So I see a bunch of Japanese culture fics and wonder why there aren't other cultural fics out there.
I write one on Indian wedding customs with an American groom. Enjoy!
He's going to his wedding, dressed in a sherwani, a cream-colored trench-coat-length tunic. His fiancée wants an Indian-style wedding, and he'll give her anything it's in his power to give.
As soon as she shed her pigtails for layers in her hair, she had dreamed of her wedding. She told him all about it. Who else to tell but her best friend Cameron? Not that he understood very much of it. He was an blue-eyed brunet American, who'd grown up on American customs. He'd always thought his bride would be dressed in white.
In the bride's dressing room, Gehna's friends dab a bit of mascara on her lashes, a dash of gloss on her lips, and a little eye shadow on her lids. They giggle about Cameron's attractiveness and Gehna's luck. But they don't quite understand they've gotten in backwards. Cameron had fallen for Gehna long before she even thought of him as a boyfriend instead of a best friend.
He lived and breathed buzzers, collecting all sorts of information for the academic team. He had wanted to be captain ever since he joined in sixth grade. The coach told him only eight graders could be captain because they had more experience. He worked hard to qualify for captain.
As soon as Cameron enters the hall, his mother-in-law welcomes him in the traditional style, applying a tilak on his forehead and calling upon the gods to bless him. Her fingers poke and prod him, making sure he can both protect her daughter and take care of her.
And when he was finally in fifth grade, the new fourth-grade girl bested him. Even though the coach had said only fifth grade veterans could be captain, the rest of the team voted to give her the middle seat, the seat with all the captain's authority. Needless to say, he wasn't inclined to like her.
As they kick off their shoes, his sister-in-law drags him and his best man, his cousin, to the mandap, where the rest of her family except her mother is waiting.
But of course, she was the only girl who could effortlessly keep up with his complex train of thought and the florid language he used to express himself, the only girl who would look at him like a real person instead of a good lay or kiss. The girl whose company he grudgingly assented to became an essential element in his world.
Gehna's mother comes in Gehna's room, two gold bracelets in her hand. Gehna's friends step away to the side, almost more excited than Gehna herself.
"Your father and I made these for you when you were born, just for your wedding." She slides them upon Gehna's wrists, one on each hennaed hand. Tonight's the last night her mother can call her daughter hers. After today, Gehna will belong to Cameron and his family.
Mom picks up a length of red netted fabric trimmed in golden thread. "My wedding chunri, your sister's, and your grandmother's."
Cameron's sister insists on having Gehna wear 'something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue'.The chunri makes both something old and borrowed, while the blue and new garment will be seen by only Cameron later in the night.
Cameron had wanted to kiss her ever since sixth grade, but he couldn't handle even the possibility of her rejection. He was, as most would say, totally whipped. Yet Gehna didn't realize it even after both his friends and her friends (many of whom were the same) had hinted at it multiple times. He had forbidden them from flat out telling her, promising them that he would do it himself eventually.
Mom drapes the fabric as a veil over Gehna's head, carefully pinning it to her head as if to make sure all her blessings travel with her daughter. She arranges it over the red blouse with dozens of small mirrors sewn in with gilt thread, the blouse that matches with the skirt underneath it.
Her friends on either side of her, Gehna slowly, majestically descends the stairs, making Cameron's breath catch.
The first time he saw her in a skirt was when she invited him to the Dandiya celebration. She was dressed in the traditional ghagra, with the long, flowing skirt and short, closecut top. She had covered herself up with a dupatta, a long scarf that swished as she spun in the rapid circles of the dance.
The dupatta made her dress modest yet provocative, as if daring him to rip it from her. He knew he couldn't do that without insulting both her and her family, who had been so kind as to bring him here. His sense of honor (and his need for a ride home) forced his thoughts to stay only in his mind, where nobody but him could access them.
