Thirtyfour Years Of Togetherness and Tolerance

She met me 35 years ago. No, that's a wrong statement, I should say ‘more than 34 years ago.’ It was an arranged marriage. She came from a very orthodox Brahmin family. From Baroda. She had hardly ever gone for eating outside. Drinking too much tea was considered to be a vice in her family. No question of eating non-vegetarian food, it was an absolute taboo. Her family members were well placed in their respective organisations and they continued to cherish and practice good old values. Her mother was an intelligent person, surely ahead of her times, but constrained by the social mores of middle class families.

My family had many non-conformists [by the standards of society then], brothers married outside the community, father not only ate non-vegetarian food but also persuaded my mother to make it at home which was a taboo in the 50s. He did not see anything wrong about occasionally smoking a cigarette with my eldest brother and offering me a drink. ‘Everything must be done in moderation and we must enjoy life’ he said. He bought two adjacent flats, one for me and one for himself; it made one home. She accepted this 'joint family' arrangement. We enjoyed being with them, but it also took toll; we were left with no savings since we were living at the standard of living of my parents. She did not complain. She accepted different ways of her husband’s family. She was closer to my father in particular and also to my mother. Sometimes I wondered why they did not love me as much as my wife. She built bridges with many relatives with whom I had hardly any rapport worth the mention.

She enjoyed reading historical novels, when I read serious management books. She nurtured children, I was a disciplinarian, scoffing at them. She liked light classical music when I used to listen to Hindustani classical; and she now listens to classical music while I listen to gazals! She liked plays and I rarely took her to watch Marathi theatre, she liked movies which I have often considered waste of time in theatres. She watches soap operas, I watch sports channels. I enjoy various cuisines; she has stuck to the Maharashtrian one, straying a bit by making noodles for me! She orders only what she knows in a restaurant, I order new dishes I have never tried. She has a great talent for bargaining and manages to get many things much cheaper than me. I teach negotaitions skills in management institutes but pay whatever is asked for! She is very practical, people consider me very dogmatic [Oh, how wrong they are!]. She has more enduring, well nurtured friendships unlike me. She can talk to a person who has been unfair to her; I can never pardon a single soul. She is genuinely a team player, always at home and enjoying when in a group; I hate crowd, comfortable when alone!

It is thirty-four years of togetherness today, I say; she says it is thirty-four years of tolerance!

God makes odd couples; but they complement each other. At this juncture of my life, I realise acutely that her share in everything I did well was greater although I got the credit.

Osho said that there exists no god, but you must be able to see ‘godliness’ in people; and when I tried, I did not have to go too far!

Vivek 

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