New Delhi, India
A young, Hindu bride, Radha Verman was preparing to marry her 27-year-old fiancé, Vimal Krishna. It was an arranged marriage.
At the temple, the guests sat down, waiting for the ceremony to begin. Some fanned themselves with their hands. Their attire was orange, brown, and golden. Customarily, no one wore shoes. Red dots were on the middle their foreheads.
“Do you think we did the right thing?” asked Vimal’s mother.
“Mere priy, I am certain,” said Vimal’s father. “We will be financially stable.”
Meanwhile, at the hotel, Jennifer and Jessica, in pink and red and golden sarees, found Radha crying in the bathroom.
“Are you ok? What’s wrong?” asked Jessica.
Radha’s eyes were so red and puffy. She handed Jessica a note.
The note said:
I cannot go through with this wedding. I do not love you. I think you know that deep down inside. I only agreed to do this to please my family for financial reasons or they will disown me. I realized that my heart and happiness come first. I have to stop pretending to be someone I’m not. It is time to move on. I do not care what other people, especially my family say or think. We have to let bygones be bygones. I’m in love with another woman, Aanya Patel, who just left her fiancé for me. She only agreed to marry him to save her family from the poor house, but her heart belonged to me. I will not reveal our location until things have simmered down. I am sorry for putting you through this. I wish you well and may you find happiness with another man. He is out there somewhere.
Oblivious to Radha, Jennifer thought the whole thing was strange. Jessica agreed with Vimal. Out of politeness, she patted Radha on the back and told her that everything was going to be all right. Jennifer handed Radha a tissue to clean her moisted face. Radha hit the sink and cursed in Hindi. Jennifer and Jessica had no idea what she said. She settled down and apologized.
“You know, I guess maybe he’s right. I’ve been lying to myself. He does not love me at all. He never has. Nor do I to him,” said Radha. “Another reason I agreed to marry him was to dissolve my loneliness.”
When they came out of the restroom, they ran into Vimal’s brother who asked where he was. Jennifer and Jessica left to give them privacy. Radha showed him the note. He raised his eyebrows as he read it. “I knew this was coming,” he mumbled.
“Knew what?” asked Radha. “Are you implying that you knew about this? Does anyone else know?”
“Other than my mother, no, no one else,” said Vimal.
At the temple, Vimal’s brother announced what had happened. Everyone was aghast and shocked. Mr. Krishna announced the wedding has been cancelled. He left the temple furiously, spewing cursive words in Hindi badly. Mrs. Krishna silently prayed for her son’s well-being. She wondered if she should’ve let him marry Aanya instead of Radha.
Meanwhile, at the hotel, Jennifer emailed Naomi about the cancellation. Naomi said she will arrange an early flight to South Korea for them ASAP. Afterwards, Jennifer wrote an article about the cancellation on her Apple Macbook Air. No pictures.
“Our work is done, I guess,” said Jessica. “We got all dolled up for nothing.”
“You can say that again,” said Jennifer.
Seoul, South Korea
It was a small wedding of 75 guests at the backyard of the bride’s house. The guests wore red and blue hanbooks (dresses). It was the nuptials of a male American from Ann Arbor, Michigan and one of his students from his English language class. They planned to move to Ann Arbor after the wedding. The groom wore a tux and the bride wore a white wedding gown. She carried peonies. Jennifer and Jessica wore matching pink hanbooks.
The official ceremony in front of the guests was followed by Pyebaek, a ceremony among family members exclusively. The bride formally greeted her new parents-in-law after the wedding. In addition, the groom gave a piggyback ride to his mother and then his bride, symbolizing his acceptance of his obligations to both his mother and wife. Then, there were was a game involving splitting the date fruit. Whoever received the seed wore the pants in the relationship. It was none other than the groom himself.
The reception (kyeolhon piroyeon) was at the Grand Ballroom of the JW Marriott Hotel. There was a mixed, scrumptious feast of American and Korean food. The American consisted of grilled and fried chicken, green beans, bread rolls, and mashed potatoes. The Korean food were Bulgogi (marinated beef stir fried with a few vegetables), Chop Che (stir fried sweet potato starch noodle with veggies), dak-nalgae (Spicy Korean fried chicken wings), Hongeohoe (spicy raw flying fish), Ojingohoe (spicy raw squid), Sigeumchi (blanched spicy seasoned spinach), Dweji PaJeon (a crisp pancake made with pork, scallion, onion, and sesame leaf), the Seng Ya Che (fresh green salad in a special sesame dressing), and tuigim variety (a variety of fried fish, meats, and veggies).
