Emily: Chapter Ten

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TO ENDINGS AND NEW BEGINNINGS

If felt as though Ethan and Emily had been smiling and saying, “Thank you for coming!” for hours before the wedding hall finally emptied and only the immediate family on both sides remained. The two of them had just sat down at a table and were sipping on some ice-cold juice when the Master of Ceremonies announced, “Will the family of the bride stand to my left and the groom on my right, please. It’s time for Emily to join the Mendonca family now.”

Emily’s stomach plummeted. At Abbey’s wedding, Emily had bawled through the small ceremony while Uncle Roy, her father’s elder brother gave her sister to Clive’s family. He had asked them to accept her with an open heart and treat her as their own as he knew she would them. In all the excitement of her own wedding and reception, she had almost forgotten that she would be going to her new home and new family. She got up in a daze and walked to where her parents and the rest of her family were waiting. Probably thinking of her own wedding, there were already tears in Abbey’s eyes. Emily looked away quickly.

Uncle Roy had passed away shortly after Abigail’s wedding and as the oldest surviving male member of the Vaz family, the emotional burden lay heavy on her father’s shoulders. Her father held her hand with one of his own. “I hate this part”, he whispered stroking her cheek with the other.

Emily stared fixedly at a broken tile on the floor. Her father began to say, “We give you our daughter. She is our youngest and we now ask you to take her into your fold and accept her as one of you. Forgive her for the mistakes she might make– all of us make them. She is now your daughter. She is one with you. We give you our baby…” her father could get no further. He pushed Emily forward and Ethan’s Uncle Rex received her. Emily was crying so hard, she didn’t even hear the reply that came from the Mendoncas. Ethan had appeared by her side at some point and unsure of what else he could do, put his arm around a sobbing Emily and said, “It’s going to be alright Emily. I swear I’ll try and make sure everything is always alright.” Emily looked at him with what she hoped were grateful eyes and by the time they left the hall, she was no longer crying.

At her new home, Emily and Ethan were welcomed by the Mendonca clan.

“Ethan and Emily, you’ve to drink and eat this before you…erm…for…errn…strength….” Mummy said smiling coyly as she set down a copper tray on the coffee table. There was a tall glass of milk and two bananas there. While Ethan’s younger relatives guffawed at the dirty jokes his older relatives were cracking, the newlyweds downed the milk and fruit as quickly as they could.

Ethan’s family had booked them into a hotel so that they could have their privacy on their first night together as husband and wife . Uncle Rex dropped them off at the hotel, shook his nephew’s hand before leaving and wished him luck. Emily and Ethan looked at each other, both a little red in the face as they stepped into the one-bedroom suite. “Are you tired?” Ethan asked Emily as she sat down at the edge of the bed and played with a loose thread on the duvet cover.

She looked up at him and said, “A little. Not terribly. Perhaps I should go get changed.”

As she excused herself to change out of the heavy saree that she had been wearing since the reception, she giggled a little and carried her bag into the bathroom. She ran her fingers along the silky smooth fabric that she was about to wear and felt her cheeks become hot to the touch. She undressed, took off her makeup, brushed her hair out and put on the black and red outfit. Hesitantly she looked at herself in the mirror and took a deep breath. She crossed her fingers and hoped that Ethan would like what he saw. She made her way out of the bathroom towards the bed nervously and stopped when she recognized the strains of Bryan Adams’, ‘Let’s make it a night, to remember’ playing softly. She looked at Ethan who was in his vest and suit pants, “I know it seems cheesy, but, maybe we should have a song to commemorate tonight?” he asked in a low voice.

She smiled, walked closer to him and whispered, “I love cheesy…”

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Thanks for reading the latest chapter! To catch up, click here. Come back tomorrow to learn more about Emily.

Post 13 in the UBC this month.

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Emily: Chapter Nine

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MR., MRS. AND MUMMY

As they were driving to the hall in which their wedding reception was to be held, Emily looked at the ring on her finger. This was it. It took them all of one hour to go from being two separate individuals into one entity, ‘united in the sight of man and God’, as the priest had pronounced them. She was married. She looked up at Ethan who had been studying her face and blushed. He reached out and brushed a stray strand of hair away from her face and said, “I don’t think I got a chance to tell you how unbelievably stunning you look today. I hope we can always keep each other happy. I’m beginning to think that I really love you…” nervously he ran his fingers through his hair.

That was the first time he had told her he loved her.

Emily looked into Ethan’s eyes and saw sincerity there. She had been watching romantic soap operas on television for years curled up next to her mother and Abbey on the sofa. She had always imagined how she would end up meeting her own man  – at a party, at a basketball match, in the rain or on the beach – not once were her parents involved and she most certainly never saw them playing the matchmakers. Yet here she was. Married to Ethan; who she met in true arranged marriage fashion. Nonetheless, he was her Mr. Right. True, he was no Patrick Dempsey but he made quite a good McDreamy all the same.

