“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Monday, January 31, 2011

Falling in love with Parvati

Yesterday we had been to Kottayam to attend a marriage. P had left a couple of days earlier; she wanted to reconnoiter some research project she wanted to do at Panjal. We met at the wedding and returned together. In the comfort of AC Chair Car, we dozed; outside it blazed – summer is coming up fast. Waking up, I look at P, sitting cross-legged on the reclining seat, head bent as if deeply pondering over the mysteries of life, except that the crookedly perched spectacles gave away the truth.

50 plus, both of us are getting to be real middle-aged. Several of our older generations have been passing away. Death, that of the old, is of course painful, but it comes with a rider – ‘thank God, he/she didn’t suffer much’ or , ‘he/she had suffered a lot, thank God, its over now’. Soon – or who knows when, our turns too will come, life will go on without us - perhaps we would stare balefully from a photograph on the wall or a death anniversary photo in the newspaper.

I look at P and unknowing to myself, I smile at her. Ours was a cross between ‘arranged’ and ‘love’ marriages – we had met, associating with the same NGO working on nature conservation, became great friends, found that we cherished each other’s company, discovered that we had so many common interests and perspectives – and one day, feverish and sipping a hot lemon tea, I proposed to her when she had come to visit the sick me. Parents agreed to our wish and we had a simple wedding. 30 plus, we were no kids – I had taken a few beatings in love life, she too might have – we were never curious about such things of our past. P had premature grey hair, I had started balding. Both cared nought about pretensions. P in those days walked around wearing cotton churidars except when she had to teach at the College where by convention she had to wear a sari. I always wore a corduroy jeans (my managers used to raised their eyebrows but never dared to point it out) and thick Khaddar Kurtas. She hardly wore any jewellery; I stopped wearing my wedding ring within a month of marriage.

Over the years, we had our share of fights – once we even teetered on a break, but sense of survival prevailed. Or it could be that we were mature enough to let the storm pass for the sake of our son. Tides rose and went. It was mutual affection and respect more than romantic love that sustained our relationship; we instinctively knew we kind of compensated for one another. Along with the common characteristics we shared, we were extremely opposite in many matters. Against her gregarious nature, I was a loner. Against her fiercely possessive intimacy with relatives, I had none; P was God-fearing, I didn’t know much about God. P is practical to the core, aggressive and dominating; I am a hopeless romantic , a dreamer and gives in too fast.

But the boat didn’t go down; it rocked once in a while, but we never lost the oars. We fly into terrible arguments ( K always says that he was inspired to study human psychology because of us) but after a few hours of sulking, we patch up.

I look at Parvati; her legs are a bit short to stretch and reach the foot rest beneath the seat in front of her. Sitting cross-legged and dozing and nodding, she looks like as if she is chanting and meditating at a religious gathering. A spurt of a snore escapes her mouth. I move my left hand to touch hers; a gentleman sitting on the other side of the aisle gets ups and tells me – ‘Sir, excuse me, but your wife’s Pallu (Sari’s end) is trailing on the floor. People are stamping on it as they pass’. P wakes up with a start, grabs her Pallu and goes back to sleep. She turns to her right, holds my arm and lets out another snort in her sleep. I do not move my arm away. Outside the sun is setting over the Ashtamudi lake as we pass over the scene of Perumon train tragedy.

************** Balachandran V, Trivandrum, 31.01.2011


  1. She's beauiful Mr.B...

    Here's to many many more beautiful years together..

  2. Beautiful post! Ours also was an arranged and love marriage. So I can understand this perfectly. :)

    Many more wonderful years together.

  3. The most romantic piece I have ever read Bala. Your wife is gorgeous and you two make a lovely pair.

    Wishing you many more years of togetherness and joy

  4. @Gymnast; R, Thanks for the thoughts!:) The moush is not meant to scare others, but to hide my own fear! :)

    @Rahul: Thanks!

    @Jyothi: Thanks for the wishes! I knew it would strike a chord somewhere! :)

    @B: Today evening I read out the post to P. I was looking at the screen all the time, but when I turned to her, I glimpsed something flashing in her face; something I couldn't define. Too smart for me! :(

    Thanks for the wishes and here's wishing the same to you too!

  5. I enjoyed reading this post as always. Lovely pair.I think most of the marriages have this amazingly "opposite " chemistry!That's the way it should be.:)

  6. Touching, romantic and lovely.
    Thanks for sharing.
    By the by i married Santhamma on August 26 but in 1985.

  7. On a re-read, the third sentence caught my attention. Incidental : “We met at the wedding and returned together” – forever.

  8. Beautiful post. Wish you many more years of joyful togetherness.

  9. Sir
    Its very touching and I passed through it with an intimacy wishing you more and more years together

  10. @Aswathi Babu, Arun, Sangeetha, Sreejith, Raji: Thanks to each of you. I am glad that you liked the post. Though something of an intimate nature, I guess there is nothing to be ashamed of loving; even it be your spouse of 20 years! :D

    @Cherian: Great! Now you can remind me the anniversary well in time! ;D

  11. Balan,
    Did I reveal to you my secrets inadvertently, in moments of inebriation? This is my story.I have copy rights !

    "But to every mind there openeth,
    A way, and way, and away,
    A high soul climbs the highway,
    And the low soul gropes the low,
    And in between on the misty flats,
    The rest drift to and fro.

    But to every man there openeth,
    A high way and a low,
    And every mind decideth,
    The way his soul shall go.

