Sudhir,Meha(Grand daughter) and Me
Our marriage was tumultous one--both of us being headstrong and self willed ensured arguments galore!!Besides him being raised in a typically Indian household his authority as a male and the head of the household meant that he wanted greater privileges---something I could never accept.I look like a typically Indian frump but mentally that is one thing that i'm not---and never was!!So my asking the question "Why?" in the early years was like waving a Red Flag to a Bull---and had very heated repercussions---till we worked out an armed truce.Certain ground rules were laid out and as these turned into a set routine we still managed to find new topics to disagree on---and it was really initially exhiliarating trying to best him in an argument---which rapidly would turn frustrating for me---for logically inclined I'm not---where him being a Lawyer helped him to tie me up in knots---fretting and fuming in impotent rage!!
As we matured and grew older, the trials and tribulations of bringing up two daughters brought us closer----and broadened his way of looking at life.Both our daughters went to a co-ed. School--which meant that their friends included boys as well as girls---and gradually he came to accept the fact that both sexes could be friends and really good friends---without any other connotations!!Our daughters therefore grew up in a more relaxed atmosphere---and today I can boast of two sons-in-law belonging to two different regions of India---the older one from Gujarat and the younger one a mix of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh to our Maharashtrian background.A culmination of four different States---National Integration in the best way possible!!!In the meanwhile Sudhir and I had melded so well together mentally that I guess we took on each other's personalities---and definitely each other's flaws!!
The last 11 years that we spent together brought us even closer---our daughters had flown the Coop----and we began living in each other's pockets growing old together!!In our entire married life of 41 years we may have lived apart for barely 6 months----we never liked being apart!!While he was a truly fantastic father I was a very strict mother---for his schedule while the girls were growing up was very hectic---and I wanted the 3 of them to share quality time together.The outcome of this was the both the girls wished him first on Mother's Day and me second---for he truly was the buffer between the 3 of us whenever I became too harsh with them---and that was pretty regularly!!Surprisingly though he adjusted far better than me to our daughters getting married and moving away than I did.Of course till today both of us have reserved our rights to interfere mercilessly in their lives----the girls would both call him and give reports--daily--telling him all the details completely--never excluding even a comma or a full stop!!
My illnesses brought all his insecurities to the fore----learning to cope after my Breast Cancer and later my extremely severe Heart Attack literally turned him paranoid about my dying on him---and he tried to cover all bases by ensuring that I would never be alone at any time in all 24 hours!!!He ensured I survived and lived on february 16,2009---my deepest,painful regret is that I couldn't do the same for him when he passed away on 19th October 2011--in my arms.
Indians are mad about being fair---no where in the World will one find so many different brands of Whitening or Fairness Cream-----Melanin is a word that even tiny tots are aware of!!!In this fairness oriented society I'm lucky enough to fall in the coveted Category---I'm fair and that's my main claim to fame!!!Sudhir on the other hand was dark----with wonderfully chiselled features---those that really aged well!!He was very conscious of of the differences in our shades-----he never did understand just how I fell head over heels in love with him-----while I never understood exactly what he saw in me either!!In his own words we were like Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce----the best combination ever!!!
When we got engaged way back in 1969 both of us were thin as rakes and while he was extremely handsome and with a ramrod straight bearing, I had a face marked by Acne and a large nose but of course my skin colour was what mattered.Those days he had thick,wavy Black hair flopping over his forehead,twinkling deep Brown eyes and a beautiful smile that used to turn my legs to jelly.He always dressed in pristine White,stiffly starched "Kurta-Pyjamas" at home and formal 3 piece suits in Court-----besides dressing trendily according to the Fashion of the period on casual occasions.His love for clothes was such that no one was spared a tongue lashing if one by mistake messsed up with the crisp crease on his pants---or dared to sit on the canvas of his precious Coats---there would really be Hell to pay!!!When we got married I could never understand how one could sleep in stiff,starched Night Wear----- on starched Bedsheets----they scratched mercilessly----and that was one thing I got rid of when we shifted here in 1975.
