It was exactly two weeks less than one year ago that I had sent this announcement out to many of my friends and family (well, the 'friendly' part of the family, to be sure):
When Ragni returned from her stint in Dhaka, Julián joined us in Karachi, too, spending a few months here, during which he worked with Human Rights Lawyer, Zia Awan, while Ragni worked with Dawn's TV arm.
It was wonderful to get to know Julián and - even more - to see them so happy together. Actually, I hadn't seen Ragni looking as happy as this in years, so I was really convinced, by the time they left for the USA (just a few days apart, leaving a house less noisy but with the added burden of three adopted dogs who will be the death of me), that they really loved each other. They seemed almost perfect for the cheesy magazine cover that I printed out for them:
While Ragni was visiting Julián's family in Austin, Julián got a job in New York and they decided to marry and move there, sooner rather than later. Nuzhat flew out at short notice to be with them and can be seen beaming here and in some of the other photographs.
The simple ceremony was performed yesterday (12th March, 2009 / 4.30PM) in a courthouse that, itself, is named after a figure who fits in with the kinds of ideals and attitudes that the young activist couple is committed to.
While Nuzhat is staying with them and has had ample opportunities to meet with Yolanda and Juan, I have only had Skype chats with them and find them both to be very sensitive, warm and affectionate. Julián and his brother, Gabriel, of whom Ragni is extremely fond, have obviously inherited these qualities from their wonderful parents.
As is customary at such weddings, some words, before and after the actual commitment vows that the couple enunciates, are read out by the Judge (who, Nuzhat informs me, was a rather gentle and soft-spoken person - the kind that probably would never make it into our judiciary).
Ragni and Julián wrote the text and chose a beautiful passage to be read. I'd like to share all that with you.
Commitment Ceremony Vows
We are mobilized here today to revel in the love and welcome the commitment Ragni Marea Kidvai & Julián Padilla have for each other. Love is a commitment and a process unto itself - a process in which this couple engaged because of mutual affection. But on this day, each has asked for recognition from their community. To this end, these two people will publicly affirm their desire, admiration, and devotion for one another.
I assert my desire for friendship and partnership with you, Julián Padilla. I assure you that through countless emotional, physical, and material abilities we shall share encouragement, struggle, and pleasure. I am not promising to be able to make your life easier, but I do commit to making it better.
I assert my desire for friendship and partnership with you, Ragni Marea Kidvai. I assure you that through countless emotional, physical, and material abilities we shall share encouragement, struggle, and pleasure. I am not promising to be able to make your life easier, but I do commit to making it better.
Julián this ring symbolizes my commitment to a bond based on forethought, communication, growth, and liberation. Rather than dreams sacrificed, this is a promise of dreams encouraged.
Ragni this ring symbolizes my commitment to a bond based on forethought, communication, growth, and liberation. Rather than dreams sacrificed, this is a promise of dreams encouraged.
May the rings exchanged today serve as a reminder of your enduring friendship and partnership.
Let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another
but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea
between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup
but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread
but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous,
but let each of you be alone,
Even as the strings of the lute are alone
though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts,
but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hands of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together,
yet not too near together.
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress
grow not in each other's shadow.
Companionship is not a house to sit within, it is not a chain to bind with, nor an idle means by which to find security. Companionship cannot abide disrespect, jealousy, suffocation, or being taken for granted. It is a daily performance; it is a methodology for propelling more than oneself through drudgery, it is the practice of unlearning competition and control without forgetting independence, and it is the cultivating of a friendship.
When Nuzhat returns, next week, she should be carrying video recordings of the ceremony, the fun that followed, and their short trip out of Austin to meet relatives. I am so looking forward to seeing all that. Photos, on the other hand, will keep arriving daily for the next 2-3 days, I hope
. They will be added here
as they come through email.
I couldn't go with Nuzhat for a number of reasons (some of which, I have been told, are insane) but felt very happy living in these times of ICT expansion that provided me with an almost minute by minute account of what was happening, through VoIP calls, Adium chats, Skype video - which is how also I had participated in Ragni's Graduation from Hampshire College.
So I wasn't really too jealous of Nuzhat being there.
Until I saw this:
My darlingest Ragni: I wish you all the joy and happiness that you have brought into my life … and more!
Labels: Activism, Events, Literature, People, Personal