The one & only heart & Soul of mine!

I have started realizing the worth of writing this series. In my last chapter, I had written about ‘Pithru saabham’ and the ways to get redemption from it. Last month, a person came to my office. He said that my lines ‘we should refrain from committing any sins to ensure that our children do not suffer as a result’ had affected him very much and that he wanted to talk to me about the same.

“Mr. Mohan, I don’t believe in marriage or family values. I read your ‘Aahaa’ at my friend’s place. Your words have left a deep impact on me. Then, I read the following issue also. You have written that if we were not able to do good to our children, at least we should desist from wrong-doing. I received a phone call from my wife two months ago. She has not been talking to me for 25 years. She said that a boy’s party had seen my daughter Kala for marriage and requested me to do a certain thing. Here, I should tell you about my life. I also got married at the age of 25. She was 22 at that time. When I relive my life, I realize that, all along, I had been interested only in my progress and happiness. My wife is educated. She got a central government job in just four months after marriage. But the job was in Coimbatore. The job carried very good salary and high position. Everyone advised that she should accept the job. They said in the department that she could get a transfer in two years. But, some of my friends advised me against sending her to Coimbatore. And, both my sisters ridiculed me telling that I would become my wife’s servant in another three years when my wife would return as an officer. I was working in a bank. I’ve studied only up to B. Com. It would take 12 to 13 years for me to become an officer. My wife’s salary was higher than mine when she got the job. If she got promotion, she would get double my salary in just 4 or 5 years. When I considered all these points, I decided not to allow her to join the job.”

“Poor thing, she didn’t join the job…?” I interrupted.

“I’ll tell you … it was for the first time when we fought. I realized then that she was not a submissive type. She made it very clear that the job was her life ambition and that she could not afford to let it go. I failed to look at the problem from her angle. The fight intensified. I didn’t go to the station when she left for Coimbatore. And, we didn’t talk for many days. In the meantime, my younger brother’s marriage was settled. She had to attend the marriage. I refused to talk to her. My uncle, who had supported her on the issue, telephoned to her and talked to her. He advised her to forget everything and attend the marriage. And, she came for the marriage. Today, I feel that she had always been correct. She came two days before marriage. She came straight to our house. She shared all the work with my sisters. I felt that loneliness must have affected her very much and that she would listen to me if I told her to resign. I opened the topic when all the members of my family were present. I told her not to struggle by herself when I was earning enough. She said that her probation was just over and her job had been confirmed and that it would take another two or three years for her to get a transfer. She asked me to get a transfer to Coimbatore, saying that getting a transfer is easier for a bank employee. I was enraged at her words. I took her words as an insult in the presence of my relatives. I told her harshly that she had to decide between me and her job. My wife said in a firm voice that for her, her job was more important than a husband who had no interest in the career of his wife. Whatever love had been left in us dried with this incident,” he narrated the story of his life.

“What happened then …? Your relationship was locked then and there …?” I asked.

“How can it be …? Man proposes; God disposes. She became pregnant due to our intimacy which happened at a vulnerable moment …”

Krishnan continued: “I got married in the year 1979. It was seven or eight months since my wife started going for job. In between, she came for my brother’s marriage. After that, we didn’t talk for two months. My mother also expired. I was left alone after her death. My prestige and ego didn’t allow me to talk to my wife. I didn’t even inform her about my mother’s death. But somehow she came to know about it and had telephoned to my sister.

It was a Sunday in the month of February, 1980. I received a call from my uncle. He told me that my wife telephoned to him and informed him that she was three months pregnant. Her phone number had changed and she had asked my uncle to inform me about her. Her parents were coming from Delhi and that they would talk to me, my uncle said. He advised me to reunite with my wife adding that I should be lucky to have her as my wife and that I shouldn’t miss a beautiful life, a gift of God. He insisted that I shouldn’t miss it. When maama hang up, I had a mixed feeling of joy, sadness and anger. I was happy that I was going to become a father. I was angry that my wife didn’t bother to inform me directly.

My father-in-law telephoned to me at 11 a.m. as already told by my wife to uncle. He said,”Please forget the past. If you can be with my daughter now, it will be good. You can come to Coimbatore for ten days. I’ll ask my daughter also to come to your place on one month leave. Both of you can try for transfer. I’ll give the phone to Saroja, you talk to her”. Then Saroja spoke. She enquired about my welfare. I returned the formal questions. When she asked me when I could come to her place, I simply said that I would try to come if I got leave. Then I disconnected. But my mind started yearning to be with her. She was carrying my progeny, I wanted to see her.

I went to Coimbatore on four days leave the next week itself. My in-laws looked after me very well. I told Saroja in their presence to come to Chennai on transfer. I also told her to quit the job if she couldn’t get a transfer. But she continued her stand, refusing to quit the job. She said that she could get a transfer after about a year and until then she wanted me to visit her twice a month. Then, I was going to Coimbatore once in a month. Saroja gave birth to a female child. When my father-in-law telephoned, I told him that I would be there in Delhi to attend the name giving ceremony on the 11th day. He said that my wife wanted to name the child after my mother Kalavathy, as she respected her very much. I was very happy to hear that. My life was full of happiness. But suddenly, there was a whirlwind. My wife got a transfer to Delhi on promotion. When I learned about it, I was annoyed. By nature, I am very short-tempered. I believed that my wife wantonly arranged a transfer to Delhi. I imagined things, and I didn’t even bother to know what really happened. I didn’t attend the 11th day function. I shouted at my father-in-law over phone. I didn’t let him talk. My ego and inferiority complex made me behave shabbily. I shouted at my wife too, telling that all had cheated me and that I wouldn’t have anything to do with her thereafter. My father-in-law didn’t talk to me after that incident, but he wrote to me twice or thrice. He invited me to Delhi to sort out things. I didn’t even reply to his letters. My relationship with my wife ended with that.

