Thursday, January 27, 2011

Essentially, Eventually...from the beginning.

Many of you, my friends and family have probably heard rumors as to what has has occured in my life in the past one and a half years.  Most of you only began hearing my story this past October.  So here I am offering my song to whom ever will listen.  It costs nothing but I hope you find yourself somewhere in the lyrics.  I have come to realize in a very acute way that melodies vary but the notes have always existed and will always be the same, just arranged differently.  That being said, I also learned that the only thing that has seperated me from the toothless crack head on the street begging for change to get her fix is my wonderful, beautiful awe-inspiring system of support & a little bit of luck. 

From the beginning...

In 1971 my 30 year old Indian immigrant father arrived in this country with a small amount of borrowed cash and one suitcase in hand.  He was the second eldest son in a family of 5 raised by a widow who at a time in India where women not only did not work but barely received an education, my grandmother-extraordinaire took jobs, created jobs, raised her autistic daughter (the eldest) child and married away her 2 youngest girls.  My father came to this country becuase of his mother's political affiliations.  Although she was poor, her brothers were affluent politicians and lawyers in the station town where they lived.   My father, Kirti or Kirt as he later became known at work,  worked as a boiler room engineer in a hospital in Newark, NJ and shared a small Hoboken apartment with oh, I don't know 7 friends and cousins-all male.  Only one of them knew how to cook- obviously all that was needed, but they all knew how to laugh and have a good time.  7 bachelors, one new country, limitless possibilities. 

My father was the nafarious virgin in his group.  A poetic man with a love for gazals (Urdu poetry set to music) and a voice that should have made him famous.  He worked hard and supported himself as well as his mother and 3 sisters in India.  There was no time for women.  No extra space for thought of marriage but a man is a man is a man and finally at the ripe age of 32 (keep this number in mind, it will repeat itself a few times in my story) he had saved up enough money to get himself married.  So off to India he went.
He met my mother, Malti through family friends.  She was and still remains a beautiful woman, a show stopper.  She was third eldest in an ultra-religious, super conservative but not necessarily traditional family of 6.  She was often neglected within the household by the mere fact that she was a girl and in middle of the sibling sandwich.  What attention she didn't receive in the home she received on the streets of town.  She was the local bollywood starlet with sparkly brown eyes, dimples that got her into movies for free and long, thick black plaits that wig makers would kill for.  Malti would walk down the street and the villagers would follow her whispering "There's Malti" or, "Is that her, I can't see!  Quick! Put me on your shoulders Raju!"  ( I jest but it was something along that line). 

She was nine years younger than my father and though my maternal grandfather was self-made and wealthy, she came from the cast just below my father's.  Now my dad, he grew up uber poor.  2 sets of clothes poor.  One he wore while the other was washed and hung dry for the following day, that poor.  It all seemed to balance though.  He had an autistic sister (-1), she had a sister that ran off with her married professor (-1), he was poor but from a high cast (0), she was rich from a lower cast (0). In the end they were both attractive and educated.  So, they were married within 3 days of meeting each other.  Yikes, I can't even imagine. 

My pops quickly left India to return to his job in the States.  In those days you only had to wait about 6 months for a visa as the spouse of an Indian professional.  Not bad.  My mother arrived at JFK on some undisclosed day in the late spring/early summer of 1974.  Word had been sent to my father of the date that she would be arriving except...imagine this, who ever sent the information forgot that India is 12 hours ahead.  My neophite, immigrant, helpless, non English speaking mother stood at the airport for 4 hours believing that she had been abandoned by her husband.  Luckily she had the phone number for his 3rd cousin incase of an emergancy.  So the terrified, sari-clad 24 yr old some how managed to dial the phone number and was saved by the distant cousins who picked her up and brought her to their home until my very stupified and oblivious father came to get her.  A lifetime of miscommunication founded on that one day at the airport.  They were like 2 airplanes in the night without navigation devices and continue to be so until this very day.
There's a funny and probably true joke about a young Indian couple that has desperately been trying to conceive.  They were F.O.B.'s (fresh of the boat), spoke little English, conservative, shy and ebarassed but belieiving they had exhausted all other methods they finally went to see a specialist.  The doctor ran tests on both of them and asked for the couple to return the following week for the results.  The couple comes back to the doctor's office the next week fearing the worst but the doctor reveals that they are both very healthy young people and the results show that there are no biological complications.  The doctor turns to the husband and ask's "Are you ejaculating inside of your wife during intercourse?"   The couple looks dumbfounded.   The doctor realizes that there is a language/translation problem and begins to draw pictures of both the entire male and female anatomy. The couple goes crazy with embarrasment.  The husband flips the drawing over and starts yelping, "NO! NO! Don't show!"  Turns out the couple had never attempted to have sex because they never understood it existed.
Generally speaking my parents generation of Indian people just don't talk about sex.   Generally speaking my parents generation of Indian people also doesnt know how to communicate.    Sorry mom and dad, aunty's and uncle's dont be mad, we know you did the best you could.
I digress, how all of this trails back to my parents first weeks of marriage comes down to a cooking lesson, go figure.  Alot of Hindus don't eat Onions and garlic because they are said to have chemicals that drive aggresion and passion ( one gander at the Italians and I know that the later is true;).  Neither of my parents were raised eating these roots but neither knew that of the other.  My mother prepared their first meal as husband and wife with plenty of tasty garlic and yummy onion.  My mother served proudly and my father ate lovingly all the while both were choking back the 2 veggies that neither had ever acquired a taste for, not wanting to offend the other.
I'm about to gett into their sex life now because it plays an extremely important role in my life and obviously their early years as a couple.  It went something like this:
Malti and Kirti at a dinner party.  Someone makes fun of sensative Malti who never learned to stick up for herself.  Kirti, the jokester, not only doesn't defend Mom but joins in on the teasing.  Malti gives Kirti the cold shoulder for the rest of the evening and then some more before they hit the hay and then some more for the next few days.  Her feelings were hurt.  He didn't know how to make amends.  She witholds sex, that pisses him off.  The next time she gets dresssed up he doesn't compliment her. That pisses her off.  Rinse, repeat. 

Ofcourse the next step would be to make some babies.  And they did.  First my brother, Aashh and then I followed 2.5 years later.  My mother- not knowing any better had a C-Section with both of us, just because.  She has no recollection of labor.  Also not knowing better and becuase it was a status symbol - you could afford formula and didn't have to rely on your free and human baby juice- my momma decided not to breast feed her babies.  I try not to judge this.  Hell, they used to say it was cool to smoke when you were preggers.  Who knows, in a few years researchers may say that feeding paint chips to infants is also bueno.  Maybe not, but you're pickin' up what I'm puttin' down. 

We have made it all the way to 1978 and I promise that we are no way near the tip of the iceberg.  This is the some what boring prequal that's necessary to enjoy the true crazy that I will share.  It's about to get juicy.   
I have to do laundry.  Or I can use my dad's college trick and turn my undies inside out.  Yeah, gross and trust me when I say that it was just a thought. 
I will be back with fresh clothing to continue this epic saga.

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait to hear more:) Glad to see your giving yourself some sort of outlet, and I'm glad I get to learn more about you! <3