Enchanting    
 

Myanmar

 

A Guide to Tourism Destination and Beyond

Vol. 2

No.2

January-March 2003

Home | Contents | A Letter to Our Readers | Mindon's Mandalay | The Thrones of Myanmar Kings | Northern Magic
Folk Toys of Myanmar: Simple Pleasures | Kekku :The Gem in Pa O Land | The Wedding | Events Calendar

The Wedding

By Nyi Pu Lay


The group of people dressed in their best stood in the narrow lane, necks straining to catch a glimpse of the car as it rolled towards them on the bumpy road, they could see it in the dust, coming as slowly as if it were a horse-drawncart.

This was the car taking them to the wedding. In their eyes the car rolled on the bumps as if it were a boat riding the waves.
When the car was near enough for them to see it through the whirling dust, one of the waiting women exclaimed to the groom,
"Sein Hla, is that the car taking us to the wedding?"
Sein Hla smiled to himself. "Yep, it sure is. Why?"
"You said it's a van."
"It is a van, isn't it?"
It was, but just barely. The hind end of car had been cut, remodeled and roofed, the sort of car that carried vegetables from the jetty to the market.

But they could not be choosy: they were already late, and some of them must go early and hurry back in time to go to work. Anyway, in their part of Mandalay, there never had been such a luxury as a car rented for the purpose of taking guests to a wedding. This time, the bride being the schoolteacher and all, and with the groom's best friend being the owner of a car, transport had been arranged as a wedding gift from the owner.

After making a five-point turn, the car was finally heading outwards. The first batch were the young girls who were in charge of handing out sprigs of flowers and cigarettes to each guest. They must be in their places before the guests arrive.

There was an immediate uproar about who gets in first, who sits where. The driver obligingly shut off the engine, which shuddered like a malarial victim, before it died.

"Now where is that Sein Sein Aye? She's always so slow...just let her be quick if its about watching out for a husband, then I'd tear her to pieces." Before the words ended, a bug-eyed girl dressed all in bright red scampered up. Her make-up was exactly like the other girls'...its pink tones clashed alarmingly with her dark skin.

Uncle Than Sein and Grand Uncle Win Maung, as befit their age, had already installed themselves in the front seat.
|"Oh, Uncle, take this child with you, she's Daw Aye Chit's little girl."
"Come, come, you can sit on my knee." The girl was overjoyed to be riding in the front seat a and her wide smile showed missing front teeth.

The groom tried to pack in as many as possible, for he did not want his friend making too many trips. Gas prices were not cheap, as he well knew.

The car began to look like a piece of candy with ants climbing allover it. It was indeed a happy scene.

To their alarm the car took a few minutes to start; then they were off in a cloud of dark smoke.
"Now, bridegroom, you'd better go change, what are you waiting for?"
"Well I'm just so busy seeing to things..."
"Never mind! Everything will be fine. You go change; it's your wedding day, man, look lively."
"Who' will look after the gifts?" one lady asked anxiously.
"Don't worry, Aunt, there will be someone...go change, Sein Hla."

The group of ladies who were left standing in the lane began to chatter.
"That red dress Sein Sein Aye's wearing, whose dress is it?"
"Must be hers, since she's wearing it."
"No, the dress is too big on her, must belong to her sister who lives downtown."
A quarrel broke out between two children about who was to wear the one pair of slippers belonging to both. Kywet Thoe, the best man, sauntered up, hands in the pockets of his jacket.
|
"Well now, how grand you look; you should look as spic and span as this all the time." .
"Of course I want to, Aunt, but look at me, I'm a mechanic, covered with grease all the time. I didn't go to work yesterday, that's why I look this clean. Even then I couldn't get rid of all the black."

He held out his hands.

"How is that old father of the groom? How is he, Kywet Thoe ?"
"Better, thank god...we all thought he was a goner, when the invitations were already printed and all."

The old man had fallen ill all of a sudden; the neighbourhood had held its breadth. But now, thank god, he's on the mend. .
****

When the car came back, they had picked up the bride Mar Mar Tin from the beauty salon. Everyone in the neighbourhood who
was not going, mothers with babies, old people walking with canes, toddlers with grimy faces, all came fast as they could to have
a look at the bride.

She did not step out of the car. Her hair was done in a high chignon, and the false tress was darker than her own hair. The dangling rhinestone hairpin sparkled. Around her neck were a necklace and a strand of pearls, and in photos they would surely look real.

Her face was pink with make-up. Unused to the false eyelashes, she kept batting her eyes. The beautician had done away altogether with her scanty eyebrows: they had been shaved off, and he had drawn a curvy line in its place in deep sea-green pencil.

There were comments about how pretty she looked, and they all asked how much it cost, the name of the shop, and in the melee
they heard a piping voice of a girl: "She doesn't look pretty at all!" Mar MarTin pretended not to hear, but was itching to rap her on the head.

The groom was wearing a dark golden yellow longyi (sarong) as near the golden colour of the bride's htamein (sarong) as possible. He too seemed to have plastered some powder on his face; it looked dusty. He tried to open the car door: it did not budge, even with the bride working the handle from inside. The driver, his friend, leant over and pushed it open. The back of the van was already packed with more guests.

He remembered his turban only when they drove off; never mind, he could ask his friend to bring it along the next trip.

"Ko sein, how's Father?" the bride asked him.
"He'd had a pee, but couldn't pass motion yet. I moved him to a sunny spot."
"Who's with him?"
"Ma Ma Than from next door's keeping an eye on him; he misses mother, you know. He doesn't say so but I can tell."

