These days stray moments that have now turned into Memories have me in splits each time I think of them---and all of these are connected to our various quirks and foibles--otherwise called Eccentric Idiosyncrasies!!Sudhir and I had many such habits which irritated the Hell out of each other---and resulted in many of our innumerable spats!!!Today perhaps this is what I miss the most in my day---Life is suddenly so very quiet and DULL!!!
Sudhir would get irritated by certain things--first and foremost being my naivete!!Being 9 years older than me he was obsessively over protective about me--despite my protesting long and loud against it.He remained my Knight in shining armour till the very end.The second thing about me that really irritated him was my constant nagging--if he was asked to do something I'd nag and nag him till he did it---with quite a few choice epithets hurled at me!!Funny thing was that both of us were extremely conscientious--so actually nagged each other incessantly and only blamed the other instead acknowledging a common trait!!I am a hoarder and an impulsive shopper---as a result of this there were many things that he disapproved of--things I bought but did not use!!!Despite that he'd indulge me--just to shut me up!!As a result I'm beginning to ferret out all the things I bought and using these as much as possible.His biggest peeve was my Tupperware--I have so much of it that I will have to gift most of it away for me to reduce it's numbers--but seems like an impossible task!!!So I guess a Tupper Will is perhaps the only answer!!
When we got married Sudhir would regularly dress in 3 piece Suits---and it would irritate me to see him being so uncomfortable in the hot,steamy Summers in Bombay.The reason for this was that I had seen my own father's transition from Western clothes to the more comfortable Indian clothes and Cotton was my greatest weakness even then!!On the other hand Bombay Dress Code dictated fancy dressing--and just as I could not understand how Sudhir could be so nonchalant in so many layers of clothing, he for his part could not understand my penchant for wearing Cotton mostly instead of Silk and Brocade.While these Suits were his regular dress code Silks and Brocade were the bane of my existence--specially in the hot Summer months when I couldn't get the heavy Silk/Brocade Blouses on--for the sweat would make the lining of these cling and stick to my flesh instead of sliding on easily!!I then worked out a method--I'd line the arms of the garment with powdered Brown Paper and stand in an Air conditioned room or under the Fan turning at full speed and curse all the while till it finally slid into position!!This amused Sudhir extremely-----the only help he offered was keeping a Napkin handy for me to use!!
Another pet peeve of mine was the way all the Bedrooms had both the Air Conditioners and Fans at full blast.Having grown up in the North indian Climate I was used to the dry heat of the Plains and sleeping out in the open under the Stars each night---enjoying the cooler night Air.Here however the humid heat had a draining effort on one's energy levels and the extreme difference in the temprature inside and outside our Bedrooms made things worse.The Regulators of both the Air Conditioners and the Fans had been removed so there was no way to adjust the Temprature in our Bedrooms----resulting in both Nina and me bundling up each night to combat the artificial chill!!To add to the discomfort we slept on stiffly starched Bed sheets---which used to scratch and scrape against the skin leaving angry red welts.Sudhir's Kurta Pyjama used to be so stiffly starched that I swear it could very easily have stood on it's own after being loosened around it's edges!!The first thing I did when we shifted here in May 1975 was to ensure that all the Regulators worked and ensure soft,unstarched sheets on the Bed---the Bliss of this can never be described in words!!!
We had a large domestic Staff---the Staff actually outnumbered us!!!That meant that there was nothing left for me to do during the early days after our marriage--and since I conceived Lotta almost immediately after our marriage I spent most of my time just reading Books on topics ranging from Ghost Stories and Fiction to Dr.Spock----- and eating like a glutton.This was an extremely trying time for Sudhir--I'd make him drive all over Bombay just because I wanted to eat stuff available in a particular region of Bombay---regardless of the Traffic and hour of the day---or night!!The rest of the time I alternated between a firm conviction that the Delivery would kill me and the remaining in telling Sudhir how I'd haunt him if he even so much as glanced at another woman after I was dead!!I will say this to his credit--he took all this torture with a grin--for my obssesive possessiveness added a feather to his cap or so he'd say!!
