"You know what I think is really weird about the way our culture treats sex?", a friend of mine asked me soon after her wedding a couple of years back.
"Well, think about this - People have always told us not to drink right? I mean it was prohibited for sure until we were 18 or 21 or whatever. But then its not like once you cross the barrier, you are asked to drink up."
"What are you talking about?"
"That you don't have to drink once you are over 21. But in case of sex, its different. Until you get married its prohibited. After that point, its mandatory. The astrologers look at times and tell you when to have suhaag raat and you have to have sex then."
"Well, its not like junta has sex during suhaag raat. I mean, who the hell has the energy after all the tamasha one has to go through?"
"Arrey, who is talking about reality? This is about expectations silly."
"It isn't really weird then. Say you can have kids by having alcohol. Then it sure will be mandatory right after the wedding."
"But then who is it prohibited before? I still think its weird. And btw, it ain't like you think. There are enough people who have sex, and that too for the very first time during this suhaag raat nonsense."
"Oh yeah? Show me one."
"That girl M who used to hang out with us in school. She told me, she did. She said it was all very painful - she was really tired and stuff but her husband proved to be more persistent."
"That guy should be arrested for rape then."
"Yeah, try telling that to a judge. Or better still, just try telling M that. Where do you come from anyway?"
"Whatever. But tell me this. What do you think our parents will do? I mean, they don't have any illusions about us, right? So will they go in for this mandatory sex - suhaag raat thing?"
"Of course. Its got nothing to do with what they think. Suhaag raat, like the wedding itself, happens because of society dude. Actually in my case, it was quite painful - hubby's mom and my mom talked to astrologer and figured that time for suhaag raat is week after the weeding and so we were asked to sleep apart until then and then have an elaborate suhaag raat."
"I have seen that in Tam movies dude! Didn't think it happens in real life. In a way, thats good only na? Atleast you aren't tired or anything?"
"Nonsense. Its all so irritating."
"Hmm..true enough. I would like to see my parents try something like that. That would be fun."
My parents did not disappoint me. Well actually, it was Bill's parents but my parents had a part in it. So we come back from wedding hall and all the rituals at home are complete. AR and Bill help me pull out the 100-odd hairpins from "my" long, flowing hair - well, if its on my head, its mine, ain't it? - when amma walks in.
Amma: So I talked to Bill's parents.
Me: Okay, so when are we going to get Bill's stuff home?
Amma: This evening we will go pick it up. But there's something else.
Amma: Apparently there's some Bengali thing about suhaag raat. Some legend Bill's Dad was telling us. Something about how this girl runs away and is rescued and all that.
Amma: Anyway, it looks like you cannot sleep in the same room the day of the wedding.
Bill: But amma, that's because Bong weddings happen at night.
Amma: Oh really?
Me: Of course.
Amma: Regardless, your parents are quite sure about this. So we will get your stuff and you can sleep in the other bedroom.
Me: Oh yeah?
Amma: Yes, after two days, you can sleep in this room. Anyway, that stupid curtain guy isn't here today.
Bill: What curtain guy?
Me: Long story. Amma wanted to change the curtains in the room, so she threw the old ones away and told the curtain guy to bring in new ones. Strategically he isn't here yet!
Amma: I told me very clearly that we needed it yesterday. He isn't here. Anyway, so that's settled.
Me: What's settled again?
Amma: Err..Bill will sleep in the other bedroom the next couple of days.
At this point, I was having way too much fun to give up. My poor Mom!
Me: No, he won't actually. We need the space. Hazaar guests need bedrooms too, you see.
Amma: That we will manage somehow.
Me: No, we won't.
Amma: Why are you making a big deal about this? I know you very well, this is just to make me angry. Its what his parents want. Nothing to do with me okay?
Me: Oh no, its a question of principle. I refuse not to sleep with my husband on my wedding day.
AR and Bill burst out laughing. Appa comes into the room.
Appa: What? Who is sleeping where now?
Amma: You, you talk to your daughter. She and Bill will sleep here only, she's saying. You tell her what his parents told us.
Appa: They did. But then they aren't going to ask you next time they meet you where these two were sleeping right?
Appa: Bill's parents won't ask you so why don't you just let them be?
Amma: This is how you spoil your daughter. Say yes to everything she says. Oh God! What will I do now?
Appa: You will do nothing. The wedding is over and now you can just chill.
That actually wasn't the end of the suhaag raat story. There was another hilarious one in Kolkata but that will require a different post. But meanwhile, I did think of this new business plan - cost savings for the porn industry actually. If anyway junta has to sleep with each other on suhaag raat, might as well get the guy who makes the painful wedding DVDs to also make a suhaag raat DVD. And then maybe people like this