We arrived at the groom’s house, 45 minutes late. Masood’s friend and his wife, who suggested that they pick us up, had lost their way. And the Thursday night traffic was horrible too. The groom’s flat is new, and the lobby is very impressive. We rang the doorbell. “I think we’re the first one’s to arrive,” says the friend’s wife, “there aren’t any shoes outside the door.”
And she was right.
We met the groom’s mother and two brothers. The boys sat in the living room, while the girls settled in the bedroom.
Groom’s mother, hereafter referred to as Aunty, is a simple woman from Hyderabad. She and her husband have a daughter and five sons. Daughter is married and so are two of her sons. Everyone in the family, except for the groom and a brother, live in Hyderabad. It was Aunty’s first time in Dubai. In fact, she just landed five days ago. She mentions having a difficult time preparing for the wedding since they do not have relatives in the U.A.E.
The bride finally arrived with her 10-year-old sister and a couple of her friends. Friend’s wife and I were then asked by Aunty to go to the other room to meet the bride. We found her sitting on the bed in a black abaya, niqab and gloves – and were very impressed. After exchanging salaams, friend’s wife suggested that the bride can now remove her abaya since men won’t be coming into the room.
“But then you’ll be able to see my face,” said the bride, “so if you don’t mind, would you please go to the other room for a minute while I remove my abaya?”
“You may come in now!” called the bride’s sister.
We re-entered the room, and found the bride with a large veil covering her entire face.
“There’s a Pakistani tradition, you see,” she explained, “that a bride mustn’t show her face for seven days prior to the wedding, else there won’t be any ronak, or glow, on the bride’s face. I haven’t shown my face to anyone for the past four days, not to my mom or sisters even. I sleep in the room alone, with the door locked, lest someone comes in and sees my face uncovered.”
“But the wedding reception is on Saturday, that’ll only be the sixth day. Will you remain covered on your wedding day?” I asked, surprised. I mean, I didn’t know about this tradition.
“Of course not! We didn’t have much time to prepare for this wedding, so I’m making an exception. I’m removing the veil tomorrow.”
“Oh.” Friend’s wife and I looked at each other.
We were still sitting in the bride’s room, and decided to interrogate her.
“So where in Pakistan are you from?”
“Multan. But I’ve been born and brought up here in the U.A.E. All of my family and relatives live here.”
“Where did the two of you meet?”
“At his office party, two years ago. We’ve been in contact since then. I love Hyderabadi food!”
“I suppose you’ll be organizing a party in Multan as well, you know, to introduce him to the rest of the clan there.”
“Not really. I haven’t been to Pakistan yet, and besides, everyone important is already here.”
“You don’t want to go to Pakistan?”
“I’m not interested.”
“But you’re going to Hyderabad?”
“Oh yes! He’s going to introduce me to everyone there.”
“Where in Hyderabad does his family live?”
She mentions a name, but since it sounded unfamiliar to me, I forgot. Friend’s wife told me it’s in the old city, near Charminar. I began recalling the crowded streets, narrow alleys, and homes that were practically glued to each other, leaving no space between them.
“Oh, you’ll love it there,” I told her with a smile.
Continued here …