Friday, August 09, 2013
When I was a child my Nanny, Amma would always caution me about building relationships with certain people.She would always press upon the inherent goodness of a person as being the base for a friendship---and looking back today I do agree.One often gets snared by an attractive outer shell but today I can say that it is the good graces and not the looks that define a person. Amma is responsible to a small extent for teaching me to look beyond the surface but my basic naive and trusting nature landed me quite a few escapades as a child.I'm a paradox---despite my extremely extrovert nature I also possess a deep,introvert streak--and the only one privy to this side of mine was Sudhir.
Sudhir and I were very familiar with each other because we were twice related.It is in his home that I spent a large part of my Vacations in Bombay.His father was my Grand Uncle and his mother my paternal Aunt.That is why I was one of the most indulged person whenever we visited Bombay.Our relationship was very informal--he teased me about my Convent accent and I'd tease him back over his heavily oiled hair.I had an allergy to Oil--Mummy was prone to pour it in my hair with a liberal hand--sending it cascading down my forehead in oily streaks--literally yuck!!That it had benefitted the thick crop on my head was indisputable but somehow I wanted dry,silky soft hair that would fly wispily in the Wind like all those actresses I saw on the screen!!I used to call Sudhir my "Dadoba'--"Dada" is the synonym for older brother in Marathi and this was a special name I had for him. Milind turned this nomenclature into joke when we got engaged by calling Sudhir "Dadabhai Navrojee"!!"Navra" in Marathi means husband and by using this he slyly said that I'd changed the status of Sudhir from my brother to my husband!!Of course given my dimwittedness regarding Marathi at the time it took some time to register fully!!That we fell head over heels with each did not really make our marriage a smooth sailing one.Both of us were extremely stubborn,self opinionated individuals and it was the gradual rubbing off and smoothening the edges off each other personalities that mellowed us.That the fact that I'd known him all my life did make a lot of things smoother.Also our courtship blossomed in our Letters----I found that I could totally lay my heart bare to him in my letters and he too would do the same with me--and this laid a strong base for our future relationship as there were no secrets between us.
Despite this we'd still fight like Cat and Dog--no holds barred and fangs totally bared but never let the day end without saying "Sorry" and making up with each other before going to bed.In time the ferociousness gradually dwindled to quarreling, bickering and grumbling but we had agreed to disagree even over the inconsequential stuff till the very end!! We both loved a lot of common activity. Sudhir had a beautiful voice and loved singing--and so did I.However I ruined my voice screaming at the Girls--but both of us loved Music immensely.We both loved the Monsoons and many times when the Girls were much younger,the both of us would sit in our Living Room after the Girls were tucked up in bed with the lights turned low ,listening to different types of Music at night.The mood could vary from old melodious Marathi Songs, Mehdi Hasan and Jagjit Singh Ghazals to old Bollywood Songs or could shift to Western Classical Music or Hollywood Themes--depending upon our fancy on that particular night.We would at other times just hold hands and talk way into the night--about anything from our childhood to our daughters or even plain Gossip--the subject varied but the communication was strong and alive!!
Perhaps it was the Talking that bound us together and helped keep our marriage alive--but there were never any secrets between us.Though I refused to let him interfere with my way of bringing the Girls up,he always knew what they were up to--each tiny detail and never hesitated to show them his awareness.By relieving him of the parental responsibility the bond that grew between him and his daughters was a very beautiful one.He became their Best Friend--the confidant to all their problems and worries--setting their woes right as and when needed.This was the ideal relationship that I'd wanted with my father but because he died young I could not enjoy it for long.I am very grateful to God for granting our daughters this opportunity with Sudhir till they were quite grown up and it has definitely given them a secure base in their lives to build on.Our grandchild Meha too had developed the same bond with her beloved Aabu---she even made the effort to speak slowly because her accent would become quite thick whenever she was excited!! Just the night before he died she brought him up to date with her life,her friends and her Academics--talking to him non-stop for about 4 hours!!
There have been a lot of ecstatically beautiful moments along the way--mainly private but some that can be shared.The look we exchanged after each of our daughters were born,when we became young Grandparents and the way he just looked at me each time I cheated Death--there was an ocean of love and feeling in that---that is what gave me the strength to cope with each setback with fortitude and stoicism.These incidents also bound us closer-----and by the time Sudhir passed away we had reached a stage that could really be termed as "telepathic"--we really read each other so well that words were absolutely superfluous between us!!The worst thing is that I miss talking to him--thinking is not good enough--there times I need his live responses and that's when I break down because the grief does not ease and the pain does not cease!!