He tried putting his elbow out of the , window; the glass could only be lowered to mid-Ievel, so he felt uncomfortable. He took
his arm down.

He turned to his friend. "When father heard you're helping out with the transport, he wanted to come, too. Said he should entertain his own friends himself."
"How did you persuade him to stay, Ko Sein?" the bride asked.
"I told him there'd be all three of us brothers, that we'll see to everyone being welcomed. Even then he asked to put an over jacket on him, just in case someone drops in at home."
The wedding hall was filled with people. The newly weds both live in the same neighbourhood so there were no strangers. As the car went back for the third trip, two kids did not stay behind but went back for another ride; it was a treat for them. One kid started to , howl because he could not go with them.

The ladies manning the gifts table were busy, making lists, eating cake, gulping down tea.

The elders were in a group, happily smoking cigarettes. The pop songs blaring out of the speakers mingled with the chatter, and the audible clearing of throats as they ate the dryish cakes. The room was filled with smoke and the scent of make-up and perfumes.
***
All the way back the guests talked and gossiped about the wedding, the dresses, the cakes. The newly weds had already given pocket money to the lads. It is called 'Payment for Stones', a sum paid off to avoid the teasing hail of stones on the house that night. The guys had all trooped to a food stall. As for the girls, they had promised to take them all to watch TV that night. The children overheard this, and demanded that they too wanted to come along. The bride had agreed just to keep them quiet, but thinking about the one kyat for adults and half for kids, she felt worried and stole a glance at the borrowed silver bowl where the cash gifts had been put in.

Father had been eagerly asking news from anyone who returned from the wedding. As soon as he saw his son the groom, he asked for his potty. Sitting on it he asked detailed questions about the event.

As sein Hla cleaned his father, the old man asked if it were true about the TV show. "What's the program?"
"Mandalay Dance Troupe, Father, yes, we promised the girls."
"Is that so? I want to watch it, too."
"I'll carry you then, Father, if you want to go."

But he thought of the sulky face of the owner of the TV, and felt a twinge of worry.

The program was a favourite; the front room of that house would be filled with the guests of the wedding.

He dressed his father warmly in an old jacket; the nights were getting cold. His new wife Mar Mar Tin had gone on ahead, carrying his father's folding chair. There were still traces of the morning's make-up on her face. As it had cost her all of Kyat 150, she thought surely she must still look as nice as this morning.

She had the money for the show tucked in her bodice. Her new slippers hurt her feet, so she was wearing her old pair. Besides, people steal slippers at such places where they must be left outside.

Sein Hla showed his father the potty he carried in a plastic bag. "Tell me anytime if you need to pee, father, no need to feel embarrassed; everyone knows you." The owner of the TV, U San Tin, came out to greet Father when they arrived at the house.

He seemed happy to have a full house. He was rather strict: he did not allow any kids to eat snacks, or throw plum seeds at each other. The audience sat on mats covering the floor. Sein Hla placed his father's chair at the back. He himself sat on the floor, holding the potty bag, and his new bride sat by him.

The program started. Well! How they. enjoyed It all: the jokes, the songs, the dancing. It was as if they were all nailed to the
floor.

They were still smiling as they took their leave when the show ended. sein Hla took up his father, and his face fell: the old man had peed, probably without noticing it. There was even a small wet patch on the floor. U San Tin must surely notice. sein Hla did not know what to do. He grabbed the brand new handkerchief Mar Mar Tin was clutching and made as if to wipe the floor.

"Never mind, my boy, never mind." It was an unexpectedly kind word from U San Tin.

They said their good-byes, apologizing. U San Tin squeezed Father's hand as they left. Mar Mar Tin paid for her guest, bargaining with a beating heart to let off the extra four kyats. The TV owners agreed, just for this night.

Mar Mar Tin carried the folding chair with the wet burlap seat, wondering how she could keep the make-up on until tomorrow. Sein Hla carried his father, wondering about how this night U San Tin had been so nice.

The audience made their way home, talking about the show. .
(The above short story appeared in Tabin Magazine May 1986 and is transtlated by MTG)

Nyi Pu Lay

Nyi Pu Lay was born 1952 in Mandalay to parents who are both well-known writers and journalists, Ludu U Hla and Ludu Daw Ahmar. He graduated from Mandalay University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology. He started writing short stories since 1985 and by 1989 has published his first collection, 'Thu htet kai Shwe Pyi Soe Nyi Pu Lay."

A second book of his collected short stories followed in 1990, titled "Ka-Iay kyike, Lu-gyi kyite, chit kya ba de Nyi Pu Lay."

In 2002 a third collection of his short stories was published under the title "T'gyaung hswe 0Ka-Iay p'ji and other stories."

His first novel "La Min ye cho thar de let 5 khote than" was also published in 2002.

The themes of his stories are usually on the lives of the ordinary people, portrayed with his signature touch of wry humour on the vicissia tudes of life.

He resides in Mandalay.

Home | Contents | A Letter to Our Readers | Mindon's Mandalay | The Thrones of Myanmar Kings | Northern Magic
Folk Toys of Myanmar: Simple Pleasures | Kekku :The Gem in Pa O Land | The Wedding | Events Calendar

Enchanting

Myanmar

A Guide to Tourism Destination and Beyond

Vol. 2

No.2

January-March 2003

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