The Reminder Ritual
Twenty-one bangles on each arm,
red and white in color,
to be worn for at least a month,
usually a year – a signifier
of a newly-wed bride.
Given by the bride’s maternal uncle and aunt
on the choora ceremony, just before her wedding,
one by one the women in her family
would slide those bangles
onto her fragile wrists.
From this point on, she has to wear them
and get used to their weight,
until such day when they could
finally be removed,
by her husband.
My husband never
had to remove those for me.
The Australian Customs official did that job,
when she said in a loud, stern voice:
Take those things off! Put them down here!
As I took them off one by one,
saw them going through the screening machine.
The last time they made their jingling sound.
Australia will never
hear them jingling again.
All good migrants
need a reminder, and so did I.
They all have to go through
the national initiation ritual.
The reminder ritual.
This is not your country anymore. This is Australia!
the lady officer reminded me.
It was then
when I truly knew,
I had arrived.
First published in Peril magazine: Asian-Australian Arts & Culture, Australia