Loveuary

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I often wonder how falling in love might have been because for me that experience has never happened. The music playing in the background, the flowers, the courting, the songs, the looking into each other’s eyes in their depths and fathoming the degree of love he had for me- nope- I have never felt it.

I am married for 25 years to the same man- this year is our 25th wedding anniversary. I had an arranged marriage and over the years I have gradually grown to love the man. When I talk about my arranged marriage to my colleagues, they give me looks like how is this possible. Can they really be in love ? Are they just pretending ? Can two people who are so un-like even live together for 25 years ?

But it has happened. I must confess, many are the times I have wanted to run away from this marriage or to call it quits. The only reason we are together to this day is my husband and his unwavering faith in our marriage and his love.

For he has had that magical experience of falling in love. He says he fell in love with me about 5 years before I knew even he existed. He studied in my college and was an intern when I was a first year medical student of 17. He might have been about 24 years when he saw me first- I cannot remember this incident but he gave me a tuberculin test as part of a research project ( not a very romantic setting, I know) but he says he fell in love with me, the minute I asked him, What are you doing this for?”

Years passed-the year was 1989- I was a year 4 medical student and one day a curly haired post graduate student hailed me as I was walking past the emergency department of our hospital. He had met his cousin during his vacation who happened to be married to one of my relatives. That cousin of his  mentioned that she had met me during the summer too. And he thought that some sort of marriage proposal was going on. He tells me later that he doesn’t know what made him impulsive enough to call out to me that day. I said hello and we talked for a few seconds and then he says, well, what do you think ? I said, About what ?” ( I had no idea what he was talking about).

Then he says, ” About our marriage- are you willing to get married to me ?”

Taken entirely by surprise, I said, ” Who do you think you are and what do I know about you that I can say anything to you ?” I was mortified that someone would dare assume that I was available when I was still a student. Embarrassed he went away.

And again years passed. We tried our best to avoid meeting each other and avoided one another’s units in hospital- this was more or less successful for I saw him less than two times over the next two years.

In 1992, after I passed out and got home to work as a doctor, my father went to meet his family for an official engagement. During that time, he happened to find out that this family was the same family to which the guy who had proposed me two years back belonged. He came back home and told my mum and me about them. I wanted to get out of the deal as soon  as I heard about this considering our past history but as fate would have it, everything worked out in his favor because my father liked him a lot. We got married to the greatest surprise of a lot of people, myself included.

February seems a good month to remember old tales and how we got together- more than love, if you ask me, what holds us together is the fact that we can’t imagine a life without one another- I guess we need each other to survive. Is that love, I am not sure but I still do not hear music nor do I get flowers or candies on Valentine’s day but there is a glue that is stronger than all that stuff that holds us together and that I think is ample evidence of the dictum that “marriages and love are made in heaven”.

 

 

 

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Settling down- with food

My 5 day trip to Singapore ended on Friday last week. Singapore is a place with a lot of immigrants- I am not sure who the natives are. But a large part of the population is English speaking Chinese- so the food essentially is Chinese.

While I was there, it was the last few days of the Chinese new year- this added more color to the streets and the faces around us. Red lanterns and red decorations marked the streets and you know , as my favorite color is red, I was totally enjoying it.

We are on a tight budget here as my husband is a student once more and will not be earning during his course. Essentially I am the only bread earner in the family for a time.

The first two days we and especially he suffered a lot for want of familiar food. We couldn’t find familiar food- and though I would try new food and was surviving on Chinese food like fried rice and orange chicken, my husband would try a spoonful and turn away. His breakfast was essentially eggs till we could find a bread stall and he indulged in cranberry buns. But we needed to find a solution to the food problem.

The rented condo provided us with a two burner induction cooker and a couple of pans and plates and spoons but that wasn’t enough for me, who has been cooking with a lot of pots and pans for about a quarter of a century now. To cook par boiled rice, we needed to use our pressure cooker as this rice only cooks in a cooker. But it looks like the induction cooker wouldn’t provide heat to the aluminum pressure cooker and so we had to abandon that effort. And without  our own brown hearty rice, we couldn’t survive. We decided to get us a n electric hot plate which is more of our age and not a modern device. So off to the shops we went with growling stomachs and a will to get our necessities come what may.

We travelled by the MRT ( public transport) and changing from red lines to purple lines to green lines, we reached the Dhobi Ghaut change station where we took another MRT to the Ferrer Road station which is the nearest to the Mustafa center, which we were informed was the place to go for everything a middle class family wanted in their lives.

It truly lived up to its reputation. We went on a shopping spree to tell the truth- a couple of pots and a few pans and some more cutlery, a ceramic knife( which is the new thing in knives, apparently), a rolling pin, some vegetables, some scrapped coconut, a blender, some containers ( to store our food in) and some prawns and fish ( for protein).

To carry all these things home, we hailed a cab. The front of the Mustafa center was cramped with cars and the road was narrow but we managed to push our things into the boot of the cab, with horns honking in our ears from a very irate cab driver, who had spotted an Arab gentleman and wanted his custom( we were in his way, he thought and he let us know this in no uncertain terms). We reached home and the friendly cab driver asked us where we wanted to go and we didn’t know where we lived. All we knew was that we stayed somewhere near the Clementi station and that it was about 6 bus stops away from the National University hospital. He asked us which Exit turned to our home and we didn’t know, so we called our house owner who talked to the cab driver. We got home safely and managed to get all our stuff into one elevator and pulled all things to our small home.

For the first time in days, our home felt like home again. Having familiar things, food and cooking our own food made us feel more at home than friendly faces and helping hands. Our house owner Joshua was kindness personified and he helped us see Singapore through the MRT and familiarized us with the various lines and buses.

But it takes food to make us feel that we can survive in an unknown city.