Monday, August 4, 2014

A monsoon wedding.

Today the rain falls in perfect symmetry, an artist's delight. It's one of those wind blown rainy days splashed by intermittent sunlight that makes me wish I had a bike again and I could ride into the fields where the green earth merges with the dark grey of the skies. Yes, that. It makes me wish I was young again, lying in the tall grass, catching the raindrops in my mouth. It's the perfect weather for nostalgia and nature and maybe a monsoon wedding.
I like to imagine a wedding held 49 years ago. Where a young groom, my father-in-law, waited to bring home his beautiful bride. It must have been a solemn affair. (Bengalis take their weddings very seriously, it is not a time for singing and dancing.) There are prayers to be said, blessings to be obtained from the elders and ancestors and it is serious business. Oh, there is joy. There is excitement and there is laughter. But there is also a sense of responsibility and duty, you know what I mean?
I wonder if they were nervous. Or were they so much in love that nothing else mattered? Did they take the wedding vows seriously, (does anyone?) or did they just know in their hearts that their commitment to each other was stronger than any prayer?
For the 44 years they were together on this earth, my father-in-law was devoted to his wife and vice versa. Oh, there were disagreements and arguments, deliberate silences and hurt egos but no more than in any other happy marriage. My mother-in-law taught me not only how to survive in this XXL family but also to be happy, to accept people for what they are and maintain harmony at home. She, herself, despite being a lawyer, was never allowed to work. Instead of wallowing in self-pity or being bitter about it, she is the one who always encouraged me to work. She also taught me how important it is to let go. Her life revolved round her only son. She found it in her heart to send him to boarding school just so he got the all-round education she wished him. And when we got married, she let go of her son again. To make a new home, a new life with me. I had once asked her why we didn't just live with them. She explained to me that I needed my space, I had to be able to create my own home with my own dreams and hopes which may not be similar to hers. "You will always be welcome here, this is also your home," she used to say, "but THAT is your own sansaar, which you will decorate your way as only you know how." It's only later, much later, that I appreciated her wisdom.
Our lives reverberated with her laughter and kindness until one day in September 2009 she quietly slipped away from us. Our lives changed but Baba was there to pull us through it all. He spoke of Ma with love, sharing stories of their friendship and later, courtship in a world where it was not the norm to "fall in love." Through his stories I rediscovered Ma as a shy young girl who waited till Baba finished his education in the UK and then married her.
Baba couldn't wait. Three years seemed to be all he could take and he too left us on a dismal morning in November 2012. He had suffered a stroke and was in coma.... from September. All the pain he had suffered left his face. By the time we brought him home from the hospital, his face was shining and handsome again. He had found peace. I guess too, he had found his love waiting patiently on the other side.

So as I write this today I miss them, I miss them both. But I also know that they are somewhere. Together. Always.
Happy anniversary, Ma and Baba.