Friday, April 4, 2008

Memories of my mother.

I could write a full length novel. Someday I will. For now, here is a brief discription of Mrs. Meenakshi Dwivedi. My mother. I am a writer and this is the least I can do to pay tribute to this wonderful woman. This will also help the pople who had the misfortune of never meeting her know who she was.

To be continued.....

Thursday, April 3, 2008

My Father.

Baba, dad, pa, pops, poppins, pita, palanhara, old man and buddhe to me. Professor Dwivedi, Dwivediji, Panditji, Sir to some and uncle, Daya, DN to others. Dear to one and all. Mr. Dayanand Dwivedi. My father. This is the story of his life..

His birthdate is somewhat of a mystery. Unlike other old men, whose birthdays are not documented, dad has 3! His official (school leaving certificate) says 1st December, 1949, we used to celebrate on the 22nd of March and his Janam Patri claims he was born on 23rd of March, 1950! The official one was, well to push him up a grade higher and actually his first official and legal birth certificate. The mystery lies in the fact that till about 3 years ago, everybody wished him on the 22nd, while his Patri clearly states it's the 23rd. Whenever he was born, he was born into a family of 6 in Village Khubani, Uttaranchal. He was named Dayanand by his Father, Shri Urvidutt Kartikmani Dwivedi. Urviduttt was a scholar and like most scholars, was a simple yet educated man. He was far ahead of his time. He was the first person to preach equality towards harijans, open a school in the village and re-marry his elder sons’ widow. The Sanskrit scholar that my grandfather was, he used to take dad for long walks at dawn and recite Sanskrit shlok’s. Soon, at the tender age of 4, Daya became famous as the little boy who could recite the most complex of Sanskrit shlok’s!

Life for him, till he was 5, was similar to that of a typical village kid. No chappals, pants optional, no worries. Then tragedy struck. Shri Urvidutt expired, due to dysentery. Strange were the practices in olden times. His water and food intake was stopped to prevent the continuous vomiting and loose motions. Ignorance was bliss.

The young village boy was sent to live with his eldest brother, Shri Deenbandhu Dwivedi, who was an employee in Ahemedabad Telephone exchange. Daya was 25 years his junior! Which is why all his bhatijis and bhatijas are just a year or so younger to him.

At the tender age of 5, he was separated from his mother and sent to alien land. He never got the love and care he should have. His elder brother was very kind to him. He enrolled him in the best school at the time, St. Xavier’s. He had begged before the principal to admit his kid brother. However, with 5 kids, it was difficult.

Dad was a brilliant student and his elder brother a hard taskmaster which ensured that he excelled in his academics. He lived a simple yet fun life with his brother’s family and is forever indebted to him. However, there was something missing. That sense of belonging one has with parents. He could never throw a tantrum. He used to get scared to admit he was sick. He took it all in his stride. What else could he do?

He remembers one instance which pinched him. He could not go to most of the picnics due to dearth of money. It was difficult talking to his excited friends before and after it. In class ten, his friend pooled in money for him forcing him to come. Daya went and enjoyed. A month passed and the friend asked their common friend, “How is Dayanand in money matters?” When Daya heard this, it pained him no end. He had not asked for the money. While going for the picnic, nothing regarding returning the money was discussed. Daya had gone and enjoyed, happy that he had such good friends! A few years later when Daya was a successful sailor, he went back to his friend and reminded him of that day. He was flustered! Dad returned him the money with a couple of cartons of 555’s.

He scored very well in his HSC examinations and was a shoo- in for any university, any state. Knowing full well the expenses, he almost opted for Bachelors in Science. Then came his second elder brother, Shri Deendayal Dwivedi. Deendayal, 23 years senior, had gone on to work for the navy on short service commission and was an exceptional Marine Engineer. He coaxed Daya into joining VJTI, Mumbai. It is one of the best Engineering colleges of India. To give you an idea of how tough it is to get in, here is an example. Its merit list for Mechanical Engineering post HSC closes at PCM (A total of 300 marks for the subjects of Physics, Chemistry and Math, 100 each) 98% (294/300). Such was the love between brothers, that they would not let such an opportunity go a begging.

Dayanand was brilliant as usual. He mostly topped his classes. He wasn’t a nerd or a geek, no. He kept himself busy with other activities like standing for elections and enjoying within means. He was gifted with a very sharp mind and could understand, analyze and assimilate information quickly. Which his why his pals were envious of him! Studied the least and got the most! Every single fellow student acknowledges him to be the better Engineer. All this is 2 pants. I have 4 pairs of shoes, 7 trousers, 5 jeans, 6 watches and a lot of t-shirts. He completed his Engineering in 2 pants and a pair of slippers. 4 years. No demands. No complaints. Whom could he complain to?

He got selected in his first interview. His interviewer was pleasantly surprised to meet such a well informed, intelligent and eloquent Engineer! Working for a few months on a dockyard, Daya chose the live at sea. He became a Marine Engineer for Shipping Corporation of India, popularly known as the Merchant Navy. He is one the few the lucky people to have travelled to more that 100 countries and across the globe. It is on the ship that he smoked his first cigarette, drank his first beer. Only after he started earning on his own.

He was such a hard worker that he had to be told to go on leave. One time, he was at sea for a period of more that 14 months, which is a very LONG time! His brothers decided that marriage was in order. And then he met Meenakshi Ghildyal! His life changed. It happens when two beautiful people meet.

Daya was in his early twenties when he aided in his sister Damyanti's marriage to Captain Surech Ghildyal, himself a sailor. Meenakshi was the Captains cousin. Daya and Minnie hardly met once at a function. Minnie was well-educated,well behaved and a knock -out!

The elders sprung into action. Daya was not actually asked, but almost told that he would be getting married to Meenakshi. He was informed via telegram that his engagement was going to be held on x date. He was not even present for his own engagement! They got married in Delhi.

Never have I seen two people more opposite to each other! Daya an arya samaji, mum a devout Hindu. Daya loved prawns, Minnie was a strict Vegetarian. Dad was a Technical genius, mum was a philosophical spiritualist. Never have I also seen such understanding, compatibility and love.

To be continued…..