Soon after the wedding date was out, I started to recall all the plans that were concealed in my heart for a long time, perhaps, waiting for ‘the day’. I was too curious to know, every bit that she was going through each day, till her wedding date- her feelings, her preparation, her confusions, willing to be a part of each of those moments, which I had shared with her during my marriage. Though she was miles apart, but that didn’t stop me from behaving like a bridesmaid! This exhilaration couldn’t be veiled for long & I soon broadcast-ed it, making everyone around aware of Kale’s wedding period!

Oh by the way, her name is Komal Kale, which was shrinked to mere Kale, showing how much loved her surname was (Not to mention, how common was her first name). I met her at the Impetus Freshers Training Programme around 5 years ago. She was my batch mate & one of the 7 girls we had in total.  Trust me, I was sure she would be last of the seven I would talk to. I found her a bit pompous and too intelligent to share a conversation, from the very first day.  Later I learnt that, that feeling was mutual! And eventually, we became friends.

Friends, isn’t the word enough, to state the unusual camaraderie we shared with each other.  I started to discern she was so much like me, just like a reflection, like a soul sister. She could read the words unsaid, looking at my eyes. There was nothing that I could hide from her, nor did I want to. She trusted my instinct & my taste of fashion (which I completely adore her for). When it came to work, I could throw the silliest question at her, without the fear of being concluded. Such was the faith I had on her being and apparently her technical skills. We were allotted different teams, and hence more gossips became accessible to us. She welcomed me in her life with open arms, so did her family. Her parents, innocent and simple, took care of me like my own. Not many days later I found myself more at her home than at the flat, I was paying to live in. We started the trend of girls night out (Not really out, since it was usually at her place), which we religiously followed. Landed up doing every stuff in each other’s company-sneaking out, eating, sleeping, working, shopping, all done hand in hand. Her mother cooked delicious meals with such warmth that I couldn’t dare miss my mom. I began to call her ‘Aai’ (mom in Marathi) instead of aunty, and it made me feel closer to her. With her family around, it always felt like a home away from home.

She unfailingly stood by my side, what so ever be the situation. And how can I not state, she became the match maker to help me meet the love of my life.

She always guided me to build that relation strong enough to last forever. And, when my most precious moment came by, she held me like family.

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27th of November 2016, was special, not only for her but for me too. My dearest buddy was to get married to her long time love. Nothing could make her happier than this day. And to add a bit more, I had planned to sing a song –“Hold you in my heart forever, I’ll always remember you – By Miley Cyrus”.  I tried to rehearse it a few times, in my wash room or while walking down the road, when no one was listening & soon realized, those were better suited places with no ears to my voice. Anyways, neither time nor my practice could prove me wrong. So I decided to get back to what I can do really well, pleasingly!! I thought of getting a peppy track ready, which could bring her on her feet forgetting she is the bride to be.  While I was making up a list to pick out the best song to perform on, I was hit with extensive work. Due to my other engagements and prior commitment to work, I dropped the idea of slaying at her Sangeet function with my prepared number- better to go spontaneous, better for the rest, I thought.

Finally, a day before the celebration had to begin, my keenness touched its peak resulting in boarding the train an hour before its scheduled departure. The minute we landed on Jabalpur station, next early morning, I knew the roller coaster of emotions had begun. I didn’t get the chance to see her till the time she joined us in the same guest house, we stayed. She looked extremely beautiful, her face glowing with happiness. Her eyes were tired yet jovial & I understood, she desperately needed to rest, for the sleepless nights were awaiting her! Hence we decided to leave her by herself & headed for the ‘Tilak’ ceremony. It seems like a few minutes that the evening of Sangeet approached. There wasn’t a single head which didn’t turn to catch hold of her sight, the moment she stepped into the party lawn. It was a superbly hosted party, with foods & drinks, and super delicious chocolate cake. More than anything else, the romantic dance put up by Komal (Bride) & Ishan (Groom) made the night memorable. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening with my love, close friend-Khushboo & another couple friends. We were happy & excited & went on showcasing our level of madness with unending photo sessions. We also went dancing on the DJ till we were out of breath. When we made our way back to the hotel, my brain kept on reminding me, that my dear friend needed rest & peace to embrace what was coming the next day. Yet my heart, never allowed to me to stay in my room for more than 10 mins after reaching the spot. The next I remember was, sitting on her bed enjoying g-talk, teasing her & not letting her get back to her night wear! We literally fell about the place talking of the night. I even placed a bet with Khushboo on Kale not bursting out crying when she leaves her family post wedding (which later bagged me a 100 rupees in my paytm wallet.. I wonder if I would have shown the same honesty had I lost the bet!!).

