My brother got married.

So a few months ago, I got a text from my brother. It went something like this: "Hey Trish. Just wanted to let you know I'm engaged to be married. Her name's Neha. Hope things are going well with you."

Things had been going well with me, until I read that, and choked on the water I'd been drinking, and basically nearly asphyxiated myself.

I remembered Neha. The last time I'd met my brother, she'd just dumped him, and he was a mess. Seriously, man. But it was no fun at all. I'm absolutely brilliant if I'm going through emotional trauma: I do the whole chain-smoking thing, drink unhealthy amounts of vodka, start off by listening to fabulous, depressing music and then move on to bad, depressing music, and then it ends with me bawling myself to sleep, hiccuping things like "dickhead" and "bastard" and "fucking men" along the way. Sometimes I call a friend up and start ranting and raving and move onto a discussion about love itself and then maybe life, and then once I had this brilliant conversation about Camus and I felt damn intelligent that I could even talk about Camus while my heart was lying in shattered pieces over the floor and I was too drunk to articulate my words probably, and I was so overcome by my own wonderful personality, I stopped being depressed and went to sleep quite peacefully. (I woke up depressed again though, and felt stupid as well, so that worked out fine.)

But my brother was just boring. All he did was smoke up and eat chips and sleep. He got gout at the age of twenty-nine and that totally speaks for itself.

Anyway, I wasn't expecting to go for the wedding, because I thought I'd be in Australia by this time, except I'm sitting in Delhi, Duh-li, which I have a sneaking suspicion I'll never be able to escape. And then my brother was like, "you should come" so I thought about it. I was in total workaholic mode though, and I couldn't bear the idea of taking even two days off work. But then I was like, this is your brother's wedding, Trisha, how could you miss it. And going by family history, I wasn't sure if it was going to be his only wedding, but hey, you only get married for the first time once.

So I went.

I left for the airport straight from work, and I didn't take a book with me because I thought the airport would have a bookstore  - I mean, have you seen the size of Delhi airport - and then when I got there, I even asked the stupid lady at the counter whether there was a bookstore inside.

"Sure, Ma'am," said she. "There's a book store." So I checked my laptop in even.

She obviously has no clue what a book store is, because there was no book store (bookstore? Both, I know, but neither sounds right). I stalked in and out of shops - perfume shops and furnishing shops (because who doesn't want to buy cushion covers at the airport) - and asked, and they all said there was no book store, and I gave them a nasty glare and stalked out again.

And then I thought I'd have coffee, but obviously, I didn't. I bought a newspaper (and it was the Times of India, to just add to the crap that was that hour), had a beer which I couldn't afford. One pint cost 300 bucks. Madness. And they know they have you, it's an airport with no bookshop, it must be some sort of conspiracy, I should look into it, so then I drank a second, and a third (I had no money, but I had my card. Cards are wonderful things) and then I got quite drunk and I went to the smoking room and I stayed there until I heard my name being called over the loud speakers and I was the last person to board the plane.

Thank god my mother doesn't read this blog.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure I had a hangover by the time I reached Bombay. It was past 11, my brother picked me up and took me to my sister-in-law's house. I love saying the word sister-in-law. I can't believe I have one, I never thought it would happen. You wouldn't either if you knew my brother.
Anyway, I'm going to call her Sister-in-Law on this blog, not Neha. I hugged her hello, but we didn't talk until the next day, and then I felt seriously awkward because I didn't know anyone. So I stood around and talked to my father who was already drunk and therefore of no help at all. And then I met Sister-in-Law's parents, who are really wonderful, and I made small talk with them, and I think I made up for my father, whom they were eyeing with bemusement and disbelief.

And then a bunch of my brother's friends, and my brother, and my father, and little old me, went back to my uncle Nikhil's place, and my father just would not stop talking. Man. I never realized how much he talked before this. He just would not shut up.

