For Gunjan, at her wedding

You enter the church, arm in arm with your father, scan the pews as you walk down the aisle. Our eyes meet briefly. You smile and mouth a silent thank you. I take a photo. Dressed in nine yards of silk and flowers in your hair, you are more woman than I have ever seen you.

When you put on borrowed sunglasses at your wedding brunch, even though your friends say they make you look like a 60s movie gangster, you are again the girl I’ve known since we were fifteen.

Image

The girl who not only scarfed down the sociology teacher’s tiffin everyday well before lunch break, but who also convinced said teacher to bring your favorite foods to school. The girl whose notes, big round letters, headings meticulously underlined in ruler and black ink, saw me through exams during a year when I could not write. The girl who regularly arrived two hours late for brunch and made me forgive you.

When I tell you at your sangeet that I just secured a publisher for my first book, you high five me, still-damp mehendi on both our hands. You announce my good news to a room full of strangers, and I promise to always remember these huge moments of both our lives in a happy continuum.

A decade ago, we had all laughed when you won the school special award for abundant optimism. You had laughed the loudest. But today, your cheeks glow with a love of life so deep I am forced to revisit that memory, tweak it slightly.

The first think you say to me on your wedding day: “I am the world’s most chilled out bride.”

Later, you slip the ring onto your new husband’s wrong hand, and even the priest bursts out laughing. It is the first of the many small mess-ups that make your wedding so memorable.

You ask me to hold your bouquet before you throw it to the other single women. Someone wonders if I will get lucky because I touched it before anyone had the chance to catch it.

At the reception, your new husband introduces me to an old friend: “You’re in-laws of sorts now."

You message me from the airport as you leave for your honeymoon, telling me how you just burned your hand with hot coffee.

I tell you simply that clumsiness becomes you.