Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

When we were little girls, Mayna and I used to sit on wrought-iron garden furniture in her Aunt's sunny front porch in Lahore and talk about Life. They were grand ideas about success, fame, and then rather reluctantly as if we were above such frivolity - about love. In the beginning, this love centered around Barbie dolls (more for her than me - I just played along. I think Barbie dolls are creepy). We would take used up batteries from remote controls and break them with large bricks. A black powder used to emerge from their slim metallic bellies. "Magic wishing powder," she used to say. With our eyes wide, we wished upon the powder, gave it the most heartfelt desires of our girlhood, and blew on it....I am sorry, Mayna, but in retrospect that's just WACKO! 
Soul sisters - 13 years ago.

Such was our childhood. We took ordinary things and tried to make them extraordinary, special, grand, beautiful, something more than they were. I know one day we will do something remarkable. Apart we are both creative and resourceful; together we possess the Midas touch. When we were in our early teens, we came up with a business idea - homemade candles in decorated clay pots. "Moods and Magic" we called it. We even sold a few of them, but gave away the rest as gifts to friends and family. In school, for multi-cultural day, we set up a small booth for body art. I advertised and Mayna painted intricate patterns with body-paint on our customers' hands, arms, and for the adventurous few, even faces. Our little business venture raised the most money for a charity that the school supported. Cliches like "we are better together than we are apart" and "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" just seem to fit us like a glove.

Soul-sisters, we called each other. Sisters for life. Sisters in spirit. When we grew up, we became sisters by marriage, and what a lottery that has been!

My soul-sister becomes a bride on Saturday. Across an ocean, when the sun rises in my sky and sets in hers, she will walk down the aisle. I will try to tell myself it is not important. "It's about Life, not weddings," I will say to myself. "We are sisters. We have our whole lives to celebrate. We will celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and joys and sorrows. It's just a wedding. It's just a wedding!" Truth is, it's not! It's not just a wedding. It is the grand finale of a thousand summer afternoons we spent huddled together in shady corners, talking about weddings - clothes, music, food, dances, venues, themes, colors. What happened to those two little girls? And how did we end up like this - on opposite corners of God's green earth, thinking that weddings are just weddings, what's the big deal, we'll be together soon enough? It is a big deal. It is a big deal that I am not there to hold my sister's hand. It is a big deal that I will not be there with her, shooing unruly kids away from the dais, fixing her jewelry, teasing the groom, dancing the night away, seeing, believing, knowing they are happy. It is a big damn deal, so let's just call it what it is. 

It wasn't supposed to happen this way. 

Such is life. 

Soul sisters - 2012
There is no grand gesture of love that I can present here. Nothing will circumvent my absence from her big day. But I was thinking about this European wedding tradition of "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" and I decided to put a Pakistani spin on it. I have created a collection of 10 secret family recipes for Mayna. Each one comes with its own story - it mentions how we came to try the dish, when we cooked it, how it was perfected. Some recipes are from a long time ago, some are new that we created when she visited me in 2011, some we borrowed from other people and added our own little touches. This will be her something old, something new, and something borrowed. 

We will be her something blue. 

A work in progress: Something old, something new, and something borrowed.

Mayna's "something blue."