My wife, Deepa, and I celebrated our thirty third wedding anniversary today. It was a day to reflect and savour the highs (almost all of it was highs!!) and the great bonds we developed over the years. Perhaps the foremost credit I can give to her has been her continuous tutorship, through leading a life of pristine quality and genuineness.
Ours being a traditional arranged marriage, we had no idea what each of us was like, prior to the engagement and the six months wait before the marriage. Letter writing was the principle mode of communication then, and Deepa was a poor letter writer. I was to know later, that the Ramachandran family was far more at home speaking on phone, something they would do for hours together. Trunk calls from Hyderabad, my place of posting, to Delhi were costly nor was I a great one for lengthy phone calls. Thus it was that I got married to a girl not knowing what she was like or what it would be like to live my life with her.
Deepa turned out to be a fabulous person, loving considerate and selfless in her efforts to be the perfect wife, mother and companion. Almost everyone who has met or known her will vouch for this. The children took full advantage of her but they loved her and even till today there isn’t a day when Shirish wouldn’t ring her up from Canada and Seema wouldn’t call on her way to office and back. Seema and Shirish grew up to be wonderful adults and the credit for this would almost entirely be to Deepa. She was the one who took care of every need of the children, while I was preoccupied with work and career related hassles.
Work life balance was something I never attempted, thanks to the unstinted supported from my wife and her total dedication to the task of looking after the family. I didn’t really participate in our children’s progression to adults, yet we lived as a happy and well knit family and my children, more now than before, offer me love in abundance. Being an undemonstrative person I haven’t been given to outward expressions of love to Deepa or the children but I do love them very deeply.
Early in our married life Deepa and I felt uncomfortable speaking to each other of love and it did seem contrived .By unspoken consent, we just stayed away from such apparently simple gestures .It was only gradually over the years that we took to outward displays of affection. Now it seems ever so natural .Such are the subtle workings of Cupid.
Concern for all ,unmindful of self was a genuine expression springing from her heart .She found fault with me in unspoken but reproachful ways for what she felt was lack of genuineness. I seemed to take to some people and not to others and seemed self centred .This didn’t go well with her selfless approach when engaging with all people. My intense involvement with the Soka Gakkai movement was something she disapproved off, although she was often appreciative of the ring of protection my consistent practice of Gongyo and Daimoku was palpably bringing to the family.
I believe her disapproval was because she felt I was putting in too much time and effort into Gakkai activities and home visits at the expense of the family and perhaps even the office!! But in a certain way she had placed her finger on a very fundamental aspect of what I needed to do, to gain support for this Buddhist practice, and that was to carry out my own human revolution and change from deep within. Something the practice expects of you. It was several years later that I finally saw wisdom and the need for change and that has put me on a course towards inner peace and solidity. Deepa was to observe these subtle behavioural changes and would silently approve.
In the early months of 2008 she displayed the characteristic symptoms of myasthenia gravis, drooping eye lids .Then started months of treatment and several stints at Apollo Hospital. I can never forget the extreme trauma and fear she experienced as she prepared to face an operation to remove the thymus gland; and later as she went through a myasthenia crisis and had to be rushed to the hospital with breathing difficulty. She bore all this with great dignity. A horrendous reaction to steroids brought about hallucinations, delusions and behavioural changes and we all had a torrid time. Thankfully she pulled through all these tribulations and is now backing to her normal active self. That such a wonderful person had to go through some much pain was heart wrenching. This illness brought home to me how very important it was for me to envelope her with a mantle of love and affection.
As we set off on what must be the penultimate phase of our lives, we are going to enjoy life to the full and it will be my responsibility to see that my dear wife Deepa has the most beautiful time of her life.