‘Malati had been all of fifteen years old ‘when she stepped foot in Dipen’s humble abode as a shy young bride. Draped as she had been awkwardly in a red Benarasi sari, her fresh young face adorned with chandan, sandalwood paste dots and bright vermilion sindoor in her hair parting, which declared her recent elevation to wedded status.
Malati came from a humble but conservative Brahmin family of Kalighat. Her father was a priest by profession and Malati was the youngest in the brood his parents raised. Not surprisingly, the economically challenged parents were past the stage of being thankful to the Almighty for His bounty in this direction and had named the last of the lot Chaini or unwanted in Bengali. So Malati was the hapless owner of a name that shouted her unwanted status to the whole world till she was fifteen…….’
Snippet : The Beeye or the main Bengali wedding has quaint rituals like the Saat paak in which the bride is taken around the groom seven times thus firmly securing the two together, the Subho Dhristi in which the bride coyly peeps at the groom from behind paan leaves and the Mala badal in which the bride and the groom exchange floral garlands thrice as the first step towards mutual acceptance.
Malati and Dipen feature in the story Pandemic, a part of my forthcoming book, ‘The Chronicler of the Hooghly and other stories’. Should you wish to receive exclusive previews and the chance of winning a free copy of the book, do participate in the monthly contests.