We actually mutually agreed to disagree on each and every topic of daily living--he'd interrupt my narrative of my day and tell me what I did wrong according to him--and I'd lose no time in returning the compliment as fast as I could.He thought I talked too much and too long (I do) and should actually answer every question in a concise and to the point manner--and I thought he was over critical of me.He thought I needed to be nudged towards certain things and away from others and made no bones about it.I have a very small handwriting--thanks to the Nuns----and till we got married he just couldn't get enough of it through my lengthy,long winded Letters---once we were wed he insisted on my printing things in Block Letters--he didn't like reading the fine scrawl anymore!!Another thing that irritated him was my having a good time without him.Each time I went to my Kitty Parties or out with my Friends he'd pick an argument with me that evening out of the blue over inconsequential topics--and we'd get going in full speed once more.His ability to fight logically infuriated me--and mine to end up blathering about nothing in particular amused him immensely!!He knew that he could always get a rise out of me--and despite being aware that I was actually being needled on purpose I still always rose to the bait!!!
Actually I was watching Tom and Jerry on the T.V. a few days back---and it suddenly struck me---I was Tom and he was the wily Jerry!!!
Sudhir and Me --1977
This Monday was my Birthday and I was missing Sudhir terribly--since it was the first one without him!! I was talking to my Friends who dropped in that evening to wish me about all my earlier Birthdays with Sudhir.Each one was made extremely special by him!!The first one just before our marriage he surprised me by flying in from Bombay and standing on our doorstep in the afternoon---literally thrilling me to bits!!The next one was after our marriage just after Lotta was born--and he sent me a beautiful Letter (those were pre-email days) written on a Rainbow coloured set of Papers cut out in the form of a Heart--I still have all his Letters safe--and read one every day--it helps to miss him a little less this way!!The ones after that would see him take the day off if it was a working day---and we'd make our way to the Taj for Lunch,then a Movie and finally eat Dinner out--this was our routine on both our Birthdays--his and mine--since they fall just 20 days apart!!The excitement in his voice when he'd be the first one to wish me on the stroke of midnight each year made me feel extremely special and beloved.That set the tone of my day for me---the day would truly become special and take wing on a happy note for me.
Life changed and grew busier as he began to make his mark in the Legal field--he worked extremely long days during those early years.He'd leave early in the mornings and come home late--so I'd give the Girls two Suppers--a light one as High Tea after School at 6 p.m. and Dinner at 9.30 p.m. after Daddy got home--this was one Meal we all ate together every single night till both the Girls moved out--Lotta after her marriage and Sayali to do her MS at RIT in Rochester NY.Sudhir was a very hands on father--in fact Lotta was an extremely cranky baby and would constantly be crying--The Lord alone knows why!!She was otherwise an extremely healthy Baby--only she'd keep me awake throughout the day and night--and Sudhir would do his share of the night duty even after a hard day at Court.He believed in both of us being equal partners in our marriage---and the kind of marriage we had was a rare thing among Indian couples then!!There are many moments that are fleeting--but remembering them gives me a very warm glow--because they show his love for me in the minutest aspects of day to day living.
Very often the two of us would sit in the Living Room after the Girls slept--for they slept in our bedroom.The reason for this was the huge, old, gnarled "Peepul" Tree outside their Bedroom window.Our hired help somehow put the idea of it being haunted into their heads and at night it's shadow would fall on the wall opposite their beds.The weird shapes created by the rippling leaves and branches swaying in the slight Breeze would scare them out of their wits and finally to get a good rest we got a Cot with wheels made to order--and this would slide under our double bed each morning!!We used to talk a lot--discussing each and every aspect of our day with each other--sometimes Sudhir would sing--he had a beautiful voice--and I'd make requests--for thanks to yelling myself hoarse at the girls during their chilhood I can't sing even to save my life now!!Those are the moments I miss the most--just the two of us cocooned in the darkness,holding hands and Sudhir's melodious voice singing to me--- beautiful Ghazals which are poetically lyrical Love Songs in Urdu!!This factor remained constant in our lives--I'm very lucky that he thought to record his voice--there is one old Hindi Film Love song in particular that he would always sing to me---and which is recorded in the Computer---I listen to it each morning and it helps me to begin my day on a positive note!!
