[Short Story] My Thaali, my gold medal!

Nithya’s body quivered with intense hatred and bitterness.  She was feeling terribly nauseous as her
mind raced in various directions.

Whatsapp messages were exchanged.

Nithya: This is not going to happen.

Gautham: why? What happened?

Nithya: I can’t even walk properly!
A simple Indian Wedding. An oxymoron indeed. Nithya always wanted a simple indian wedding in the presence of a close group of friends and a few relatives or no relatives. In fact, she felt that the earth would be a better planet to live in, without her ever-irritating relatives. Nithya believed that the number of people who truly blessed her for the good things that happened in her life was less than 10, including her parents and siblings. Thus, she felt that there wasn’t a need to invite the entire dynasty. But an indian wedding wasn’t that easy. Most of them would come for the food, to show off their newly-bought gold-bangles, to boast about their doctor sons studying in Canada which they would articulate as ‘kannada’ or the young ones would be there to take selfies for their facebook display picture.

 Nithya was in the bride’s changing room of the wedding hall and the messages continued.

Nithya: this saree and accessories are killing me! I can’t even walk properly! Grrr!

Gautham: Even if you can’t walk and come to the stage on a wheelchair, I will definitely marry you! I won’t leave you, baby! :)

Nithya: Idiot! You are comfortably wearing one kurta suit? Now tell me, when did that become a part of south indian culture??

The couple’s parents left no stone unturned in ensuring that the grand wedding extravaganza would be a much talked about affair. The families chose a Jodhar-Akbar theme for the occasion, and the entire hall was decked up in hues of gold in tune with the theme. None among the families had any shades that looked similar to that of either a Hrithik Roshan or an Aishwarya Rai! But everyone strongly wanted a Jodhar-Akbar theme.

The air-conditioner wasn’t functioning in her changing room and Nithya was perspiring like a marathon runner. She wanted to wear something very crucial for that evening and didn’t want anyone to see her do that. She was waiting for the right moment for the ever-annoying aunties to leave the room. As she was about to bend down to grab her bag, another one entered.

“oh lovely doll!! How pretty you look today? Just like your mum when she got married.” Nithya’s most-hated aunty entered the room without knocking the door, a habit that many indian parents religiously followed. Her voice was so unpleasant and louder than a trumpet. More aunties kept visiting her room to catch a glimpse of Nithya and to check out the number of gold jewels that Nithya wore so that they had a topic to gossip later. Some aunties were making such a fuss over the make-up done, saying that her bindi was not properly matching her saree and the eye make up was too loud and her hair was not properly done. But at end of it all she was indeed looking very beautiful.

The aunties exited the room after getting the ‘golden report’.  Without wasting time, Nithya got her bag, searched for it, got hold of it and wore it.


 The flickering yellows, reds, and oranges of the sacred fire was burning in the fire box that was decorated using pots filled with water, garlands of mango leaves, coconuts and banana leaves. The other parts of the stage were filled with silver plates, garlands, jasmine flowers, many types of fruits, jewels and guests- about 50 relatives from both the sides. More than half of whom, fought a battle to stand on the stage to insist their power and say in this marriage.

Nithya was brought to the stage who was accompanied by another dozen relatives, increasing the strength on the stage to 62.  ‘She is stunning’ - Gautham thought to himself as he could smell Nithya’s sweet, pure perfume which made him tingle all over. He smiled at her as she sat beside him.
She flashed a weak smile, leaned slightly back and whispered ferociously, “this smoke is killing me. I need a N95 mask.”

Gautham’s shoulders shook in silent laughter.  There were what-seems-like 40 different rituals within the ceremony itself and it was overwhelming for Nithya. The couple, the priest and the 62 of them were directly inhaling smoke for the past 3 hours.

Enthusiastic friends of Nithya who occupied the first row seats were getting restless. It had been 3 hours of seeing the air pollution level proliferating. Some of her friends, who finally decided that their health was more important to them, signalled Nithya that they were leaving. They showed a thumbs-up sign and mouthed ‘good luck’ and dashed out of the wedding hall.

After walking around the sacred fire a few times and inhaling more blessed polluted air, the couple took their seat again and conducted another ritual, ‘pradhâna homam’.

The priest placed his right palm facing upwards on his left thigh and instructed Gautham to do the same. Gauthm placed his left palm on his right thigh and confidently looked at the priest. The priest, shaking his head in disapproval, positioned Gautham’s right palm to the right position. The priest continued, “daśâsyaṁ putrân dehi, patim ekâdaśaṁ kṛti”.  Nitya always wondered the dominance of Sanskrit language in a wedding. With the advancements in the world and the efforts taken to translate many crappy literature, why hasn’t anyone taken the effort to translate the most important mantras used in a Hindu wedding in a language that people understood. It would have been much better for the couples and the guests to comprehend what they were going through. And it would have been certainly much more meaningful in that way.

Anyway, Nitya had other worrying concerns.

The safety pins attached to her 9-yard maroon-coloured sari were pricking her. She looked uneasy and turned around to check if someone could do anything to ease off her pain. Her clan was either busy taking pictures, talking about who should get married next or looking serious like the officials at a voting centre.