Gehna's uncle offers a garland of flowers to her. Her friends take her to the mandap and seat her right beside Cameron. The priest calls upon Lord Ganesh, remover of all obstacles. Cameron smiles and winks at her as Gehna places the garland around his neck. When he tries to put hers on, her friends and family pull her back, teasing him. After four times of almost getting it on her, he feints and then springs it on her amidst loads of laughter from both sides. The wedding itself is an adventure before marriage; nobody stays solemn.
The first thing Gehna's second best friend asked her when Gehna and Cameron told their friends about their relationship was "Batadiyan tere gore chore ne apne dil ki baat?" Did your American boy finally tell you what was in his heart? This friend was one of those who'd been encouraging Cameron to tell Gehna what he felt for years. Guffaws and chuckles came from everyone there who understood Hindi, effecting Gehna to bury her blushing face into Cameron's chest.
Gehna's hand is placed in Cameron's for the Kanyadan, the giving away of the bride. Her father formally tells everybody he approves of Cameron for his daughter. Cameron promises to Gehna that he'll be only hers, and she promises to be only his.
It might have been a futile attempt to try to forget her, or it may have been a successful endeavor to make Gehna jealous, but throughout high school, Cameron flirted with any and every girl he could. But these women had heard the rumors and intuitively knew Cameron would never want them that way; flirting was just a pastime for him, kind of his 'healthy' alcohol. Of course, Gehna didn't believe the rumors. She couldn't fathom how her American best friend could possibly want her.
That was when she didn't realize that the heart doesn't know any master.
While the priest recited something in Sanskrit, Cameron slides the wedding band onto Gehna's ring finger, sensually tickling the hennaed lines on her hand.
Both of them were spontaneous people, and his proposal and her acceptance reflected that. His arrogance allowed him to believe she wouldn't reject him even if it were sudden, so he went to the mall and bought a sophisticated, simple, silver ring, the kind thirteen years at her side told him she would love.
At dinner, right before dessert, he bent down onto one knee, grabbed her hand, and positioned the ring in front of her finger. As serious as it was possible for him to be, in that Southern twang of his, he requested, "Marry me." She pushed her finger into the ring in consent, shocking her parents, her sister, and her best friend. He would have kissed right then and there, but her rather conservative family was right beside them. Besides, the kiss he had stolen at the front door when he left was much sweeter.
Gehna's sister knots Cameron's dupatta and Gehna's chunri together, entwining them together forever. The priest tells Cameron and Gehna to stand up for the saat phere, the seven circles around the fire, the witness to their love.
Gehna asked Cameron, "You do understand that divorce is against my beliefs?"
Cameron smiled at her and answered, "Yes, Gehna, you only told me 'bout twenty times. Trust me, Iah could never divorce you without dying mahself."
"But what if you're just saying that to get me to agree?"
"Gehna, you're promisin' t' spend seven lifetimes wi' me. You'll be stuck wi' me fer at least another three centuries or so, ev'n if you do try t' divorce me." He winked at her before pressing his lips against her own.
These seven circles are an ancient ritual, unchanged for thousands of years. The first asks for plentiful food. The second is for strength- physical, mental, and emotional- to deal with each other. The third wishes for wealth while the fourth requests eternal happiness. The fifth prays for children, the sixth harmony and chemistry. And the seventh...
The seventh signifies an everlasting friendship, a desire for both of them to remain best friends until Death knocks on their doors.
Cameron has seen the lascivious way other boys looked at Gehna's curvaceous body, and anger awakened within his cells; he had seen himself in other girls' eyes. She needed someone to keep her safe from heartbreak, and he was more than willing to do the job. Gehna's naivety allowed him to convince her to become his girlfriend, at least at school. They occasionally held hands and kissed cheeks and foreheads to make it seem realistic, and he'd be lying if he said he didn't enjoy them.
But they say the soul is carried through the breath, and Cameron longed to touch Gehna's soul. His first kiss was at her lockers, and he said it was because their no PDA left everyone suspicious. Of course, he got a resounding slap for that one passionate kiss, but it was completely worth it.
