel excluded and the rest of the family might ignore her. Both result in conflict.

Right now, however, we are looking at the dark clouds and the groom’s house again. The wind is howling. Mom decides to help them out. She flashes out amidst the clapping and sparkling clouds.

***

Wedding expenses have always bothered me. More often in the bride’s side. Groom and his family too have expenses but as my Mom says, “The only real expense is on feeding people. Actually, there is a net profit.”

The party begins the day (in some cases, a week) before the wedding. Usually, the day before the wedding, a Yagya is perfomed. Relatives of the groom, his neighbours and friends come to his home and take the Prasad.

The wedding reception is the occasion where the expenses are maximized. The same people who attend on the Pooja above, come to the reception as well but there is a substantial increase in the number of mouths, main course, desserts and beverages.

The net profit for groom comes with the “precioussss” yellow metal and papers that can be used instead of the metal. Both the bride and the groom receive a good amount of gold from both their parents. They again receive a hefty amount, in Kathmandu, during the reception.

***

The groom’s house is now covered by beautiful lights, almost as in Tihar. The family is exhilarated. A Laxmi is about to enter the home.

माइती जान नपाउने चेली

सुविधाले सम्पन्न भएका ठाउँमा

चेलीहरू माइती गइरहँदा हुन् ।

हासो र खुसी नराखी दाउमा

आमाबाबालाई खुसी राखिरहँदा हुन् ।।

***

चेलीहरू माइतीघर आउलान् भन्ने

आशैआशमा बित्छ यो जुनी !

आमाबाबालाई खुसी राख्लान् भन्ने

सपनामै अल्झन्छ यो जुनी !!

******

आशैआशमा बित्छ यो जुनी

जन्मघरमा फेरि पाइला राखुँला भनी !

सपनामै अल्झन्छ यो जुनी

आमाबाबासँग फेरि भेट होला भनी !!

***

जन्मघरमा फेरि पाइला राखुँला भनी

सोच्छु बिहा भई आएको यो ठाउँमा ।

आमाबाबासँग फेरि भेट होला भनी

नौ डाँडापारिको त्यो जन्मगाउँमा ।।

******

[मलाया शैली पान्टुममा नेपाली कविता लेख्ने यो प्रयाश । यस शैलीमा पहिलो स्टेन्जा (stanza) का दोस्रो र चौथो हरफ दोस्रो स्टेन्जामा पहिलो र तेस्रो हरफ बन्छ्न् अर्थात् दोहोरिन्छ्न् ।

When I died

I had been sick for some time. My parents, wife and children were sitting around me with grim faces. I had already lived more than twenty five years of my years and I felt like I was going to die. However, I did not want to die young. So I remembered my parents, my wife, my children and everyone who had been dear to me. All of a sudden, I lost consciousness. I stopped remembering anything.

When I regained consciousness, a man dressed in black was standing before me. He had a pale face with a big mustache and huge beard. His eyes were hollow. He looked at me as if he was disgusted with me. He produced a whip from the thin air and lashed hard at me. Before I could cry, the whip had tightened around my throat. I struggled but in vain. He was too strong.

He rose above in the air and I was dragged behind him. I tried to free myself again but I feared that I would fall down. He dragged me up to the clouds. He stopped and looked at me with disdain. He said, “Do you want to see your world before I take you to mine?” His voice was deep and sounded like he was speaking through a hollow bamboo. That moment I knew that he was death. I nodded slowly in affirmation to his question. He then told me to look down and that I did.

The world looked tiny from that height but Death mystically zoomed it for me. He said, “Look at your family for the last time.” And my children were in front of my eyes.

They were crying. My body lay amongst them. I called them out. But they could not listen to me. I tried to touch them but could not. I could do nothing to console them. Sometimes later, they carried my body to the crematorium and it was cremated. The existence of my body had come to an end.

Death did something and the time ran pretty quickly. My family was not sad. My children were playing. My wife looked a little weak but she was smiling. “They have learnt to live without you now,” Death said. He then showed me images from all around the world. Poor and rich, happy and sad, stupids and geniuses, religious and non-religious, rulers and the ruled, he showed me all sorts of people. “Why do you think I showed you all these?”

I noticed that the whip had gone away from my throat but still I could not speak. He said, “Everyone I have showed you and every life in this world, everything in this universe will die one day. They can’t escape death.”

“You know you must die. Yet you are scared of Death. You never lived life to their fullest because of the fear. You were also more concerned about afterlife than the life you lived. You donated to the poor to make your afterlife better, so that you can rest in heaven and avoid hell after death. That was very selfish of you. You followed religions in the hope that the door to the heaven will be opened. You looked after your parents because the scriptures said you will be in heaven after your death.

“You have not done anything that will make other people’s lives better. Give to the poor to see their smiles. Take care of your parents with all your heart. Start thinking that good things you do will make someone happy, that those acts will create heaven in your life. Stop thinking that your good deeds will land you to heaven only after your death. Stop fearing hell. Understand that your bad deeds will create hell around you. You don’t need to die to see the hell. Stop fearing death. Death will come to you for sure.”

I opened my eyes. The sun had risen up high. I was neither sick, nor dead. I recalled everything the man in black robes said in the dream. I smiled, got off from my bed and went to meet my life. It was grinning ear to ear.

​Listen, will you?

“Are you listening?” I asked myself as my sister was talking the other day.

