Wednesday, December 25, 2013

THE TIME OF MY LIFE IX...Making my marriage work

We started our married life in Mumbai in my aunt Rama’s house. We had to wait for our turn for a house to be allotted by the Navy. Since aunt Rama was away at Secunderabad for her delivery, she invited us to stay at her place. Uncle Bhoj was in the Western Railways and lived in a large three bedroom apartment in Cuffe parade, overlooking the sea (now a reclaimed area to house the fishermen’s colony). He used to tour often so we had the house pretty much to ourselves. Srivatsa was in the Naval Dockyard and his timings were cool. We could spend a lot of time together, going to movies, visiting his colleagues and attending parties.
One day, when Srivatsa got back from work, I suggested I see a doctor to confirm my hope. Since the Naval hospital had a male gynecologist, I persuaded him to take me to a private clinic. Dr. Mrs Fernandes called my husband in after examining me and in a dead pan voice, told him, “Your wife is pregnant”. And I wanted to do it the filmy style, all coy and cuddly and sucking a tamarind!

This is not a chronological document of events in my life so I am going on a dizzy roller coaster to dwell on those aspects which would be of interest to you as a reader. I would like to share with you some of my experiments with truth about marriage. It is amazing how you have guidelines written down for practically all professions but none for what is the most important Institution that we enter with our own expectations. Conflict follows and unless one or the other gives in, it could spell doom. Very rarely is a marriage successful, with both the husband and wife retaining their identity. I wish all our colleges would introduce a subject on life skills, to educate students on their role in making marriage work on an equal status keel. I’d gladly write out the module for it!

The first few years of married life, like everyone else’s, was a bit bumpy. Srivatsa the fiancé was different from Srivatsa the husband. And I’m sure he found me the same. My family environment was noisy and informal. Even on grandpa’s death anniversary, dad and his brothers would have a beer before lunch and grandmother would be sitting around, talking to them. She had changed a lot over the years though she continued to be intimidating. There would be a lot of tomfoolery and exchange of bawdy jokes. Srivatsa’s family is conservative and quiet. I had no problem going with that. What hassled me was my dear hubby’s obsession with cleanliness! To some extent, he reminded me of the Naval Captain in Sound Of Music! He also had this habit of going into a pregnant silence if he was unhappy about anything I said or did. It would last for days and weeks without my knowing what I had done.

Once, when we went to Bangalore, I told my mother I would like to divorce him. She asked a question very quietly, “where will you go?” That told me I had to make my marriage work for she was not going to support me if it didn’t. I went to grandmother and sought her counsel. She said thatha was a terror when she married him but she took over somewhere along the line. I just had to have patience and be smart, she assured me. It sounded good so I dug in my heels and got into the act.