The weddings that we're accustomed to are extravagant in every sense. From the decoration to the food and the clothes that people wear, everything is a big deal.
People are expected to like weddings. We're all expected to dress up and enjoy to our heart's content.
After all, wedding is a celebration of two people coming together to spend their whole lives with each other. But the weddings that we know are much more than that.
A wedding is a get together of all relatives and friends, distant and proximal alike, giving everyone an open field to gossip, judge and pass comments, for at least a week.
Someone's daughter eloped, someone's son did not get a GPA-5, and someone's dress is too tacky: all of this is what makes a wedding in our society; the ultimate conference of judgements,
hypocrisy and hurtful comments. This is probably why some of us don't like weddings, knowing what's coming.
Some of us included Farah, who at the moment, was frowning at herself in the mirror of a beauty parlour.
She was made to wear a green ghagra with a matching sleeveless blouse and a blue-green orna. Her hair was pulled back in a tight hair-sprayed bun that her mother had her done.
The lady that did her hair was going to do her makeup too, but she went somewhere to find something that Farah didn't remember listening to.
"This looks ridiculous on me", she stared hard at the mirror, as if challenging it to change her appearance.
"You look fine", said her mother dismissively. She had her eyes closed as a makeup lady did her eye makeup.
"Why did you choose this colour for me? You know green makes me look fat."
Her mother opened her eyes to look in the mirror, carefully scrutinizing the makeup on her left eye.
"You look fat in everything. There's nothing much I could do, honestly."
She nodded at the lady to continue, leaned back and closed her eyes again.
She's right, thought Farah. Nothing looks good on me anyway.
Her makeup lady came back to resume the work as Farah sat down on her chair again, letting the lady draw on her face.
What's the point? She looked at herself in the mirror with makeup being blended all over her face. Nothing can hide what I look like.
She let her eyes travel all over her, pigmented forehead, to the huge nose and the double chin. Her big arms which were now exposed thanks to the sleeveless blouse.
Today was the Holud ceremony, where everyone was required to wear matching outfits. When she saw the dress for the first time, she knew didn't want to wear this.
When she told her mother, she'd rather not go, she was given a look that shut her up immediately. It was her cousin's wedding. There was no escaping from it.
"It's been so long, Farah."
"Which class are you in?"
Farah's head bobbed from one auntie to another as she greeted everyone and answered all of their questions. Aunties always have a lot of questions.
They don't ask them because they want answers, they ask them because they want to make a statement.
"Did you put on weight again, Farah?"
Yes, I know I'm fat. You don't need to point it out auntie.
"Oh yes, just look at her", said her mother. "She's growing into an elephant. All she does is eat and sleep. What else do you except will happen?"
"Don't talk like that, Farida. Try some diets. Or take her to a doctor. She's fifteen, right? Then she's old enough to try some medicines."
While her mother discussed weight loss solutions with the aunties, Farah quietly excused herself from the discussion. She walked around trying to find a quiet place.
She couldn't take it anymore. She couldn't have people's eyes on her, judging her for looking bad, for gaining weight. It's not like she could help it.
And her mother doesn't help her case either. She needed to get out-
"Areh, where are you going?" asked Naziba Apu as she crashed onto her.
"I was just-" Farah realized that tears were streaming down her cheeks. Naziba Apu noticed and looked around. She looked around, and then took Farah's hand. "Come with me."
Naziba Apu took her to a washroom. It had mirrors and sink on both sides. She took out a packet of wet tissue and some makeup from her small purse.
Tearing the packet of wet tissue, she waved her hand, signalling Farah to come forward.
"What happened?" she asked.
Farah told her everything. She told her how she ugly she felt in this dress, how ugly she feels in general. She told her how her body bothers her, and how much she hates it.
She told her what those aunties said, most importantly what her mother said.
"I know it's nothing. But what Maa says really bothers me."
"It's not nothing", said Naziba Apu as she fixed Farah's mascara. "It's how you feel. That's not nothing."
Naziba Apu let out an exasperated sigh. "Farida chachi is just too much sometimes."
When she was done, she smiled and stepped back. As she put her things into her bag she said, "Look Farah, I'm not going to tell you to suck it up because it happens to all of us.
Just because it does, doesn't mean it should."
She turned around and looked Farah straight in the eye. "What I can say is someday, you will get used to it. One day, nothing they say will matter to you.
Because their opinion is not going to change anything about you or your life."
She turned around to look at the mirror and flicked her hair back. "One day, you'll realize you don't care what they say."
Farah looked at her cousin and asked, "They said anything to you today?"
Naziba Apu smiled. "Honey, I married a Hindu guy. They kind of think I'm a lost cause, which is not a bad thing because it got them off my back", she laughed.
"But yes, earlier, I did get used to it. Don't worry. You will too."
"I think they're going to start the dancing", Naziba Apu said, glancing at the door. "We should go."
Before leaving, Farah looked at herself in the mirror. She knew there was a still a long way to go for her reach where she wants to, but she was excited to begin the journey.