by Pushpa Raghuram
(Bangalore, Karnataka, India)
Janaki and I were in our twenties. We were attending a course in Management. It was a post – graduate course. On one of the evenings, while getting back home, I caught Janaki dreaming and I had a strange feeling that she is floating away from me. I shrugged myself and shook her from her reverie, and asked her to share her thoughts with me. She said, when she saw a co-student that evening for the first time she was not sure, whether she was seeing a hero of a book or a person in flesh and blood. Next day she showed her dream hero to me, as he was entering the class. For her, he was an embodiment of an enchanting hero, who has just stepped out of the Mills and Boons series: tall, handsome, with smiling eyes. I looked at him critically. Did he have a slight squint? Or was he throwing a side way glance at Janaki? Anyways he had a striking personality. The quote I remembered was “veni, vidi vici…! “ (came, saw and conquered) without wielding a war.
Whenever Janaki saw him, he too was looking at her. I was watching them both alternatively. That day’s period was over. The Professor left the room. Could he profess what would happen to Ram and Janaki? Another day, another lecture, another month followed. Janaki and Ram did not have to talk to each other. Their exchange of glances was vociferous enough. They kept their feelings to themselves for a while, unspoken and undeclared. That is until their heads had the say. But in due course their hearts took over the issue. They were bowled over. I was aware of what was transpiring between them. Janaki was my childhood friend. I did not wait for her to express her feelings towards Ram to me. I advised her to talk to her parents about the niche he had carved out for himself in her heart, and that she should exhort him to do the same.
My advice was well taken. Their propriety itself drew the LOC (Line of Control) not permitting them to have Rendezvous at restaurants and cinema theaters. Their meeting point was their Institute and its lecture halls. By the time the course was getting over they agreed to speak up to their parents. They divulged their hearts’ secrets to them and requested for their consent to become life partners. The parents took time to consider the pros and cons of the alliance. A couple of meetings took place to get to know more details about each others’ families to give the stamp of approval.
Two of them got together at the propitious moment by tying the sacred knot three times and taking seven steps together. The reception followed. I clicked many photos. Those days there were only black and white photos.
Soon Janaki came to know that her better- half was not only blessed with looks, but also with sense of humor too. Punning was second nature to him. He was interacting with the same ease with everyone, be it a vegetable vendor or a pompous personality; he would crack jokes with all of us, sometimes also at the cost of Janaki. Everyone around him had a hearty laugh, forgetting their problem, if they had any. He was the cynosure amongst fair sex of any group, family, friends or others.
A few years whizzed passed, as if they were in a Pun fare. Ram’s humor could iron out the creases of a frowning forehead, or light up with cheer the ailing face of a patient. Humor apart, I being practical reminded Janaki that dreams too have a shelf life and she and Ram should wake up to reality. Their eyes opened a bit. They observed each other’s weaknesses and analyzed them. When I asked them to tell me about it, Ram came out with his analysis of their weak points and his inference.
The weaknesses may be
1. Genetic. If they openly discuss about them, it may be like pointing fingers at their older generation.
2. Inflictions from their Birth Stars. If they agreed upon that, they have to learn to live with them, without running to Astrologers to give them solutions for any issues.
3. Acquired due to peer pressure. If they tried to change them now, they might run the risk of loosing their dear peers.
Hence they did not want to waste more energy and time on further analysis of each other’s weaknesses. They opined that marriage did not mean only two people sharing the life and bonding together. It was two families coming together caring for all members in the first circle and sharing the sorrows and joys with members belonging to the second circle.
Janaki and Ram tried to understand each other’s parents and siblings. Janaki attempted to bond herself with his family, and he with Janaki’s. It was like getting to know a cricket team. Soon the challenge became bigger. They got a daughter. The child’s eyes were twinkling like stars. Their siblings too were blessed with off springs. They were ceaselessly celebrating the events one after the other.
Another important event took place in their lives! They were promoted the second time to parent hood. There was a new entrant in to the family. The dimples on the
baby were irresistible. They made them forget everything. But there were matters, which demanded their attention. Should the first child go to a play home or attend a Kindergarten? At what age should she start her hobby classes, where, with whom? So many ‘issues’ to tackle about the upbringing of the children.