About 4 hours later, the world seemed to be collapsing on the couple with rice floods and flower petal storms. The 62-strong crowd inched forward, leaving no space in between. The priest uttered the mantra and picked up the thaali from the silver plate. The energetic wedding photographer was lying like an over-turned frog near the couple’s feet to capture the moment of the day and the thaali was tied around Nithya’s neck by Gautham.  In less than 5 seconds, it was over! She hung her head low and touched the thaali.

With all the sacrifices that she had to go through with the aunties, sari, accessories, the smoke and the safety pins, Nithya could feel the thaali echoing, “my thaali, my gold medal.”


It was a never-ending indian wedding. People started queuing up to bless the couple and to present the gifts. Nithya tiptoed to the side and scanned the wedding hall. The queue was extended till the end of the hall that looked more like a queue waiting for free Macdonalds egg muffin. Nithya turned her attention to the television screen that showed live telecast from the dining area. It had a much longer queue. Nithya had new-found respect for the guests who chose to give the gifts first before dinner.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the young lad who was standing behind Nithya.

“akka, quick! Give me the hangbao packet,” he tapped on Nithya’s shoulder, snatched the hangbao packet from Nithya and carefully sealed in a big yellow bag that he was holding on to. This responsible young lad’s role was assigned by Nithya’s father. The yellow bag had a number lock. The bag contained all the monetary/jewel gifts given by Nithya’s relatives. Her father would then spend the next few days to note down the amount given by each relative. This was a record that her father had been keeping since Nithya was born. This would then indicate the amount to be spent on that particular relative’s function in the future.

The young lad was accompanied by another aunty from another family. This was how security was tightened.

“hey kutty girl, make me a grandma soon,” an aunt of Gautham hugged Nithya, and giggled. Nithya grinned with a degree of irritation. The aunt grabbed Nithya’s arms to pose for a picture before leaving the stage.

More such indecent and inappropriate wishes flowed.

Stroking his thick, groomed silver-white moustache, an old man walked up to the stage. He shook Gautham’s hands first and moved to Nithya’s side.

“Do you remember me?” the old man asked Nithya as his twinkling eyes that were framed by thick white eyebrows widened in excitement.

Nithya looked puzzled, “No uncle. I don’t remember. Sorry” and tilted her head to the side as the camera flash lights were brightly shining on her face.

A frown creased his forehead and he replied, “I am your grandfather’s brother-in-law’s 2nd nephew.”

And whatever, that meant. A smile formed at the corner of Nithya’s lips just to acknowledge to what he said.

He continued, “the last time I saw you, was at the KK hospital when you were born.” and he pinched Nithya’s cheeks and that removed a quarter of her make-up on her face.


“that old..man…pinching…your cheek…aiyo,” Gautham was laughing uncontrollably, holding his tummy.

 Nithya threw the sofa cushion at him, “I hate everyone. I hate the relatives. I hate the smoke. I hate you. I hate the safety pins. I hate falling at people’s feet to get blessing. For like 45 times”. she dropped on the new sofa but she was relieved that they were back home from the unpronounceable smoke-filled wedding hall.

“Thank god I wore knee guards today!” Nithya sighed as she removed the knee guards. “I will never ever get married again! I can’t go through this again!”

Gautham looked at Nithya, “ I will get married.”

Nithya stared at him for a second.

Gautham continued, “I will. If it is with you. I will do it again.”

Her stare transformed into a sweet smile as he planted a kiss on her neck.

Nithya’s phone beeped. She moved to the edge of the sofa to pick up her phone.

“Fuck!” Nithya screamed.

“But you said you were tired!” Gautham replied innocently.

 “ idiot! Look at this!” as she passed her phone to Gautham.

The message read:

Hi Nitz! This is aastralia aunty. We just landed in Singaporr. Flight gaat delayed. We vant to see you both. Coming to yuvar home soon.
“I hate this, Gautham! I hate this seriously.” Nithya was fuming in anger.

“relax nithya!” Gautham was trying his best to comfort her.

Both of them had their honeymoon trip planned and their flight departure was in about 4 hours time.

“Gautham, I told you to book the flights earlier.” Nithya yelled at him again.
“but how would I know that your aunt will come now?”

“Gautham, don’t argue now.” “Nithya, me? Am I the one who started the argument?”

The door bell rang. They stopped their argument and both looked shocked. The door bell rang again.

“Gautham, please please! Open the door. I shall hide in the room. Tell her that I am sleeping. You entertain her for a while and then she will go off.” Nithya begged him.

“Nithya, I have not even seen her before. She is your aunt by the way.” Gautham spoke facts.

The door bell rang again.  

With no other choice left, Nithya opened the door.

“Hi Ma’m. 2 large chicken pizzas, honey wing drumlets and coke.” The delivery man listed the order and handed the bill to Nithya.


The last few ones in the wedding hall queue presented their gifts. As the couple and the other family members left the wedding hall to go to the dining room, the last guest from the dining room came out, “all food finished.”

The next moment, Gautham took out his handphone and ordered pizza.


First published: Facebook note on 22nd May 2014