“Yes, that is what your father and I like…” This was the answer given to my daughter Sruthi for her question to my wife, “should I marry soon?” She was doing her 7th semester of her BTech. She wanted to go for higher studies.
“Is it so Appa (father)?” she asked me.
“Shubhasya shighram” I said. (We should do good things immediately). Sruthi’s focus was only on studies. And we knew that Sruthi would go only for a marriage in a traditional Sanatan Dharmic way with the blessings of all seniors in both the families.
“When we get a good proposal, we should go in for that…” my wife declared!
Sruthi nodded her head. She never says no to us.
“What are your partner preferences?” my wife once asked her.
“Nothing Amma. You know, I have not started thinking about it. I know you will find the best. I have only one wish – he should take me for Balaji darshan in Tirumala Tirupati every year…” she said, “And it goes without say that he should be vegetarian…”
The statistics in our community (according to various FB groups) shows that numbers of marriageable girls are less than half of that of boys. But, for us, it’s not favorable to find a suitable bridegroom as vegetarian boys have become a very rare species in our community. I always wanted a boy with exposure to hardships in life for her.
She was a hard worker and luck was never with her. But this time she got lucky. She got a boy matching our preferences. He is from a known family too. We fixed her marriage for June 2014, after her completion of B Tech.
Sruthi has made us proud many times – various awards and recognitions from winning an award from NIIT as the youngest web-designer in Asia at the age of ten to topper in CBSE school studies. But I remember an instance when I felt very proud being a father.
Once, while attending a marriage function, a cousin of mine introduced me to an old couple from North India. As he was talking about me and my background, Sruthi came near me and called “Appa”. The old man suddenly told my cousin. “I don’t need further introduction about Uday. I understood his parambara…”
“How come?” my cousin asked.
“Somebody introduced us to his daughter. Immediately she touched our feet and sought our blessings…”the old man said: “I have never seen a Keralite genuinely humble and unassuming. So, I can understand the sanskriti in which she was brought up…I wish I had grandchildren like this…” I had never taught her anything. But it was a great compliment for my family.
The night before wedding day, I felt sad – from tomorrow Sruthi won’t be staying with us. She has never left us so far. When she had got admission in engineering colleges outside the state with scholarships, she said: “Appa, I don’t want to go. I prefer to go to the college everyday from home only. I don’t want to leave you…”
We had just one room for three kids. They were living together from the day they are born. They have been always together; never apart. We bought a big cot to accommodate the three.
We all went to bed late night. Suddenly I heard low moan of despair. My wife was weeping. We began solacing each other: “Let’s don’t be sad, she is going for a better life, right? She will be more happy and contented. That’s what we need for her, right?”
After wedding, while having lunch, all three kids and my wife started crying. When someone is crying, of course, the noble thing to do is to comfort them. But I was not able to control much. And I do not believe in hypocrisy. I can’t pretend as a brave man. Tears rolled out from my eyes too…
Before going to sleep, the younger ones told me: “Appa, we are extremely happy for Akki (eldest sister). Let’s pray for the best for Akki. She has got a good husband and good family…” I know they are lying about being fully happy. They might want put up a brave face to conceal their sadness. It is a mixed or complicated feeling of being happy and sad the same moment. It can’t be explained – one has to experience it.
Next day we were going out, wife’s mother also came with us: “How can she be comfortable…our car is a five seater, na?”
“Oh, we are now four only….”wife reminded me. It will take some time to realize that we should stop counting five in the family for each and everything. Now onwards there will only be four members living in my apartment. My father told me: “Udaya, instead of four, now you have a six-member home.” Yes, only thing is that the two members will be mostly outside.
Next day evening I checked the clock time as a regular practice whenever I am home – it is 6PM. It will take half an hour more for Sruthi to come back from the college, I thought…
Though, I suddenly realized that her college days are over and she won’t be coming at 6.30PM anymore….Till now, me and wife would eagerly used to watch from the window after 6.30 to see if she is walking down in the road. When she gets delayed, our heart beat would rise. I loved such anxiety, such wait and the mounting up of stress – that was part of my life. But I won’t be able to experience that kind of tension from today. That makes me sadder.
Sometimes, she would call and say:”Appa, heavy traffic, I might be delayed…”
My best friend Sahana told me: “Just try to believe that she has gone for a Tech-Fest representing her college. She will come back after few days. Good thing is that this time you don’t have to accompany her. Rajeesh is a very good and honest boy. He will take good care of her, better than you did…”
But we feel a vacuum in the home. I don’t believe in the science that says vacuum is weightless. It weighs a lot. It is really heavy. You can feel the heaviness in your heart.
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