But once we got there everyone got wasted so it was good. Sister-in-Law's brother, Abhi, henceforth known as Brother-in-Law (maybe SIL and BIL for short) has a house in Manali, so I was all like, bo-ing. Hello, New Relative. I'm going to come and visit you there and you can't kick me out even if I'm annoying as hell because I am Family. Bahaha. I didn't say that to him the first night, thankfully, but I said it the following night (I'll come to that later) but he took it damn well. Didn't even roll his eyes. Very nice guy. My brother managed getting not only a cool girl, but a pretty cool family as well.

Okay, next night. No wait. Next day. The actual wedding. Shit.

Yeah, so I went to sleep at bloody five in the morning because my brother just would not let me go to sleep and kept rolling joints and I was in joint heaven and running around taking photos of the canvases and books in my uncle's house. I have to go back and stay with him for a week, and do nothing except a bit of painting there, and read those books. He even had the first edition of A Bunch of Old Letters. Politicians could write in those days, they really could.

And then I couldn't sleep till six, because I was sharing a room with my father and that man snores like a...no, there is absolutely no comparison for his snoring. I can sleep through anything, okay, but even I, in my beautifully stoned state, could not sleep through that.

And I was hurled out of bed at eight am. I was going to wear a sari, even though I've never tried wearing a sari (by myself) before. Billie Mashi's Girl Friday, Kusum, tried teaching me before I left, and I fell over on my butt because I wrapped it too tightly around me and kept turning and got dizzy and she was all, "You're never going to be able to do it" and at that point, I didn't even care enough to try. So I put on a kurta and went. Shame though, because I had a dead sexy blouse that I never got to wear.

I think my dad was still drunk. He kept wanting to stop for a beer on the way there. I was incapable of saying anything except to berate my brother, at intervals, for being dumb enough to get married before noon.

Anyway, we got there - they were just doing the registry thing at the old customs house - and everyone was running around getting things photocopied. Not the way I'd want to spend my wedding day. Photocopying does dangerous things to my blood pressure at the best of times, and a wedding day doesn't really fall into my category of the best of times anyway.

And then I nearly missed the legendary moment. I was sitting outside on a bench, wishing I were dead or asleep, and everyone disappeared and for some reason I thought they'd all gone to bathroom, and I was thinking, what kind of family bonding is this, all happening in the loo together, how shady. But then BIL came running out, waving his arms at me, and I realized something important was happening, and I ran into this tiny little office and got there just as they finished signing. And then my brother and SIL started kissing and the registry guy didn't look too pleased, and they were going to split a barfi because they had to feed each other, and he said, "No. You have to eat the whole barfi." Maybe half-a-barfi leads to divorce, who knows these things.

And then we took photos and then we went to SIL's house and I tried to sleep but I couldn't because I had to meet her extended family who all seem like a cheerful, non-dysfunctional bunch, and then we went for this vegetarian Gujju lunch.

I wasn't sure why. SIL isn't Gujju. But apparently it was just convenient.

Wow. This is a really long post.

*Deep breath*

Anyway, lunch was nice, and all the young people were going to Lonavla that night, but I was so sleep deprived I was really hoping it wouldn't happen. SIL was feeling sick and didn't want to go either, so I tried brain-washing her, subtly, being all, "Yeah, aren't you tired. It's going to be so exhausting. Blah blah blah" but my brother told me to shut up and go home and get some sleep because we were going.

So I slept, and showered, and woke up refreshed, ready on the stroke of six pm because I am bloody punctual.

The rest of the world is not. They ended up picking me up at nine pm.

Ok, this post is too long, and I've already updated once today. So no more.

But here are some photos.

That's my uncle, who was really stoned at this point and started doing a charcoal sketch and got it all over his face.

I was also really stoned, and I don't remember what I was trying to do. Ostensibly it looks like I was trying to get my hand's shadow to attack the bottles. 

The only bloody photo I ended up taking of Bombay.

