Monday, November 19, 2012
A Love Story yes--but a M & B story I don't know!!!One of my very dear Spark friends Cheri left a remark about that on the Poem I wrote for Sudhir in my last Blog.This remark set my mind off the Memory Trail and while I'll admit that we were true Soulmates--well matched despite being as alike as Chalk and Cheese in quite a few aspects of our personalities,we still had some healthy arguments about our conflicting opinions--which I must admit he won 80% of the time thanks to his logical mind!!We agreed to disagree on many minor aspects of living together---some of my idiosycrasies irritated him and his--me.
We belong to a family that largely is extremely demonstrative but highly complexed. Most of us have a penchant for pondering over certain remarks that upset us--and then trying out various permutations and combinations to give different meanings that can be attributed to these.I am not that affected by this---for me my way of dealing is ignoring unpleasantness and pushing it under the Carpet---for mulling over it another day--which fortunately never comes!!Sudhir would brood over it and that would affect his mood adversely for the next few days.Both of us after living together in such close proximity imbibed some parts from each other's characters.His brooding lessened while I began looking for deeper meanings in certain barbed remarks!!Together as a couple we grew closer---and while we each tolerated each other's foibles we were not blind to each other's faults.Perhaps the secret of our closeness was the fact that we accepted that each of us had feet of Clay--and being human were extremely fallible.My Nanny's advice to me when I came to Bombay to marry Sudhir in 1970 was---"Love him as a whole--accept him with all his faults and you will always be happy!!"How very right she was and how glad I am that I took her advice to heart and acted on it.Saying this doesn't detract from the way Sudhir handled me---he was always indulgent and very giving of himself--not just his love and understanding but also of his time.Despite being part of a very close knit joint Family we still managed a lot of "us" time in the first few years of our life together.After that we shifted into our own home and though the family closeness continued we really began to understand each other more fully.One can say that our marriage on a one is to one basis actually started in 1975--5 years after we got married.For here it was just the 4 of us--the girls very young then--so the real "us" and getting to really know each meant that the Gloves so to speak came off with a vengeance!!
One thing that never ever faltered in all these years was our complete Commitment to each other.We were together forever and literally "Till Death do us Part" and we trusted each other implicitly.Though both of us were first cousins he and I were very different as individuals.Like the British, I believed in "innocent until proved guilty" and he like the Greeks, believed in "guilty until proved innocent"!!I viewed Life through Rose coloured Spectacles--he saw even the minutest blemish through the magnifying Glass of his suspicious eyes!!I remember an incident on the way to Shimla once.We were on our Honeymoon and were aboard this Bus enroute to Shimla. The seats next to us were taken by another Newly wed couple--also on their Honeymoon.During the 6 hour journey the wife and I got friendly and gradually the new husband joined the conversation too.It turned out that the bride was from Bombay while the Groom belonged to Chandigarh--exactly the opposite of us!!That did it--the Bride began questioning me about my parents and where we lived in Chandigarh and the same about our address in Bombay too--maybe she just wanted to establish some type of familiarity into her new Life!!As I opened my mouth to answer Sudhir pinched me hard on my arm and smoothly changed the topic.The conversation veered onto more innoccous topics!!There however was more in store for us in Shimla.Our reservations had been made at the Oberoi Clark's which was/is built onto a spur of a ridge and boasts beautiful views of the mountains surrounding it.Besides back in the 1970s it was a Shimla which was still extremely picturesque,thickly wooded and where the only way to get around was mostly on foot.On reaching the Bus Stand by the time we alighted,it had become pretty dark since the days had become shorter in late October.We hired a "Coolie" or a person to carry our Baggage as far as the Hotel and after deciding his remuneration set off uphill to our destination.We kept trudging uphill for about 10 minutes but still no Hotel in sight--this made Sudhir a bit wary and he questioned the Coolie about how far we were from the Hotel.The reply was that we were about 5 minutes short.After trudging on for another 10 minutes in silence behind the Coolie--still no Hotel in sight!!Now Sudhir was seriously worried as to the Coolie's intentions and asked me in Marathi to hang on to my Purse--for if we needed to take flight we should atleast have our Money with us!!This amused me and seeing me smiling at this infuriated him.Luckily by trudging further for about 10 minutes more got us to our Hotel and having paid off the Coolie Sudhir heaved a sigh of relief!!This was however short lived--for he then very curtly,logically and sarcastically let me know exactly what he thought of my naivete and trusting nature--unfortunately an opinion that he held till the very last.Today our daughters treat me the same way--according to them I was born just yesterday in this big, bad World!!
