Wednesday, May 26, 2010
My generation grew up believing in getting married and living together ever after----Divorce was a bad word for us!!!!Indian women specially were conditioned early in Life to adjust----one didn't just marry the man---one married the entire Family---and the manner in which one assimilated was a matter of Prestige for the Bride's Family---a reflection of her upbringing!!!Indians believe that a Marriage to the same partner lasts for 7 different Lifetimes---in each birth the Partners remain constant.The Patriarchal System gives a highly elevated status to the male---hence husbands are known as "Pati Parameshwar"or "the Prime God" in his wife's life.
I grew up seeing different types of marriages---my maternal Grandparents were pretty broadminded for their era---my Aaji(Grandma)had studied to the level of Matriculation,studied Nursing,and married my Aazoba(Grandpa) at the age of 26 years old------in 1930!!!My mother was born a year later in 1931------and she completed her B.A. after her marriage to my father.Aaji was never subservient to Aazoba---in fact they shared an equal relationship---surprising in that era---and my Aazoba's very traditional and conservative Konkani Background.Aaji's relationship with her in-laws---Aazoba's mother Ba-aaji , his sisters and brothers----was very open and frank-----perhaps this was why she was the most popular sister-in-law and Aunt amongst her peers----she was loving,huge hearted and very,very generous of herself!!!Despite all this she also was someone who always looked to the needs of everyone----in fact the Mumbai flat was always overflowing with people----and each one was catered to individually!!!This itself showed which one of the two was responsible for the harmony and smooth running of the home!!!
Once I chanced upon an old Photograph of the two--Aaji resplendent in her beautiful "Paithani" and Aazoba in his cloth of Gold Achkan,Silk Churidar and a Gold Tissue Turban tied around his head----taken just after their Wedding perhaps---and I just blurted"Aaji how handsome my Aazoba looks---you were very lucky to get such a handsome husband!!!"Pat came the retort"Didn't you see the way I look---silly child???He was lucky to get me---after all he was a widower twice over!!!"The words were just words---but the misty eyed look revealed how much she missed him----they were such amusingly wonderful sparring partners!!!
My parents-in-law were another wonderfully adjusted pair---Atya was a very young bride--barely 15 to Baba's 25 years---yet she blossomed under his support-----studying for her Matriculation,her Sanskrit Vishaarad,being active on All India Radio,becoming a member of the Sahitya Sangh and various Women's Clubs----and all this while running an impeccably smooth home.She'd personally cook all his meals,supervise his Clothes---there would never be an unironed Shirt or a button missing----and both enjoyed Classical Indian Music,Marathi Sangeet Nataks(Operas) and other Plays-----and both were voracious readers!!!Whenever Baba lost his temper she'd never answer back---just stand there peacefully and wait for his bout of temper to pass----once he was back to normal she'd make her point and keep her opinion in front of him---to agree or not!!!She was no doormat but Baba's position was never challenged in any way---he was the Supreme Commander---always!!!The light went out of her life after his death in 1966----but she never erred in her duties---she continued looking after things as she'd always done---precisely and efficiently!!!
My parents were two people very deeply in love---but each very headstrong----and stubborn!!!There would be arguments galore---Daddy'd leave the house fuming for work------ and would call back in exactly 5-10 minutes after reaching his Office---they'd be cooing on the "phone with each other like a pair of Turtle Doves!!!They were very close---like two peas in a pod and very open about their love for each other.Often Daddy'd make a nuisance of himself in the Kitchen "helping" her with her chores---but she never shooed him out---no matter how busy she was---they shared total telepathy and were always mentally in "sync" with each other---our home was always full of Love and Laughter!!!!Here too Daddy expected Mummy to look after my paternal grandma Akka with due respect----a difficult job because Akka was a very complexed character----she refused to get along with even one of the three daughter's-in-law!!Here it was Mummy who adjusted----going to great lengths to accomodate both mother and son!!Mummy was allergic to Jasmine---and our huge Garden had more than 5-7 varieties of it.The most profuse of these varieties were The "Mogra" and the "Chameli"----both having beautifully pervading scents.Mummy was blessed with very thick Black hair-----Akka would gather loads these while still in bud and string them together into thick Garlands(Gazraas) for Mummy to wear in her hair---Mummy'd go mad sneezing but never once did she refuse to wear these!!!During Akka's stay Mummy'd turn into a second class citizen---specially with Daddy!!!I learnt very early what was expected of me----and the best way to learn was by observation.
Sudhir and I were luckier than most because we were first cousins---therefore we were well accustomed to each other's faults and foibles.The relationship however changed a full 360 Degrees-----after our marriage a lot of things changed as we embarked on our marital journey.I've never claimed to be an easy person to live with---I'm naive,trusting , extremely impulsive and talk nineteen to the dozen while he's quieter,more laid back,suspiscious and savvy about Life.I refuse to see any Black and he won't even agree to Grey----and we're both exceedingly stubborn,argumentative and hot headed---neither one likes to give in!!!We've come closer while growing up together,through the trials and travails of Parenting and are today so used to living in each other's pockets that we together form a whole unit---each incomplete without the other!!!Just as I've learnt to respect his space I've tried to get him to respect mine---Love begins as a romantic start in a marriage but one needs to work to keep it alive---one has to give more than one takes for any marriage to last----tolerating each other's idiosycrasies and learning to adjust to each other's needs is a necessity in every relationship.By doing small things to keep each other happy does not turn anybody into a Doormat----but lays the foundation of a solid,satisfying and rewarding relationship-----based on a 100% commitment!!!