Surnames are derivative, they give away the most common perceptions about your kind. As informative labels they tell which part of the country you are from, who you have descended from, which strata of the pecking order you belong to. For those of you don’t know, despite what my last name suggests, my blood line originated in the north. My native state is Haryana. Haryana is known for many things, and among one of those many things is its dismal sex ratio. 1000 men for every 879 women. It is not uncommon in the northern part of the country for families to desire a male child. And sometimes that desire is so strong that educated people opt to have an economically nonviable third or fourth or eighth child in the hopes that they will conceive a son. A boy who will take care of his elder 2, or 3 or 7 sisters and his parents.
One night in the year 2005 or 2006, I answered the landline to an over enthused classmate, a girl with two elder sisters, who told me that they had welcomed her younger brother into the family. Yes, she now had a younger brother. They had a boy in the family. I was in class eleventh then. Even back then, I found it to be very amusing. A brother who was 15 years younger to you. Another child when there were already 3 in the family.
A wonderful man I know, is the third child in his family. He comes from Haryana, from the same city that I do. He has two elder sisters. Both are doctors. In the States. I told him once – you know your parents had you only because their older children were girls, right? He said – yes, I know, they love me because I am their precious baby boy.
This conversation annoyed me a little. So, one summer morning in 2015 on the dinning table, I asked my parents – would you have had a third child if my brother was a girl? They started laughing. I said – I am serious, tell me.
My father said – No, we wouldn’t have. We had always planned for two children.
My mother said – you are strange.
My father then went to tell how they had sufficient role models around them, to show them it really doesn’t matter whether you have a boy or a girl. He told me of his many seniors who had had two girl children, and no more. He said it the gender didn’t matter, the number did.
From this little breakfast talk, talks like these are not unusual in our house, the word role model stuck with me.
It becomes impertinent I think, to have good mentors and good role models in your life. These people, they show you, they become examples of the type of life you want to lead. And once you see that someone is doing it, you can take inspiration from their lives to build your own.
On this day today, 29 years ago, my parents got married. I have grown up seeing them treat each other with love and immense respect. My father knows my mother’s word is the final word. My mother knows when to use that final word. I have seen other couples, even the older ones, argue in public, or say something improper or impolite. I have never seen my parents do that. My father is an honest, hardworking man. My mother is an honest, hardworking woman. And they really like each other a lot. Like a lot. Like, sometimes, I have to tell them – stop being so much in love, its annoying.
All around me, in this modern day and age, I hear of relationships not working out, of people cheating on their other halves, of marriages ending in divorces, of those that haven’t, being unhappy, of the constant complains that she doesn’t have the time for me, that he doesn’t understand me. I hear people talking about unrequited love, heartbreaks, boring dates, and failed efforts. Another comment, which is often made, and I think which has been popularized by contemporary culture, is that the initial phases of dating and marriage, the cliched honeymoon phase, is the best time of a relationship. That passion, those first-time feelings, that excitement, that craziness, the love songs, the oh I am in love feeling, the butterflies in the stomach… we lived on sunlight and chocolate bars… it was an afternoon of extravagant delight.
Another wonderful man I know, quite recently was telling of the same thing. He had met a gay director/actor/writer(?) and that gay artist, when asked about relationships, had concurred that relationships are the best in the starting.
I laughed when I heard this. Relationships are not the best in the beginning. No silly. They get better with time. You can talk better, you share more, you do crazier things, you can crack sillier jokes, you can be goofy and weird, you can shout and be loud, you can just be yourself. These are the nice parts. In the bad ones, you know that there is someone who is there no matter what. That that one person believes in you, wishes for the best for you, and cares for you. They will work with you and sometimes they will even work on you. You can be vulnerable. Just this once. It’s safe. It feels like home. On a more practical note, having a companion through ups and downs can make life much easier. It helps you unwind at the end of the day. Life isn’t just about what you do, it is about how you feel. And love is a great source of power. One of the best feelings in the world – to love, and to be loved.
A lot of those around me, are getting married now or will be getting married soon or are already married. Let this serve as an example that you can lead your life with honor and build a beautiful relationship. It might not be easy, but it is simple. Love is wonderful. Protect it. Nurture it. Grow with it.