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Hello from the Paradise Island – Seychelles! It is such a serene, beautiful place really, ideal for a celebration! No, it’s not a significantly “big” birthday or anything, but truth be told, I have run out of gift ideas! I guess it happens when you have shared a lot of birthdays (and anniversaries) together, add to that count the junior’s birthdays and we have a total of 42! So as a desperate attempt to take out the proverbial rabbit from the hat, I planned this surprise trip! Birthdays are very important to me. So are the other bigger dates but birthdays tend to get me broody, I do feel they are a time for reflection. They take me back – to a time different from now, a place that isn’t paradise, a person who isn’t me anymore.
See, I’ve known my husband for 16 years now. It wasn’t love at first sight, no butterflies, no “dates”. It was a straight forward arranged marriage, my aunt liked him for me and took it forward. For me he was a “package”, wasn’t hideous to look at, stable life, family man! If legend is to be believed, I was more than just a “package” to him, he had my picture on his work desk even before we were officially engaged! Then again with a face like this, I don’t blame him ;-). It was a different time back then. Also my mom was a single parent, so she alongside her “army” of my lovely aunts and uncles, took upon the task of getting me married beyond the borders of India! Budget being a constraint (I didn’t even ask to be honest, I already had - still have – enough guilt to deal with) and the fact that I wasn’t getting married in my home town of Hyderabad I wasn’t given the wedding cards to invite my friends. Not that I wanted to – give them that card that is – I didn’t even get to pick MY wedding card! So I designed my own (a sign of things to come?). I loved this text I had seen somewhere, and decided to use it, as a personal invite of sorts for the people I grew up with! It said
I Have Been Painting…..
And I shall continue to paint
With a splash of colors, On the canvas of life
Him promoting, My imagination
A little giving, a little taking
Caring and sharing
Together, we shall make life a masterpiece
Only this time the signature will not be
It will be LAVINA-DILIP
(Between my maiden name “Lavina” and current “Harshika” I have Love and Happiness covered :-P)
I had loved the text, it resonated with what I believed a marriage should be. I do not change myself, my identity, my voice – I just add a name to mine! Simple! I will not be like the other wives and pick fights, we will not be “that” couple who dish out the silent treatment, our kids will be angels and not the brats we come across in the malls! The Perfect Life!
That is, till the real life takes over. And we got busy with the daily commitments, the meetings, the workload! We forgot the promises we made, we overlooked the small details that were initially impressive, we let stress get the worst of us. We fought. Over who has to fetch that glass of water even! And don’t even get me started on motherhood! I wasn’t cut out for it! The boy just doesn’t listen! Is that normal? Will he ever grow up Am I going to “break” him? Oh My God! Being a mom is TOUGH!
Time passes by, months become years! It gets easier (or do we get better???) I am an independent 21st century woman and I won’t let my marital status define me, I say. I won’t let motherhood stop me, I decide. I will make my own “mark”, I promise. Its full speed ahead. I’m done being Mrs Daryanani, I don’t even like last names actually! They serve no purpose other than to “differentiate” me from the other Harshikas. I mean it doesn’t stand by me in testing times (Read : How we did a "Benjamin Button", it doesn’t cheer me on when I’m in doubt, it doesn’t show my achievements off to the world. It isn’t proud of me. In fact I do all of that to the name – one I don’t even want there! I am my own person, with my own name and that is my identity.
I got so consumed with ambition that I didn’t see the one person who has silently stood by me through each of those phases! He was the “other half” of the marriage, he also became a parent when we had J and it was him who declared that I was wasting my potential and that I was meant for more! Today as I see him rejoicing and celebrating his birthday, I am reminded of a time that was simpler. When we were young and foolish. When we thought we owned the world. But we left those people behind, way behind. 16 years ago behind. I cannot go back in time and undo the mistakes, we cannot make up for the lost time, and we are the family we are – I’ve often said that we add the “fun” in dys”fun”ctional
I’m also reminded of a promise I had made.
Yes, I get that a last name is mandatory, even Facebook will not allow you without one (trust me, I’ve tried). But yes, I do not want my last name to define me either. The “D” in my last name should not stand for Daryanani. There is only one name that should follow mine, the one who has encouraged me and showed more faith in me than I do in myself. The one that is often said almost as a monosyllable and in the same breath with mine.
Today on my Husband’s 42nd birthday and after 16 years of making that promise to myself, I sign off for the first time as
April 30, 2016. Mahe, Seychelles.
Picture Credits to the amazing Chloe Lodge