How I Met Your Mother

A few weeks ago I wrote about how the husband and I got together.  It’s a dinner party staple and I love how people react to the fact that he proposed the day after we met.  But that really is nothing, compared to how my parents got married.  

This week, if my dad had still been alive, they would have been married for 52 years.  I love the story of how they got together and I used to make him repeat it all the time.  

So here it is, in HIS words, as I remember him telling me…

“Basically, I was an engineer doing very well with a great company in Calcutta, East India far away from my home in South India.  Life was good, with plenty of parties to keep me entertained.  One day, because my company were so impressed with me, they offered me the chance to go to London to train further and spend a year working with a top company there.  I had always dreamed of visiting London and so this was an opportunity far too good to turn down. However, my father wrote to say he wasn’t very happy about me going all the way to London and was convinced if I did, I would come back with an “English lady”. I wrote and told him that I had no intention of looking for a wife there but he replied saying he wouldn’t let me go unless I agreed to get married first !  I tried to reason with him but he was adamant and so with some irritation, I told him to go ahead and arrange a marriage and I would turn up for the service.

Meanwhile, your mother had just taken her A-levels and failed.  Her father told her to re-take them or she wouldn’t be able to go to university and she announced that she couldn’t be bothered and anyway she didn’t want to study any further.  Her father was furious and told her she HAD to do them again or else he would marry her off even though she was so young.  In her typical, rebellious way, she told him to do that then as she didn’t care and whatever he said, she wasn’t going to university.

Both fathers now found themselves in the unenviable position of having to find partners for their children when actually that had never really been their plan.  Both men were key members of the community though  – my father was the headmaster of a highly successful school and your mum’s father was the area bank manager.  A match between the two families was ideal and so the two men met and everything was agreed upon.  All it needed, was for me to be introduced to the girl to see if we liked each other.  My mother wrote to tell me all about her and how she was a renowned beauty and very strong-willed and independent just as I would like.  She asked me to come home and meet her but I wrote back stubbornly to say I trusted her judgement and to go ahead with the marriage preparations and that I would be back a few days before the wedding.  My poor mother wrote several letters pleading with me to come home earlier, but I refused.

Your mother was also showing high degrees of stubbornness and refused to go and meet my family saying it was my job to go to her.  Her father said she had the option of stopping the wedding if she would only go and meet my parents but she continued to say no, even though she knew that meant the wedding plans would then go ahead.

I arrived home three days before the wedding.  By this time, there were caterers on the estate, creating the most delicious food for the hundreds of guests that were expected for what was to be a highly prestigious wedding.  It all made me very nervous and I suddenly wanted to go and meet the girl but I realised that I wouldn’t now be able to say no after all the expense and preparations that had gone into this huge event.  So, I decided not to bother and to enjoy my last few days of freedom instead!

The day of the wedding arrived.  Your mother’s grandfather was a well-loved vicar and so when I turned up at the Church with my family, I was overwhelmed to see that the place was full of Bishops from all over India who had come especially for the occasion.  The pews were already packed with guests who had come early to get the best seats.  Lots of people were shaking my hand and telling me how lucky I was to be marrying such a beautiful young girl from such a good family but suddenly all I wanted to do was run.  However, it was too late.  I was guided to the front of the Church, where I sat sweating profusely until I heard that the bride had arrived.  I turned briefly to look as she walked up the aisle but was told by a very strict priest to keep my eyes forward and so I only noticed that she was in a white saree with a veil covering her face. And almost as soon as I saw her, I forgot her.  Was she tall, short, fat, thin… I just couldn’t remember and even though she was now by my side, I couldn’t look at her as the very strict priest was glaring at me.

The service started and seemed to go by in a blur until I was asked if I took this woman to be my wife.  The desire to run had come back.  What the hell was I doing?  I was about to make a decision that would affect the rest of my life.  I could be stuck with some awful woman who might make my life hell.  Why hadn’t I agreed to meet her?   Why hadn’t I written to her at least, and got to know her through correspondence?   Why had I been so stubborn?  Everyone knew her father, the bank manger, didn’t smile much in case it encouraged people to ask him for money.  What if she didn’t smile and had no sense of humour and refused to laugh at my jokes?  What if she turned me into a miserable, boring man? What if she didn’t want to come to parties with me? Oh no, I felt sick!

As the nausea started to rise, the priest asked me again, in a louder voice if I took this woman to be my wife.  If I could just see her, if I could just see her face, I would know instantly if I was making a mistake.  But she was facing forward and the veil meant I couldn’t see anything.  I willed her to look at me but she continued to look ahead and I still had no clue as to what sort of wife she would be.  I could hear the congregation buzzing as people started questioning what was going on and I noticed one of the Bishops standing up and walking towards me…

This time the priest prodded me as he asked again, if I took this woman to be my wife. And suddenly, your mum’s head whipped round to glare at me.  Even through the veil, I could see her gorgeous big eyes flashing with anger that her family could have set her up with an obvious mute and I thought, if she’s got eyes like that she’s got to be all right, so I smiled and said “Yeah OK” and laughed to myself as I saw lots of eyes rolling, partly in relief and partly with despair that I might not be quite the perfect match they had all thought I would be.

