Today we had a visitor at my Mom’s home. It was her colleague with her husband. As usual, they had come to check on me and my kids as they came to know that we were visiting my mom. Its been 4 years that my mom retired as a master technician from a defense firm that makes air crafts called HAL. Still, she and her friends had kept in touch in spite of each of them retiring one by one every other year. They have known each other for 4 decades now. They had joined HAL in the late 60’s when it started operations in Hyderabad. Many young people were trained and retained by the firm. My Mom and Dad had met there. My Dad was the technical instructor of my Mom’s batch.
We had always known that my Mom and Dad’s was a love marriage but, didn’t know the fine details of how actually they met or got married. It took us years of trying to catch on little tit bits that escaped my parents mouth, my grandma’s and outsiders, to match them one to one and figure out how they met and got married. We had not dared to ask them directly.
My mom’s friend’s circle had about 5 of them, all from different sects. One women is a Tamil Brahman, the other one was a Mall u, one of Christian faith and the other was a Muslim by faith and my Mom who married inter caste (she, a Maharastrian from Mysore married to a Punjabi). As we grew up, I remember my mom bringing different foods back from work, in her lunch box, during festival seasons. They had been sent by her friends. I loved the banana chips that she brought whenever her Mall u friend visited her native place in Kerala. When it was Christmas time, we loved the donuts and other Andhra sweets that came and during Idh , she would bring sheer khurma and double ka mitha in her lunch box sent by her Muslim friend.
We siblings never intruded or knew much of my mom’s friends except meeting them at some functions where all of them were present. There my mom would ask us..”Do you remember xxxxx aunt y?” and we would say “Yes” , not knowing who she really was. They had been part of my wedding too.
When the bomb blasts happened in India and after 9/11 happened, during one of my visit to India, I had heard my mom, her Tamil friend and Mall u friend on phone express so much anger on the happenings. For me too, all this hit very close, since Pavan was in tower 1 when 9/11 happened and was among the lucky survivors. It had been the worst 3 hours of my life (which I will never be able to express) until I received the phone call from him saying he’s fine.
So, during one of the time when I overheard my mom’s conversation with her ‘Hindu’ friends, Being curious of their relationship, I had inquired with her if they expressed their frustration when her Muslim friend was around. She told us that they usually talk when she was not around them. Being curious, I had asked her what her Muslim friend’s take was on all that’s happening. She told me that, her Muslim friend clearly did not like what was happening and she had become very defensive of her religion and its values.
Anyway…years have passed and all this didn’t seem to affect their relationship. They’ve still maintained their friendship and make it a point to attend occasions that are important for each other. So, today Akhtar aunt y ( I surely know her name well today) came over to meet us and tell us that her daughter is doing well too, that her son had gotten married last November.