Jennifer and Jessica had to drink lots of water to help drown the spicy food. Some of the guests made funny toasts and one was dull, long, and boring as h—. Afterwards, the newlyweds fed each other chocolate cinnamon cake.
Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” was the song for the couple’s first dance. Most of the guests joined them when the DJ played upbeat Korean and American music.
Back at the JW Marriott Hotel, Jessica uploaded pictures of the American-Korean wedding on her laptop. Jennifer peered over her shoulder.
“Jessica, you’re an amazing photographer,” complimented Jennifer. “Your photos are quite divine.”
“Thank you,” said Jessica. She deleted a few blurry ones. “Not always perfect.”
“Life is not perfect,” said Jennifer.
Jennifer noticed Jessica’s pink sketchpad on her bedside. She picked it up and flipped over the pages. There were sketches of robots dancing and drinking, eating food on sticks, taking spas, having erotic sex on bed, and flying with birds on the sky. Jennifer laughed. Jessica turned her chair around.
“I know, I know, they’re weird, aren’t they?” said Jessica.
“No, no, I’m not making fun of them. They’re actually hilarious. I can picture an animated movie based on these,” said Jennifer. “Fifty shades of metal on this one.” She was pointed at the erotic picture. She asked, “Why specifically robots?”
“They’re cute. After my art career failed, I turned this into a hobby instead. Not everyone’s interested in robots. Drawing’s the first step. They’ll turn into paintings sometime,” said Jessica.
“I noticed you looking at birds once. Is birdwatching another hobby of yours?” asked Jennifer.
“It’s so relaxing,” said Jessica.
Jennifer set the sketchpad aside.
“May I have this dance, miss?” mimicked Jennifer in a robotic voice.
Jessica laughed. She said in a robotic voice, “Delighted.”
Jennifer withdrew her hand away from Jessica.
“Seriously, I don’t know how to slow dance,” said Jennifer.
“Okay,” said Jessica.
“I’m embarrassed to admit that. I mean, I have before. It’s…been so long since I danced with someone,” said Jennifer.
“There’s nothing to be embarrassed about that. No big deal. If you want, I can help you refresh your memory,” said Jessica. “You know, in case, slow dancing is required in certain situations like a black-tie party or something.”
“Absolutely,” said Jennifer.
Jessica turned back to her laptop and put on iTunes. She played Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There.” She stood up and beckoned her finger to Jennifer. Jennifer walked closer to her.
Jessica taught Jennifer how to:
- Position herself in front of Jessica. Shoulders lined up straight.
- Position the arms. Jessica placed her right hand on the small part of Jennifer’s back and held her left out to the side at chest level. Jennifer placed her left hand on Jessica’s shoulder, raised her arm to chest level, and extended her hand out to the right to hold Jessica’s hand. Hands were interlocked like two C’s.
- Leave some space. Three to six inches of distance between the two. Jessica made sure that Jennifer’s were relaxed with a comfortable bend in the elbow. They began to move. Jessica lead Jennifer. They moved slowly and clockwise.
Jennifer accidentally stepped on Jessica’s toe.
“Ow!” yelped Jessica.
“Sorry,” said Jennifer.
Jessica nodded. Jennifer looked down at her feet.
“Don’t stare at your feet all the time. Look at me,” said Jessica.
Jennifer lifted her head up slowly and made eye contact with Jessica.
“May I lead?” asked Jennifer.
Jennifer lead Jessica and turned around. She was improving.
“You dance gracefully,” said Jessica.
They stopped dancing when the song ended. Jennifer released Jessica.
“So, how did I do?” asked Jennifer.
Jessica clapped. “I give this an A+. Good job!”
The iTunes automatically switched to Daft Punk’s “Technologic.” They danced to it robotically. Jessica thought about drawing a picture of robots doing that sometime.