CREATIVE FICTION: A Wedding Dress by Sowmya Ravichandran

Monday mornings are the worst after a weekend hangover. That’s for those who can afford to have a weekend all to themselves and not for those who are dedicated to finishing deadlines at work. For some reason, I thought I would stop running once I finished my Chartered Accountancy, well, no one told me it was just a preparation for a lifelong marathon. Probably half of you reading this are nodding your head furiously. High-five buddy! To summarize my last three years of servitude in a corporate - Eat (if you have time), WORK (24x7), Family (forget it), Repeat (on loop). No wonder rehabs are minting money now.

On one of those Monday mornings, our maid sorry our biggest helper of the house Seetha aunty, came up to me and said “Pavi ma, my daughter Sonu is getting married next month. I have given the invitation to Amma, please don’t forget to come dear. She idolizes you and she would love to have you by her side on her special day.”

I was overjoyed hearing the news. It is such momentous occasions that can make even your mundane Mondays exciting. I hugged her and said, “You can count on me aunty, the feeling is mutual. I’m totally elated to be her bridesmaid”. Aunty had happy tears trailing her cheeks. I have known Seetha aunty all my life. She’s been such an asset to our family, selflessly sharing our workload in spite of her own hurdles. My father etched his career path in a reputed bank, so travel and transfers were part and parcel of his profession.

One fine day, my mother decided she was going nowhere and staying put in Bangalore, so as to ensure that my little brother Harsh and I could relish our childhood in peace. That’s when Seetha aunty popped into our abode as a blessing in disguise, she would babysit us when mom was on duty at school, play with us like a fellow 6-year-old, enlighten us with her humble encyclopedia, be it “A for Aapil” or gulp down honey with pepper and your cough will vanish. She has the kindest soul. My dad is back to his home ground post-retirement and my favourite pass-time these days is to make him green with envy trumpeting loud to my kith and kin that I like Seetha aunty a teeny bit better than him. I must say, there is some truth in it. Back then, before we were consumed by our conventional day-to-day charade willed by the society, Sonu, Harsh and I were the inseparable mess-around-play -mates and had loads of fun together.

On one of the weekends, when mom and I were browsing through the street markets, Sonu came running up to us, out of breath, with a twinkle in her eye and excitement in her face. Mum and I exclaimed in unison “Whoa, are you okay!?” She waved her hand saying she was fine. “Pavi ka, I need a favour from you”. “Shoot, my dear Sonu! Anything for you”, I said smiling. “I’m going to start my wedding shopping and I would like to take a look at your wedding album. I remember how ravishing you looked in all your beautiful dresses” I was flattered and obviously gave her a thumbs-up.

She came home the next day and both of us were skimming through the pictures. With every page turned she imagined herself all decked up in a similar attractive-looking lehenga. She had a million questions buzzing in her head.

“Will make-up suit me? I’ve never even worn lip gloss”
“Will Raghav like my lehenga or would he prefer me in a saree?”;
“Would the wedding be like in the movies, all gala dancing, music and lots of love?”
“Were you a nervous wreck before your big day too?”

I put my hands over her shoulders, chuckling at her outpourings, gave a tight squeeze saying “O’ my Sonu, look at you, all grown up. Don’t you fret, everything will be great!” “Tell you what, I was far worse than you, driving mum crazy with my bridezilla antics”.

A few days later when I bumped into Seetha aunty, I eagerly quizzed her if Sonu finally found her dream lehenga. Staring outside the window sullenly, she responded, “Nah Pavi ma, we searched around largely only to realise her fantasy dresses were beyond what we could afford. So, I told her maybe she could try a simple one or go for a glittering designer saree.”  Smiling lightly, she added “That only got her annoyed. Fair enough, isn’t it Pavi dear, every damsel yearns to be a princess on her special day”. I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know how to soothe her. 

That got me deliberating; some of us are fortunate enough to never feel the pinch of being on the borderline. Not as affluent so as to afford limousine rides but quite sufficiently endowed enough to splurge on the stuff we love now and then. I vividly remember how I was finicky with the colour of my wedding gown, treading in and out of at least twenty different boutiques before choosing the finest one and making sure it complemented Vaibhav’s suit. It’s only human to make certain every microscopic detail is perfect for one’s big moment. I could empathise with Sonu and my heart went out for her. In reality, we don’t always bag all that we strive for, but this was a celebration she deserved to be ecstatic and contented about. My family, friends and Vaibhav made sure our wedding took place precisely the way I had planned. I was pampered to the max and I soaked up all the attention during the festivities. The innumerable presents, the cheek pulling grandmas, bossing around cousins, pushing them to be colour co-ordinated for photo shoots. I loved every minute of it. I’m fully aware of what a frightful fit I would have thrown hadn’t I gotten what I wanted.
If there was one person who I owed my childhood to, it was Seetha aunty. I knew what I had to do, gift Sonu the wedding that she envisioned all along.

I caught up with her to discuss my ruminations.
“Sonu, I’ve been racking my brain to come up with a gift that would delight you and I think I’ve hit a bull’s eye with this one. I’m going to drag you for another round of shopping and buy you that lehenga you’ve always had your eye on, what say?”
Her eyes went wide and she looked at me with such adoration that I just felt like pumping my fists up in the air with joy. But that was short-lived, her reply stunned me even more. “Pavi ka, that is really magnanimous of you and I can’t burden you with something like that. I’m touched beyond words. True, I was upset I had unnecessarily built castles in the air when I couldn’t even manage a home, now I understand there are miles to go before fantasies can become concrete.” If her resolve was amazing, switching back to her chirpy mode in a few seconds was mind-boggling. I couldn’t imagine being half as mature at her age. Yet I was stubborn to lend a hand.

We all treasure our wedding dress and every woman is possessive of it. It finally ends up as a family heirloom after a number of years. Though it is precious, what bars us from sharing it? We let it rot in our wardrobe for ages purely because it’s way too exquisite for your best friend’s wedding or your uncle’s housewarming or your cousin’s baby shower but we never give it to someone lest they wreck that fifty-grand gown. Yes, I was part of that herd, until then, until Sonu.

Trying to steer the conversation my way I said, “Okay grandma, I’ve got another idea you can’t refuse. I wore my lehenga most definitely only once after my reception night and it’s been locked up in my cupboard for the last two years. If you’re up to it, you could borrow it for any of your events.” I could literally sense her spirits soaring. She was thrilled at the prospect and engulfed me in one big hug after a hundred thank yous. With a wink, I bid her “Sweet dreams”   

In a flash, it was time for ‘Sonakshi weds Raghav.’ I was swelling with pride to be bridesmaid for this rock star who taught me bountiful lessons within a short span of time. As she walked the aisle in my heavily embroidered, pistachio green-beige stone-studded lehenga, there was no doubt she was making heads turn looking stunningly gorgeous. Proving it, my Instagram post of this beauty captioned #HearherRoar garnered more than a hundred likes within the first half hour. My family and I were hooting and cheering from the sidelines and teasing her for being coy. Grinning widely, she silently mouthed “Thank you for helping me build my castle.”

Euphoria, unadulterated happiness and a peace of mind like never before – that’s how you feel when you give a new lease of life to your wedding dress. Share it.

About the Writer:
Sowmya Ravichandran is a Chartered Accountant by profession. She loves anything related to arts and creativity better than numbers. You can read her Creative Fiction piece that was published in the last issue of Inkspire here.


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