“Everything about last night’s wedding ceremony emanated opulence. Isn’t it?” Smita remarked as she propped her back on Sharman’s shoulder. Last night they had attended the wedding of the sister of Sharman’s colleague and thereafter had a Saturday night out at the night flea market, shopping for decoration pieces for their home. They were now enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon post a late brunch. Sharman was watching his favorite sports series on the television while Smita picked up a latest release by a popular mythological fiction author. But Smita’s mind kept running to the wedding function she had attended last night.
The venue was like straight out of a Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie. Decorations were abundant with colors and the choicest of accessories complemented by artistic lightwork. The garland exchange ceremony of the bride and the groom was set-up on an elevated revolving stage fitted with torch lights and flower pumps. It had felt like the Gods themselves had descended to bless the couple. It was not just the decoration, the food was galore. In the three hours that Smita spent at the wedding, she mentally estimated that there were definitely not less than 150 items of food (starters and main course included) being served to a gathering of atleast 1000 people. She had felt claustrophobic, but stay put because of Sharman’s boss and other colleagues, who seemed to be enjoying the booze on the house.
“Sameer’s father was a popular author whose books still sell like hot cakes. The family still receives royalties worth lakhs every year from the sale of his bestsellers. Not mention the wealth inherited over the generations is an endless treasure. While Sameer seems to be doing only decent for himself, but his mother is an extremely active social activitists who is hired to be the brand ambassador by multiple brands who want to repositions themselves as socially responsible enterprises. What else can one expect at the wedding of the daughter from such an influential family.” Sharman stated as a matter of fact.
“Our wedding was only a notch less than the one last night. Only we did not have a live band playing the entire night.” Smita quipped, “My point is that what is the use of this expense? I think it is sheer showoff with a lot of money running down the drain.”
Sharman sighed at the outburst by his wife. He often wondered how Smita managed to hold on to her ideal world convictions while still being a part of the real world, that was far from ideal.
“Smita, people who have money need reason’s to spend and show off. There’s nothing wrong in it.” Sharman smiled and got back to the twenty men running sround one ball on the ground. Smita took a deep breath and shut the book in her hands, placing it on the table. She turned around and sat crossed legged facing her husband.
“What percentage of his total worth did your father spend on your sister’s wedding?” Smita asked in a plain voice. Sharman frowned at being disturbed at a very crucial point in the match and raised his index finger signaling to Smita that he would get to her in a minute.
Moments later he turned around, “What do you mean?”
“I asked you what percentage of his total worth did your father spend on your sister’s wedding?” asked Smita. Sharman contemplated the question for a couple of seconds. He tried to decipher what his wife was trying to arrive at, because with her head tilted slightly backwards and her tongue in cheek he knew she was upto something in her mind already.
“If you ask only the percentage, it must somewhere around 20%. Yeah! I would peg it at 20% of his total worth.” Sharman did a quick mental calculation and replied.
“My father spent 30% of his total worth on the wedding of his two daughters. And I have a friend whose father spent 50%. This 50% comprised 100% of his savings plus the money he accumulated from the sale of some of his investment in property.” Smita felt her blood boiling at the thought of what she was going to say next, “And do you know what happened to her after the wedding?” Smita’s eyes turned dark as Sharman felt her jaw go stiff.
“She got divorced two years later with allegations of domestic violence from her husband and in-laws. Her father was broke by then, because he had been fulfilling his paternal responsibilities of showering his daughter’s family with gifts on every festival and occasion of familial significance.” Smita’s eyes were blazing. Sharman put his hand on her arm and rubbed it softly to soothe her of the pain that she was going through. Smita had shared the news article about her suicide with Sharman.
“Why can’t the parents be more rational about weddings in our country? Why is the wedding of a good 20 something financially independent couple the responsibility of the parents who shove out all their life’s savings to make the wedding a special occasion of their child? And why can’t the society accept and appreciate such stance to make it an easy choice.”, Smita wasn’t angry. She was hopelessly ranting what she often called the elements from the corner of a frustrated cabin in her heart.
Sharman pulled Smita into a bear hug and rocked her lightly to comfort her pain. He knew that his wife had strong thoughts about the fallacies of the society and had herself cut down on a lot of expenses for her own wedding. She insisted on buying minimal jewelry and least possible number of dresses, just so that the budget did not exceed. She knew that her mother needed the money to give away as gifts to the family members. They had also mutually decided to have no drama for their garland exchange ceremony. “It’s too much money for 5 minutes of entertainment.” Sharman had tried to justify his decision to his mom. They had also had a hard time convincing their parents to have the ring exchange ceremony at one of their residences with only immediate families’. Sharman’s mother had sulked for weeks because she was embarrassed to break the news to her relatives.
Smita on the other hand, did understand that there were people in this world who had enough money to spend on their kids’ weddings and also to take of any untoward contingencies later. But a large percentage of the middle class, spent a major portion of their savings on their children’s weddings. And all this for what joy? An extravagance spanning an evening with a promise to garner appreciation from a crowd whose concern for ground realities of the lives of the hosts is far from considerate. They come, they see, they eat and go back to their comfort dens and sleep. She often wondered that how come people didn’t understand that the pleasure from this unwarranted extravagance is short lived. It would be much better to save some money and keep it parked for their daughter, god forbid if she might need it later in her life.