In the five months leading up to the wedding, they hadn’t even met that often, yet at some point, she had fallen in love with Ethan. She didn’t know how to put all that she felt or wished for into words, so she looked deep into those black eyes of his and hoped she could convey all of the emotion she carried in her heart when she simply whispered, “I love you too…”

And there, in the back of their wedding car, Ethan and Emily shared their first kiss as husband and wife. Emily felt comforted by that kiss and although her own insecurities as well as the things that her mother had said the night before were still in her mind, she didn’t think it could be all that complicated, until a little later, when she was being chastised in front of all Ethan’s female relatives.

“Come now Emily, enough of this Aunty business! Mummy, you’ve to call me Mummy from now on.” said Mrs. Mendonca as she pulled, pleated and pinned Emily’s sado.

Emily, feeling exposed and embarrassed in nothing but her vermillion saree skirt and blouse in front of all those women she didn’t know, swallowed and scanned the room for her mother who, once found, steadily refused to make eye contact with her. It almost seemed like she had given up claim of her. So Emily looked back at Mrs. Mendonca, who was managing to drape the silk saree on her with great ease despite her short stature, and conjured up a tight smile.

Emily didn’t think it was appropriate to liken a wedding to a fatal accident, although in the same sort of time frame her life had changed completely. Not only did she have a husband, she had a new mummy too! Mummy…the word didn’t roll off her tongue easily.

“Mummy…” she managed to say out loud with another smile.

She hoped that in time it would become easier.

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Hope you enjoyed the newest installment in the Emily series. Would really like to hear what you think! Click here to read all that has happened so far.

Still posting as part of the UBC this month.

 

Emily: Chapter Eight

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WEDDING BELLS A-RINGING

Tired as Emily was from all the dancing and sheer madness of her Roce, it was only as the first light of the morning was beginning to stream through her open window that she finally fell asleep. When she woke up a few hours later, she ran to the mirror hoping that she didn’t look as tired as she felt. Fortunately, she looked perfectly ordinary.

Time seemed to move either in slow motion or hyper motion that day. One minute she was eating some breakfast and the next, Sheila was back, looking at her with her eyes narrowed, hoping that her wedding day would not be a repeat performance of the evening before. She had even brought two other girls from her beauty salon as reinforcements.

Emily smiled at Sheila holding up a steaming cup of masala tea as a peace-offering. Sheila hesitated briefly before returning a smile of her own and taking a big sip. “Come, Emily, let’s make you the most beautiful bride anyone has ever seen.”

Although Emily was sure that Sheila said that to all the brides she dressed up, she hoped Sheila would make good on her promise. She wanted Ethan to believe that he was marrying the most gorgeous woman he had ever laid eyes on and so she remained on her best behaviour for more than an hour while Sheila and her assistants worked their magic. When she was ready, Sheila stood Emily in front of the mirror. Emily looked at the bride staring back at her and couldn’t believe she was looking at her own reflection. Apart from the few instances when she had worn a dress, she had spent most of her life in pants – of various lengths and fabrics and even when she was dressed up she always thought she looked like anybody else. For the first time in her life, she thought that she looked beautiful. The makeup was light enough that she didn’t look unnatural and heavy enough that her skin looked flawless. Sheila had managed to set her hair in soft curls and they framed her face in a most becoming fashion. Her gown was inspired by the one her mother had worn on her wedding day and was flattering to the point that it made her look like a princess, straight out of a Disney fairy tale.  She knew Sheila had done her job when she walked out of her room and her father, who was talking to her uncles and aunts, stopped mid-sentence and smiled. Tears shining bright in his eyes. It took all her strength to keep from crying. Apart from anything else, she was afraid that Sheila would have a fit if she had to do her make up again.

As the clock struck four thirty, Emily left her house for the last time as plain old Emily; the younger daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Vaz. She would never return home as that again. In a few hours, a gold band would adorn her finger and she would become Mrs. Mendonca. As she sat in the back seat of the elaborately decorated car, some of her doubts about marriage resurfaced and she began to get cold feet. Abbey, who was her matron of honour kept whispering reassurances on the way to the church and she began to calm down. But, nothing helped assail those fears as much as catching Ethan’s eye as she stepped out of the car. He gasped audibly, blushed and a goofy grin appeared on his face. Sheila had delivered on her promise.

The short ceremony was lovely. The old Vaz family church in which so many Vaz men and women had been baptised, married and buried, was decorated with white orchids and dull gold satin ribbons. Every pew, even the ones in the wings, was filled with family and friends. The priest gave a delightfully humorous homily about love, faithfulness, acceptance and understanding. Emily prayed that she would be able to keep what the priest called the ‘pillars of a happy marriage’ strong and upright. When the priest pronounced them Man and Wife, Ethan and Emily held hands and walked out of the church to the merry sounds of the church bells ringing. Never had there been a couple as happy as they were that evening.

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Come back again to find out what happens next. To catch up on the previous chapters, please click here.