‘The day’ came & we were all set for her haldi ceremony. She was in a proper Marathi attire wearing a beautiful yellow–green saree. I sure, couldn’t get my eyes off her.  Once the ceremony was about to wrap, her family showed up some planned surprises, a series of acts & dances dedicating to her. As obvious, I joined them. I remember dancing for hours like never before.  Undoubtedly, my husband might have suspected me being possessed by some spiritual entity, watching me dance the way I did, that day. We played haldiholi with everyone around, like carefree kids. I could see how happy my friend was. Her beatific smile said it all. Her parents were urged to do a romantic duet. Though in a quandary, they agreed. Oh it was mind blowing, it had to be! The bride was teary eyed, overwhelmed with the love pouring in from all corners. That very moment I learned something, that it didn’t matter what the reason was, she was happy, I was happy—goal accomplished.

After the most rejuvenating 3 hours, I decided to spare some rest to my drained body & hence collapsed in bed. My eyes only saw the clock when it struck 18:00 hrs. Almost everyone was ready to depart for the wedding reception, while I was roaming around the corridors to find someone who could get my hair done. Much to our surprise, we weren’t the last to leave the guest house all by itself. The reception venue was grand, even grandly decorated in bright colors & lights.  The surrounding enforced us to get our cameras out & a string of clicks followed. In a few minutes, 3 gorgeous women in white playing some great tranquilizing music, escorted the Groom to his hot seat! What a visually delightful welcome it was. Soon I was pulled out of that wow moment & thrown into another when my best buddy dressed up as a bride arrived on a palki carried by her brothers. Everyone out there, be gharaati or baraati were awestruck! After having uncountable discreet options of remarkably prepared meals, we routed back to the guest house, where the main & final ritual was to take place.  I assumed the night was running at a faster pace than expected.

We helped the bride get into her final change for the evening. She sat beside her partner to take the vows of lifetime. With next blink of an eye she became, Mrs. Komal Kale.

It was time to say good bye.. and I had all our memories flashing before my eyes. It seemed as though I had traveled quite far, far from the celebration, far from the crowd. I felt a slight pain in my heart. I wasn’t spending my days & nights with her before this day, yet something made me feel her exiting footprints. I looked around to see my other friends giggling, chatting, smiling. I felt left alone. I didn’t want her to go. I couldn’t really speak much of it. I had never felt this way before, neither on my wedding, nor on my sister’s. It appeared as though I was her, feeling the pain of leaving my beloved family, entering a complete new world. Tears rolled down my cheeks & with heavy heart I waved her my hand, smiling. Thinking, if she had ever let my eyes get watery. Those few minutes were only dedicated to the uncountable memories we had created together.

Truly, nothing can be as mesmerizing as an Indian wedding!!  A perfect blend of emotions – happiness, excitement, despair of leaving something behind, avidity to embrace the new, love for everyone around & gratitude for life lived so far..

Even though so many days have passed, I still am swinging in her wedding hangover. I keep thinking of her, revisiting our days of close relationship, hoping the bond keeps growing.

To my dearest Kale,

May we never run out of moments to cherish, tales to state, paths to ride on, laughs to share & each other to care!  May this legacy of friendship continues with generations to come! :) 

Your 4:A.M friend,

Gari