2010/07/16

The fish we took to the Bride's house

On the morning of the wedding , the fish seller brought the fish .Over 6 kilos on weight it was fat and full , glistening black graduating to a silver pink towards the belly .

Using sindoor the women drew a large dot between the staring dead eyes . They then drew a line upwards representing the sindoor in the parting of a new bride's hair . They fixed a faux goldround nose ring called a "nath" to the gawping mouth of the fish and a faux gold tikli along the line of the sindoor . Then they lovingly dusted it with red and gold powder and fixed a bit of filmy red gold gauze over the fish which looked bizarre but festive .

They laid it tenderly on a freshly washed green banana leaf which was placed on a red "kulo" once used by women to winnow out the unhusked rice and stones from rice before the days of cellophane packaging . A silver bowl of turmeric paste ground by three married women , blessed by the old, toothless fat priest and used by the groom first , was placed beside the fish . Along with an earthen bowl of mishti doi and woven bamboo trays with varieties of sandesh they left for the home of the new bride .

Since it was all rather informal , the two girls strayed to the terrace ,where they saw the fish being slapped around by a dark stocky man in a blue checked lungi . He then washed it clean under the running water and the sindoor flowed away like blood . The "nath" and "tikli" were kept aside carefully , perhaps as gifts for the man's wife.

Washed clean and white the fish lay compliant , yielding even , on the green leaf while the man, whistling , hiked up his lungi , selected a big blade for the "bnonti" and unceremoniously chopped off , first the head and then the tail before homing in on the fish proper .

The younger girl on seeing her beautiful fish desecrated in this manner , fled in tears down the stairs , while the older one , more astute,thought in terms of what a good lunch the fish would make .

19 comments:

La Delirante said...

wow...how well written it is...it is so vivid I am already hungry :)

Banno said...

nice tale. loved the details.

Thinking Cramps said...

Brilliant. And it has layers. Loved it.

Sharmila said...

It's almost as if I was there too. Beautiful! :-)
Amader barir shob biye te maach amader pukur er hoye .. am engulfed in nostalgia now Evedi'. :-)

Sue said...

The elder girl has no poetry in her soul. Greedy pig.

dipali said...

Loved this!

Suku said...

nice......
mishti doi and sandesh...yumm yumm..
i am sorry you lost me as soon as you mentioned the above:-))
btw, thanks for your comment on my blog..i feel honored!

How do we know said...

this one made me sad.. very sad.

Onedia said...

:>)

eve's lungs said...

LaD and Suku - Umm I am wondering . Come to Kolkata - I'll feed you fish, doi and sandesh

Banno,Sharmila,Dipali, Sharmila - Thanks :)

Sue - Umm well this aint my older girl - she'd run a mile from fish
Ana - yes - I knew you'd find the layers - that's why I love you so :)
How do we know - Ironical isnt it ? But that's the way the cookie crumbles - a fish is a fish , after all .BTW - welcome to my blog .
O - :)

Sue said...

Wasn't thinking of Srin, mind you.

radha said...

Simple story , well narrated. An insight into Bengali customs.

Suku said...

I am on my way:-))))

Mama - Mia said...

brilliant EL! as always! :)

Thinking Cramps said...

"Kindred spirit":)

sharbori21 said...

beautifully written. i am finding a simili with a bride being dressed and sent off and then ..... ? not that it happens all the time, but happens often enough. i am not sure you meant it that way though.

hillgrandmom said...

What an interesting custom! Btw, am with Suku on the mishti doi and sandesh

mayG said...

woah mashi! really enjoyed reading this post.. every word of it :D
you write SO beautifully! *bows to thee*

Mamma Mia! Me a Mamma?!? said...

Loved reading this mashi! You've described the decorating of the fish so perfectly!