Shazia Mirza: Diary of a disappointing daughter

Friday was part one of my brother’s wedding. It’s called the Mehndi, where female relatives apply hennato the hands of the bride.

Since my mother has been waiting for this moment for 40 years, you’d think she’d know what to do; she’s had enough time to prepare. But oh no, on the morning of the ceremony she starts to have a panic attack, ringing me up shouting, “I don’t know what I’m meant to be doing! I have invited two friends along – they’ll know what to do. I’ll just leave it to them.”

Her friends arrive at the hotel and she gives them all the duties to do. My mum’s job is to continue panicking and doing nothing.

We arrive at the bride’s house, and my mum takes out some candles from the boot of the car and asks myother brother and me to carry them in after the congregation.

“Why?” I ask.

“I thought it would look nice,” she says, trying to light the candles. “They won’t light,” she shouts.

So I pick them up. They’re plastic and need to be switched on. She chucks them back in the boot.

Inside the house, everything is going well because my mum’s friends are in charge. My dad’s good at socialising, but my mum is shy and not confident in large gatherings. Most of all she doesn’t know how to show emotion. I ask her, “Are you happy?”

She shrugs. “Well, it’s happening.”