As the girls grew up the tenor and the way of Life for us too changed.We began going out on Lunch Dates--he'd just call me on the spur of the moment and ask me to join him for Lunch either at the Taj or The Oberoi Sheraton (now The Trident) and I'd rush off dropping whatever I was doing!!This pattern continued till my Heart attack--after that the Lunch Dates stopped because of the strict Diet restrictions I had to follow.However last year he just suggested lunching out at the Taj again on my Birthday--and we did.Today it is a memorable event because we spent the entire day together repeating all things that we used to do---just enjoying the day with just each other for company after a very long time.It was raining pretty hard and as we drove along past the Worli Sea Face and then the Marine Drive we both enjoyed the Sea crashing and foaming at high tide--huge cream flecked waves rolling in from the Sea and crashing against the Sea Wall,splashing the people standing there and drenching them to the skin!!Both of us simply loved this Weather and managing to actually get "our" old Table next to the Bay window at The Sea Lounge in the Taj somehow made my day all that more special!!!It seemed as if we were both caught in a Time warp--the Past and the Present merged and everything just stood still for us---mentally we went back to our Courtship days!!Today I feel as if Sudhir knew that this would the last Birthday that we would celebrate together--and that's why he made an effort to turn it into something so very beautiful and extremely special!!
The Condominium Garden and Vegetable Patch next to it
The World outside my Bedroom Window
The Weather outside is simply beautiful and the scene outside my Bedroom Window just breathtaking--various shades of Green spread out in wild abandon with a vengeance!!!Both of us would spend our early mornings just picking out the changes that would occur overnight--and believe me there used to be plenty!!We were lucky in finding this Flat----given it's beautiful environments and sleepy ambience--something one can't find in a busy Metropolis!!!For me it was the perfect home--a link with the prolific abundance of Nature I had grown up with in my childhood.
Sudhir and I loved looking out on moonlit nights after the girls went to sleep---watching the rising Moon playing hide and seek amongst the waving Coconut fronds----now revealing itself in it's silvery glory or now just teasingly peeping through!!The most we loved was the Full Moon nights--specially the Harvest Moon in October/November just before Diwali our Festival of Lights----we call it the "Kojagiri or Sharad Pournima" and it is considered to be the most beautiful one of the entire year!!!On those nights the Moon would bathe the entire Patch in silvery gleams--and even the tiny Leaves of the Greens growing in the Patch would have a silvery sheen!!!The biggest regret I have today is that I never took a Picture of it---it would have been great to share it here!!!
It is now that I'm alone finally that I'm actually coming to terms with the fact that Sudhir is gone.It is just me and my Memories--something which offers a very bitter sweet feeling--these console me as well as highlight my loneliness too!!However Sudhir has truly won over from across the divide--his Love surrounds me in the way he has put everything in order for me to continue living as I did before---and I'm now trying to find my feet--but after 42 years together it IS a bit difficult!!
Sudhir and I both loved the Monsoons--specially the days when it poured incessantly--even Mumbai would turn pleasant during those days!!On those days it poured, we would go for long drives to the outskirts of Bombay--places like Aarey Milk Colony,Panvel,Karjat and such just to enjoy the sound of the Rain beating a tattoo on the roof of our Car!!!We had non-airconditioned Cars then and would just park under the thickly wooded Roadside--just soaking in the visual pleasures of the lush,strikingly Green Vegetation!!Sometimes it would be one of Bombay's Beaches--watching the Sea flecked with Surf dancing with wild abandon to the drumming of the Thunder overhead----but these were the easily accessible regular haunts--not the ones we wanted to visit.
We would make Plans for a Trip to Goa and Kolhapur during the Monsoon-----each time somehow these Plans would get shelved because of a.)Sudhir's extremely busy schedule--or b.) the heavy flooding in the low lying areas of Bombay enroute would put paid to our Trip.This year however it was thanks to Lotta that I made the Journey--alone with only my Memories accompanying me.I am now realising the utter desolation of Loneliness--for that can strike one even when one is completely surrounded by the entire World--it is like being stranded on a Desert Island!!
I constantly miss Sudhir's company but this was even sharper than the other Trips I've taken after he passed away.This time I was passing through familiar well beloved Territory---and I cannot explain the depths of the stark desolation that I felt during that Week!!This trip made me weep---and feel guilty for being alive,for being there without him----the sheer Beauty of Nature just somehow sharpened and heightened my loss!!