Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sudhir and Me--Our Engagement 29th.december 1969

Our Wedding Reception,11th.October 1970

Sudhir and Me ,Bombay April 30 1977

Sudhir and Me, New York,November2009

Sudhir and Me,London June 2011
Passing by the old House yesterday brought back a host of memories.Though Sudhir and I had an arranged marriage,looking back now I feel that the undercurrents were very much there--but unacknowledged and unspoken.I remember our last visit to Bombay in 1968--18 months before we got engaged---and I was a few months short of 15 years old then.Those were the days that I was beginning to become aware of my own femininity--and to begin debating on whether the male admiration that had begun to make it's appearance wherever I went was desirable opr not wanted.I had also become a very fast drawing pro in removing my slippers to bash up roadside Romeos--who literally think they're God's Gift to women--how I detest their kind!!
I was more of a tomboy--Daddy treated me as his equal--I mean I knew to use all the Tools he had and though I weighed barely 80 lbs. then, I had the stamina and wiry strength of lifting more than my own weight--earning me the appreciative name of "Pathan" from my father.I loved using my hands to create new articles--Carpentary,Painting and moulding wet Clay to sculpt small pieces of abstract Art got me plenty of support from my father.Not just that I also learnt to do Batik--and literally churned out plenty of Stuff till I was implored to stop--the house was overflowing with my Art!!It was around this time that my maternal Uncle got engaged and Mummy was asked by my Aaji to officiate during all the religious proceedings at his marriage.That did it--we came to Bombay for the Wedding in late April 1968.I had been to Bombay in 1965 before this--and had pestered the daylights out of Sudhir--my name for him was "Dadoba"--meaning older brother.In 1965,being 9 years older than me he had his own life--which definitely did not include pesky cousins from the Outback!!His day was all mapped out during the free time he had on his hands--spending it with his friends mostly.It was only when I'd complain to Baba about him neglecting me he'd spend time discussing the Books we'd both read--English and Marathi--with me.Both of us were huge fans of Pearl S. Buck,Somerset Maugham,R.K. Narayan and Jane Austen--also Marathi Literateurs P.L. Deshpande and C.V. Joshi both famous for their satire.Those days Mangal, another cousin,who was in Bombay--poor thing, being paraded in front of many young men in the Marriage market.All three of us would sit together and discuss books--specially "Silapaddikaran", an ancient South Indian Drama written during the ancient Historical Tamil Sangama period.This was being shared in "The Illustrated Weekly of India" as a serial.Our fights would mainly centre around who managed to snatch the Magazine as soon as it was delivered and read the latest Episode first--here too Sudhir would mostly win--and I'd let Mangal read it after him--for we never knew which fellow would say "yes" to her and when!!She was an extremely sweet looking girl--thick,long Black hair and twinkling Black eyes set in an oval,fair face--with a small straight nose and a dimpled smile.She was Sudhir's first cousin--Baba's younger brother's daughter and just a few months older than Sudhir.They had grown up together till they were in their early teens--and that closeness was something that lasted till Sudhir and later last year Mangal too passed away.
It was in 1968, when there would be family discussions about the proposals that had been received for Sudhir that I'd feel pangs of deep sadness thinking of his marriage.Surprisingly I'd had no problems accepting Milind's wife Nina when they got married in December 1965--though Milind too was one of my favourite cousins.Leafing through all the Photographs recieved I just couldn't find a single one who measured up to him in my eyes---that he dismissed the idea of getting married just then too was a relief--though I didn't know why!!I had always admired Sudhir--to me his perfect features and his bearing,the way he carried himself and his puckish sense of Humour--all were something I liked and perhaps that was why I loved spending time with him on my visits to Bombay.It was only later--after he asked me about marriage that I realised that I had been attracted to him earlier--but since I was too young and innocent, it never even remotely registered that I could be in love with him!!However after my initial shock of coming to know that a marriage between certain sets of first cousins was a custom,the idea that he could marry somebody else if I didn't say "Yes" pushed me to propose to him immediately the next day--and was immensely relieved when he accepted!!That was the first inkling I had about how much I loved him--and in that one moment my life changed completely.By the time we tied the knot a year later I was completely besotted with him--and he with me.Both of us were very naive and inexperienced having grown up under a lot of conservative supervision--for though both our fathers were pretty broadminded the fear of children going astray loomed large in their minds--and with me specially, the environment too helped to add extra tabs.It was only later when our two daughters were growing up I realised the burden of what my parents must have been through and definitely appreciated their efforts a thousandfold!!
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