If you read the title of this blog and you are wondering who the second man in my life is, let your dirty mind not wander anymore, I do not have an illicit paramour! The two men in my life are my husband and my dad. As many of you know, my dad passed away and departed to his heavenly abode in 1987. Yet, he is still present with me, in my thoughts, in my memories, in my actions and in the very core of my being. He is omnipresent and omniscient. Once in a while, I get to hug him in my dreams only to wake up with a terrible longing of wanting to hug him physically in the real world. When I miss him too much, I go and sit by his photograph and it seems like I am in his company which always calms me down and comforts me.
My dad was the most dashing, dazzling, dynamic and daring person I know. He was six feet and one inch tall, broad shouldered with a sharp nose, thick curly hair and big eyes. He was in the army for a short while and he looked incredibly handsome in his military uniform. He was an extrovert, he cherished company, he loved to invite people home for dinner and the way he met people by shaking their hands robustly and maintaining great eye contact was really charming. He could not hold his drinks and when he had one too many, he would talk in a loud booming voice, enthralling people with his tales of the army and he would always be the life of the party. He loved watching movies and during his army days he would fly in the helicopter with his friends to catch a show at the neighboring town and then fly back to base. He also won the prestigious and coveted Raksha medal while in service.
We were four sisters and my dad believed that his daughters were the best at everything. He could not stop bragging about us. In his eyes, a piece of art work/coloring done by me was a Monet masterpiece, the tea I made for him could very well be the best tea in the world and of course, we were the smartest, brightest child prodigies around. I remember winning third place at a state level story competition and when I went to get the prize on the stage, my father had arranged for a professional photographer complete with a big camera stand and fancy lenses to take pictures of me as though I was a celebrity!
He was insanely generous with gifts, if you asked for one thing; he would shower ten of those upon you. He was also quick tempered and impatient. While driving, he would constantly honk till the other drivers on the road made way for him! He would never get angry at us but god forbid, if any young man decided to write a romantic letter to one of his daughters or misbehave with one of them, that guy would face a storm of my dad’s torrid fury and blazing vengeance.
My dad loved babies and was willing to have a fifth child. My mom, of course put her foot down and said - no more, four is enough! When I had my first son in 2002, I really missed my dad as I knew that he had always wanted a son. It is so heartbreaking and ironic that today he has seven grandsons and yet he is not here to see them or play with them. He lives on in my son Arjun whose eyes are just like my dad’s - big, sparkling and popping. Arjun has the same voice and he is a wonderful orator like his nana (grandfather). Arjun can engage a crowd with an impromptu speech just like my dad could.
Few days back my daughter told me that when she grows up she wants to marry somebody just like her dad. Then she asked me, “Mom, did you want to marry somebody like your dad?” I was stumped by her question. I told her that we may think we have a type of man we are looking for but then life has other gifts in store.
Marriages are made in heaven or in my case arranged by my mom and uncle. My children are always disappointed by the story of how their parents (Ajay and Mona) met. Arjun told us that our story sounds like we were out in the market to buy a cow! My kids can be so brutal sometimes. I wish I had a more romantic story to tell them but I do not have one.
When we met, I was impressed by Ajay’s good looks, he was tall (5’11”) and he did not smoke (this was very important to me, my dad smoked lot and I did not like that) and he also seemed very nice and decent. He did not talk much in the first meeting and so I told my mom –“I like him but he does not talk much.” My mom replied in her usual headstrong way –“That is good, I find people who talk too much really annoying!” I kidded with her if she was finding a match for herself or for me! Then, she told me that the next time I meet him I should be quiet and give him a chance to talk. So that is what I did and slowly and steadily he opened up to me. I discovered that he had a great personality with a fantastic sense of humor.
He is also very calm, disciplined, patient, hardworking and organized. My husband is a planner and he always makes decisions after weighing the pros and the cons. If he has to buy any electronic device or even clothes he visits multiples shops, compares prices and takes his time to decide. I feel flattered that marrying me was the only impulsive decision he ever made in his life. I was the first girl he met, the first proposal and even though his family wanted him to meet some more girls, he stuck with me. He was smitten and committed and that gives me a tingling thrill to this day.
Despite being outgoing and social my dad had an underlying sense of sadness and melancholy about life. He lost his own dad when he was a baby and he remembers people telling him how manhoos(unlucky) he was that his arrival brought his own father’s death . My heart breaks when I imagine my dad as a little boy. His mom remarried and he had several more siblings but the loss of his biological dad and lack of communication with that side of the family really ate at him all through his life. I wish I could have taken his pain away.
My husband has an optimistic outlook on life and nothing really brings him down. He loves to play pranks, once he kept a dead snake from the yard in an empty box of doughnuts and handed it to me; I screamed my head off when I opened it. Then, I laughed too because practical jokes make life fun. Recently, I have been trying to lose weight for an upcoming India trip and I am really slow on the Elliptical machine. He runs on it when he warms up before a soccer game but I was dragging my feet. He came and copied me, he had my tired and dull expression on his face and he was doing the elliptical movements in exaggerated slow motion. I laughed so hard to see him copy me to a T that I almost fell off the elliptical machine. The other day I was smiling to myself and he asked me why I was laughing. I kidded with him that I was thinking about my boyfriend. He replied – “ Toh isme hasne ka kya hai, tumhara boyfriend joker hai kya?” ( What is there to laugh, is your boyfriend a joker?”)
My husband is not very expressive and extravagant with his praise and therefore when he does pay me a compliment, I get ridiculously ecstatic and I feel like I could die of happiness. Ajay can drink a lot and not lose control. He tells me that is because he drinks slowly and he does not gulp it down like I do. My dad got really emotional and talkative after a few drinks.
My dad and my husband – my most favorite men, polar opposites and yet they have one thing in common- me. My dad loved me and my husband loves me unequivocally. My biggest disappointment is that my dad could not meet my husband but hopefully he is watching us from above. My two sons aged 10 and 12 are a combination and culmination of the physical features and personal qualities of my dad and my husband and I am waiting for them to grow up and turn into wonderful young men!