Happy Birthday dear Amma

Dear children,

I am encouraged to write this, after reading Usha's memory jottings on Amma.

Amma and I have lived together for 54 years. We have meant so much for each other, that we would fight, shout, shut up when the steam is off, and get back to a life of love and normalcy. In fact, theoccasional bouts have spiced up our lives, and made it meaningful and purposeful.

I am a much different man to-day, not the old combative debator, I am contented and not the agrressively ambitious person that I was. In a word, spirituality has begun to enter me, and I can see myself influencing events in my life.

At the time of our marriage negotiations, in May or June of 1956, Thatha came to see me at my apartment - which I had taken in Sion paying an astronomical (by then standard) pugdi of Rs.3000, and a monthly rent pf Rs.80/. This was considered a great achievement for a boy of my age, and only less than 3 years in Bombay. Thatha was naturally impressed, but I said I had a question. Your daughter is very good-looking, has a family pedigree and status. You are yourself a person of recognised status - he had been Suppy and Traffic Manager og General Motors, and later Supplies Manager of Tata Mercedes Benz. She is less than 16 years of age, which was then the legally permitted age for marriage. I am 27 years old, and there is an unacceptable gap of 11 years plus between us. Why can't you find a younger person to marry her? He was bowled over by the question, but appreciated it and said he appreciated my openness. He answered" My mother had wanted me to marry my daughters off before they are 16, and she died only in 1955. Second, if I want a younger person for her, then, on your logic, he has to be around 23-24. That kind of boy would either not have your kind of qualification or professional status that you have. I have given her a very comfortable life, so far, and it is my wish that she continues to enjoy it or even improve on it. Are you now satisfied with my selection. The age factor is a sacrifice worth making to get at the other positives for her. We then admired each other and deal was concluded. So, here we are, together, after 54 years, enjoying happy tidings from our children and their families. You have - each one of you - worked to make this possible. At 81, I have a very very great sense of satisfaction and achievement at what I wanted to achieve in life and what I actually did. Of course, Amma has made all this possible. She had to put up with my tantrums, idiosyncracies, rigidities etc. but bore the brunt, because she understood that inside of this seemingly incorrigible and obstinate person, there is character, determination and love.

When we were coming to Ernakulam end of 1964, as usual, I had taken the decision and had only informed Amma about it. She had no great idea about Kerala then , having had inter-action with only my family in Kalpathy. When we came here and perched in Bharat ourist ome for several weeks, she was ov erwhelmned, so were the four children. I remember Amma knew no Malayalam, but would pick up the athrubhoomi, and show the Movie shedule to Saramma and ask her to read it to her. Can you believe it, in less than a few months, she started reading it herself, and having had no one to in struct her. In a couple of years, she started speaking the language, today she can read and ubderstand it as fast as any alayalee. She has also significantly improved her reading habits and in into the Puranas and ancient Indian lore. I can go on , but shall wait for her next birthday.

Love to all the children, Appa / Thatha


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