Those happy golden years

Those happy golden years

An arranged marriage or love marriage? Which would be a better choice is often discussed by young people these days. “We have to know our partners really well before we tie the knot,” is a further emphasis in voting for a successful marriage.

A typical scene during the time of our parents and grandparents was where the boy came to meet the girl. It was a conglomeration of two families — fathers, mothers, both maternal and paternal uncles and aunts, grandmas and grandpas, this cousin and that. The meeting would end up being an occasion in itself with laughter, food and fun. 

How much the boy or girl had a say in the matter was immaterial. Eyes would meet, shy glances would be exchanged, and if the couple was lucky to exchange a few words quietly, well, that would be an added bonus. The “Gen Now" looks on in amazement at such meetings. Those were the days, they say. But didn’t those marriages work beautifully in their own way? Where love grew with not "me” but “us”. How nice it is to see a portrait of the same couple together after 50 long years.

I recall my own grandparents celebrating 50 years of togetherness. While my grandfather was on the quiet side my grandma was the one full of beans. Life went on happily in our ancestral home where these two ensured that the family ties remained unbreakable with the children and grandchildren right till the end, all along fostering their lovely marriage.

This blessing has continued with my own parents celebrating their 50th anniversary — something they find really hard to believe! There is so much to talk about “from jab we met”. It was a perfect bonding of families, right from a traditional engagement with the bride being taken to choose her ring accompanied by many members of the family, to every little preparation for the big day!

So what made for a happy marriage? Little things in small ways — be it ironing a shirt in the morning, keeping a lime juice ready to have on his way out or a hot tea in the evenings. These may sound mundane and trivial, but they add years to that sacred bond. It was also quiet companionship sometimes, where my father read through his case files in the evenings while my mother sat with a novel by his side.

A friend recently visited my parents. Being a foodie, he began speaking of all the food joints that are good in Mangaluru. "Best business, uncle,” he affirmed, and asked, “Do you go out, uncle?” “Why should I?” replied my father, “when I have married the best cook?”

It has been a life of sharing all along. Not you better than I. No blame games, patiently tending to sickness, cooking up a variety of meals, and my dad quietly doing the dishes when the house help suddenly disappointed. There were never angry arguments but only solutions to problems, there was always a make-up kiss before nightfall and waking up to a happy dawn. But most of all, the daily prayers played a big part.

These were the arranged marriages of those days. A legacy shown by examples of giving, loving and caring for our own to take forward. But times have changed, or have we?