Part Two here. Brace yourself; this is a heavy dose! 😉
Part three: The Blossomming of the Swan
By now, I am sleepy enough to drop just about anywhere and fall into blissful slumber, but the girls have other plans. The twins and the sneaky younger sister hover around my suitcase — vultures vying to get a look at my well-guarded outfits. “Show us what you’re wearing tonight!”, the twins squeal. Today is the dholki, a bachelorette party where the Dulhan-to-be celebrates her ‘last days of singlehood’.
But I grin cheekily. I was loving the suspense and there was no way I was killing it so soon. After weeks of waiting, surely a few more minutes wouldn’t hurt? But the twins press me still, so I bring out my outfit for the nikkah, the wedding reception.
It is a modern twist on the traditional Pakistani shalwar kameez: beige and magenta, embroidered with gold and silver motifs. The sight is met with ‘ooh’s and ‘aah’s from the twins,and rightly so. It looks sparkingly gorgeous (if I may say so myself!)
But the show-stopper is still to come. My sneaky younger sister pulls The Yellow Bag from the depths of my suitcase (my dress is from Forever 21, by the way) and in no time at all I am wearing my outfit. I am dressed in a light cream-coloured dress, a black cropped jacket, a white belt and black heels. The twins are wide-eyed.”Raweeha, you look beautiful.” I smile, and this time it is from deep within me.
You know how, one day, your entire life flashes before you? This was my day. Within moments, I was a bubbling six-year-old; an ambitious ‘scientist’ making shampoo and baby powder ‘potions’ in the bathroom. Then I am a brooding ten-year-old, trying to think thoughts that are too big to fit into my small head. I am twelve and irritable, a nuisance to those around me, but inwardly questioning my identity. I am fourteen, mature but slightly oblivious to reality. And then I am back to my present self, at sixteen years, eight months and four days old. Who am I now?
I’ve had something of an ‘ugly duckling’ transition to adolescence. I have been annoying. Annoyed. Confusing. Confused. Disagreeable. Pitied upon. But today I was not. And I realise the self-indulgence of this, but I felt that, after years of hiding in the shadows, I had emerged in the limelight; an ugly duckling no more. The nikkah may be the Dulhan’s moment to shine, but the dholki was mine. The swan had blossomed, and today, she would take to the skies.
A few minutes later, with the Dulhan-to-be out sight, I usher her twin into the room and explain my surprise present to her. I bring out a bag of Quality Street, a ceramic replica of an ice cream sundae and a plastic envelope of paper hearts. The idea: to give people a piece of chocolate and a heart, ask them to write a message and then wrap the folded message in the remaining cellophane. The ‘ice cream sundae’ would then be filled with ‘candy’. In my excitement though, I unwrap the bubble wrap, and … The lid slips from my hand, lands on the floor and cracks into six pieces. I want to slap myself. “We’ll improvise”, the twin reassures me, but that seed of regret has been planted and remains within me for the next three days.
The preparations begin. Balloons are brought out and we blow, blow, blow. Just before tying them we pop in a little piece of folded paper. Dozens of balloons are given this treatment, and, lo and behold, we have created a balloon Pass the Parcel cum Truth or Dare.
The hours pass like seconds. I have finally managed to get some sleep, showered, dressed, done make up and failed, yet again, to curl my hair. It’s party time.
The first guests arrive and the Dulhan-to-be is taking her sweet time getting dressed. I ampushed into the living room and soon a whole group of us is sitting on the floor in awkward silence. Who drums the dhol, and worse still, who sings? We had a tambourine and no willing singer. The problem is soon solved when a cousin comes along with a wooden sewing machine lid. Pretty soon, we are singing and dancing along with the hilarious air of amateurs pretending to be Shah Rukh Khans. The Dulhan-to-be then stands up and summons us into a circle. It is time for the balloons.
The shock on people’s faces when the balloon pops areirreplaceable, the dares even more so. One contestant is asked to do two laps of the corridor — hopping on one foot. Another is asked to apply lipstick on some one else’s lips — blindfolded. Most people most people choose to pop their balloons using their finger nails, others sit on them, a few brave ones use their teeth. Pretty soon the music stops, and what do you know, I have a balloon in my hands.
I pop mine using the back of my earring. My dare: Drink two glasses of 7up in one minute. I ambitiously gulp down my first glass and, it is FREEZING! Eyes watering, I loosen my belt and begin my second glass! Somehow even colder than the first. As someone begins the countdown I nearly give in, but …. I finish my second glass in just under a minute, spilling half of it down the front of my dress and taking my belt off entirely. Phew. How embarrassing.
I then manage to put my baby nephew to sleep (walking around in heels, yes!), eat some, pose for pictures and make a call to my ‘stylist’. All while chasing confused (and rather uncooperative) guests with their paper hearts. PLUS hiding this from the Dulhan-to-be! It is not long before all has wound down and I have collapsed into bed.
What a night.