He had a quirky sense of humour----but his public persona was very distant and dour.Once we'd done up our Drawing Room in typical,traditional Indian style and my friends from my Kitty Party wanted to see how it looked.We had thick Cotton mattresses on the floor with bolsters and throw pillows covered with traditional Indian Textiles as well as Brass Trays on wooden stands for Centre Tables----an old antique Gramophone with a Brass horn stood in one corner---with plenty of House Plants in Brass Pots strategically placed around the room----it was perhaps one of the best styles we've had to date!!!The day of the Kitty Party my friends decided after the Party to troop in and take a look at what I'd done.Those days Sudhir would come late----around 8.30 p.m. and so since it was just 5.30 p.m. I opened the door with my key expecting to enter an empty house.The first to step in was a friend of mine----who broke into shrill shrieks the moment she did so----while on the other hand Sudhir shrieked too---- in horror and dismay!!!It so happened that he'd come home early that day and had stood in the doorway----waiting to spook me as I entered---only it was poor Kanta who entered and spoiled his well laid plan!!The next day my friends who privately thought that Sudhir didn't even know how to smile----were zapped that he could be so juvenile!!
Sudhir and I talked a lot---specially in the early years of our marriage---he knew about even the tiniest detail about my day----I would literally relate every smallest thing to him at night.My Kitty Party friends would be taking their regular late night strolls in the Condominium Garden under our window----and tease me about my just droning on in poor Sudhir's ears each night!!They never realised how therapeutic it was for me----for telling Sudhir all the details ensured a great night's sleep for me!!On the other hand he talked to me about his various Cases and Clients and so we both knew exactly how we'd spent our day.
Life has a way of serving up surprises---sometimes extremely painful and unpleasant ones!!One has to survive through these the best one can----for one has no option but to grit one's teeth and bear it.For me my World turned Black exactly two months back---Sudhir died on me suddenly---leaving me shell shocked and numb--completely frozen in disbelief at what had occured!!!Today when I look back on our life together with the clarity of hindsight I touch upon even the smallest of nuances greedily---for God truly blessed me with such a wonderful person to share my Life's Journey with!!
I have accepted the fact that he's not there anymore------I miss him in such small insignificant things---like pointing out the Sunset over the Sea on our drives into Town----or sharing the beauty of a new species of a Bird swinging on a Tree branch outside our window-----his pithy comments on my relating my conversations with my friends to him-----but most of all I miss being told how to live my Life!!!Being 9 years my senior he took the responsibility of looking after me with great seriousness---and my naivete and trusting nature made things worse as the years passed---he was convinced that I had to be under his eagle eye at all times!!After our daughters married and moved away we turned into an even tighter unit together-----getting to know each other even more intimately---a beautiful bond built on Love and Understanding.We were too individualistic to accept each other's views without arguments---but our sparring had become as entertaining to us as it was to the kids who booked ringside seats to watch us at it!!It was stimulating to to outsmart him---and sometimes even non-plus him--for talking or acting logically is not something that I'm born with---I acquired it by observation and as a survival technique after being mercilessly annihilated by his scathing remarks!!Sayali has even taken a few videos---which today are the easiest way of connecting to him---and his whacky sense of Humour!!
I never thought I'd outlive him and to be honest nor did he----but then Man proposes and God disposes---as He just showed me!!!He was as healthy as could be---in fact the Hospital called to aask me whether I'd be willing to donate his Organs,Skin,Tissues and Bones to help Cancer Patients and others benefit but because he'd never taken any Malarial Vaccinations they had to regretfully passit up.The cause of death was listed as Arteriosclerosis---and the only thing about his dying is the minimally painful way he went---for he couldn't have coped with being an invalid.Today I'm trying to pick up the pieces of my life---coping with looking after all those things he looked after--dealing with Insurance Claims for my Cataract operations and such practical details.I am now determined to stand on my own two feet and only lean on my daughters and sons-in-law only under extreme circumstances.Today I'm learning to survive a little by little---hopefully he'll be there to guide me in the right direction!!!