“No,” I confessed. 

“Why weren’t you listening?”

Honestly, I didn’t have the answer. I did not feel like talking at that time. When I came back contemplating over the matter, I understood I did not want to speak because I was not listening well.

I am not good at making conversations. I wanted to know the secrets of better conversations. I sought the help of YouTube. I don’t remember most of the advices I got through speakers at TED Conferences, and some psychology related channels but the one I remember is “Listen!” And this was the only advice I could listen when I thought why I was not conversing with my sister the other day.

Why is listening important? All the videos I watched agree that by listening properly one can decide what to speak with ease. If I had been listening to my sister, I might have easily understood her talk and would have carried it on further. Because I got selfish and stopped listening, I had to make her repeat the same thing twice, which in turn bored both of us. Hence, no conversation!

One speaker on one of the videos said, “These days we listen things so that we can argue and react upon some particular words.” She said something like: “Listen so that you understand. Listen to learn and listen to talk well.”  If we listen just to react upon things, we are not good listeners. We must react, of course, but by listening properly, we can decide whether we need to react or not. People say, “We have two ears but one mouth so that we can listen well and talk less. ” It is also said that those who talk less, speak precisely when they must.

I remembered a Folk tale as I was writing this. I am going to keep it as short as possible.

Once upon a time, a king brought three human skulls to the court and asked his ministers, “Can you tell me the price of these skulls?”

‘What could be the price of human skulls?’ The ministers thought. None of them came up with a solution. The king gave them three days to come up with a solution. Three days passed. The king said, “Have you come up with the answer?”

The ministers hung their heads in shame. One minister, however stood up and said, “Your Highness, I got curious when you asked the question. I took a trip to my teacher’s house far away from the city. He gave me the knowledge in discovering the price of a human skull.”

The minister asked permission to demonstrate. He took up a skull in his hand and poked a stick into its right ear hole. The stick went in a and was out through the other ear hole. He inserted another stick into the right ear hole of the second skull. This time it bended towards the throat. He repeated the procedure with the third. This time, the stick went in through the ear hole, and snapped. A larger part went to the cranium and a small part to the throat.

The minister explained, “The first skull is worth four annas. It is the cheapest one because it does not listen to anything. Whatever it listens from one ear goes out through the other.

“The second skull is worth eight annas. It listens but reacts without speaking. The third one is worth sixteen annas or a rupee. It listens, keeps most of it in its mind and speaks only what is necessary. Such skulls are rare.”

The king was happy. The minister was granted his prize for being able to explain the price of the skull.

Here’s what the story wants you to know just like the people said in videos I watched: ‘Listen and understand before you speak, will you?’

पाल्पा-२

​ यसअघि “पाल्पा” शिर्षकमा तीन कविता पाल्पाबाट पोस्ट गरेको थिएँँ । काठमाडौंं फर्किएपछि लेखेका तीन कविता यहाँ प्रस्तुत गर्दछु ।

 १.

लेक र बेँसी, गोरेटा-बाटाहरूमा

जिन्दगीका हरेक पाटाहरूमा

जीजीबीसा राख्दछन् नरनारी

मुहारमा हरपल गुलाबी रङ्ग छरी 

मस्याम, टारीडाँडाबाट पूर्वतिर हेर्दा

 २. (हाइकु)

मस्याम, डुम्रे घर

        महिना दिनलाई

                   यादका अत्तर
 ३. (मित्रताका ती पल)

राईझुमाको लय, रोदीघरका गीत

मित्रताको स्वर हासोको सङ्गीत

कम्मर मर्काई, ताली पड्काई

साथ पाई मित्रजनको, साह्रै रमाई

बित्यो समय कति छिटो पीर सबै भुलाई

You are my Life!

LIFE IS IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT LOVE. YOUR LOVE IS THE SPIRIT THAT BURNS THE LAMP OF MY LIFE.

Dear Family,

image

What would I do without you? You make me the person I am. You three are the best people around me whom I can trust forever.

I would never have written this without you, Ankita. If you are not come up with the origami booklet, these words would not have been penned and they would not have come up on my blog today. Thank you, my sister. If you had not brought up the idea, I would have been thunderstruck on the most amazing day ever- the day on which Mother’s Day could be celebrated together with Father’s Birthday. When will such a chance be conjured again? I would have missed it if you had not done it.

Thank you Mamu for tolerating me. I am not easy to handle. You have said it again and again. To bear the thoughts of someone who lives more on dreams and online than reality can be troubling. It’s difficult to take care of me. But you have taken it in your safe hands. That’s why I don’t need to take care of myself while you are around.

Thank you Baba for shaping my personality. My personality is influenced by all three of you in my family but you are the one I feel my characters match to a great extent. I have learnt a great deal through you. Thanks a lot for giving me your attention and making me the way I am.

I know I am not the best but everyday I strive to be better. I might lack the essential skills to face the world. I might have been obstinate at times. I might not have lived up to your expectations. But I’ll ensure that I use the goodness you have fed into me to go on with my life. I will always make sure that I will be with you, in both my joy and sorrow. I promise I will make you proud.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mamu!
Happy Birthday, Baba!

Yours forever,
Ankit

(A note on Matatirtha Aunsi aka Mother’s Day on Friday. Aunsi is the new moon in Lunar Calendar used in Nepal. Fortunately, it was also the birthday of my father according to the Solar Calendar.)