Sunday, January 6, 2008

Shrinivas S. and Jayanti S., Feb 1969

"It would be a disservice if I were to write about my parents’ wedding day and not mention the glorious twenty-eight years of matrimony that followed. I am shaped into the person that I am on the foundation of these twenty-eight years of companionship, mateship, support and love that my parents shared.

I am of Hindu heritage, and my parents grew up in post-independence, conservative India, sharing small stark quarters with a multitude of siblings, fathers barely eking out a living. They were cousins and my Pops had held my Mum as a baby, since she was twelve years younger than him. It may have turned out to be a marriage made in heaven for them but it was seriously opposed by my grandmum on the Pops side, since my Mum’s folks couldn’t afford any dowry. The courage of a man who dared defy his mother’s wish to be with a woman he loved, in that day and age in India, was not only unknown, but is also tremendously laudable. My grandmum’s superstitious fears about the unholy union were completely heightened when on the eve of the marriage, there happened drama aplenty. Rioting closed down Bombay, one of my Pops’ brothers thought it get him some attention if he attempted suicide, the priest was incommunicado and somesuch normal happenings. But amidst such events, my unruffled Pops placed the sacred necklace around Mum’s neck, put the vermillion on me Mum’s forehead in front of the ceremonial fire, walked seven times around it and took an oath of a lifetime for togetherness.

The early years were probably the most miserable for my Mum since my father had to return to his job in England and make annual visits that were always fleeting, but with enough time to sire two children, my older sister and me. But as Mum tells me, it was worse for Pops since he terribly missed his family and was always homesick. So finally, after four years of an interrupted marriage, Pops finally took a job in Bahrain and whisked us all away to il paradiso.

Over time I saw the love blossom between my parents. She was his Jai, he was her Shri (something she never called him when in front of the family elders or outsiders), and their love, though never displayed outwardly, was witnessed by me, growing up. I also learnt parity between partners and respect for women from the way my Pops treated my Mum. She learnt to appreciate an alcoholic drink because my Pops wanted her to infuse acceptable Western practices in her traditional Hindu lifestyle. It was their weekend routine, Pops pouring out two equal doses of rum in the glasses while Mum would lovingly prepare a dinner that he (and us all) loved. I remember watching photos of my Mum’s first visit to US in 1973. Mum in a satin top and checked bell-bottoms and looking like she’d topple any moment in the platform heels. But the braided hair and the vermillion dot on her forehead, signifying her beloved Shri, remained. And my Pops with a mop of curly black hair and a handlebar moustache and belt buckle that covered half his midriff! Oh yes, they knew how to have a good time.

On their 25th anniversary, we threw them a surprise party. My adman mate Tintin even made this huge poster “Marriages are made in heaven but executed on Earth, you two are a proof of that…” I remember my conservative parents dancing all night to romantic songs like newly-weds. Theirs was a magic special to them.

Like all good things coming to an end, this lovely union ended in 1997, three days before their 28th anniversary. Yes, one of the things cancer can take away from you. After suffering with him for four years, one morning she finally prayed to God to end his pain and he rested in peace. But the marriage did not. Of course not, Shri and Jai are married forever, as they promised on that day, February 9, 1969.

I only wonder if I’d truly be able to experience their kind of love…"

-submitted by Shayne S