But I now knew, that everything was going to be just fine.”

I loved to ask my dad if he regretted his rash decision and he always answered that even though the flash of anger he saw in the Church should have been a warning about her fearsome temper, she had a heart to match those huge eyes and so….. no.

No regrets.

Ever.

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Talking About Myself

I was going to nick something from one of my favourite bloggers at http://mrwriteon.wordpress.com  He doesn’t know this but I used to read his blog long before I started writing my own.  Go visit him – he’s great !

I’ve decided to save his idea for another time though.  Trouble is, I’m still too busy enjoying the summer to focus on interesting blog posts or even, and probably more importantly, new career developments. So, I’ve gone for something similar but not quite so long!

Who were you named after?

It’s a tradition in our family that the first-born is named after the father’s parent.  So, I should have been called Mary after my grandmother but my mother, being the rebel that she is, decided that wasn’t exotic enough.  She gave my grandmother the honour of picking my name though, and she chose the name of an actress she rather liked.

Do you like your handwriting?

It depends on the pen which is why I always like to use a good one.  I can’t be doing with a scratchy biro !

If you were another person, would you be friends with you?

Of course! I may, at first, be a bit wary of how loud I can be – especially my laugh – but I’m great fun and a good confidante and am genuinely interested in other people. And I’m very modest about what a lovely person I am…

Do you still have your tonsils?

No! They were whipped out when I was just five! Imagine that! I don’t think they do that to children so young these days, and a good thing too as I’m still traumatised by the memories.  No one believes me but I still maintain I woke up in the operating theatre and even now, I still have nightmares about the gas mask going over my face.

What is your favourite cereal?

I don’t really do breakfast unless it’s a weekend when the husband does his big fry-up. If I had to choose, I would say Crunchy Nut Cornflakes

Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?

Hell, no !

What colour knickers and shoes are you wearing?
You see, this is the reason my husband doesn’t really like reading my blog as he says I give out far too much unnecessary information.  When I say it’s funny, he just shakes his head sadly and says it really isn’t.  Anyway, back to this question….. I always wear matching bras and knickers because even though no one will ever see them, it makes me feel quite confident that should I have an accident, the medical staff would think, in the midst of all the blood and gore, that actually I’m quite a classy lady!  And I’m not wearing any shoes as I’m in my house and I’m always barefoot in the house – apart from in the midst of winter when I wear socks, or pink fluffy slippers.

What was the last thing you ate?

I haven’t eaten yet – see favourite cereal answer above.   So last thing I had yesterday was one of the early crop of pears that my friend brought round from her garden.  Oh, apart from a piece of cake this morning.   Oh, and a peking duck spring roll, just now!!

Favourite sport to watch

It used to be tennis.  In fact, there was a time, before I had a family, when I used to take two weeks off just to watch and visit Wimbledon. However, increasingly, I’ve noticed that it’s more fun watching any big football match with a group of people who shout as loudly as I do !!  My son hates to admit it but he loves watching football with me…

Do you wear contacts?

No. I had to start wearing glasses a few years ago but I am too vain to wear them if I can avoid it, and I’m too squeamish to try contacts.  Just watching my daughter putting her lenses in, makes me feel physically sick!

Last movie you watched

Finally got round to watching Les Misérables with the family on Sunday.  I loved it.  I thought the Hollywood cast would ruin it but Russell Crowe’s voice was surprisingly lovely and of course, I was in floods of tears by the end.  Not for long though as I went off to the piano with the boy and he played while I sang all the songs – much to daughter and husband’s exasperation !!

What did you watch on TV last night?

I don’t know why, I really don’t, but for some reason I thought I’d give that new American sci-fi drama Under The Dome a go.  I was asleep by the first ad break!

I should have known, given it was on Channel 5 ….

Key Of The Door

Oh, my poor little blog!  I have completely neglected it while I’ve been having fun and enjoying the summer.  I’ve been busy visiting friends, entertaining at home, going out to dinner, enjoying family days out, making new friends, attending workshops, writing – in particular developing an idea for a sit-com, shopping, designing my new bathroom, attending my daughter’s graduation and generally lounging around in this glorious summer sunshine doing, well…nothing !

This last Saturday was spent on my feet in the kitchen all day, from early in the morning to late in the evening as I catered for my daughter’s 21st birthday party celebrations which started at ….midday and then went on for the rest of the weekend. Fortunately though, they moved on to her boyfriend’s house and allowed me to nearly die quietly as I nursed my swollen ankles !!

I can’t believe she is 21 already – I really can’t.  Where have the years gone?  I remember her arrival so vividly….

