The 31st of May according to my father this morning makes 60 years since he’s ‘known and loved’ my mother. From what my mother tells me, he did not know Math then and he does not know it now. My father loves to talk about 31/5. She hates it when he does. I’ve heard the story so many times that I feel that I traveled on that bus with him from Bangalore to Mangalore to meet my mother for the first time. They ate French fries and she dressed like a bum. He then asked her if she liked him and she in true form replied ‘What does it look like?’ He never tires of repeating this over and over again. He finishes the story with a “she got angry with herself for falling in love with me”. She hates when he says this because of well, The Ego. She hates that he tells anyone who cares to listen about their first meeting. My mother like me does not like to think of herself as having acted silly. And dislikes it even more if there is a man involved. Us acting giddy-headed over a mere man? Never. 3 months later they were married and 5 years and 3 days later I showed up and my father says that he kissed any/all attention he got goodbye.
My parent’s relationship is the kind that a lot of us aspire to have. They fight like teenagers-he pulls a face and it annoys her, she ignores him and it annoys him. And I have to hear about it. He has taken to ringing me on my mobile from the other room to complain that she ignored him the entire day. She during our regular lunch time phone call will tell me what an unreasonable man he is and it has me wondering when they’d grow up. I wondered when the teenage arguments would give way to the much married bickering where they just get on each other’s nerves all the time but the silly is a staple in their relationship and I do not see the maturity of a seasoned marriage replacing that anytime soon. He follows her around like a puppy, she has fulfilled those vows she took on the 18th of August and then some more.
There are no two people more dissimilar than my parents. She is intense and I know she hates the word but very much the intellectual. He watches WWE all evening and wouldn’t read a book if there was a gun to his head. While she is a maestro with the paint brush, she is also the most unimaginative woman in the world. He can create beauty from scraps of metal. She is not a talker, he hates to listen. She finishes her shopping in under 15 minutes. 15 hours and he still won’t choose a pair of shoes. She doesn’t allow too many second chances, he turns the other cheek. Her temper is controlled, quiet and dignified, his is like a volcano but over in 10 minutes. He has the financial acumen of a drunk, very few people manage finances like she does.
And yet there are no two people more perfectly suited for each other. He feeds into her ego, she lets him think he’s always in control. She’s a feminist’s nightmare because she seeks his permission in everything she does. Maybe because she knows that he stopped using his brain the day they got married so what he wants is really what she wants him to want. Very few women would’ve taken on what my mother took on on the 18th of August. But she did and made a massive success out of it. Very few men can handle a woman as head strong, fiercely independent and unconventional as my mother is. But he could and made a massive success out of it.
As a child I hated that my parents were so fond of each other and spent many unholy minutes or maybe hours or maybe days wondering what would happen if they split up- I’d spend the week with her and the Sunday with him. Best of both the worlds I thought. She’d fuss over me because she wouldn’t be distracted by him and he’d fuss over me because what else did he have to live for? Thankfully that didn’t happen. Growing up I never realized how important a stable home is because I knew no other. I never realized what damage a broken home can do to a child. I always assumed that I had no emotional hang ups because I am me. To this day I get rattled by arguments and anyone with an above normal decibel because I never knew my parents to scream at each other. Sure they snapped at each other occasionally but there was never any name calling or utensil throwing or dirty linen washing in public. Not once have they been disrespectful to each other. She has insinuated that he was an ass but she did it respectfully.
Most marriages only survive because there are children involved. My parent’s marriage continues to thrive in spite of the child that is involved. The nauseating truth is that even if I wasn’t around, they’d have the same marriage but with a whole lot less interference. The good news for me is that she talks of the 21st of August the way he talks of the 31st of May- eyes shining, constantly and fondly. So in your little pug face, Pater.
PS: I have knocked on wood innumerable times as I typed this and intend putting two black spots on the parent’s faces. You know to ward off the evil eye.
1 Corinthians 13:4-13
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.