“Ma, do I really need to wear this kirgi?” Emily asked looking at herself with uncertainty in the mirror while Sheila, the lady from the beauty salon stuck, pulled, tucked and pleated one of her mother’s royal purple kanjeevaram sarees round her waist in the time-honoured style.
“You wanted to wear it till this morning!” Abigail said scathingly before their mother had a chance to respond.
“Well, that was before I knew I would look like this!” she said gesturing at her half-dressed self, unimpressed. “You looked great at your Roce. I suppose it was because you got to wear Ma’s gorgeous rich burgundy sado and not any old saree.”
“Perks of being the first-born, Em, perks of being the first born.”
“Plus” Emily continued, barely registering what Abigail said, “not only did you get a ‘traditional purifying ceremony’, you got a bachelorette party as well! But then, if I had had a bachelorette like yours, I would be doubly in need of a Roce wouldn’t I?” Emily remarked in a mordacious tone. She narrowed her eyes at Abbey who was rocking her tiny son in her arms looking at her nonplussed. The stress of the wedding was taking its toll on Emily. She would apologize to Abbey later and hopefully, her sister would understand.
She turned her gaze towards Luke who was gazing at the fan revolving overhead with such rapt attention one would think it was magic. The transition into motherhood had been so seamless for Abigail that Emily couldn’t help but admire her. In her heart, she hoped that when the time came, she would be as comfortable as Abbey seemed to be as a mother. The little man was only one and a half months old and the love she felt for him surprised her. Before his grand debut, she didn’t think her heart could hold so much love. She couldn’t fathom what it would feel like to love her own child. But, she was getting ahead of herself. There was time for that yet.
She shifted her attention back to her mother while Sheila, who was desperately trying to dress a very fidgety Emily, made irritated clucking noises.
“Ma…Ma! Earth calling Ma! Come in…Come in!! Can’t I wear that nice gold ghagra choli I have for after the ceremony in the beginning as well?”
Sheila exasperated, raised her hands in the air and would have thrown curses at Emily had it not been for the baby in the room and more importantly that her mouth was being used as a makeshift pin cushion.
Mrs. Vaz turned to look at her baby girl and her eyes glistened with tears that she wouldn’t allow to roll down her fair cheeks. “I’m going to miss having you at home with us baby girl.” she said softly, her voice breaking a little.
Emily drew in a sharp breath. She suddenly felt like a spectator watching a film about her life and somebody had pressed the fast-forward button. One minute she was searching high and low for a husband and the next, she was ready to put on her wedding gown. It was as though she had missed a good chunk of the middle of the movie.
It seemed unreal that it was already the last night she would be spending with her parents, sleeping in her own bed, in her room as just Emily Jane Vaz. In a few hours, all of that was going to change forever.
She shooed Sheila away and half-dressed though she was, ran into her mother’s arms. She put her head on the shoulder that had been her solace so many times before and sobbed, “Mama, I don’t want to go!! I don’t want to get married anymore!”
Mrs. Vaz said nothing for a minute and simply held her tight. Then, taking a deep steadying breath, “Yes, you do Emily. Somehow, all of this wasn’t as bittersweet with Abigail. I mean, I knew I was going to miss her. But, perhaps because she wasn’t leaving the city it wasn’t this hard. Or maybe knowing that one of my girls would still be here gave me some comfort. I can’t figure out what it was. With you leaving the nest too, it’s going to be just your father and I and it hasn’t been that way in decades! Maybe we should finally get that puppy we always wanted.” she joked to try to diffuse the sudden serious situation that had arisen.
Emily didn’t laugh and gazed down at her manicured hands twisting the small diamond engagement ring that sat snug on her ring finger.
Mrs. Vaz continued, “Your father and I were talking about how it’s terribly unfair that it is always the girl who has to leave her home and everything she has known her whole life and start anew. We raise you and love you and give you as much as we can…finally, we’ve to give you away too. I’m only now beginning to realize how much heartache your grandmother would have had to endure. We were five girls!”
She paused to tuck Emily’s long hair behind her ear. “Everything will be different when you wake up day after. Life isn’t like it is in those silly soap operas we like to watch – not so much black and white as grey. Marriage is never easy, but just like any other relationship, it is worth the effort that goes into maintaining it.
“You’ll have a whole new family after the wedding. Remember to always treat them with love, kindness, and respect. Don’t lose sight of who you are and never feel obliged to agree with all of their ideas. Ethan and you are going to fight, it’s good for your marriage. But, at the end of the day, never be too proud to apologize when you’ve messed up.
“I hope you’re always happy Emily. I pray for it everyday. You too Abigail.” A small sigh left her lips and she looked at both her daughters. “I’ve waited for this day for so long. But now that it’s come, I’m a lot more emotional than I thought I would be. The two of you are the best things I’ve done in my life and as sad as I might appear to be, I’m also so very glad and proud that as of tomorrow, the two of you will both be well settled.”
She drew both her daughters into a tight embrace and it was at that precise moment that Mr. Vaz, looking dapper in his bottle green sherwani, walked in to find out what was taking Emily so long.
Sheila threw him a dirty look when Emily scrambled away from her mother and threw herself into her father’s arms. “I love you, Dada. I wish tomorrow would take a longer time to get here…”
Her father, not a man used to hugging and the like, replied, “Let tomorrow arrive when it arrives, worry about today! Get ready NOW or you’re going to be late for your own Roce ceremony!” Then a little stiffly, ruffling his daughter’s hair, he added, “Love you too, kid.”
Sheila, fortunately, had not left by then and about forty-five minutes later, a gorgeous, traditionally dressed, only slightly late Emily was standing in front of a small crowd of her close family and friends waiting to begin her last party as a single woman, her Roce.
- Roce ceremony: Traditionally, a purification ceremony is held the night before the wedding for both the bride- and the groom-to-be separately. In some parts of India, this is done by applying turmeric paste on the face, arms and legs of the bride- or groom-to-be. Among Mangalorean Catholics. coconut milk is used instead of turmeric paste.
- Sado: It’s the term used for the saree that is given to the bride by the grooms family at the wedding. During the reception, it is customary for the bride to change out of her gown or white saree into the sado to symbolize her move from her parents home into her husbands.
- Kirgi: The bride-to-be generally wears the sado that her mother wore at the Roce ceremony. However, it is not drapped like a saree but like a pleated skirt. A long form-fitting waist length blouse is generally worn on top.
To find out what happens to Emily at her Roce ceremony, please come back tomorrow. To catch up on previous chapters, click here.
This was post 8. Fingers crossed I do all 31 needed to complete the ultimate blog challenge this month!!