We have travelled a lot to the North--my Umbilical Cord is tied to my beloved Mountains and the North appealed to Sudhir too--as a result there were certain precautions we fell into the habit of taking on the way.We would always travel by Trains as both Sudhir and I were very fond of Train travel since our early childhood.Both of us would sit by the windows by the lower berths on either side of the Compartment, watching the changing contours of India.We also used dream about getting down on an impulse at one of those sleepy little Stations in the Interiors and just stay there for a few days.Unfortunately we never got round to doing it--and nor did we take the prolonged Train Journey we planned when the Konkan Railway opened it's doors to the public.The idea was to travel from Mumbai to Kanya Kumari through the steep,picturesque Western Ghats of India. From Kanya Kumari or Cape Comorin as the British called it, we were to travel as far North as the last Station in Jammu-- and then travel back to Mumbai via an Eastern route.This way we would have spent about a Week on the Train, travelling all the while through the length and breadth of India--today it is just another unfulfilled Dream!!We revelled in the various sights and smells of our Country----somehow these journeys helped us to bond more strongly with each other as well as our Roots--and we both looked forward to these Journeys.In fact we were so bad that we'd take off on an impulse!!Once we went to Bombay Central Station to drop off some friends who were going on Vacation.We returned home with reserved Tickets to New Delhi--the sights and smells of the Station induced us to take off a Week later!!
Those days there were Dacoits who would attack the Trains enroute--specially in the region of Madhya Pradesh--the very heart of India.This region has a topography which in parts resembles the Lunar Landscape.There are bare hardened Sand Dunes popularly known as the "Bihad" in local parlance.This is a favourite haunt of Bandits or "Dacaits" as they are commonly called.These Bihads are a honeycomb of natural passages so deviously interlinked that only a person who has grown up or lived among them can navigate these.It was for this patch on the way that we'd prepare ourselves for our travels. Atya used to laugh at the stuff my Purse contained.Firstly it was actually not really a Purse but a huge Bag--it was equipped with primarily a sharp instrument like a razor sharp pair of heavy Iron Scissors.Besides this, there were small containers of Red Chilli and Black Pepper Powders--ostensibly for Seasoning bland Food--the prime intention was to use these as Defence Mechanisms.If anyone knocked on the door of our Compartment past midnight,we'd loosen the caps on these containers and then gingerly open the door--prepared to fling the Powders into the eyes and nose of the Intruders if needed.Not just that,the pair of Scissors also would be hidden by either Sudhir or me behind our backs--ready to use in self defence if need be!!Luckily we never needed to use any of these--but these gave Atya a reason to christen my Bag with a name that stuck like Glue--"Ladhdoo"!!!In Marathi that means heavy and unwieldy--and so it was--hence no wonder I developed a wrestler's muscles in my upper arms thanks to carrying it around!!
Our last few years were spent flying abroad to the USA and in the last two years to UK as well---but those Train Journeys always will hold a very special place in our-sorry only in my heart now.Those years have left behind a huge Treasure of Memories--of Sights,Sounds,Smells and Impressions that even a tiny bit of detail can send me on to a Journey into the Past.We were lucky that we married each other---for as I used to say to Sudhir after each quarrel we had--"God decided that the two of us deserved only each other and no better--so here we are--together!!Better make the most of this--for you're stuck with me forever!!" It always made him smile--no matter how angry he was with me!!!!