I have never been a big fan of English songs – somehow I have never been able to make a lot of sense of the various genres that exist in that space. I do listen to some Blues, country and Western classical music, but that is my limit with English music admiration. But there is one English song that I like and enjoy listening to – “Times They Are A-changin’” by Bob Dylan. More than the lilting melody, what attracts me to this song are the lyrics, which are so apt for our current way of life. When we were young, getting married to someone of our choice was looked down upon, but now falling in love and getting married to the man or woman of your dreams has become a matter of routine. So, Mr. Dylan you were absolutely spot-on when you rendered this song!
The concept of falling in love and getting wedded to him or her, were a strict no-no in our neo-conservative family. I clearly recollect the furor created by one of my cousins when she announced that she wanted to marry someone of her choice. The boy was a Malayalee and also from our community, but the pronouncement still managed to ruffle a few feathers among the elders of the family. Though my family elders were all well-educated, held prestigious positions in reputed organizations then and were up-to-date with the happenings around the world, they were still vary and reluctant to accept such a proposition from my cousin. I still remember the long closed-room discussions that the family elders had with this cousin, while we kids were shooed out of the room. I was then old enough to know that something exciting was about to happen in the family – if approved, this was to be the first “love marriage” in the family! After two days of heated deliberations, the prospective groom was called over for a “casual” colloquy with my father and other uncles of the family. Then finally after a week, during which I am sure my cousin would have been on tenterhooks, the elders aversely gave their consent, and thus I was witness to the first “love marriage” in our family. Having been brought up on the Hindi movie staple of over-dramatization and melodrama, the whole thing was not as exciting as I assumed it would be, but it was fun nevertheless.
My parents continued to tut-tut their way through news of anyone in the family (or neighbourhood) getting married to a person of their choice, till my little sister went and did the unthinkable. She was then on the verge of completing her post-graduation studies and one fine day announced that she was in love with one of her (non-Malayalee) college mates, to whom she wanted to get married. She had always been the apple of my parents’ eye, and they in turn had always cherished myriad dreams of her getting married as per their wishes, so to say that this proclamation came as a big shock would be an understatement. I had always suspected that there was someone “special” in my sister’s life then, so this was not a surprise to me. But the process of convincing my parents, his parents and above all our grand-parents had all the makings of a theatrical Hindi TV serial, with tears enough to flood the city by the mothers, generally gratuitous advise from the grandparents, discussions between the fathers and in between all this, an amused me. In the end everything worked out well for my sister and they got married to the man she chose for herself. This also paved the way for me when I wanted to get married to the woman who changed my life for the better (though I was determined to go ahead with my wedding plans, even at the cost of my parents opposing my decision). After all, this was the woman who had pulled me out of the depressive morass I was going through at the time I met her. She had made me realize how hollow my life was, and showed me how wonderful life could be – I was not going to let go off her without a fight. I was based in Pune those days so my would-be wife had to face a “friendly” parley with my parents and sister! Knowing my wife I can very well guess the kind of interaction it would have been – my spouse just thrives on “friendly banters”. But it ended well for me and I wed that adorable woman. Convincing my wife’s parents was even easier. In their younger days, my in-laws had helped quite a few of their friends get married – even helped a couple elope in one case. So when I expressed my wish to marry their daughter (do not ask me how nervous I was!) they happily agreed.
I have always subscribed to the motto that change is the only constant in life, and I have always welcomed change with open arms. Unless you keep updating and upgrading your life, you would be stuck in a rut with nowhere to go. So when I see the trend of more youngsters marrying across communities, castes, faiths and religions (in urban India for sure, not so sure about the rural Bharat), it makes me very happy. Scientifically too it has been observed that inter-mingling of the global genetic pool makes for a stronger future generation. As I have mentioned in one of my earlier blogs, the current lot of youngsters are way more confident and better informed than we were at the same age. The easy availability of information at the tip of their fingers has made the process of their growing up so much less demanding. The most reformist change that I have noticed is that of the modern-day parents too accepting such allegiances. One such marriage takes place this week in our family – one of the progeny of the above-mentioned cousin is getting married outside the community and the whole global diaspora that makes up our family, is descending on Mumbai to make this a grand affair.
So, welcome to the family Shruti – we speak a tongue that may sound terribly scary to you and, from whatever little you have seen of us we may all seem certifiably crazy, but I can assure you that when it comes to showering love on our family, we are big dilwale!!!