Here’s a piece I wrote a while ago as a creative writing assignment about the novel The Great Gatsby — but as you can see, I put my own spin on it! Enjoy & let me know what you think in the comments.
The Deterioration of Saris: A Rumination of an Indian Wedding Party
Why did an event that I had planned and toiled so hard on turn into dust? Perhaps it was because I did not plan it with vivacity. Alternatively, perchance it was for an external reason. As I sit here in my comfortable blue velvet chair and scribble away (with my pen flying over the page) about the summer of 1989, the cause of the devastation will make itself apparent.
Yellows and blues faded away into the deep oranges and reds of sunset as I violently brushed my hands through my thick, black hair, anxiously studying a list in front of me.
Party To-Do List
- Re-count the number of guests.
- Make sure that the arrival of the dancers corresponds with the arrival of the sitar and tabla players at 6pm.
- Count the number of chairs and tables and be certain that there are enough for two hundred guests.
- Arrange the flowers and put the desserts on trays.
- Set up the henna booth.
- Re-read this list and make sure that you check everything off.
So far, I had not checked off anything off the list and there was only a week remaining until my cousin’s party before her wedding. I had no idea why I signed up for such a painful ordeal. Ruminating on the matter, I realized that my cousin Aisha had persuaded me to be her wedding planner, presumably because there was no one else willing to do the job.
My mother had always told me from a young age that if a person asks you to do a favor for them, you should always do it because you may receive a benefit in the future, unless there are dire circumstances impeding you from doing so. Therefore, when she requested me to bring the keys from the mantelpiece or take the trash out, I unswervingly complied. Although there was not a single occurrence when I gained from my toil throughout my childhood years, I was apathetic to the entire situation because of my unyielding love for my mother.
The matter of the wedding was different. Aisha, although she is my cousin, is not my mother. I was a sliver away from not agreeing to be Aisha’s wedding planner. The reason of my indifference was the qualities of Aisha’s fiancée and soon-to-be husband, Vikhram. He was born into a middle-class rural family and yet developed the merit to be successful in business, and therefore earned a lot of money. However, instead of using that money wisely, he spent most of it on cars (he owned at least five automobiles, each one in a different gleaming color), food, clothing (he owned one hundred neatly pressed dress shirts), and he lived in a vast, mansion made out of white marble.
“Are you sure that you want to marry him?” I had asked Aisha one day, fingering her lavish wedding ring as we sat in our modest living room.
Aisha scoffed at me. “Of course I’m sure,” she responded immediately. “I love him.” The gleaming lights of San Francisco that were usually bright seemed dull tonight.
A thousand potential replies were rolling through my head, but none of them was satisfactory. So I simply sat on the plush green sofa, fingering her wedding ring some more and pondering until Aisha finally snatched it from my hands and placed it on her ring finger, as if to say, “See? I love him and am going to marry him.”
At the time, I was unsure if she was honest with me, and today I am completely certain that she was insincere on that day in the living room.
Nevertheless, none of that is of any importance. The day of the party had arrived and Aisha and Vikhram were already married, and no matter how much I despised their marriage, I could not depart from reality. Now, I had to show the party guests that they could rely on me to throw the finest party that would rival my grandmother’s own lavish wedding party.
The wedding guests were mingling, and in front of me were a display of expensive suits and glittering saris, probably purchased for this one occasion and they would never bear the same outfit again. The saris would simply sit in closets and fade with each sunset.
By that time, I had not checked off two things off the list. The flower arrangements had not arrived and there were a few chairs missing, which perplexed me because I know that I had ordered the right amount. However, instead of fretting about it I sat back and watched the dancers rhythmically sway to the beat of the music radiating from the sitar and tabla players, their multicolored saris swirling and their golden bangles clanging with the movement of their feet. I wished that I could be so oblivious to the rest of the world and just forget about the world through music and dance. I had a desire to join the dancers just then, and turn the world into a purple, blue, yellow and orange whirl, but a hand tapped me on my back, bringing me back to reality.
It was my mother. “Sonia honey, where are the flowers? And Mrs. Singh does not have a chair to sit on.” Her made-up face wrinkled with disquiet as she appraised me. She had fitted her green and blue sari to perfection, and the beads on it reflected the light coming from the mirrors on the walls.
I sighed. She should just appreciate the lovely music, the vivacity of the party and all of the work that it took me to organize the wedding, instead of agonizing over what is not there.
“Mother, I told the florist what time to bring the flowers, and there should be enough chairs. I have done my best, and this matter does not lie in my hands. Why don’t you call the florist and ask the hotel to send us some extra chairs?” Without waiting for what would certainly be a heated response, I sauntered over to the drinks table and selected a bubbling cup of fruit punch.
I looked at the party from my vantage point at the side of the room, and appraised my marvelous work. It was definitely not perfect, however. Over time, the guests had littered the food table with crumbs and small children were grabbing pieces of cake with their hands, but all of the party guests (except my mother) had smiles on their faces and were having a marvelous time.
For me, smiles are what counts, and that party was all right in the end after all, even though the wearers’ saris will eventually turn into dust.