Time fled again as nobody’s business.
Their eyes were wide open now, because life was no longer a cakewalk, but walking a tightrope with a balancing rod in the hands. I reminded them about the SWOT analysis our management professor was referring to in the class, when they were busy looking at each other. Janaki was glad that it starts with S and not with W. So they started talking about their strengths. Janaki claimed, that “Patience” was her strength. But he opined that it was a sign of not having enough strength to stand up, when people walked allover her. She was hurt to the core but still managed to challenge him and asked him to name one of his strengths this time. He said he is very “Objective”. Janaki retorted “calling spade a spade” does not take him anywhere. He quipped that the spade would not react, if he called him by any other name. So they agreed to disagree about their definitions and interpretations of their strengths they were discussing.
There were at the moment other pressing issues. They pushed their differences aside and signed a pact. They formed a JV to manage Twinkle and Dimple, the apple of their eyes. Soon the children started going to school. They roped in the willing and the not-so-willing family members and me too, to go to their rescue, whenever they sent an SOS call, to take the children to school or to bring them back home.
‘Only schooling and no hobbies will be boring to the children and that will lead them no where’ was their philosophy of upbringing. So the daughters were enrolled in many courses. If it was Tuesday, it is Twinkle’s Bharathanatyam. If it was Thursday, it is Dimple’s Badminton. On Wednesdays Twinkle had her P. T. on Fridays Dimple had hers. The right canvas shoes had to be given in a separate bag to them on the respective days. Blackberries were not in vogue then to aid parents, as a genie.
”Have you taken the water bottle?” was every day’s query before they left for school. Water boiled and cooled at home, was what they were permitted to drink. Aquafina or Bisleri bottles had not flooded the market as yet. Janaki had to remember all these and also not forget to go through the School Diaries. The diaries had to be read, actions taken and Signatures affixed with the date. Errors like jingle bells packed in Dimple’s bags, or rackets forgotten, sky would not have fallen. They refused to go to the classes instead.
Janaki and her better half got in to the ‘Busy trap’. Their schooling lasted a decade and a half. They were sent to inter-school/collegiate competitions. Teenage tantrums followed. The graph of their confidence level had to be reckoned with. Maternal and paternal approach to deal with them was poles apart. Parents had agreed to disagree with the type of pep talk they gave or the carrots they hung before them. It reflected the type of childhood they had enjoyed or were deprived of. Nevertheless the time ticked away.
They did not forget about their Strengths and Weaknesses. They postponed dealing with them. They had to work backwards and deal with the latter Part of SWOT (Opportunities and Threats) analysis at first. However SoH (Sense of Humor) had been their pillar of STRENGTH till date and had stood them in good stead all along. I started talking to them about the Opportunities they have or the threats they have to face. Ram appeared suddenly startled. He said “ What happened to my time sense? Our wedding anniversary is waiting at the door. Yes, our silver jublee celebrations. Yes it is our 25th anniversary” My brain started doing overtime. How old is then Ram? Janaki is of course little older than me. Ram must almost be nearing 49 years. I suddenly tried to figure out as to when one has problems with chalisa? Post 40? Is that the THREAT he has to face?
I asked Ram, if he has started having problems with his eyesight. He said ‘Yes, Indeed, My mum is telling, it might be due to the onset of chalisa. Wait a minute. Do not panic! My mother has a panacea for all the problems. If I read Hanuman chalisa regularly, all my problems will be solved. Her advice has always helped me! I will also tell Janaki about the prayer and its benefits. Better you also develop faith in Hanuman chalisa.’
I decided to reconcile with them and their attitude. I told myself, that high time I seize the OPPORTUNITY to enjoy their anniversary, the Sangeeth and the Mehandi before the anniversary and the Get – Together after. Then what ever happens will happen. Que sera sera, the future is not ours to see!!
For Janaki and Ram it was always LOL (Let Others Laugh). Anyways after watching them move on in life whether it rains or shines, I have started to believe that, ‘Humour matters in life’. ****