Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Legally Binded pt 2: Return of the Couple.

On October 31st, 2009. I got married at the church. Of course, it didn’t begin smoothly as it should no thanks to my punctuality conscious family. Sharp 3pm I was suppose to leave my apartment with the best man who lived a door away from my apartment. When I went there, with my suit on, overnight bag slung over my shoulder, there he was, all six foot of him, topless with a rack of ties, looking as blurry as a mole asking:

“Bro, which tie I should wear?”

The theme, according to my wife, was gold, champagne gold. Whatever it meant, for all you know you might offer me a bucket of charcoal and say its champagne black and I would agree. I am one of the few privileged individuals to share a common trait with Steven Spielberg – colour blindness.

A realisation at which point, the best man, Derrick, asked, “Bro, is this gold?”. Clock is a ticking, buddy boy. Finally the handsome devil (yes he is, it’s in my speech) was ready and we were about 15 minutes late, driving towards my brother’s house when I started getting calls as to what time I’d reach there and usual worrying stuff like that.

We were there, and all of us, my parents, my brother Balan and his wife and two kids, my younger brother Shubash and his wife, and my once good friend, but now family member, Chithambaram, got ourselves distributed into three cars and off we went to the church.

Which should have been a ten minute trip, except it took us a frickin’ half an hour! The traffic jam god decided to play a prank and placed all available traffic in KL, even though they were heading south towards Johore, in that small road from Selayang leading to Kepong. And at some point while crawling, Balan knocked the bumper of a car in front. Luckily there were not ugly exchanges, just exchange of phone numbers. Everyone’s in a hurry, so I suppose they will throw insults using text messages.

About five minute before arriving, I got call from the bride. Haphazard parking later, we found ourselves rushing up the road leading to the church, a green mid-sized affair which stood next to a Murugan temple (we parked next to the temple knowing well that the one with the Vel wouldn’t mind).

The bride was already waiting in the bridal car (her brother’s Estima), and the brides maids rushed over to fix corsage on the our suit lapels. One of them, Stephanie, fixed one on mine and mind you, the darn thing looks huge and a few more of those on me and I’d be Amazon-Man (“saving the forest by sending out useless flowers for weddings”)

Then, it was the first part, the arrival of the groom and later the bride. Derrick and I was asked to walk towards the first row of benches and we must have both forgotten what day it was when the videographer, walking backwards with camera pointed at us, growled, “Slowly! Slowly!”.

I tell you I was not nervous at all up to that time. Not even when there were many many strange faces staring at me with similar expression a farmer with a lost flock of sheep identifying a culprit would have. With oour near crawl walking pace we reached the front row of the benches with, with my family in tow and they took their respective places while Derrick and I stood to wait for the page boy, the bridesmaid, and subsequently the bride's father and the bride herself.

Soon, the wail-like sound of music to the tune, Here Comes The Bride, filled the air as my wife’s brother, Clinton, hammered the organ. Page boy Ethan, Clinton’s son, led with both of his hands holding an opened Bible with the couple’s ring on it. Ethan looked grim. Okay, it was later that I found out that he was asked to clamp shut his mouth cause the little boy has lost couple of his teeth in front.

Ethan was followed by Linda’s best friends, Amanda, Samantha and Stephanie, all looking beautiful in their golden bridesmaid attire, as was my niece (brother Balan's daughter) Sushmeeta who was the flower girl. Right at the back was my father-in-law and his daughter, in white gorgeous wedding gown and the equally gorgeous face I know so well not so hidden behind a thin veil. It took forever for them to reach us, and when they did, Mr. Fernandez, her father, gave me a vice-like grip and hand over the bride to me. Alrighty then, it’s show time.

Off we went towards the side of the altar where two chair and a small desk awaited us. I recalled her reminding, “pull the chair for me to sit, even there’s enough space for it”. What if I forget, I asked. Well, how about getting stabbed with flower boquet? Okay, I’ll remember.

