“Let him speak now, or forever hold his peace!”
The minister’s voice intoned familiar words as he prepared to bring the wedding service to a grand finale. The groom and his men stood ramrod straight, and the bride stared at the floor in customary fashion. The Bible boy looked imploringly at his parents watching him from the audience. He was waiting for their signal to release him from his agony. The audience watched in bored toleration. Everyone attended a “shadi” and people from far and near would attend the reception to follow the wedding. Thinking of the feast to follow the audience shifted impatiently in their seats.
From the back of the hall a strong voice commanded, “Stop the wedding!”
The audience was instantly awake, and interested. The unusual is always appreciated in India and everyone strained to see who was marching down the aisle to the front.
Enraged relatives of the bride jumped on the advancing figure, and others, who we later learned were relatives of the intruder rushed to his rescue, raining blows on the bride’s party. It was a grand and glorious confusion.
Apparently the young man who’d created the fuss believed the girl belonged to him. He’d watched her grow and loved her from afar. His impassioned plea had fallen on deaf ears, and the bride to be was being wed to someone of her parent’s choice with the blessings of their community. It appeared the bride was quite happy with her parent’s choice.
The audience fled the auditorium to watch from the safety of outside windows and doorways, looking in. The groom and his party marched out with heads held high, and the bride wailed pitifully while beating her head with her clenched fists on stage. The minister stood shell shocked. This was a new experience for him.
At this point Ramesh entered the auditorium. I watched as he strode to the struggling groups and with well intentioned resolve tried to reason with them. None of us are clear to this day what happened, but within seconds Ramesh was rushing for his life pursued by all groups; representatives of the bride, the groom and the jilted lover.
Vaulting through the auditorium window he rushed across campus pursued by the mob and sought temporary refuge in a faculty home, to disappear out the back door seeking safety just before an angry crowd broke in through the front door. They had murder on their mind!
To add to the excitement Ramesh’s wife on learning of her husband’s misfortune ran around searching for him on campus while beating her chest and wailing sorrowfully as she went. Women rushed to comfort her and took up the lament.
We found Ramesh later that evening after a diligent search. He was hiding out bleeding in a remote part of the college farmland. There we rendered medical aid and spirited him home to the intense relief of his wife. For the next few days he was conspicuously absent from the campus under wise advice.
Oh, and the wedding? After intense negotiations between the parties the wedding was rescheduled for the following week. The wedding party approached me again with a view to renting the auditorium for the afternoon. The answer of course was no.
What about the lovesick bearer of misfortune? He was put on a train and sent far away until tempers cooled sufficiently for him to return home again.
Blessed are the peacemakers!
“© Copyright Ian Grice 2012 All rights reserved”
* Shadi – Wedding