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Wedding bells


Fahima Yousouf

        There are times when I have felt that having Sharon Peters as my mother was one of the best things that can happen to me. She always knows what is right for me and I have never been able not to accept her decision. But today was a different picture. How much ever she tried to convince me that George was not the right guy, my heart could not accept it. I have known him for a long time and I needed him a lot. When she saw I disapproved of her decision, she said, “Sweetie, I know this is going to be hard on you. I know you love him a lot. But think how much happier you would be when I select a much better person? He would love you with all your heart. Trust me, darling.” As she uttered those words, I knew she had already found out somebody. No wonder she was so insistent. I knew it was no use arguing with her now. I have never objected to her decision and this was not going to be the first time. I tried to make my heart cold and act as she says.

        George was moving away and wanted to see me for one last time. So my mom planned this rendezvous and offered to come along with me. She picked me up back from school and drove straight to Dunton’s complex. As she led the way to a café beside the ‘Fun with clothes” store, I could make out few solitary people at certain tables but none that looked like him. My mom ushered me to a table that overlooked the lower floors of the mall. I guess she wanted to locate him at the entrance itself. I sat down thinking it was so not like him to come late. My mom gave a snort and kept checking her watch which outlined her impatience. I imagined that maybe he was stuck in traffic.

        After a couple of minutes I realized we were both wrong. A person slowly emerged from a dark corner of the café. It was him. I had seen someone there since I entered the place but could never make out it was him. His shoulders drooped and his back was crouched. The face that I have only seen warmth and tenderness now showed all signs of sleeplessness and depression. The depth of his pain, sorrow, anguish, misery was all clearly reflected in his eyes. A pain shot through my heart as he neared us and looked at my mom with pleading eyes. I saw that he still had hope. Hope that we could be together after all. That was the last thing he wanted in his life.

        But as the conversation started all his hopes, and mine too were destroyed. Nothing could convince my mother. She was set firm on her decision. As he bid goodbye, I could see his eyes glistening with tears. I did all I could do repress my emotions as I didn’t want to create a scene in front of my mother. I tried to be as cold and expressionless I could for the benefit of my mother. Seeing him off my mom turned to me and said, “I know how you feel darling. You feel that it’s very bad that all this has happen to you. But heartbreaks are a part and parcel of life. Don’t worry, dear it won’t last long. I can assure you that. You’ll soon see that the guy I have chosen is all you have wanted ever in your life.”

        My mother wasted no time in going through all the wedding preparations. She invited Mr. Right for dinner and made sure we got well acquainted. I noticed he was all set in making sure that my mother was fond of him. He talked with me nicely enough but I couldn’t help missing George. Whatever it is, I had absolutely no say in the matter. He was the groom for the coming Sunday wedding.

        I should say my Mom has a very good taste in selecting the right clothes, if not the right men. She got me a beautiful embroidered, pink gown with a lighter shade of flowers. I looked dazzling as I tried it on to check the fitting and really wished my dad would be here to see me in it. But he was in Detroit now. My eyes twinkled as I thought of what he would say. “Milady, you look fabu-loso. Make sure you don’t ride on a horse around the country with it otherwise the colour would change to deeper shades of brown and green.” I laughed as I thought of his humorous comments. He is always like that, my dad. He could make anyone laugh even at a funeral. I would really be missing him a lot at the wedding.

        The big day finally arrived. The St. Gabriel’s church looked grand and magnificent for the wedding. The most prominent people in San Francisco were all there. My mother and I stood behind the door to the aisle rehearsing our parts. The groom and his best man were up front, all ready for the big event. As the doors opened I walked slowly with my flower basket, trying my best to throw the flowers the right way as my mom had coached me to. As I reached the front, the pianist played the starting notes of the wedding music and the doors once again opened to let in the bride,….my mother. As she swayed her way through, looking quite pleased and excited like a young bride, feelings of disgust and detest overpowered me. No matter how much I had tried to convince myself that my mother was doing this to make her life as well as mine right, I couldn’t help feeling miserable about the whole thing. For the first time I felt she was cruel to separate me from my loving and sensible father. He was not only my father; he was a pal, a buddy, a friend to me, my dearest George. As she took her place beside her would-be husband, I surrendered to all my heart flowing emotions and broke the barrier my mother had erected that was controlling me. I threw down my basket and ran as fast as my feet could carry me out of the church. Blinded by streaming tears, I didn’t notice the audience gaping or my dumbfounded mother or that the whole wedding had come to a standstill. I stopped for breath once outside the church. As I was contemplating on what to do next, I was startled by a hand resting on my shoulder. I turned slowly dreading what kind of explanation I had to give for my behaviour.

        Imagine my surprise when I saw my father, George Peters standing behind me. He looked very different from the last time I had seen him. He was back to his genial and amiable self and I threw my arms around him and hugged to my heart’s content. I gasped in between outbursts of tears, “I’m not leaving… George. I….cannot be….with mom. I love you…..very much, daddy…… Maybe she thinks….you are a bad…person. But I don’t…..I love you so much daddy.”

        With a little difficulty, George drew me from my grip on him. He smiled warmly and said, “Honey, I know it’s tough on you. Divorce and remarriage affects the children more than the parents concerned. But you should understand that your mother is free to choose whoever she wants to live with. Otherwise she cannot make a happy home with a happy husband and children. When I saw her at the mall the other day, I could see how much contended she was. She had definitely made the right choice. Maybe Harvey might not be the right father to you, but he’ll definitely be the right husband for Sharon. Much better than me, of course.” I looked at him closely as he said the last words expecting to see some signs of uncertainty but could find none. He actually looked very confident as he said he was not the right one for my mother. He took my hands in his and continued, “Janet, I have known your mother longer than you. I love her but I do know that I’m not a good match for her. This fact has been bugging me for the past sixteen years of our married life. But I guess, I was not taking the risk of enduring through a failed marriage. But Sharon was bolder. She was ready to accept all the consequences. But you needn’t worry about all this Jane. Just because your mom and I aren’t living together doesn’t mean we don’t love you. You will always be very special to both of us.”

        I suddenly noticed my Mom at a distance. She was standing at the entrance of the church in her gorgeous bridal gown. She had seen everything. I looked again at my Dad. I knew what I had to do now. I strode towards my Mom, took her hand and went to complete a wedding that had such an unpleasant interruption.

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