And I’ve managed to get to post #10! Only 21 left to complete the challenge! Can I do it? Come back everyday to find out!

Emily: Chapter Seven

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MEMORIES

The ladies from the older generation of the Vaz family were singing wowieos. Emily had seldom paid much attention to the meaningful lyrics before. However, as her family came forward to douse her with, what is traditionally believed to be purifying, coconut milk, she felt her eyes become wet. The conversation she had had with her mother kept playing over in her head. She tried her best to keep the tears from falling, but they still came. Since the guests were pouring copious amounts of the sweet smelling liquid on her head, they were none the wiser and Emily could cry in peace. Lost in her thoughts, her eyes had glazed over and a fixed smile had appeared on her face. A young man with horn rimmed glasses and a shock of curly hair came to apply the milk on her and said in a thick, recently acquired American accent, “Imli! Can’t believe you’re walking down the aisle tomorrow!”

Emily blinked a couple of times. Hearing her old nickname had broken her reverie. As she registered his sudden appearance, she laughed. “Arun Shetty! I…” she began to say before she was interrupted by a cousin trying to drown her in coconut milk. “We’ll talk later Imli. Got the whole night!” and Arun disappeared into the crowd.

Imli.

It had been years since anyone had called her that. Indians, who do not have an Indian name, sometimes suffer greatly when their names are mangled by those who are not exposed to those with Western roots. When Ramu, the keeper of the keys at the school that Arun and Emily attended, told him that Rajesh Sir, their sports coach, was looking for ‘Imli’, poor Emily was never able to lose the nickname. It followed her wherever she went for, unfortunately, not only was Arun her schoolmate, he was also her neighbour. She had spent many evenings in tears wishing that she had the power to force Arun Shetty to swallow his own tongue so as never to be able to talk again. Abbey had told her to ignore it because it was a silly nickname. She looked nothing like the tamarind to which Imli referred. Of course, Emily didn’t. She simply wouldn’t. In all honesty, she just couldn’t. Until a fateful basket ball match during a tournament in which Emily was suffering from streak of terrible luck.

Arun had shouted, “Go Imli!” very loudly from the stands and even though Arun argued later that he was only trying to encourage and not mock, his endorsement had sent the children from both schools into gales of laughter at her expense. Emily, already upset because the coach had threatened to bench her on account of her poor performance, stormed towards Arun seething and punched him in the nose. The two of them had been sent to Principal Varkey’s office and suffered punishment together. But, that punch gave rise to great change for both of them. For Emily, it broke her streak of bad luck and she was finally able to laugh off that wretched nickname. By the end of the year, her basket ball jersey read Imli instead of her christened name. As for Arun, the shape of his nose was never quite the same and he became prone to rubbing his now crooked nose very often.

When Arun went to America to study engineering, her nickname resounded less and less in the school halls and the lanes in their neighbourhood with each passing day and she was surprised by how much she missed it.

She had no idea that he was back in town, although she had met Madhu Aunty and Shetty Uncle only a few days earlier. She looked forward to catching up with him during the real party, once the formal Roce ceremony was over.

Bathed and changed into a gold ghagra choli, Emily had her long hair down literally and was dancing to the baila when Arun tapped her on the shoulder. She turned around and broke into a wide grin. “So, Mr. USA, home on a holiday?”

Arun nodded his head and looked at Emily. “You’ve become sort of pretty Imli. That Ethan fellow is a lucky guy.”

Emily laughed. “Compliments, Arun? Are you sure it’s still you behind those glasses?” She grinned. “It’s so good to see you! Aunty and Uncle didn’t tell me you would be in town for the wedding. Am so glad you’ll be here. None of the others from the old gang could come.”

“Ma and Papa didn’t know either. I had a holiday due so booked my tickets and flew in two days ago. I go back next week.”

Emily was forced to cut short her conversation thanks to her cousins who physically dragged her back to the thick of things, “I’m looking forward to seeing you at the wedding and reception tomorrow Arun. Maybe you can tell Ethan he’s a lucky guy too?” she managed to call out laughing. She waved goodbye and danced her way back to where her family was heating up the dance floor, remaining there till the party ended, well after midnight and it was time to go back home.

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  1. Wowieos: Traditionally sung only at the Roce ceremony, it is a mournful sounding song in Konkani where the first few verses loosely translate into blessings on the bride given by her family. They later devolve into thinly veiled dirty limericks which usually leave everyone listening giggling.
  2. Baila: A typical form of music in the Konkan region in India. The songs are usually fast numbers with heavy Portuguese influence. Most often they have the ability to send invisible lassos over the heads of middle aged men, causing them to take to the dance floor with moves that, if nothing else, are very contagious. It takes only minutes before the floor is covered with dancers of all ages, following the steps and rhythm and dancing along.

Come back tomorrow to see what happens next! To catch up, click here

Post 9!!! Am hoping to complete the challenge this month. Fingers crossed for me!!