Cameron ties the mangalsutra around her neck. The black and gold beaded necklace screams taken! louder than any ring he could ever give her would. His thumb and forefinger streak the sindhoor through the parting in her hair; the red powder represents the blood, his or anyone else's, he'd shed for her. He isn't a violent person in general, but Gehna is worth a few years in jail.
That night, Gehna sits on the bed in Cameron's bedroom. Though she's been in his huge room in this massive house divers times before, sitting there as his bride feels so much different than being there as his best friend ever did. A small smile graces her lips.
The first time she was invited to his house was for a tutoring session. She envied the speed with which he could solve math problems and begged him to teach her his little shortcuts. Plus she needed help with English, her worst subject; he had a 98 in it when he had taken that course. Somehow, they managed to go from discussing Rikki-Tikki-Tavi to discussing the practices and shortcomings of the British Empire.
When Cameron asked her about this, Gehna haughtily responded, "Smart kids can afford to be ADD," resulting in Cameron chuckling at the arrogance with which she declared her theory.
Gehna hears Cameron paying her sister-in-law for entry to her room, yet another custom her sister-in-law has fallen in love with. Ever since Gehna told her all about an Indian wedding and invited her to each of the rituals, Cameron's sister has wanted one for herself. Gehna quickly adjusts the red veil to completely conceal her face and watches Cameron come in to the room, remove his starched sherwani, and throw it onto the dresser.
"So Bhabhi-can I call you that? Anjali was telling me that you call your brother's wife bhabhi." Gehna nodded. "Bhabhi, Anjali also told me that the sisters get a lot of money off the groom. True?"
"Yeah, they do," Gehna replied, laughter bubbling from her lips. "The groom first has to pay his sisters-in-law for his shoes, and then after he brings the bride home, his sister takes her to the room, and he has to pay to see his bride on the wedding night."
"Extortion!" she exclaimed.
"No, he's under no obligation," Gehna argued, just for the sake of it.
"Yeah, but it's his wedding night." They giggled, amused by what the poor groom had to go through.
The only other time she's seen Cameron like this is when they've gone swimming. A Mediterranean tan covers his broad back, and his arms are lean yet powerful muscled. Gehna has felt them in his hugs.
Cameron turns around and grins the mischievous grin of his that can only mean he's planning something naughty. He glides over to Gehna and snatches the veil off her face instead of lifting it gently like he should have.
Two blue eyes lock onto Gehna's, and she can feel his breath on her face.
"Hey," he says, much like children greet their friends.
She smiles and replies, "Salutations." His smile widens at the familiar greeting.
He unfixes the cords holding her skirt up and drags the skirt off, tossing it onto the floor. He then pulls her into his lap and reaches over her shoulder to undo the knots in her blouse, tugging on each of the three strings and removing the top a little more each time, exposing not skin but blue cloth.
And in that Southern drawl Gehna has come to associate with comfort, security, and love, Cameron rakishly says, "Ya know, Iah bin waitin' niah seven years to do this." His English exudes refined gentleman in public, but at home and with her, his true culture and birth reveals itself.
Gehna devilishly smirks, giving Cameron permission to do with her whatever he sees fit. He would have ripped off her wedding dress, but he knows she wants to save it.
There's nothing stopping him from ripping off her undergarments. His sister probably planned it like this just to tempt him.
And he isn't going to restrain himself when he now has every right and reason to lie with her.
"Hey Cameron. Aren't you going to find your name? I had them put it in English." Gehna holds up her hands to him; legend has it if the groom can't find his name in the bride's henna, the bride will dominate in the bedroom.
Cameron shakes his head, smiling, and declares, "Iah don't mahnd bein' on the bottom."
I think I might have gone a little overboard with the accent. But I've lived in the South practically all my life, and this is really how people from small villages talk. Not all them are rednecks; some of them are actually incredibly intelligent, like Cameron.
I'd love to know what you thought of this, but please don't flame for beliefs and rituals portrayed in this.