We were invited to the party celebrating the 50th Golden Marriage Anniversary of my Kaka and Kakima and were overjoyed. For several reasons. The fact that they had pulled along all these years in their roller coaster lives, was an achievement of a sort. Kakima’s voice rang with excitement and pleasure that they’ll see 50 years as she invited us on phone. All extended relatives known to them in and around Mumbai, were invited. The dinner was super though we thought that the starters could have been better.
What made the occasion so special for me in particular was that in that crowd of invitees, I was the only person who had seen the wedding, 50 years back! I was in 6th standard, a curious child very fond of my Kaka, like we all were. I could not help but go down memory lane and in fact, gave a little speech sharing my introspection with the gathering. Pinaki, Kaka’s eldest son, was always interested in singing, and he belted out song after song. I too sang a semi-classical number, a 50+ old Bollywood hit, that the audience loved listening to. The song goes- “Aeyri, jaane na dungi”.
How time flies! This was my feeling when a couple of days later, Gautam and I were celebrating our 33 years of marriage with my daughter Buchu’s birthday coming in between. The last few days were family time and remembering little incidents from those by-gone days. How I threw a word at Gautam, on the wedding night, asking if he had dozed off. Or how Gautam saw me sitting on a suitcase, in the Ranchi station platform, waiting patiently for him to return, after filling the water bottle for the journey back to Kolkata after our “dwiragomon”.
A thought flashed in my mind, what if he had not returned? Often enough, we read such instances in the newspaper or see them in TV serials. Deserters for husbands who left their wives to God’s mercy and disappeared. In a country like ours, girls have always been looked down upon, a sort of burden on their fathers. Marrying them off makes the fathers free of their responsibility towards them. One can very well imagine what happens to their hapless girls who are left in the lurch by men who never wanted them anyway in the first place.
A prominent lawyer of our country, Ram Jethmalani, quite rightly once called them “lonely creatures” who virtually had no place to go- neither their fathers’ place, nor their in-laws’. Suddenly the truth dawns about the utmost importance of women’s education and monetary independence. “I can stand on my own without you. It will rain in Spain without you”- the “My Fair Lady” Hollywood number comes to mind.
Not so with us luckily. We had both had our education and were doing jobs at the time of our marriage. When the time came to shift to Mumbai, where Gautam had his job, I knew a new chapter had started in my life. That year saw several developments happening. Not only a marriage that finally had taken place, but I was expecting a baby very soon after that!
Shiv came into our lives and made us that much happy. The years came and went as smoothly as a well oiled wheel in a vehicle. By the time our daughter was born, 5 years later, I had learnt a lesson or two in house-keeping and child-rearing. Anniversaries came and went and we celebrated them with joyous abandon in Mumbai, Assam and then again in Mumbai. Till Shiv grew and our 25 year anniversary came along. He took us by surprise by throwing a nice party in an upscale hotel in Andheri. The candle on the cake, at the end, was replete with the flavours of the occasion and we felt proud that we’d come this far from our humble beginnings.
Since the children grew up they have enjoyed our marriage anniversaries more than us. They would always ask for a lavish party, as it called for dining out, they thought. This time Buchu was there with us celebrating the day happily. In these years, I never could guess, that I would complete 2 more University degrees with my job, home, kids et al. Our retirement was another landmark in our lives- adding to the kitty of experiences in these bygone years.
Anniversaries are a time of retrospection, ideally bringing back old memories with a smile on the face, rather than “looking back in anger”. Done is done, done cannot be undone. Yet the pattern becomes clear. Things fall in place. The why and wherefore of things can be understood better. The river of life- unstoppable flows along, and that’s the best part of life. Nothing is permanent, joy or sorrow. I end with a prayer to God, that wells up in my heart today, that joyful anniversaries may lighten up every home and hearth.