A wedding holds unequivocal attention. Always. For, it means a new set of promises. A new beginning in togetherness, love, joy and such else.
I sit in one such wedding today.
Before proceeding any further, I must make a confession of sorts: Every time I am at a wedding, for some reason there are tears in my eyes.
Its a curious kind of emotion tinged with joy, resulting in the odd tear to pop up first and then opening the flood gates. There have been occasions where random strangers seated in the next chair would shuffle their feet, slowly lean away and do everything possible to make it known to the everyone in the vicinity and passing flies on the wall, that we were seated next to each other by quirk of fate and nothing else.
Sometime back, me and missus were invited to a wedding. The groom was a friend. The bride was an acquaintance. They were really nice people. We wished well for them. As the wedding vows were exchanged, tears commenced their solemn roll down my cheek.
The missus, visibly embarrassed, left to herself, would have gone incognito. She did pass a few boxes of tissues with delectably discreteness. ‘Stop it’, she said in a hushed tone, ‘before someone thinks you had an affair with the bride and still long for her.’
That thought stopped those damn tears on their tracks. Since then, I have tried to adorn a monk like poise wearing a visage of intensely meditative calm, at weddings. The tears somehow contained just before they broke free of the eyelash. Or thereof.
Those memories run amuck as I sit in this wedding.
The bride is almost family. The young lady, who my mind still places as the school kid from next door, is getting married today. All the interspersed years between her being a school kid to now stand in reams of gleaming Kanjeevaram she is draped in. I realise that ‘time is fleeting’ is a saying that is greatly understated.
The wedding is at Tirunelveli. Down in the deep South. The quaint place and all the simple conversations hold every inch of my mind.
As the music wafts in, the aroma from a surfeit of jasmine flowers on many several heads are only suitably contrasted by the bright jewelry on many necks. The atmosphere of a Tamil wedding in Tamil Nadu, with food served on leaf, is barely settling down with filter kaapi beginning to course the veins, when I slowly become aware of the tears are brimming at the corner of my eye. Again.
I let them be. But this time, I realise that it is the music that is playing its part. There are two women playing the nadaswaram. I keep looking at them and soak in every nod of their head, tap of their feet and the wafting tune from the instrument. They have poise and panache, suitably matched with a certain playful practice to their craft.
They seemed to be in the flow. It shows on them. And on my eyes too. These were two women with many years behind them. They must have taken to music a long time ago. They are devoid of the slickness that city dwelling offers and retain a familiar rough edge to the smooth music.
As they are packing up, I walk upto them and tell them that their performance was awesome. They fold their palms in unison and say ‘thank you’. Head bowed. I linger. I ask them where they are from. ‘Valliyur‘ they say. A small picturesque town that is a distance away. Some more conversation reveals that they have a pretty busy calendar. They have been playing the nadaswaram since they were eight years old.
I have a lot more questions to ask. How did they start? How do they survive in a man’s world, in a small town? How many hours do they practice and so on. But they don’t have time for me, as they reach for the filter kaapis from the brass cups.
There is something in them that moves me. My eyes brim again with precocious tears. There is something in these women that move me beyond words. The tears lurk and then fall over the brim.
Then I think of a poem a colleague shared.
I should be content
to look at a mountain
for what it is
and not a comment on my life
I think of these women and their music. Somethings become clear. Ah, poetry. Somethings remain muddled. Maybe thats were the music is.