Tuesday, December 24, 2013


 We were married on 16 March 1965. It was just after the Chinese aggression. We used to be glued to the radio, listening to news as uncle Satyan was in the Infantry and in the combat area. Truce was called and uncle was safe. He sent us pictures of him standing beside arms and ammunition confiscated from the enemy camp. We were thrilled he could attend the wedding. He was given a Hero’s welcome when he landed the day before. I was anxious about his opinion of Srivatsa and got a ‘thumbs up’ sign when they met. It was important for me to have my favourite uncle endorse my choice.

There were slight rumbles of discontent in Srivatsa’s family for several reasons. I was not wearing the tradition al diamond ear ring every bride in our community, is supposed to get from her father. Dad had made it clear that he could not afford it and had no intention of tying himself in knots to fulfill some age old custom. On the day preceding the wedding, the invitees were served dinner sans cereals. The Prime Minister, Sri Lal Bahadur Shastri, had requested the citizens of India to abstain from eating cereals on Monday as a way of conserving the country’s food grains, after the war. Though a diminutive man, he commanded great respect and most people responded to his call. Dad was was one of them. I admire dad for his principles. Most fathers give in to demands of the groom’s family and get into a financial mess. Dad stuck to his guns and so it was that all three sisters  were not given diamond ear rings. His terms were ‘as-is-where is-take her or …! Good for him.  Not that my parents-in-law asked for the moon. With their conservative background, it was just that they had some expectations.  On their part, they inundated me with gifts which included jewellery, sarees,, toiletries, handbags, shoes, make-up, et al, beautifully packed by Vasanta and Vaidehi, Srivatsa’s sisters.

On 17 March, my parents took me Srivatsa’s house and traditionally handed me over to his custody! At that time, they were living in a rented house. I walked into a house full of relatives, some of whom were staying there, having come for the wedding from other cities. There were only two bedrooms, one occupied by my parents-in-law and the other,  a kind of free- for-all. It had an attached bathroom where everybody had their toothpaste and toothbrush. That was to be our bed room! Early morning at five, we had to open the door for all the early birds who wanted to brush their teeth.
Srivatsa and I planned to leave the next day for our honey moon so we did not mind the intrusion. We had our whole life ahead for each other. But my mother-in-law had other plans. She said we could have our honeymoons at home, whatever that meant. So, we stayed. My mother had tutored me about obedience to my in-laws and I discovered that my husband was obedient to his mother. The first most romantic week of our married life was spent in a house with twenty relatives and a room with a public toilet!
It was Srivatsa’s elder sister Vaidehi who took matters under control and despite her mother’s objections, packed us off on our honeymoon to Ooty!