Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sixty-fifth anniversary

My parents will be celebrating their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary tomorrow.

I'm trying to imagine them that many years ago.

My father was just over twenty years old, both his sisters were married, his brother was nine years old, and his mother was seriously ill. There was really no one to take care of her. An English surgeon had demanded ten thousand rupees to operate upon her. That kind of money was an impossible sum for either my grandfather or his father-in-law to raise. They could only try to make her as comfortable as possible.

A good daughter-in-law seemed to be a practical solution, although my father had wanted to study further, to establish himself before entering matrimony. They knew my mother's family, and a match was arranged.

My mother was barely fifteen-and-a-half when they got married, sixty-five years ago. At an age when most youngsters are struggling with their tenth grade board exams, she got married and spent several months looking after her mother-in-law till her demise a few months later.

I've known my parents all my life, obviously, but I cannot imagine them at a time when they were not my parents- as a young couple with just one son for nine years, till my sister was born.
They were ahead of their times in wanting to have just two children, but since I was written in the kismet of the Sometimes Resident Engineer, I was the accidental child who had to happen.
And who became the cherished youngest child.

Sixty-five years is a lifetime of memories which now only they share. So many of their seniors, juniors and contemporaries are no more. They have lived a decent, middle-class, simple life, and have cared for and educated us to the best of their ability. They live with me now, my father almost bed-ridden, my frail, delicate mother looking after him with a fierce independence that will not allow me to employ a home-nurse.

My mother usually wears house-coats all the time now- dressing in a saree for an expected visitor is a great effort that she may or may not make. But, despite the gowns, she is still always neat and tidy and looks well groomed. She has become very absent-minded but can laugh about it, keeping her walking stick very carefully, and then forgetting where she's kept it.

My once always well-dressed, dapper father lives in pyjamas and soft, worn out shirts. Each new shirt I get him is worn once and rejected as not being soft enough.

They have plenty of books, lots of music.

What do you get as a gift for people whose lives are, willy-nilly, simplified beyond recognition?

If only I could get for them their good health and independence. Sorry, not possible.

As much loving attention as I can give them- certainly.

Something to eat that they enjoy, which must also be easy to digest- definitely.

Some material object to commemorate this day, so many years ago, which was the beginning of so many lives- of their three children, one of whom has sadly pre-deceased them, and several grandchildren. Yes, but what?

Cards, yes, flowers, yes. A brand new tray and bright new mugs for their morning tea. Tiny chutney bowls for the non-spicy coriander chutney I will make tomorrow. I hope that they like these small gifts, and that they have a bright and sunny day, full of joy and laughter.


Savani said...

Many, many happy returns of the day to you parents, Dipali. I think you have given them the bset goft of all. They are in the loving company of their child. I can't think what more I could want in my old age! What a lovely post!

Neera said...

A very very Happy Anniversary to the great couple who have been together for 65 years!! Wow! And many good wishes to you too! Time and love is all that one needs and coming from their own children makes it all the more wonderful!

Your post left me misty eyed! I am glad beyond words that they have a daughter like you to give them the loving attention they so need right now!

A Muser said...

Happy anniversary to your parents! Sixty-five years of togetherness is a great milestone. How about some champagne? :))

Anonymous said...

A very, very Happy Anniversary to your parents - and all the happiness and togetherness. :) *HUGS*

david mcmahon said...

Hi Dipali,

I came here to thank you for the lovely comment on my pictures of the Victoria Memorial....

... but instead I was captivated with this post.

What can I wish your parents on this special anniversary? I wish them joy, laughter, life's comforts, companionship, days that enthuse them rather than bore them -- and of course I wish them the opportunity to pass on to you the secret to a joyous life spent together.

God bless them and you.

My very best wishes (not because I am Calcutta-born)


Space Bar said...

Dipali can I hug you? Virtually, of course. My grandfather died when he was a few months shy of 85. He and my grandmom had been married for 63 years. If he was alive today, they would have made 65 years together. But whatever they had was precious and that generation was something else. i don't think we could make the leaps of faith and change they made.

What to give as a gift? Please give them this poem by Lisel Mueller.

Unknown said...

Dipali, that was a lovely post.

Sue said...

You know, a gift I've seen really appreciated by your parents' generation is a biography by their children. Even if is only ever a manuscript to be handed down to the next generations.

They lived through such tumultuous times, and as you say, it's difficult to visualise the young people they once were, so it might be a gift of sorts.

I wish I had my grandfather's stories. I barely remember them and nobody else seems to either.

I tried to call today, btw, to wish them, but the lines stayed jammed. Please tell them I remembered them today.

Unknown said...

A very Happy Anniversary to this incredibly blessed couple .I wish them laughter and sunshine and the contentment of easy silences and companionship and the love and devotion of their family. With a daughter like you I m not sure they would want for anything much. Hugs :)I agree with Sunayana - do get their memories down on paper .

S said...

This has to be one of the most touching posts I've read recently :). Much happiness to your parents and you. Hope they had a lovely day!

Parul said...

"What do you get as a gift for people whose lives are, willy-nilly, simplified beyond recognition?"

What a beautiful....and true...sentiment.
I myself have been struggling with gift ideas for my FIL for a long time now because his life too is simplified beyond recognition. But hey, I am going to steal your mugs and chutney katori idea completely (May I?).

Another favour - is there a poem that I can print and give to him? I think he would like that...I cant write any myself though :)

Anonymous said...

many many happy returns of the day to them!

I wish they have many more years of their simple life together, and I wish that they live each day doing just what they want to do, whether listening to music or reading books or just being with each other!

lots and lots of love

- chandni

Sukhaloka said...