    One ship sails East,
    And another West,
    By the self-same winds that blow,
    'Tis the set of the sails
    And not the gales,
    That tells the way we go.

    Like the winds of the sea
    Are the waves of time,
    As we journey along through life,
    'Tis the set of the soul,
    That determines the goal,
    And not the calm or the strife"

    My sail ship has survived many tempests.It would have drifted,even at times of apparent calm.

    It is a long story,balan.

  12. @Doc: 'Tis the set of the soul,
    That determines the goal'!
    How true! Funny, we don't even know how and in which way soul sets the course, but it is in retrospection that we see a pattern emerging, that we see the trail of foam behind us.

    Reading the poem ( who is the poet?)i could hear the lapping of the waves on the sides of my skiff.

    Copyright? Grrrr!!! You should remember that Marconi wasn't the only one who invented radio!

    Perhaps it is such similarities that makes instinctive friendships!

    A friend sometime ago asked me how I could write such intimate, personal things. I was puzzled. What is there to be ashamed about? By writing about my life, I seek others' and perhaps I am trying to tell the reader that this too is another way of getting on with life; maybe nothing to shout about, but it has not been a bad life. Perhaps I am signalling a moral here and there; old and leaky boat I am, yet I move on.

    @Kpj: Yes, it was a spontaneous piece!

  13. Lovely......!

    All have already said still I'd like to say you two make a lovely couple.... and your son has an infectious smile:-)

  14. Bals, what can I comment!!!Knowing all that you have mentioned here.A good "ode to P and You"

    Mutual respect more than common platforms ,is perhaps what that brings about affection and love. Tempest may come and pass.

    And dey this is not middle age we are in . It is a bit over the cliff aint it so ?

    And reading doc Antonys comment , well he can be a good poet as well, " .. same wind that blows..."

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  16. Balan sir.. Wonderful... Wishing you and your wonderful family a very happy new year !!!
    Your wife must have been really elated reading this post. Not many in your age will be able to honestly express their affection towards their better half, for most of them will be too busy at this age with other money matters, and forget to spend anytime or think about their soulmate.....
    My hi to your handsome young fellow too !!

  17. @Bala
    I forgot to mention.That was Ella Wheeler Wilcox.Popular American poet of late 19th and early 20th century.Mostly romantic and sentimental poems.
    You would remember some of her lines that are still very familiar, such as:

    "Laugh and the world laughs with you;
    Weep, and you weep alone."

    from " Solitude"

    Anil! That was too much...me! a poet !

  18. piece de resistance! and marriages can be so complicated.. and yet so simple... thanks for sharing

  19. @Kalpana: Long time, no read! Don't let work eat you up. Write!
    K has one too many girlfriends, I suspect! ;

    @Kalpanique: yes! Sometimes we laugh together at the absurdity of our fights. It is so easy to break a relationship, you know, and very careful tending is need to retain it!

    @Subu: P never reads my blog! But occasionally I ask her to sit beside and I read the posts out to her.

    What you said is right, most people are too obsessed with money or career and forget about family.

    @Doc: Thanks for the poet's name. Now, copyright aside, when are we going to hear about it? :)

  20. I remember, how, once or twice you've told me this story in parts. good to see it all at once.

  21. We got married early, now in 30s; we have been together for more than 18 yrs now. In our case the practical person is him, I am the dreamer.:).We wanted to have a simple wedding too; my wedding sari didn’t cost more than 500 rs:). Thanks for the beautiful writing.

  22. beautiful post, Balan. And the pictures, charming--even you!

  23. Very touching post! Thank you for sharing the lovely pictures.

  24. sir beautiful post, hmm....not actually in that stage of life to comment on married world, but neverthless your blog is always a charm to read, am a little disappointed with your latest post(poem), it doesn't exactly have the mystery of your usual poems sir.

  25. 1st time here after going through a post about you at NRIGirl's space...

    and very happy to read this particular write up filled with Love n Romance.... my best wishes for both of you Sir.


  26. Beautiful post. i came to you from NRI Girls page. She is a close friend of mine...here in blogosphere and in real world.

    i could relate to your post...that close intimacy and understanding that stems from being years together... We feel that now...it is a beautiful feeling... May God bless you both to share that for many many more years to come...

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  29. Hello Mr B, If I may be allowed to call you this, I saw you on NRIGIRLS friendship tree and wanted to stop by to say hello. I've enjoyed my visit and its been lovely to meet you. Best wishes PW (I'm the hedgehog on the tree).

  30. Tears rolling.Parvathy--the name and the way she looks.She is extremely charming and beautiful.

    " Tides rose and went. It was mutual affection and respect more than romantic love that sustained our relationship; we instinctively knew we kind of compensated for one another"-That's what I ultimately loved.

    The 30's genre of marriage.Same here,in late 30's and married at 30.Could touch what you wrote.

    What I feel being a woman is,what one can ask from a man in marriage,more than what you have written here ?

    God bless you and family..

    (Btw,your last picture looks similar to C.V Raman Pillai.And looking into those,my mind started fixing this "parvathy" to C.V's Parvathy of Champakassery...!)

  31. wow such a graceful couple :) i shall come back to read the post...

  32. i was so curious had to read :) such a lovely story :)

  33. Such a beautiful post and written without pretensions if i may so...thanks for sharing:-)!!!!

  34. Nallathu maathram bhavikkattae.


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