A prospective bride and some ice cream.
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Indian words - Shrota/Shrotao (Listener/listeners); Sari (single piece garment worn by women); Zari (golden lace); Pallu (end of the sari, over the shoulder); Chhokri (girl); Bakri (lamb); Nani (maternal grandma)
Listen, dear shrotao
And you shall hear my tale of woe.
It happened when I was twenty-one
And it wasn’t too much fun.
I’m talking of my cousin’s wedding day
Being next in line, I was ON DISPLAY.
Wearing my Mom’s own wedding sari,
Purple, with heavy gold zari.
“A pin on the pallu,” I pleaded – in vain
“A pin on the pleats!” Again, no bargain.
Me, in royal purpleness
Was going to spend the day PINLESS.
To top it all, and the mind reels
My feet were pushed in to high heels!
So that’s Sonali age twenty-one
And she wasn’t having too much fun.
Heavy sari, not a pin
High heels that cut the skin.
Now she had to pass the test
Be a young lady at her demure best.
She had to impress the movers and shakers
She had to catch the eye of the MATCHMAKERS!!
Remember – NO pin on pallu,
No pin on pleat
High heels on reluctant feet.
“Take this ice cream on a platter
Help the groom’s aunt grow a bit fatter.”
Bravely clutching a silver tray
Sonali limped on her way.
The heat was hot – sweltering
The ice cream, it was MELTERING
She plodded on till she saw
A very senior aunt-in-law.
Sonali to herself: Now be nice!
“Please partake of this cream of ice!”
The aunt-in-law was unrelenting
“Take it, please, it is melting!”
But aunt wanted to test the chhokri
Is this a meek little bakri?
She made her beg, made her plead
“Take the ice cream, do a good deed!”
Remember – no pin on pallu
No pin on pleat
And high heels on reluctant feet.
“Take the ice cream, it is so yummy
Very cooling for your tummy!”
I mentioned it was hot, didn’t I?
Did I tell you of the fan nearby?
Well, as fans are known to do
It caught sight of an unpinned pallu.
“O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
With this pallu I can play!”
Before she could say DON’T, PLEASE
At her back was a healthy breeze.
There was a pallu on a platter
Aunty’s face was ice cream splatter.
Mom’s precious wedding sari
Soaked in vanilla ‘n’ strawberry
In high heels Sonali couldn’t even run
A total wardrobe malfunction.
Aunt-in-law’s face a-dripping
Purple pallu playfully pipping
Sonali, gasping and tripping
What needed leaving? What needed gripping?
Dear shrota, I can’t tell you
Who or what came to my rescue.
My mind is blank about many a minute
When the mist cleared from my head
I was safely home in bed.
And Nani was saying – “You were the bsst
It seems you have passed the test.
Aunt-in-law had the grace
To put you on a ‘prospective brides’ data base.
So don’t cry over spilt ice cream
It may still lead you to a dream!”
No pin on pallu, no pin on pleat
In high heels it was
I recite this poem at:
NOTE: The matchmaking tradition is still alive and kicking in India, though in many urban areas, it is now modernised, like on online matchmaking websites.