I am very happy to welcome Mrs. Iyenger to my newly added chat session. Throughout her life, the sweet old lady, had only books and TV as her companion. Today she shares with us some moments of her life.
My name is Lakshmi Iyenger. I am 75 years old mother, grandmother, sister and a wife. I hail from a Tambrah family in Chennai. Being the eldest of my siblings, seven sisters and six brothers I have seen life at its best. I was born in 1940 in a small town in Jharkhand where my father worked in the Indian Railways. After travelling in various places we eventually settled in Bilaspur where I met my husband. About my marriage? We have spent fifty beautiful years together until last year when he parted with us for his heavenly abode. Ours was a love marriage. My husband belongs to a well to do family in Chennai. He ran off from his house to do something of his own. He travelled almost all the corners of the country but could not find anything suitable. Finally, when he was in Kolkata, he met one of my brothers who suggested him to write a letter to my father regarding job. My father had never written letter to anyone before. But fate has it that he answered this young man’s letter. Not only did my father get him a job in Indian Railways he also allowed the young man to stay in our house as a paying guest. We all were almost same age and I would always fight with him or call him names. But he wouldn’t mind. One day I went to pluck flowers in our backyard for puja. He was already waiting for me with a packet of sweet in his hand. He proposed to me. At first I could not understand while he waited for my answer eagerly with the packet of sweet still open in his hand. I started crying. Tears were rolling down my cheeks smearing my kajal. He got nervous and popped the sweet into my mouth saying, “Ok don’t marry but at least eat the mithai”.
We didn’t talk for several days. He went back to Chennai shortly after that and persuaded his family to send marriage proposal to my father. His brother-in-law was against the alliance as we were a big family and I being the eldest, had my sibling’s responsibility on my shoulders which will eventually land up in my better half’s kitty. There was a big no- no from his sister’s side. But somehow he persuaded them to agree on the alliance. When my parents came to know about it they too tried to convince me but I was dead against marriage. Not because I disliked him but because I did not want to burden him with my family troubles. I had seen my father working very hard. He was the only earning member and there were so many mouths to feed. However, even with so much consideration I could not stay put for very long and finally gave my consent. We got married in 1964 and spent fifty long years together, parenting four daughters and two sons. Today I feel proud to see my children settled in their life married to partner of their choice.
How would you describe your better half?
My husband passed away in 2014. He was 75. I miss him but no qualms. He took care of everything for me, even the smallest. You see he did most of the talking at home while I was the listener. I loved keeping to myself but surprisingly he would always know what’s going on in my head. Books and TV had been my best friend for years. He always ensured that I never had a problem with that. I love reading Tamil books but you hardly get them in this part of the country. But he would always order some for me at that time. Mind it there was no internet at that time.
Any turning point in your life?
Tuning point? Definitely not? Not after he proposed me. But I want to share this experience with you. One day I made Lal Bhaji (red spinach) and served my husband at lunch. He liked it so much that he handed a one hundred rupee note. Till date I could not figure out what was so special about the dish because it was the simplest dish that I had ever cooked.
Given a chance, what would you love to change in your life?
I have lived my life to the fullest. I have nothing to wish for. I have everything. However, I would like to live with my daughter till my last breath. You see my eldest daughter didn’t marry. She had selected a partner but my husband had objection. Today, even after two decades, both of them are unmarried and very good friends. I wish my husband had shown some leniency towards their relationship. Whereas my son didn’t wait to take our approval for his marriage and they make a wonderful couple. I wish my daughter tie the knot now but I know she won’t.
Any message you would like to give to the youngsters?
Of course. Life has changed so much since I can remember now. Today’s generation is very powerful and can make a big difference in any field. I only wish that they use it wisely. Every family has their own code of conduct and it is by default that a girl after marriage finds it very easy to follow the rules of her parent’s house. There is nothing wrong in it but it usually cause rift in a joint family. I wish every family understand this rather than say anything to the daughter-in-law. This will give the newlywed a space to grow and will bind the family better.