And I remembered. I pulled the chair and she sat, but not without the assistance of one of the bridesmaid as the back of her wedding gown looked like opened mini-parachute. And off it went, the mass and the service. Usually they’d perform only service for mixed-marriage (different religion, not different specie), but her family managed to get permission from the bishop for the mass to be held. Since I’ve had a hand in writing the permission letter, he must have fallen for “the bridegroom-to-be has no objection in his wife to be to continue practising her faith, especially as he is a poverty stricken writer”.

During the mass, the celebrant, Father Mitchell, talked about three rings, “Engagement Ring”, “Wedding Ring” and “Suffer-Ring”. Haha. Yeah, the same celibate priest once had a session on marriage counselling equating marriage to Titanic. It’s a long story.

Aside: Catholicism is not for someone with bad knee, and having had them scrapped and knocked during my younger days. Kneeling proved to be bad experience and was a terrifying sacrifice I had to make for my wife - shades of more horrors to come including watching, on the second night after wedding, Sex and The City The Movie. Doesn't mean that I have converted...far from it, as you will see in my upcoming Legally Binded Pt 3: A New Hope. End of Aside.

Then, came the moment. We were brought in front of the altar, facing each other, the celebrant read the vows, as did we, and was then asked to slip the wedding rings into each others respective fingers. Was I shaking? No, maybe a little. Then, I was asked to move her veil to her back. Then I waited. You know, the part where the priest would say, “now, you can kiss the bride”. I looked at Father Mitchell who simply said, “Well, what are you waiting for?” Damn. I kissed her lips quickly (I assume that any kiss lasting more than three seconds long would require adult certificate here).

And so there we were. Mr & Mrs Rakesh Kumar to the Catholic community. The Church was full of mostly her side of relatives. As I walked down the aisle with the bride, the earlier look as now changed to genuine warmth and love as they congratulated us, some kissing us. One Sister shook my hand and said that she will continue to monitor and assist me so that I will turn to the right side. Where’s Yoda when you need him.

Few hours later, we were back with the crowd at the reception held at OneBangsar Seafood Complex. After the toast, against the usual custom, the couple was asked to give speech. Basically these are thank you speech and seeing that I had a list of name longer than Cuba Gooding Jrs, I had to craft it carefully as to not to be boring. Or so, I think. Most of the ladies thought so. Read on if you have the courage:

Couple's Speech.

Good evening everyone, first allow me few words in Tamizh.

Anaivarukkum Vanakkam. Intha Iniya Manavizhavukku Varugai Thanthu Sirappitta Enggal Nanbargal, Uttraar Uravinarkal, Udan Panipurivor Anaivarukkum En Saarbilum, En Vazhkai Tunaiviyaar Sarbilum Manamaarntha Nandri Kalantha Kadapaattinai Terivittu Kollugiren. Unggal Anumathiyoodu, En Uraiyai Aangilattil Todarkiren.

Back to English.

Okay, I will try and make this short and simple…for the next two hours.

I was kidding, sorry. Just trying to overlap the dancing session that’s coming up… seeing that I can dance as good as The Terminator.

Anyway, it’s so nice to see such a large crowd, a great turnout in one of the biggest events in both Linda and my lives. It’s so wonderful to see family members, friends, relatives, colleagues, ex-colleagues together. Especially ex-colleagues who can’t get along! Hope you people reconcile your differences and hate each other after this event.

But this speech is important because this is where we want to express our gratitude to people who made today’s joyous event work. It’s a long list, and forgive me if I missed out some names and contributions...but then guess who’s the most nervous here!

First, thanks to my parents, Mr & Mr Premakumaran for graciously agreeing to my choice of better half. They blessed us, instead of chasing me with parang for marrying someone from different persuasion. Thanks also to brothers Shubash and Chitambaram for being supportive. Same goes to my aunty Sarojini, all three, and Shubash’s wife, Priya, have come all the way from Johore.

