My friend, Joe is mad! Last night, I called him up. There was disturbance in the line… so, I said, “Hey Joe, are you driving?”
“How can I?” Joe’s response was instant, “Mariette (his ONLY wife!) has gone to Mumbai!”
I laughed. Then thought, “What did he mean by that?”
Well, had I asked him that, I knew he had ready rejoinders. I only said, “You Wise-crack! You drive me crazy!”
Joe and Mariette got married very early. They have two lovely daughters, Namratha and Niyothi and one son, Nikhil. Namratha is married to Brian and they just celebrated their first wedding anniversary on this New-Year day. Niyothi is already engaged and Nikhil is doing his engineering. Joe runs his business and very successful in it. Mariette heads a nursing college. It is a lovely family. It is fun to be with them… You come out a lot refreshed. And, of course, your heart and stomach, both, filled as well!
Mariette is a very caring person. When I told that to Joe, he had his repertoire handy. “They say, when you are just married, your wife loves you hundred percent; when you get your first child, she loves you fifty percent; when you get your second child, she loves you twenty percent… and, like me, if you get a third one, then you get nothing from your wife!”
Yes, Mariette’s love for her three young children was very visible to me when I was around them. Namratha loves to dance. On the anniversary day, while she was dancing to a popular number, I saw Mariette leaving everything and everyone aside, sitting on a chair undisturbed, and watching her lovely dancing-queen, all captivated and proud. When she saw me, she pointed to her daughter… That meant: “Look, she is my daughter!”
On the Christmas eve, Joe and Mariettee had come to our house (Where I was staying in Mangalore) to wish us and give Christmas sweets. While they were returning, my youngest brother, Vivek, casually asked Joe, “I have some nice big Pomfrets… Shall I give you?”
“Hey, Vivek… No, no… No need. There is enough in the fridge.” This was Joe’s immediate response. Typically, a male one!
“Brian may love them, Joe,” was the spontaneous response of Mariette. Brian was her beloved son-in-law, Namratha’s hubby.
The nice, big pomfrets went to Joe’s home. Yes, specially for Brian!
Three days later,
when I was having lunch at Joe’s place,
I recalled this simple, spontaneous gesture
to all of them on the dining table.
Mariette’s eyes welled…
“When we were just married, she would tell, ‘Joe would love them’...” Joe taunted while Mariette managed to blush!
“Gerry, did you meet Lionell?” In the midst of the celebrations, Mariette wanted to know whether I had met her would-be, second son-in-law. When I said, “No,” she held my hand and took me to introduce.
Two days before I was to leave, she took me to a mall and picked some beautiful sarees and accessories to my wife, Anima. On the day I was to leave, Joe picked me up from my place and took me to his. They made me join their entire family and have a real, sweet meal. Then, when I was getting into the car, Mariette handed me with a lovely bag. “Gerry, this is for the night,” she said, “Don’t have the outside food.”
She had packed the lovely Tupperware container with delicious fried rice, and Prawns chilly. There was a spoon, a lovely napkin a bottle of water and two pluffy oranges. Above all, there was love!
Joe waited till the train left Mangalore. That very moment I sent my Thank You message: “Mariette is a gracious soul. I am touched. Thank you Joe for everything.”
The image used in this Post is by Ashok Ahuja. He is a professional Photographer and a very dear friend of mine. He is also one of the founder members of The Dawn Club, and, along with his gifted-artist wife, Sudha, has been helping me, and the Club, right from its inception.