One of the most unnerving ordeals as a new bride/groom has to be definitely the sleeping quarter allocation when one goes a-visiting with the extended outlaws and the laws.
No, I don’t mean the whole suhaag-raat deal, I am sure that is quite awkward as well – but this is slightly later version, long after the marriage frenzy and confusion, when one in cold-blood is expected to walk into a shared er...conjugal quarters under the watchful eyes of parents and/or other elderly relatives.
It is absolutely and completely disorienting – and certainly more so for the girl, if she has been brought up in the usual Indian family ostrich like style of avoiding anything remotely to do with “THAT" topic.
The first trip to Goa post marriage was therefore quite harrowing.
I went swaggering in to the uncle’s house assuming that everything was going to be like usual, with just an addendum in the form of the spouse. Maybe a little fuss about him, but that would soon fizzle out I thought.
I couldn’t have been more mistaken.
Suddenly I found that by virtue of marriage, my whole standing in the house had shifted from just-another-head that needs to be shoved into whichever room/bed/mattress/floor space is available to the er...consort of the CHIEF GUEST OF HONOUR.
(Just to provide a context, in my growing up years, a full house was 25-30 odd people ( all talking at the same time). Sleeping arrangements meant a long room with four mattresses, and pillows which normally resulted in a free for all to get place or bed sheets. A charmingly democratic resolution to the sleeping problem)
There is apparently a rule book about the proper method to treat this CHIEF GUEST OF HONOUR who must not be offended which I had completely missed (the last female marriage had happened when I was about the two, and I am the eldest of the girls and the first to get hitched.)
This included fulfilling (and anticipating) every culinary wish of his, hovering around him and asking him whether he wanted anything every twenty minutes, scampering like hares to pander to every word which emerged out of his lips. (Bloody annoying it was – gave the hero a vastly exaggerated sense of his own importance. Also this overwhelming, gushing gratitude at having married me, wasn’t particularly good for my ego)
And the worst bit of all, the seventy odd year old uncle and his wife, self evicting themselves from the master bedroom and sleeping on the settee so that the Jamai could repose on the king sized bed.
And it was a awkward-as-hell. It takes cold-blooded nerve to confront a white-haired patriarch with conversations about beds and sleeping arrangements.
To be fair, the hero was more discomfited than flattered, but I had little sympathy for him at that point especially when he would talk about how he has saved me from spinsterhood and other lines in the same vein.
And somehow this whole thing followed us for a year or so, when we went to HIS uncles house. We were allocated his cousins room ( Daughter in laws are a much lower species than the sons in law ). We walk into her bedroom to see a double bed there. Hero, with his usual presence of mind and fetish for feet, asks, “But Maami, have you reorganized your house, weren’t these two single beds on two sides of the room?”. Maami blushes and mutters about kitchen and escapes. While I am left to pick up the pieces of my shattered self long enough to kick the hero really hard (He ALWAYS does that. The kind of sticky morasses which I have been subject to because he has a way of firing of his mouth is too awful to even list down here. )
One of the best anecdotes I had heard about this was that of my friend S’s eldest sister – let’s call her R. (Just as a context, S is the youngest of three sisters). R, and her brand new husband come for the first time to the house where she grew up. Come night time and S’s Ma is getting the guest room ready by putting fresh sheets and linen for the newlyweds.
Her dad traipses in, looks bewildered at aunty and says “Isn’t the J (the groom) going to sleep in the same bedroom alongside me – PUT HIM in there. Why are you putting him here?
I always wonder how poor aunty (the good wife and DIL that she is) explained to her irate spouse that his son-in-law could and should, share sleeping quarters with his now-grown-up daughter.
This post was written quite some time ago, somehow never got around to posting it!