“Should I or should I not marry him?” The answer to the question was in the two pieces of paper which she folded carefully, juggled it in her hands, laid them out in front of a statue of god and picked one of them. This is how Mangala, my mother, decided to marry my father, Raja. While Appa doesn’t miss out on an opportunity to narrate this story, Amma claims that she left it in the hands of god to guide her in the right direction. But every time I am reminded of this incident, I think to myself that it was meant to be.
My father, a math and science genius, operates on what I like to call the Raja Standard Time. The drive to school with him meant listening to the radio and singing the wrong lyrics confidently, planning my birthday party; while he abused amateur drivers, I would panic about getting demerit points for being late to class.
Watching cricket with him includes listening to him curse the team selection, all the while swearing never to watch another game again but ending up at a stadium or waking up at ungodly hours to watch yet another game.
Selectively outgoing and spontaneous as he is, his sole goal in life is to embarrass his children and ensure we have the best of all – something he has mastered.
My mother, a dedicated and understanding teacher, has a dictionary of her own. In this dictionary, words like sleeping in and procrastinating are missing.
Growing up, she’d drive me around the apartment block- the only way to get me to eat- let me hold onto the button of her nighty while I fell asleep, and execute all my birthday party plans perfectly.
The rides back home from school were filled with complaints about my father, my friends, my teachers, and the amount of homework I had.
Selectively quiet and meticulous, she taught my brother and me the importance of telling the truth, of learning from each other, and pushed us to step out of our comfort zones.
About a fortnight ago, my father jammed to ‘Chura Liya Hai Tumne Jo Dil Ko’ from Yaadon Ki Baraat and said, “Mangala, I used to sing this to my girlfriends.” To which my mom just said, “Okay, Raja.” Disappointed with her reply, my father just huffed and puffed like a little boy. Watching this unfold, it struck me that I share a friendship with them. They created an environment wherein I can bare my heart and cry my lungs out without thinking twice. When I have had no one to play with, my mother has been my partner in crime. When I missed out on an interesting game, my father has spent time trying to vividly describe the events to me, despite the several videos on the internet. They have befriended our respective friends, welcomed them with open arms, and have spent time gossiping, pulling their legs, and pampering them.
Raja, the romantic and Mangala, the prose, make a solid team together. In 32 years, they have brought up two children, welcomed a daughter-in-law, continue to fight like little children, have walked through difficult times together, and majored in the art of forgiving, making amends, and agreeing to disagree. They have gone above and beyond their call of duty to provide my brother and I with a safe and comfortable life, and showered us with unconditional love.
Dear Amma & Appa,
Happy Anniversary, thank you for always being the coolest parents on the block!
Skanda, Karishma, and your favourite child, Shriya.