Jewish Wedding In Bombay
by Nissim Ezekiel
Her mother shed a tear or two but wasn’t really
crying. It was the thing to do, so she did it
enjoying every moment. The bride laughed when I
sympathized, and said don’t be silly.
So mama ti larg enn ou de larm, pa kwar li ti pe
Plore. Koutim dir bizen, alors li ti fer seki bizen
Dan lazwa. Doulinn ti riye ler mo ti sey
Konsol li; pa fer kouyon li ti dir mwa.
Her brother had a shoe of mine and made me pay
to get it back. The game delighted all the neighbours’
children, who never stopped staring at me, the reluctant
bridegroom of the day.
So frer ti souk enn mo soulie e ti bizen pey enn fiz
Pou li rande. Bann zanfan vwazen, ki ti pe fixe mwa,
Doula par fors,
Ti gagn li bonn.
There was no dowry because they knew I was ‘modern’
and claimed to be modern too. Her father asked me how
much jewellery I expected him to give away with his daughter.
When I said I did’t know, he laughed it off.
Pa ti ena dahej; zot ti kone mo ‘modern’
E zot’si zot ti modern. So papa ti dimann mwa komie
Bizou li ti bizen done kan li donn so tifi.
Ler mo dir li ‘kajani’, li ti kas enn riye.
There was no brass band outside the synagogue
but I remember a chanting procession or two, some rituals,
lots of skull-caps, felt hats, decorated shawls
and grape juice from a common glass for bride and
Pa ti ena jazbenn dan lakour sinagog
Me mo rapel ennde prosesion santer, detrwa ritiel,
Boukou bone-kippah, sapo fet, shal dekore
Ek zi rezen dan enn ver pou doula ek doulinn.
I remember the breaking of the glass and the congregation
clapping which signified that we were well and truly married
according to the Mosaic Law.
Mo rapel nou ti kraz ver; tou dimoun ti tap lame;
Savedir, peyna sape, nou ti fini marye
Dapre lalwa Moiz.
Well that’s about all. I don’t think there was much
that struck me as solemn or beautiful. Mostly, we were
amused, and so were the others. Who knows how much belief
Mo kwar samem tou. Mo pa kwar ti ena gransoz
Ki mo ti trouv zoli ek solanel. Tou ti amizan,
Pou nou, pou tou dimoun. Kot pou kone profonder
Even the most orthodox it was said ate beef because it
was cheaper, and some even risked their souls by
The Sabbath was for betting and swearing and drinking.
Mem bann mari-ortodox, tann dir, ti manz bef parski
Ti pli bomarse, e ti ena ki ti pran risk al dan lanfer ar
Saba ti zour spesial pou zougader, batar-malelve ek soular.
Nothing extravagant, mind you, all in a low key
and very decently kept in check. My father used to say,
these orthodox chaps certainly know how to draw the line
in their own crude way. He himself had drifted into the liberal
creed but without much conviction, taking us all with him.
My mother was very proud of being ‘progressive’.
Tansion! Tou ti regle, kontrole;
Pa ti ena derapaz. Mo papa ti kontan dir
Ki sa bann ortodox la ti konn met fren kot bizen
Dan zot prop manier grosie. Lombo ti glis ver bann liberal
San gran konviksion me li ti ris nou tou ar li.
Mo mama ti fier ki li pa ti enn konservater.
Anyway as I was saying, there was that clapping and later
we went to the photographic studio of Lobo and Fernandes,
world-famous specialists in wedding portraits. Still later,
we lay on a floor-matress in the kitchen of my wife’s
family apartment and though it was past midnight she
kept saying let’s do it darling let’s do it darling
so we did it.
Kouma mo ti pe dir, ti ena aplodisman e pli tar
Nou ti al tir foto dan stidio Lobo-Fernandes,
Spesialis rekoni mondialman pou foto maryaz. Bien pli tar,
Nou ti alonze lor enn matla dan lakwizinn flat
Mo boparan e malgre ki ti minwi pase, li
Pa ti aret dir mwa, pou fer, pa pou fer, gate-koko-sheri.
Be nou ti fer!
More than ten years passed before she told me that
she remembered being very disappointed. Is that all
there is to it? She had wondered. Back from London
eighteen months earlier, I was horribly out of practice.
Plis ki dis an pli tar li ti fini par dir mwa
Ki sa swar la ti rann. Samem tou
Ena lada? Li ti anvi kone. Kouma mo ti retourne
Depi Lond ena dizwit mwa, mo ti perdi pratik.
During our first serious marriage quarrel she said Why did
you take my virginity from me? I would gladly have
returned it, but not one of the books I had read
instructed me how.
Kan ti gagn nou premie bagar serye, li ti dir mwa Kifer
To ti defons mo virzinite? Mo ti pou bien kontan
Redonn li sa me okenn bann liv ki mo ti finn lir
Pa ti montre mwa kouma pou fer sa.