18 Months Ago
Mina: Siew, let’s go out. I miss you.
Me: Pai kin cocktail wa?
Mina: Nor nor nor! I bring my gik.
Mina and Mant met on Facebook. The first time they met face to face was that particular night. They were inseparable since.
…I’m at Suvarnabhumi International Airport waiting for my next flight to Vientiane. I smile to myself—disbelief, happiness and an emotion that I don’t want to name swirling at the pit of my stomach—my BFF is tying the knot with this particular gik.
The Day Before
The moment I landed, I hopped on the taxi to my home away home. My Dad is on assignment in VTE so I didn’t have a hard time looking for a place to stay. Running on zero sleep, I headed to Joma to get started on my readings while waiting for Mina’s call. Just because I flew out for my friend’s wedding that doesn’t mean I’m off the responsibilities of a graduate student. Mina picked me up a few hours later and drove straight for her dress-fitting.
You see, she’s already married. A Lao Wedding is composed of two parts: 1) The Basii or the traditional ceremony; and 2) The Wedding Party aka Where Everyone Gets All Drunk and Merry. Her basii was held the previous week but since all the ballrooms in Vientiane were booked already on the same day (surge of Weddings everywhere, November is the onset of the Wedding Season), they’d decided to hold the ceremonies on two separate days. Which is not bad, if you ask me. It just gives you more reason to party hah!
After the much-needed catching up over tum mee (noodle salad) and tam mak khoung (Papaya salad, God I missed these!) with my Partner-In-Crime for four years, we went straight to her house and well, rehearsed for a wedding song—that she requested me to sing. At Lao ITECC (like their World Trade Center), no less.
This singing thing was a drunken promise. We were out one night and started babbling about plans for the future and all that good stuff. Mina then asked me if I would visit Laos again and sing at her wedding, so naturally I agreed. It’s funny cos she remembers THAT but still having a hard time remembering that I’m a vegetarian (used to)!
The Big Day
I woke up pretty early that day. Maybe it’s excitement or anxiety, I don’t really know.
The Dad reminded me not to get trashed during the wedding. I’d really like to assure him that I won’t be able to drink anyway cos of the dreaded song number looming over me but I didn’t tell anyone in my family that I’ll be singing to avoid the..uhh..pressure.
My friends and I joined Mina in prepping for the reception at her home. It was my first time to be right behind the wedding scenes. It was busy and frantic—makeup and hairsprays were flying all over the place. At the back of my head, I was still reeling. Still in shock that she’s married. Still wondering when—ANYYYWAY.
We arrived at Lao ITECC and I immediately assumed position as the Bride’s entourage. The couple’s entourage is composed of friends and relatives lined up along the entrance to the hall and greet the guests arriving. I have never said so much ‘sabaidee’s’ in my life. That’s how much people joined the celebration closing to a thousand guests.
Nobody recognised me. Can’t blame them. The Cole they knew was the chubby girl in sinh. When recognition finally dawned on their faces, it felt like a validation. Ten months of control had paid off. And I couldn’t be any happier.
Finally it was time to sing. When I was still rehearsing, I was kind of cringing at the thought of singing at a wedding. ‘How can you sing something romantic if you’re feeling bitter?’ I argued to myself.
Crooning a Shania classic wasn’t as crazy as I thought it would be. First, I thought I was going to have a hard time channelling that emotion—of happiness, love and undying devotion. Perhaps, it went well cos this was for a friend and her doting husband. The whole number was for a really good friend who has saved my ass plenty of times during my time in Vientiane. She’s my friend not cos I was just in Laos but cos she has taught me a lot of things, even if she doesn’t know that. She was very supportive, generous and open-minded. And then I realized, I shouldn’t be surprised that she’s married. She’ll be a good wife and a mother. She just will.
When the party at ITECC ended (I was barefoot already) and we then carried the whole crew to back to their place—apparently, it’s a tradition to send off the couple to their home and continue the party there, just to make sure they’re safe and okay. I was talking to more people that I have ever done in all the social events I’ve been to. It felt wonderful. Everything felt wonderful.
I could just imagine how Mina and Mant felt—embarking on a new journey as a married couple surrounded with family and friends. I wish them all the best. I wish them good health, more wealth and happiness for every single day that they spend together and apart. I wish them beautiful and smart babies.
And I wish that this song will always remind you of the love you have for each other and never forget that you are meant to be together.