Saroja worked in Delhi for two or three years. In the meantime, her father had died. And, she came to Chennai with her mother after five years as a high official. Her self-respect and my short-temper both are responsible for the failure of my marriage. Saroja, who had not been talking to me all these years, telephoned to me two days back, requested me to do a thing for the sake of my daughter Kala.

“I’ve almost forgotten that I am married and have a daughter. I decided that my job was my life. I worked with all sincerity. I wrote bank examinations and today, I am an assistant general manager. I don’t have close friends. Whenever people enquire about my family, I just put them off with an evasive answer. Only my two sisters know about my personal life. Under these circumstances, I received a call from my wife Saroja. She said, “Your daughter’s name is Kala. What a strange situation! I’ve to introduce your daughter to you after twenty-five years! She is working as a team leader in a software company in Bangalore. She has completed M. S., I. T. She has a handsome salary. She has chosen a boy by herself for marriage. The boy Saran is her colleague. His parents are in Hyderabad. They have agreed for his marriage with Kala. Kala has informed them about our separation. But they are not bothered. They like Kala very much. I went to Hyderabad and met them. The betrothal is also over.

I’ve lost many things in life. I’ve been left alone without my husband in moments of necessity. When my father died, I only did everything. Now, I’ve only my mother with me. I don’t want my self-respect and adamancy to stand in the way of the satisfaction my daughter’s marriage would yield. I request you to attend the marriage. You are responsible for all my hardships. Both your sisters should come for the marriage with their families. One day or other, Kala might think that I could have adjusted with you. She shouldn’t be left to feel isolated. I don’t want her to feel like that. I’ve made all the arrangements for the marriage. I want you to be by my side and do everything as the father of the bride. Kala has your mother’s name. So, you can come for the sake of your daughter or as a token of gratitude to your mother.” And she gave the mobile numbers of both herself and Kala, Krishnan said.

“I couldn’t talk even a single word when Saroja was talking. Her voice has mellowed down during these years, I felt. She was always for justice. She spoke to me in a clear tone. But I am confused. I wonder how Kala would react when I am introduced as her father. Also, I am afraid how the boy’s party would react. I am not even sure about my wife. I don’t know what decision I should take. Mr. Mohan, please advise me,” Krishnan concluded.

I felt that reality is stranger than fiction. “Krishnan, whenever you talked about the different situations in your life, you had been telling that your wife was always correct and that you only acted in haste. If you don’t accept her invitation now, it would affect you much more. A daughter’s marriage is an event that happens only once in lifetime. If you miss it, you’ll definitely regret later. Also, both you and your wife have entered the evening of your lives. You may not get an opportunity to rectify your mistake if you don’t go to the wedding now. So, you are going for the marriage of your daughter. You start meeting your wife every few days before the marriage itself. You go there when your daughter is present. You create a congenial atmosphere. Both of you might start a new life; it is all up to you. If you go to your wife’s place as her husband and mingle with them closely, you’ll surely feel enthused. This is my advice,” I told Krishnan.

Krishnan came to my office again after sometime. He showed me Kala’s marriage invitation and told me that it was his selection. Also, he said that Saroja wanted to meet me. I was surprised. He had totally become Saroja’s husband and Kala’s father! Krishnan understood what was running in my mind. He said, “This is the spring of my life. I am very happy at the age of 55 as though I am newly born! My feelings are beyond expression. Now, I am realizing the truth in the words of my uncle who used to advise me not to lose the beautiful life God had blessed me with. I’ve realized what all I had lost. Because of my nature, not only me but also my wife had suffered a lot. She had been deprived of the security and happiness which she deserved. I had deprived my daughter of the love of a father. But both of them have accepted me wholeheartedly when I met them after so many years. This surprises me a lot. First, I went to Saroja’s house as per your advice. That day, my feeling was different, I felt like a visitor. Kala also left after talking a few words to me. But I felt like going again. I went again. The first day, I was sitting in the drawing room. But on my second visit, I went up to the dining room. Then, I started going there daily in the evening. I participate in everything, right from selecting the invitation to buying saris and jewelry. But, we’ve not discussed about living together in future. At present, our attention is only on Kala’s marriage. Now, I feel happy and fulfilled. Saroja’s separation from me must have had some adverse effects on her status in the society. I had put her to hardships. If I am able to give her at least some solace now, that will be my greatest pleasure,” Krishnan concluded.

I was happy about his change of mind. But the twenty-five years he had lost will never return. Both Krishnan and Saroja requested me to write about their life telling that it would be a lesson for others. I believe their minds would be open for each other and both will enter a new life.