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This is another article on family and children, again in the form of a short story. I am sad to say this is a real life incident which I took a lot of trouble to embellish to protect the identity of the family. Every one who read this said they can’t help feeling heavy at the end. But that’s life. Those of us who still have the time … well, I am dedicating this piece to them.
Time and Tide… I
As they say time and tide wait for no man.
“Hello, One moment please.”
Though Madhavan was in a hurry to go to work, he could not ignore the pleas of his brand new wife, Malathi. Their marriage was just about a month old. The time was early seventies when the wives were not sure how to address their husbands. Calling hubbies by their first names was to become a fashion much later.
“Malu, make it fast. I am already late.”
“My parents are coming over here on Friday. If you can take Saturday off we can show them around Bangalore. They have not visited any place outside our village. Can you apply for leave on Saturday?”
“No chance, dear. I have signed up for coaching classes to write the CAIIB exams, which starts on Saturday evening. Unless I pass these exams I won’t become an officer. How long do you thing I can slog as a clerk? How long can we live in this four hundred square feet house? I am working for a goal. So don’t disturb me. But what prevents you from taking them around? I’ll give you the money. I will book you people on a conducted tour so that you don’t miss any of the places.”
Madhavan did not attempt to infer any thing from Malathi’s defensive smile. It was bland and hid a lot of strong emotions. She realised that their honeymoon was over and that she had fallen into the land of reality with a thud.
Malathi had been brought up as a no-non-sense village girl. Though she was very soft and courteous on the outside she was rather hard inside and she never hesitated to ingest the bitter realities of life. She had the good sense to understand that her husband Madhavan, a handsome responsible man of clean habits, was fiercely attached to his banking career. The first three items in his list of priorities were number one his job, number two his job and number three his job. She knew that Madhavan’s career was his jealous first wife while she came only a poor second.
As they say time and tide wait for no man. Months rolled by.
An excited Malathi received Madhavan one evening. “Father has written that Renu’s marriage has been fixed. It’s on the thirtieth of next month. Father is insisting that we should go to our village at least a week before the event. It would be a big family reunion, which we shouldn’t miss. More than that a marriage in our village is a grand affair with feasts for three days, picnic to the nearby hillock, entertainment etc. We could not enjoy these things fully during our marriage. So….”
Renuka was Malathi’s younger sister. Madhavan did not share his wife’s excitement.
“Malu dear, I don’t mind your going to the village even fifteen days before the marriage. Don’t you know that next month is our year-end? I can come only a day before if at all I can come.”
Malathi’s face fell. Her father came all the way to Bangalore to take her. Madhavan landed in the village just minutes before the marriage ceremony and left soon after the marriage-feast was over.
By then Malathi was perfectly reconciled to her husband’s career obsession. Each man had his fault. Thankfully Madhavan’s fault lied just in his being workaholic. Had there been any other addictions or failings her life would have been downright miserable. Malathi thanked God for what had been given to her.
As they say time and tide wait for no man.
Soon a time came where Malathi forgot about every thing else.
Madhavan who returned late after attending some coaching classes was startled at the wonderful reception he got from his wife.
Malathi hugged her husband and whispered something into his ears.
Madhavan in turn hugged her and then lifted her up and danced with her. God was a little more liberal than his superiors were. Before his long-dreamt promotion as an officer came through his promotion as a father came in. Madhavan forgot every thing; but just for a few minutes. When the issue of practical exigencies was taken up he went back to his shell.
“I have fixed up an appointment with a Gynec tomorrow at eleven. Though I know the place and can go by myself, you know, in the present condition I am a little… what shall I say, embarrassed. And I want you to be holding my hand when the Gynec confirms it. That will be a once-in-a-life-time moment for us both. So will you please come and take me there? Please… You can go to your bank directly from there. I will come home by auto.”
Madhavan was about to yield; but suddenly he remembered something.
“Malu, I would love to come. But right now branch inspection is going on. The work is hectic. Of course if I tell the reason my Manager would give the permission. But this is the time to impress the Manager. So please understand….”
Malathi understood with a sigh. She went alone to the Gynec who confirmed the sweet news.