I am not saying this, out of my love for her. You read on, and you will agree. Today is a milestone for Komala, and so I find this a good stop to pause and reflect.
She is the eldest of four daughters, and born after several years of marriage to her parents. So no need to emphasize that she was pampered. A lot! Even so being the first child to her father, who is the eldest of 5 other siblings. Despite that, from what I knew of her, she never took advantage of those boundless budgets from her father. Even at a growing age I guess she understood the limits of a typical middle-class family and made the best only within that.
Being the eldest, no wonder her three other younger sisters always looked upon her for advice or emulate her. The last sister being significantly younger to Komala, my wife took care of her almost as a parent. Even as she herself was perhaps in junior college or high school, she would take and bring home her youngest sister from school. She would do the brown covers for the books and teach the sister subjects from school, took care of home work or prepare her for examinations. Having said all that, Komala also held herself up as a leader. She assumed that as the person with most wisdom, she could decide things for the younger sisters and keep them on the line or give them the most love. Just as any parent would do to their children.
A Context to the Case in Point – Komala was proposed as a would-be wife to me, and we were nearly concluding her as the prefered would-be bride (it is just incidental that me and my parents had already gone through about 165 other marriage proposals for me prior to me immensely liking Komala). Knowing my utter laziness towards work, my mother expressed her concern to my in-laws that the only hesitation was, knowing I would have no brothers-in-law and three other younger sisters to be married (and they were quite young), I would have the onus of settling them off. Also my father-in-law had just recovered from a severe heart attack and due for retirement then. My in-laws had assured my parents that I would have no responsibility or work towards this as they have alternate arrangements to ensure this wouldn’t be the case. It’s a different matter that, that alternate arrangement did not materialize properly, eventually. Within about an year of our marriage, my father-in-law passed away suddenly too. It is in the background of this context that I write what I do below.
Take Care of Sisters – my wife, Komala had always been the mentor, friend, philosopher to all her three sisters. She spent ‘splendid’ amount of effort in finding the right groom for her second and third sisters (the sister next to Komala was married off within near family in line with an earlier wish). The way she got the marriage performed for her youngest was something to be envied when compared to several other marriages. It was a near flawless marriage and at a very reasonable cost and yet, to come out extremely well. Coming from a middle-class family with the earning parent not alive anymore and living on family pension, the marriage did not appear anything of that. Nearly no expense or custom was spared, yet all within reasonable budget. Komala’s organizing skills were paramount and well above an average man. It is generally believed that men have better organizing skills. She could’ve well become an Event Manager for marriages in brahmin Hindu families perhaps!
She advised and coached appropriately her sisters at all times so family relationships were well taken care of in their now extended family. Health concerns within family were addressed by her by researching, collecting information from friends, sharing the latest technologies available in medicine field today. We have beautiful families in her sisters’ homes, thanks to a lot of work she did. I remember some of them as yesterday.
She helped manage a ‘very difficult’ delivery for the youngest sister by being present in the labor room, giving assurance and strength to her sister, as we waited outside very concerned. And we have a beautiful boy now at their home. As Komala has her daily video calls with the boy, now in US, I sometimes wonder if is she an aunt to the boy or a grandmother, by the way she pours her love on to him. She guides her sisters continually on proper upbringing of their kids or of resolving issues at home. She counsels them even on monetary matters occasionally. I don’t think any of her sisters will deny that Komala is a big strength to them. I can narrate any number of cases, situations she handled, advised or supported them, that few men and women may do for their siblings. She is not just an elder sister but a responsible parent for them, it appears.
Taking care of the Elders – Komala had a paternal uncle who had remained a bachelor and lived with this family all his life. He did not stay with us when he became quite old and with no care-taker at home, had to be in a hospital-cum-home for the Aged. Komala, and she alone for the most part, took care of him at hospital. He longed for visitors, siblings, and others to see him at hospital and spend few minutes as he was all alone for months. It was a very very sorry situation for me whenever I saw him at the place (my heart bleeds even today when I think of what he went through). For not having been married, the poor soul did not have a family of his own to see him as a mandatory responsibility. I tried visiting him as often as I could during some weekends. It was only Komala who would visit him often, take care of logistics or financials for him, despite her very very busy schedule those days. Eventually we rented a house opposite to ours and brought him home. But soon after that he passed away. It was me and Komala who aided him to hospital in the middle of a night, spent the last few hours and helped him have a peaceful one at the end. And the post event too, she pulled in her resources and managed the last rites for her uncle effectively. She is one amazing lady. Capable of doing anything thrown at her!
Komala takes care of my parents too very well. She drives them to hospitals, banks, shopping places, temples or relatives places, notwithstanding the heavy Hyderabad traffic in our area. She spends considerable time with them, helps them in the kitchen, helps my mom on pooja decorations and what not. I couldn’t have asked for a better daughter-in-law for my parents.
My mother-in-law had several issues of health from diabetes to arthritis, digestion issues to urinal infections. She was to be taken care of somehow, with no kids at home for her. Komala researched and found that Red Cross organization provides woman helpers at home. She arranged one. This was said more easily than done. Umpteen number of issues had come out beyond the scope of this blog, and she managed those too. When my MIL was at Mehdipatnam, a location with half to one hour drive based on traffic, she managed to visit her frequently. But soon she realized that was not enough and rented the house in front of ours (my MIL had challenges living with us on account of our home being above ground level and she having arthritis related challenges of climbing stairs). My wife ensured despite her very heavy busy schedule, she would visit her mother for at least few hours each day. She took care of her medicines, diagnostics, hospitalization, groceries, maid servants, finances, and everything in between including delegated responsibilities of a MIL or grandmother for other members. Even while we were having our vacation of lifetime in the Himalayas doing the Chardham Yatra, she would call Home multiple times a day from our car. She would arrange doctors, diagnostics and medicines for my MIL when she became ill.
And one day, my MIL passed away shockingly in my own hands as I was checking her blood pressure, as my wife was overseeing on what could be done. The end had come. I was a complete novice at nearly anything other than my office, and perhaps not capable learning fast either. My wife again managed flawlessly the last religious rites. Not one aspect of religious customs had been ignored or neglected by her. She diligently ensured the monthly rituals in the entire year were performed promptly and well.
And today, at the end of third and last day of first death anniversary she got the religious rites completed. On the main day yesterday, I have to be honest, I have not seen many priests performing the rituals as systematically as they did here. For those who paid attention, the house reverberated with vedic salutations by priests. There were 10 priests performing their duties. Nothing was neglected or not done with utmost care. She took care of everything from money management to bringing the right priests, instructing them and ensuring everything that was required was done best, arranging food to taking care of 60 or 70 guests, getting family certificates for the estate and everything else. From managing death certificate to completing the rituals, she left nothing untouched or not executed well.
And today, with the end of first death anniversary of MIL, I think Komala ended all responsibilities that a parent could expect of an elder son! She proved beyond doubt that she was not just their eldest child, but a very able one. It did not matter that she was a girl or boy to her parents, in a society that longs for male children.
Epilogue – so where am I in this saga? Well as much as my mom predicted of me, sure I am a lazy man. I do not want to something if I did not have to. That is, usually! With the journey of my life with my wife though, I was not one who would run away from responsibilities. I would’ve very much taken these on my shoulders too. But let truth be said. Komala is a very capable woman and did not need anyone supporting her. Some execution of tasks given by her, to sisters or cousins or our kids or others are adequate for her. She was a great woman herself.
For me, it’s like the saying behind every successful man there is woman behind, so I am to her. A silent supporter, advisor, moral booster!