The wedding. The man in the checked shirt is my father in law. Well my brother's father in law. My brother's the idiot in white looking unnaturally pleased considering he's about to get hitched. The bald guy is my cousin-in-law. The lady in the sari is my brother's mother, my stepmother, my dad's ex wife, you get the picture. And the girl is Neha.

Left to right: Brother's best friend #1 (he has two of them, wait until I get to best friend number 2, haha), BIL, SIL, and Uncle. 

Part 2 next time.

It was a sword, wielded with energy, rather than grace, slashing through the stubborn layers of curtains, heavy with dust, immobile, old, stoic, forbidding. It was a knobbly wooden stick, creamy and brown and smooth and dented, to be waved over the seas so they would part. It was very old ink on very fine paper, fading sometimes in places, but always writing itself again, over and over, timeless. It was a sheet, just a plain white sheet,  drenched in sweat, a sheet of passion, a passionate sheet. It was a lighter, a leaf, it was the smell of the sea, that sharp and salty smell, and the curve of a neck, and the stone coldness of pebbles, and beautiful hands, the sort with narrow wrists and long, steady fingers. It was always beer, but then just one vodka after, just one for the road, journey made in old yellow taxis. It was a face buried in a shoulder under a moon on a terrace, a familiar terrace that had seen it before. It was a new toothbrush sitting in place one month of the year, waiting for the next time. It was a pool of water glistening in sun, and long legs kicking through the surf. It was morning. It was joy. It was comfort. It was laughter. It was.

It was. 


Ted Hughes.

I stumbled across this poem after years, I haven't read it since school. It is as kick-ass as it was back then, when I first read it, in a tiny classroom, with hot sun and flies kissing the back of my neck, and feeling shivers that had nothing to do with them.


As we came through the gate to look at the few new lambs
On the skyline of lawn smoothness,
A raven bundled itself into air from midfield
And slid away under hard glistenings, low and guilty.
Sheep nibbling, kneeling to nibble the reluctant nibbled grass.
Sheep staring, their jaws pausing to think, then chewing again,
Then pausing. Over there a new lamb
Just getting up, bumping its mother's nose
As she nibbles the sugar coating off it
While the tattered banners of her triumph swing and drip from her rear-end.
She sneezes and a glim of water flashers from her rear-end.
She sneezes again and again, till she's emptied.
She carries on investigating her new present and seeing how it works.

Over here is something else. But you are still interested
In that new one, and its new spark of voice,
And its tininess.
Now over here, where the raven was,
Is what interests you next. Born dead,
Twisted like a scarf, a lamb of an hour or two,
Its insides, the various jellies and crimsons and transparencies
And treads and tissues pulled out
In straight lines, like tent ropes
From its upward belly opened like a lamb-wool slipper,
The fine anatomy of silvery ribs on display and the cavity,
The head also emptied through the eye-sockets,
The woolly limbs swathed in birth-yolk and impossible
To tell now which in all this field of quietly nibbling sheep
Was its mother. I explain
That it died being born. We should have been here, to help it.
So it died being born. ‘And did it cry?' you cry.
I pick up the dangling greasy weight by the hooves soft as dogs' pads
That had trodden only womb-water
And its raven-drawn strings dangle and trail,
Its loose head joggles, and ‘Did it cry?' you cry again.
Its two-fingered feet splay in their skin between the pressures
Of my fingers and thumb. And there is another,
Just born, all black, splaying its tripod, inching its new points
Towards its mother, and testing the note
It finds in its mouth. But you have eyes now
Only for the tattered bundle of throwaway lamb.
‘Did it cry?' you keep asking, in a three-year-old field-wide
Piercing persistence. ‘Oh yes' I say ‘it cried.'

Though this one was lucky insofar
As it made the attempt into a warm wind
And its first day of death was blue and warm
The magpies gone quiet with domestic happiness
And skylarks not worrying about anything
And the blackthorn budding confidently
And the skyline of hills, after millions of hard years,
Sitting soft.