One day, if I choose to marry, it would be because I want what my parents have. They have a beautiful marriage. And they got married four years ago.
My dad was an Army Major. When he was 29, he married my biological mother who was then 25 years old. I was born the next year followed by my brother four years later. We were a close-knit family. My mum and dad were like one unit. They did everything together. They partied, travelled the world, fought like crazies then made up; they loved, laughed and lived life. They were partners and friends.
In 2009, my mother died due to kidney failure. My dad’s life began to unravel. He seldom smiled.
But then I began noticing a change early 2012. Now he smiled a bit more often. It was during this time that dad had met Leelavathi, back home in Kerala. They were neighbours. She was 58-years-old leading an independent life, running a successful boutique and was the president of the Co-operative society. She was a mother and grandmother.
When she was 18, Leelavathi got married to a soldier in the Army. By 23 she was the mother of three daughters and a widow. The woman who had never stepped out of her house, turned into an entrepreneur because she wanted to get her daughters educated. When the time came, she made sure that they were married well.
Leelavathi’s ancestral property was adjacent to my father’s, and she had some complications in selling her land. She and my dad met to discuss the issue. It seems she made quite an impression on my father. A few days later she got his Bangalore number from the neighbours and called him. She wanted to talk some more, about the property. More calls followed. Now they talked less and less about the property and more about themselves. After a month, my dad proposed to her and she accepted. Then all hell broke loose.
Her family, especially her children, were mortified. They felt it was too late for their mother to marry. They felt she should’ve married when she was young. But, she spent her youth trying to make a life for her children. Family and friends asked: “What’s the need for her to get married now?” Both my dad and she wanted companionship. Someone to share their life with. What is wrong with that?
When my father told me that he wanted to marry her but would like to wait until I settled down, I told him not to. Initially, my heart pinched a little at the thought of somebody else taking my mum’s place. But then I realised that I was foolish. My mother wasn’t coming back. I haven’t found love. But my father had. So why should he wait? So I told him, “Dad, it’s time I met your girlfriend.”
When I met her, I knew my father had made the right choice. She is this strong, kind and loving human being. And she had made an elaborate 16-course meal for me. How can I not love her? With her family not being receptive to the union, the couple couldn’t meet often. But they talked over the phone regularly. Though Leelavati wanted to marry, she also wanted her children’s approval. My dad went to the elders of her family with a formal marriage proposal. But it was rejected.
I knew it would be difficult for them to get married in their hometown. So I asked my father to elope. I promised to help him. I got an apartment ready in Cochin. Found a maid, milkman, newspaper vendor and vegetable seller so that they can live comfortably without any worries. In case they wanted to move to Bangalore, I made arrangements for a fully-furnished villa to be available to the newlyweds. But they decided to get married in Kerala. The marriage took place a few months later at a temple with just a few of us present.
Today, they are the happiest couple in my circles. Mum and dad travel between Kerala and Bangalore. It makes me happy and hopeful (for myself) to see them so happy.