Excerpt 6 - The Secret Doctrine of Clouds
Excerpt 6 – The Secret Doctrine of Clouds
By Tony DeLorger © 2011
After a long moment of speechlessness, Vikram stood up, his arms flailing pointlessly, having difficulty forming a single word.
‘Della, Devi is a child- he’ll always be a child. What good could come of such a marriage?’
Vikram suddenly lowered his arms by his side and looked down at his only daughter. ‘Why, Della? What possible reason could you have for this impossible request?’ He dropped to his haunches.
‘Is it the house…because he organised that house?’ he asked in a panic.
Della looked at both her parents and smiled. ‘Please, sit down Papa? I know this will be difficult for you to understand, but Devi is not as stupid as you would think. He is like a child and he needs special care, but he is so attuned to life and he loves and has a pure heart. Devi can see what I see, but he simply doesn’t understand it. He needs someone like me who understands him.’
‘Della, I’m sure that Devi is all what you say he is, but do you want to sacrifice your life for him, his needs? To not know the intimacy of marriage and to not have children would be such a waste. I just don’t understand,’ explained Mala, in despair.
‘I cannot explain myself any further. You must trust me and know that this is the right thing for me to do.’
Vikram and Mala remained in shock, unable to fathom such a decision, nor what the future would hold for their only daughter.
‘Mama, Papa, this is a good thing. Mr. Patwe does not want a dowry or any payment. This is for Devi and I, we will be taken care of, and so shall you. What you have saved and sacrificed for my future can now be for yours. You can buy a better house and know that I am happy and well cared for. And Devi is Vaishya by birth,’ she said with a smile. You always wanted me to marry into a higher caste.’
Vikram and Mala found their smiles and Della lovingly embraced her parents. ‘Trust me. This is right. You will see,’ she whispered.
News of the wedding spread fast and Devi, not understanding the significance, was simply happy that he would be with Della, his closest friend.
Suresh Patwe was a man possessed with this approaching wedding. His son Devi, with whom he thought he would spend the rest of his life, was to be wed to the most revered and respected young woman in their village. He would not compromise anything and would hold the most lavish wedding celebration ever held in the village. Even Sri Chand, chief priest of the closest of the city temples had offered his services. Della had made it clear that she wanted Rampal to perform the ceremony and Sri Chand was immediately invited to witness the union.
At first Vikram and Mala wanted the whole affair to be covert. Considering the strange choice of groom, they felt it best that way, but in the end they had little say, and once the excitement took hold of the village, they happily yielded and joined the preparations.
Della decided that her new home would be used only for the wedding preparations and then after the ceremony, become their real home. She remained with her parents until the day before the wedding. While the villagers were erecting the ‘mandapa’ or wedding canopy of flowers at the local temple, where the ceremony was to take place, Della was at her new home with more than twenty women.
While Munni painstakingly decorated Della’s hands and feet with ‘Mahendi’, several other woman including Mala, anointed Della’s skin with turmeric, sandalwood paste and fragrant oils to clean her body. Several prayers were recited and then Della was bathed to the monotonic sound of Vedic mantras. These ceremonies continued throughout the day, the woman telling many stories of weddings, forgotten lines and amusing anecdotes. Like a cackle of hens, the woman revelled in their joyful preparations.
Devi however was nervous, trying to learn the hymns and the intricate steps of the Hindu ceremony. The Paanigrahana, Laya Homa, and Agni Parinaya were all confusing him and his father had given up, leaving Didi Patwe to help her poor confused son.
On the morning of the wedding, more than three hundred people lined the streets of the village. There were flowers everywhere, strands and possies in every doorway and window.
This is exactly where the writing finished. Response has inspired me to complete the work, but it will take time being only half way through. Thanks to all who enjoyed it.