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 .