If I ask your impressions of 2005 or 2007 you will recall one or two major changes which occurred in your life in that year. It is as though the rest of the year has passed by in a blur. Is our life is so uneventful that it is difficult to highlight few instances of rejoicing and disappointments? Well, my belief is that human brain has its own “Record Retention Policy” which transfers most items to trash for deletion after 30 days.
What happened this year to my life? Well, Priya walked into our life thru an innocuous e mail in the middle of March 2010. Her father sent her horoscope for matching with that of my son Anand. God has His own version of Marriage Game where He decides on which horoscopes would match with each other. One Saturday evening Anand went and met Priya at a Coffee Shop and spent three hours together. The modern day Coffee Shop owners run their shops by remote control. So the owners did not observe that in three hours only two coffees were drunk in those three hours. They got engaged in August and the marriage took place on Nov. 8th.
Priya is the latest addition to our growing family, the last entrant being Shivam (who came into this world and our family over three years back at night 1.30 with a happy smile and a promise of many mischief –planned and unplanned). Priya has an easy smile, ablity to engage any one in conversation and to hold on her own in any company or crowd. She does not let on that she has left whatever she is familiar with during the last quarter century of existence in this world and bravely walked into a new environment. I look back to what my daughter went thru few years back when she got married and shifted over 1500 kms away and understand the effort and courage required to begin this new phase of life. How does one say welcome to such a new member of the family? We say it with our hearts and gestures which remain indelible for all of us.
Shivam started formal schooling from June 2010. It is a surprise to us that he remains stationary at one place for any length of time His teacher said he exasperated them in the early days, but now he is a leading student in that class. He is 3 years old. The schooling is not of a formal sense of reading and writing. It is from 9 to 3.30 and keeps them engaged by all sorts of interesting activity- singing, dancing, drawing, rhymes, storytelling, and group interaction. I believe that the group dynamics arising out of 20 or 30 children of same age playing together helps in their emotional and intellectual growth. I wish I could be a fly on the wall observing what he does for six hours away from the family. Devi and Kannan have put in practice what is the known wisdom for bringing up children. It is reflected in what my nephew Anand described fearless nature in Shivam.
Anand – my son- and I had changed our jobs within a month of each other. Along with the job, he had changed the profile radically. He was starting afresh in a line for which he had great qualifications and no experience. I joined a large company forming part of a very larger group.
I would leave Anand to tell his own story when he can and wants to. He went thru a painful transition and process of self realization. He rarely let thru his pain come through the firewalls he had built around him. Whenever little he displayed made me feel helpless. As a professional, I realized that this is part of growing up process. As a father, I felt helpless and wished he were a small kid whom I could alleviate the pain in some way. The tide turned and now he has role which could exploit his skills suitably.
My experience reminded me of a familiar joke. Referring to a difficult experience, one person tells another, the first six months are difficult. Then what happens asks the other person. The reply is that thereafter you get used to it. Having switched jobs several times in my thirty five year working life, there are few illusions left about human beings or organizations. Jobs are like arranged marriages. Go with little expectations, you won’t be disappointed. But then, human beings have infinite capacity to surprise and continue to do so. As the Chinese curse goes “May you live in interesting times” seems to be appropriate.
Indians have converted marriage arrangements into a complex process which makes even arranging a Manipuri dance of a herd of elephants look simple. There are lots of steps – each of which can be minor or major- depending upon view point of the individual. The bride and groom are expected to stare at each other with moony looks or giggle or laugh sitting in a corner while elders negotiate various issues – the way US Government would have negotiated Obama’s India visit. Women love all this while men wonder helplessly whether their job is only to open the purse strings.
Marriage deserves a separate blog. Anand being the tallest and 29 year old last baby of the family of my brother and I, his marriage was eagerly looked forward. The marriages of his brother and two sisters had taken place during the preceding eight years. So the entire elephant dance (each being a different variation) was not unknown. Hence the enjoyment was with knowledge and expectation. The marriage was a huge affair with large attendance, good fun and lasting memories.
The year end brings with it several birthdays and, marriage anniversaries. Birthdays are reminders of the life lived so far and as we grow older a gentle reminder that if there is a beginning, then there is finish line also. For employed persons like me, another not so gentle reminder is the swiftly approaching retirement age, when our earning capacity drops like a cow which ceases to produce milk.
I wonder what would I do post retirement? My ego tells me that my infinite experience and wisdom would have great or at least some value. My brain sardonically says that I should seriously look at learning Upanishads, religious books and concentrate on elevating my mind to higher plane. I wonder, whether I could tell my boss that the mistakes (“big goof up” as he not so kindly put it) I am responsible for are due to my efforts in elevating my mind rather than focus on such prosaic things. Being a much younger individual, he may pull out my personal file and make unsuitable comments. So I am refraining from even thinking in this direction during office hours.
I took lot of photos of flowers growing in our terrace. I know they are impressive (as they have to be). My son suggests that I put it on my face book site for display to a wider audience. I will do it one of these days.
Padma and I have entered into our 33rd year of married bliss. We started our life together when the world had recognized our adult status only from a physical sense (I had mustache). We had not even smiled at each other (forget about mooning or giggling) or conversed. We held hands for the first time, when the priest ordered us to do so. (hold it gently was the admonition and not let all the yearning for a female company go into the gesture), talked for the first time in tonga going to the Kasi Vishwanatha Temple, Benares (where we got married), held each other in our arms on the Shanti Muhurtam occasion (first night for ignorant ) and in these three decades tried to retain romance despite many odds.
During visits to several houses for marriage invitation, what was striking was the love that I witnessed between couples well into their 70s and 80s. Marriage of half a decade or thereabouts had not dulled the relationship. One of them held hands and when they sat together their love and mutual dependence was very evident. None of them had easy lives. Love has nothing to do with youth or age. It is a state of mind for individuals who matter a lot of to you.
What does the rest of the year and 2011 hold for us? God may be busy drawing up the list for next year for all of us (this year’s was drawn and issued in unreadable ink on Dec. 31, 2009).
What do I want for 2011? Well just survive and withstand what is in store for us- both the best and not so best and good. Learn new things and thoughts which have evaded us so long. Elevate the mind as Swami Udit Chaitanya reminds us tirelessly in Asianet and Surya TV every morning. Read new books which leave a lasting impression. Watch some of the DVDs we have purchased.
When we would learn to enjoy small pleasures of life? A beautiful sunrise, a flower in full bloom, a child joyously exploring the world for the first time, an interesting story well told, a beautifully written autobiography, a well made movie, or reading a book like Gone with the Wind or The Bourne Identity for the first time. I plan to do all this in the coming year and the years thereafter.