Wow, that's such a moving post :).

Here's wishing them good health and more comfortable years together.

Thinking Cramps said...

A wonderful, memorable day and happy, healthy returns are what I wiwsh your parents. It moved me to read this. Since I got married about 14 months ago, I have begun to see the sort of bond it can be. And I can only imagine how much a partnership that has been in place that long can become your entire life.

Vrijilesh Rai said...

My first visit to this space and I find a lovely post out here..

Wishing your parents many many more happy anniversaries!

Anonymous said...

By the way, you're tagged! :)

Usha said...

Lovely post dipali. I am sure they loved your gifts although you are lucky to be able to give them the gift of your love and care at a time they need it most.

Opal Scraps said...

wow @ sixty-fifth!!

lime said...

such longevity together and still such tender devotion between them. i have no doubt whatever you do will be appreciated by them. happy anniversary to them.

(btw, i found my way here from david's)

Jeni said...

Thanks to David, I found my way here and reading your post really moved me. How incredible it is that some people can manage to live as a married couple that many years! That is awesome. My parents only managed 14 months of marriage before my father died of cancer. My husband and I survived 8 years of not-so-wedded-bliss before we divorced but my grandparents were married for 55 years and in the 12 years I lived with them -from infancy to my grandfather's death -I never heard a cross word pass between them. A beautiful post and tribute to your parents.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post, hope they had a wonderful day

Unknown said...

mommy we hope we can be there for you as you have been there for them! of course we are all rather irreverent and promise to rag you till kingdom come.....!!!!
the eldest one on behalf of all four of your kids.

noon said...

Hi! My first time here. You atlas post together with this one - I feel like I already know you and your family. So nicely written...and I can so relate to your post. I am the youngest (clearly an accident) child in a family of six and my father (who was very active and fit when he suddenly passed away from pneumonia last year) used to dress well, was so majestic, had a certain style about him...used to be very fond of RD and had a huge collection of their magazines and books...his life after retirement and towards his last years was so simple and different from how he was when he was in India...I really enjoyed this post...made me feel like you can connect to a totally unknown person just from a simple post like this...
I wish for your parents the very best that is possible in terms of their health and a lot of are truly their prize!

dipali said...

Dear old friends and new ones, thank you so much for all your good wishes and kind thoughts. The actual anniversary was lovely- starting with the early morning cards, flowers, tea tray and sunny yellow mugs!
My husband was away on work, (only got back the next day) so it was a very relaxed, non-routine, catching up with lots of conversations kind of day. My parents were a little bemused by all this blog business, of my sharing their anniversary with the blogosphere,of virtual friends greeting them from across the globe, but were certainly pleased to receive each message.
Thank you all very very much.

SpaceBar: Thanks for the hug:)
The poem was just so beautiful.

Sue and Eve's Lungs: The idea is brilliant. Implementing it will take an effort which I must gear
myself up to make.

Parul, you are most welcome to steal any ideas from me! Don't know about a poem, though. Mail me something more about your FIL and maybe something suitable can be found.

a muser: champagne it will be, but you have to get here first!

noon: I think there was something so special about the gentlemen of that generation. I guess we are really lucky accidents:)

anamika: just seeing that kind of bond makes it a possible concept, I guess:)

mumbaigirl, anansi, vrij, lime, jeni, the e-homemaker: great to see you here- welcome.
dotmom, neera, aanchal, david, raj,
chandni, suki, usha: Thank you so much.

maneesha and siblings: my dear irreverent children, you have always been there for us, in ways that I can never forget.(Eyes brim over, runs away).

Utopia said...

awwwww that is so touching. 65 years is long long time :-)

Nat said...

Dear Dipali,

You're one of the lucky ones (touchwood) to be able to be so near your parents AND take care of them. You know where I'm coming from. :)
Happy Anniversary to them and wishing you all many more good times together :)
Those chiffon sarees sent me off on a totally different tangent of thought...I bring back all kinds of small,silly things from home just to have a piece of home, our life together before too lol. Wish I could lug the nice stuff too!

Anonymous said...


My first visiit to ur post...
and its really gr8 good to join on a celebration...
love ripens with time...and its makes u more special:_)))

Happy aniversary to u too:-))

Choxbox said...

not sure who's luckier - you or them!

Choxbox said...

oh btw done the tag :)

Unknown said...

Cant believe I didnt leave a comment on this, considering have come back to read it more than once. Wishing your parents a wonderful anniversary albeit belated, and many more joyful years of togetherness....its stories like these that give me hope considering every marriage around seems to be disintegrating.

dipali said...

utopia and chakoli: Thank you, and welcome to my blog!
Choxbox, Kiran: Glad to see you here,
I'd been missing you.
nosh n reh's mum: Thank you so much.
All good wishes to you at this difficult time.

Maggie said...

Wow! That is such a wonderful story - I don't really think you could give them any material gift that would make them happier than this post and your love. I hope they had a happy day, and wish them many more years of happy togetherness.

Just Like That said...

dipali, I'm very very late, but better late than never, isn't it?
You always pop in with something on my posts, and I've been wanting to visit you for a long time, today I did, and I liked all I read, but I just HAD to comment on this post. YOu are SO lucky and so are they, to have a daughter like you. God bless them with good health and happiness and more love in their- and your- life together and may all of you see many more happy years together.. Family is such a treasure!

dipali said...

@moppet's mom: Thanks for all the good wihes:)
@just like that: I'm glad to see you here, too. Thanks:)