As I sit in the morning quiet of Southern California, a bit jet lagged, I am bombarded with images of my niece Maya at her wedding interspersed with watching her grow up. Maya was the first in many ways. It was the first time I became a Mama, and as the Panditji reminded the crowd, it made me a double mother. Funny enough, I remember my sister saying that to me when Maya was born. It was the first time I felt responsible for someone else. From teaching her dumb things like “”Boys are bad” (thank god she didn’t listen) to me being with silly with her, screaming Hercules, Hercules or Free! (she will be more than happy to explain to anyone who asks), That little Maya became a woman, one who follows her heart and now is with her soulmate (more on that later). It felt unreal to see her in diapers then and now beautiful dresses at the wedding.

So many things came back as reminders during the weeklong celebrations for Maya and Ashwin. Watching Ashwin tear up as Maya walked down the wedding aisle reminded me of how my brother in law (now his father in law) did that with my sister (his mother in law). It just seemed so apt. Maya found a partner who feels deeply, and isn’t afraid to show it. It endeared him to me even more although he’d made it abundantly clear of his love for her when we hung out. On my last day there, the next day after the reception, Ashwin could very well have just hung out with his friends and family, yet he chose to come sit with each of us, be actually present, not just as a formality but as a genuine expression of his gratitude for so many coming. It wasn’t a surprise to see Maya doing the same, and it underscored why they are together.

Yet I admit the hardest part came up for me as I experienced the Ladies Sangeet, and couldn’t help the pain that Papa and Baby Masi were not here to celebrate her. She loved them, and they loved her in return. That pain seared into me as it hit me that there is a high chance I may not be around for some of Zyan’s milestones, and in that moment, I regretted immensely that my son and wife could not make it. I couldn’t help hugging Maya tight as I became the weepy old uncle.

Much of the week still remains a blur from getting in just in time to for the Puja to being one of the few old ones left on the dance floor at 430am. And then being me, hounding the DJ at the reception to play one last song but not before Maya sang a verse from “Aaja Sohneya” my favorite song, and one that I made the entire family fall in love with. Of course, the last song had be “Ama ni Ama” by Jassi Sidhu. It felt like the right way to end a reception.

Besides the wedding events, the meals, the countless laughs, the drinking (oh the drinking), and dancing, AshwinsMaya showcased two loving families turning into one massive one. Reconnecting with so many again and making new connections made it all the sweeter. I know how much my love my sister and brother in law poured into this, but watching it matched by Maya’s in-laws and husbands just made just it a million times better. I cannot remember a time where so many emotions came up, but I know now that Ashwin really did win Maya, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I love you and cannot wait for Zyan to get to know his oldest cousin and my favorite niece.

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