I’d had a terrible pregnancy, regularly in and out of hospital with Hyperemesis Gravidarum – extreme sickness  – where I couldn’t even keep down water and that lasted six months.  I hardly put on any weight during the pregnancy and I had to keep going into hospital so they could drip fluids into me.  I’ve never been so ill in my life – apart from a year later when I was expecting again!  I was thoroughly miserable and even now, I’m quite envious when I see women literally blooming as they show off their bumps.

Then, on the 8th August 1992, I woke up at around two in the morning with a very strange sensation down below.  A kind of tightening fluttering – not painful just, well ..different.  An hour and a half later, I’d had three more episodes at regular intervals and I realised that these must be contractions and that I was in labour.  I felt remarkably calm and I just lay there through the night waiting for each one and feeling quietly satisfied as they came on the half hour lasting about 20-30 seconds at a time.  I told my husband when he woke up suddenly around six and he was very excited but worried that we should be doing more.  However, I announced that I would be carrying on as normal until the contractions were five minutes apart and only then would we calmly call the hospital to tell them we were on our way.

I remember it was a beautiful sunny day and after tidying up our little flat, we went over to my parents’ house to let them know they would soon be grandparents.  My poor dad immediately started wheezing and needed his inhaler.  It was now around nine in the morning, and my contractions were still half an hour apart and not at all painful. My parents wanted me to sit down and rest but I was keen to show them how easy this childbirth lark was and I floated around saying how wonderful the world was.  I think I even hugged a tree in their garden at one stage, claiming I was at one with nature.  I could see everyone was completely bemused.

Over the next few hours, the contractions didn’t speed up but they did get stronger.  Still not painful as such but they were lasting longer and making me breathe faster though I was very much in control.  Dad had delayed his weekly visit to Sainsbury’s but as it was clear nothing was going to happen anytime soon, he decided to get on with it for something to do and much to his distress, I went with him.  I had heard that Sainsbury’s offered free shopping for a year if your waters broke there you see, so I thought I might as well give it a go.  Husband came too and I’ve never seen my poor asthmatic Dad whiz round that shop so fast.  Meanwhile, my contractions were bordering on painful, and I remember one coming as I stood rigid in front of some tinned peas gripping my hubby’s arm as people passed by and he didn’t know what to do, except look embarrassed.  Of course my waters didn’t break, even though I tried to stay in there long after all the shopping was done.

During the afternoon, the contractions started coming at twenty minute intervals and were now what I would call painful.  But I insisted it was fine and only to be expected and I still rejoiced in the knowledge that I would soon be a serene mother with a beautiful new baby.

By eight in the evening, I was in severe pain and snapping at anyone who came near me.  I barked at my husband that I wanted to go to hospital and he meekly reminded me that my contractions were still at fifteen minute intervals and that I had said earlier we would wait until they were five minutes apart to which I screamed that I had been already been in labour for SIXTEEN BLOODY HOURS and what did he know about anything and I wanted to go NOWWWWW !!!!!!!  As ever, he duly did as he was told and I screamed in agony for the whole journey.  They only thing I was clinging on to was that it had to be over soon as I was in such pain, that I must be at least 8cm dilated and that I might accept a little pain relief to get me through the last hour or so.

By the time we reached the hospital, a screaming, snarling, spitting bitch of a woman seemed to have taken me over.  I demanded to see someone straight away and was given a very young student nurse who was clearly scared of me and told me in a tiny, hesitant, halting voice that I couldn’t be in that much pain as I was only 2cm dilated.  My WHAAATTTT ??!!  must have echoed through the whole of London.  I started to berate this poor child about her pathetic diagnosis and ordered her to bring me in a consultant IMMEDIATELY.  At which point a very senior midwife bustled in and told me to calm right down or they would send me home. I did for a bit but after she examined me and confirmed that I was in fact less than 2cm I started to lose it again.  However, she at least acknowledged that I was clearly in pain and she tried to get me on a TENS machine which I nearly threw back at her as it was so useless and then we tried gas and air which was equally useless and then she asked me if I wanted to change my mind from my written birth plan and go for the epidural. My husband then quietly reminded me I had written that I didn’t want a needle that size anywhere near me and I screamed at him that they could damn well bring me one TRIPLE the size if it STOPPED THE BLOODY PAIN !!!

So, they brought in an anaesthetist who he told me it might take up to quarter of an hour before I felt any relief and I swore at him but then he did the business and literally, the pain seemed to vanish in an instant and with it went the bitch who had taken me over.

Within half an hour, I had the staff laughing and I apologised to the red-eyed little thing that had taken the brunt of my anger when I first arrived.  And they all agreed that actually I was quite nice after all!!  All was well until about two in the morning when I started to snarl at my husband that he didn’t need to be paying quite so much attention to the pretty midwife that had taken over but once they topped up the epidural, I was quite fine again.

My little baby girl finally arrived at 0537. I fell in love with her straight away and I can proudly say that she has never caused me a moment’s pain since then.

She has been a very special daughter – kind, compassionate and patient, just like her dad – and in spite of what she put me through all those years ago, I want the world to know that I love her to bits !!