What struck me during the wedding was how nice everyone seemed to be.
“Nice” has become an extremely loaded word to me over the years. When I was younger, I might have strived to be a nice person because that is what a proper Protestant female is supposed to be, and my idealistic self would strive to be nice because it made people happy and a world a better place (or so I hoped). Lately, I’ve started to see nice as a rather negative term, it connotates being boring, two-faced, slightly repressed, getting bullied, having boundaries being stepped upon. Oh yeah, I have my issues with nice.
But in general, the people I met at the South African wedding were just a nice nice- in the sense of being open and loving to non-Indian/African/Australian/American strangers like me and of laughing and hugging even during tense, conflicty moments (and boy was there a lot of chaos and uncertainty, let’s just say punctuality and organisation were compromised at certain points). This type of niceness makes me want to be nice nice too.
In particular, the warmth of Vanessa’s parents, Ronnie and Selvam makes my heart say a silent “Awwwww”. I usually have to really brace myself whenever I am with friends’ parents. If I forget to greet or thank or grovel accordingly/appropriately, I usually am in the black books of these elders for life (not respectful enough, brought up badly tsk tsk). But the first time I met this couple in Melbourne, even before I did any substantial respectful stuff, they were already inviting me over to their place where Uncle Ronnie will catch a fish for us to eat.
So when we went to the Guries’ house at Umkomas on the last day of the wedding to witness them giving Vanessa away, there were aunties cuddling us and stuffing us with curries, her brothers and cousins were hugging me even though I barely knew them, the uncles kept trying to “lure” Darren and the other “foreign” men to the brandy corner to male-bond and it was just all a very happy and warm gathering.
(Similarly, the Sabella side was just as embracing and got us involved in the “stripping” ceremony of Marcus which involved eating lots of yummy Indian sweets, flower garlands, singing/boogying again and of course, stripping.)
I felt very welcome indeed.