Drowning by Parvez Kamal by Parvez Kamal

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Around 1 p.m. someone announced that the bridal procession could be seen in the distance. There were at least 20 boats in the party, each carrying 10-15 people. The wedding was being held in the middle of the rainy season. Half of the country gets flooded in the monsoon rain each year. The only mode of transportation during those times is watercrafts. Our whole village was looking like a huge lake with the small clusters of houses jutting out like small islands.

When the wedding party came nearer you could clearly see which boat was carrying the bridegroom. It was biggest one, kind of like a stretch limo among compact sedans, covered in decorative flowers and laces, with a band playing on the deck. The bridegroom stepped out of the boat with his relatives and friends once the boat reached the "shore" of our "island". He was dressed in traditional Bangladeshi wedding suit. The first thing he had to do, among the countless ceremonies that he had to perform throughout the day, was to cut the ribbon. The kids enjoy this part more than the adults do. A ribbon is tied at the entrance and the bridegroom, or his party, has to pay a handsome amount to pass through. It's a small price to pay compared to the invaluable treasure, our bride, that he will be taking away from us. A lot of haggling on the price went on between them and us. After a few minutes of altercation, which was almost always friendly, they were let in.

The bridegroom was seated in the middle of the tent and all the guests around him. Then started another batch of rituals and ceremonies, religious and legal. All the while the kids were busy playing with fireworks. Meal was served after that. The bride and the bridegroom were not even able to see each other until after everything was finished. This was another part which I found most interesting. My aunt and her husband were seated side by side but they were not allowed to look directly at each other. A mirror was placed in between them, on which they could see the reflection of the other person. Then she had to feed him some sweets with a spoon. As soon as he was ready to put the food in his mouth someone from behind knocked on his head so that he would drop the food. Many other things are usually done to embarrass both the bride and the groom. Sometimes, a sister or a friend of the bride dresses as the bride and takes her place.

Finally, the time came to say farewell to my aunt. That was a sad moment for all of us. My grandma hugged her daughter and both of them were crying hard. My aunt was saying goodbye to each of us and crying all the time. She was leaving behind her family, her friends, her home, to join a new family and home. She stepped on the boat with her husband and sat down with her face between her knees. We all stood on the steps while the boats were slowly moving away from us. And we stood there until they turned into small dots on the horizon and vanished from our eyes.