‘Enna sollarai,? What you say?,’ he turned his back and sought permission from his wife, as all husbands do always.
’you take care of konthai’, Mami standing tall, with strong hands, huge body and big face looked sternly at her husband,” no, let me go and sit there for some time and enjoy the fun of the youngsters. There is life there.”
“You spent five decades together with me, with no life in me?” Mama could have asked. But he didn’t. My esteem of him did not get lowered by an inch, by his silence. More you age, wiser you become, as I have..
“Why don’t you bring konthai too?” I suggested anxious to have the family’s company. Konthai also came, along with his father. He was not a kid, as I expected. A middle aged man with robust body likes his mom, and receding hair and proceeding abdomen – he became my friend at the very sight as I liked his benign, care-free smile. There was an air of informality around him.
“Who in this group are the brides and grooms?” inquired the old man, a very valid question, not unexpected. No sooner I introduced the two couples, came the shot, “to which place are they going for honey-moon?’. Too early to ask that question, I thought, as the marriage was yet to take place.
“A brilliant sixer”, commented my son in law, turning his head towards the window.
“Ada kema!” was the comment of Nair, my friend, assuming mama was a Malayalam-illiterate.
“Here you go,” yelled a niece, unable to control her instant jubilation.
“Mama, the wedding is yet to take place,” I replied, as politely as I could, “let them go wherever they want to. It is none of my business, eh?” That last sentence was to say,’ It is none of your business too’
“Athu enna kelvi ? what a stupid question to ask “ Mami admonished her husband and added facing me, “every time he greets a newly wedded couple, he asks that stupid question” . She emphasized on the word ‘stupid’, which was not necessary, I thought..
“But here, mami, the wedding is yet to take place” reminded my smart young niece.
“I am sorry for Appa’s query”, the son remarked in an apologetic tone. “His desire for his own honey moon remains unfulfilled as on today. The couple spent their first night and several nights afterwards at home and never in a hotel, when he got married but still, prompted by his friends, he put forward the idea, overcoming his shyness, to his in-laws, which was outright rejected, not by them but by his mom.
“Nothing doing, my son should spend his first wedding night in my house only. That has been the practice. The first seed should germinate and the first shoot should develop from our ancestral house, not in a holiday resort or a hotel” And once the lady of the house took a decision then and now, that was final.’
His father was enjoying every word of his son and suddenly I developed sympathy and love for that old man. He was really beaming. What is there to get excited about one’s wedding, after the wedding and anyway after fifty or so years? Something is abnormal with this man, I thought for a moment, though overtly he looked normal. I have hardly seen any husband for a few decades beaming when a mention of their wedding is made. His wife, busy playing with the kids, hardly appeared to have followed the conversation. He looked at her and alternately at me as if to say how lucky he was, to have a wife like her. How many husbands can, at his age, inwardly have that joy and satisfaction?
‘Many, including me’, I hear your saying. I know your wife is in the audible distance. I agree with you, as mine is also not far away.
“You should have celebrated his sixtieth birthday night as a honey moon,” I asked his son, “we do celebrate that day as a wedding anniversary of elders, right?’.
“We wanted to”, replied Konthai, “but my mother flatly refused. She was not prepared to spend a night with him in a hotel”
His mother turned and stared at me, as if it was I who wanted her to share a hotel room with her husband.
I liked that family. A contended husband, a serious- looking mother and an easy-going son.
“Come for the wedding, with your family”’. I invited the father and gave him the date and location particulars. That was not convenient as there was some important work to be addressed to.
“Then, come for the reception in Hyderabad’ I pleaded.”
“‘What date is that?” He asked.
“July 17th at Hotel Suprabhath, in Habsiguda”
“’July 17th is my dad’s 70th birthday”’ commented Konthai, enthusiasm bubbling in his word.
“Excellent”, I almost jumped from my seat. “We will celebrate your parents honey moon in Hotel Suprabhat. I have booked a dozen rooms; a double bed room goes to them’
Mama was excited; mami had no objection. The son too was willing.
“I will be back, I will be back in time to Hyderabad”, the senior yelled like a kid invited for a magic show, nodded his head to emphasize his willingness and flashed a happy smile, while alighting at the Trichur Station, on the way to our destination..
“He is excited about the party”’ I commended. “No, about the honey-moon’, remarked Nair.
“You are a cruel man and I dislike you for that comment”’ I told him. “That is not the way to talk about a man of your father’s age”’
“My father too didn’t have a honey-moon but he never spent his life moaning for that”’ Nair shot back.
July 17th, we waited for them. They didn’t turn up. ‘Heavy rains.’ I tried to console myself, finding a genuine reason for their absence.
But the reason was not that. Mama was not alive on July 17th.
“Appa passed away in sleep, two days before your function’. His son called to convey the sad news,”he hadn’t been all that normal mentally and despite his dementia problems, hadn’t forgotten his missed honey- moon and was, in fact looking forward for the July 17 party”.’