I will most certainly have to thank Mr and Mrs. Herbert Fernandez - my parents-in-law - for giving birth to this beautiful girl. They gave full blessing to this mixed marriage and I shall cherish that. Also Mrs. Shirley Fernandez personally made the fruitcake that is on your table. That’s 12 of them and that is not a mean feat! Not to forget Ammachi, the sole Tamizh voice in the family.

I also like to thank Linda’s three brothers, Clinton, Clifford and Gerard for their blessing and contributions to this event. It must have taken them great courage and wholehearted approval to agree to their sister’s choice, instead of sending a hitman out for me. Chinnathambi padam mathiribaa….

Our gratitude also to the other family members, Clinton’s wife, Pat. (Add) Now, Pat will go down in history as first woman in saree to drive the bridal car. Also, thanks to Pat and Clinton’s children, Becky, Zach, Ethan and Denzel, the little hyperactive guy that you seriously need to keep an eye on, he might be under your table.

A big thank you to Aunt Loretta, Uncle Brendon and Aunt Carol who have been instrumental in arranging this wonderful place and the food. And I tell you the food is excellent…and that means no food fight please.

Aunties Emily, Theresa, Maria, Helen, Veronica, and Rani, thank you very much for your hard work wrapping up the cake. Aunty Irene and Uncle Joe, thank you for always being loving and supporting. More aunties to thank, including aunty Eva and Emma for coming all the way from India to bless us.

Also, a big thank you to the toast master, Uncle Clement, who in addition to this task, has been helping us in many ways. Plus he’s a cool guy. Speaking of cool, thank you Gerry, that’s the MC for tonight, and please don’t miss out on my classic rock songs. And those place cards on the table, we have to thank Sujatha for that.

Our gratitude also goes to Rita Gomez, the lady with sweet voice, our commentator this evening. Speaking of sweet, thanks to the bridesmaid, Mandy, Sam, Stephanie and Becky for your participation. Hope you got the Best Man’s phone number. The flower girl is my beloved niece, Sushmeeta Balan, her brother Vaernand is probably all over the hall and the page boy is Linda’s nephew Ethan. He kept his mouth close shut during the church session as not to show his lost teeth.

You must have seen the bouquet with the bridesmaids, and for that we are grateful to Aunty Theressa.

Special mention and special thanks to Father Mitchell, for celebrating the wedding mass, for the support, guidance and advice. In fact, during one of the counselling sessions he equated marriages to Titanic... Yes, I am as baffled as you are.

I would also like to thank Derrick Jaggan, who agreed to be my best man, thanks for being a wonderful, very helpful friend & no thanks for being so good looking, better looking than the groom.

Our gratitude to the choir group, and Clinton, for that great job with the organ. Still, I would not be satisfied till I hear you pound out Highway Star on your synthesiser.

My very special thanks and lifelong gratitude to my brother and best friend, Balan Kumar and his wife, Nisha, for being there for me through thick and thin, being supportive of me no matter how stupid some decisions I made, and for all those assistances, emotional support or financial aid. I will not forget them till the day I die.

Last but not least, thanks to my wonderful wife, Linda Marina Fernandez to agreeing to marry this balding, average looking dude, and worse, a writer of all people. We’ve been through a lot for the last six years.

It was a slow process, getting to know each other, and worst we have been on and off, breaking up so often that we decided to call it quits and get married.

Still, we went through trials, tribulations and torturous terrors the last few years including one where I was forced to watch Mama-mia. I suppose there will be more to come and we are ready for it. And Linda, I promise to be a wonderful husband and a great father and help to wash dishes the rest of my life.

So, there you go. A gigantic, humoungous thank you to all of you who took time to come here and bless us. Linda and I are very, very honoured to have you here on this auspicious day, and hope you have great fun…that can include dancing on the table, we don’t mind.

Alrighty then, I suppose we have taken too much of your time. Now we shall get the heck out of here before you guys start throwing roasted chicken at us.

Thank you.

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