Monday, January 16, 2012

TO LAUGH WITH YOU AND CRY WITH YOU...


 Twenty-one years ago, Fr. Reggie Pinto had celebrated our nuptial mass in Mangalore. Last night, I was so delighted to meet him in Mumbai at the amazing grounds of Holy Family church in Andheri. He had come, all the way form Mangalore, to celebrate the nuptial mass of his niece, the gorgeous Marishka, and her handsome groom, Adrian. Fr. Reggie was also there to raise the toast for the lovely newly-wed.

Fr. Reggie is young and holds very young views as well. This makes him gel extremely well with the young generation. You feel relaxed when you are with him. And, you also feel a lot accepted and respected as you converse with him. 

Last night, after he had done with his toast-raising, he spent, along with his elderly mom, the rest of the time chatting with us around our table. 

Some months ago, Fr. Reggie had lost his father who was close to 90. ‘Pinto Master’… this was how Fr. Reggie’s dad was called fondly by everyone in the village. He and his wife – Maggie aunty – were both teachers… and amazing teachers they were! 

Last night, Fr. Reggie spoke to me, at length, about his parents’ commitments to their teaching profession , social responsibilities  and, above all, to their marriage and family. 

Pinto Master loved his students so much that he would teach them, free of charge, at home after the school hours… Often, these students would come from far away places and Maggie  aunty would serve them food and make them stay back for the nights. This was a common feature at their residence. Pinto Master would, later, help these youngsters in writing their Job applications and even use his contacts to obtain jobs for them. People coming to seek emotional help was a regular feature. 

After his retirement, Pinto Master kept himself fruitfully busy. He was active in the church activities. He was a terrific script-writer, actor and director. On Good Friday, he would make sure, the worshippers cried as they watched his play - ‘The Passion of the Christ’! He served as the Church Administrator for solid twenty-five years. Whenever a wedding or any other celebration popped up in the village, it was Pinto Master – the main Chef. Fr. Reggie told me last night, that his dad had handled a crowd of three thousand… and efficiently. Any event in the village – Christening, Communion, Marriage, Ordination, Jubilee or Death – Fr. Reggie’s parents were there right in the front, all in command!

What fascinated me the most was the legendary God-parenting. Fr. Reggie’s parents had ninety-nine God children! One short of a century – because, a massive paralytic attack had come on the way, and very badly!

For thirteen long years, Pinto Master spent his days on his wheel-chair and bed. For an incredibly active and useful person like him, it was simply the most painful thing that could happen. But, it happened. Hundreds of his students, who were now settled well in life, would come to visit him… Thousands of well-wishers and neighbors – of all castes and creed – would pray for him. Scores of Priests would send prayers to God from their altars. But, Pinto Master had to spend his last years in the manner God had wished… 

Yes, in spite of all the good work he had performed and the noble life he had chosen to live!

I remembered the famous book, “Why Bad Things Happen to Good People?”

The answer can only be mystical… Yes, only mystical!

But, then, there was Maggie aunty in the life of Pinto Master. His wife. Years and years had gone by since she had held his hand at the altar of God and said:



I, Margaret, take you, Robert,
to be my  lawfully wedded husband,
my constant friend, my faithful partner
and my love from this day forward. 


In the presence of God, our family and friends,
I offer you my solemn vow
to be your faithful partner in sickness and in health,
in good times and in bad,
and in joy as well as in sorrow.
I promise to love you unconditionally,
to support you in your goals,
to honor and respect you,
to laugh with you and cry with you,
and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live.



Nearly six decades had passed by since that day, since that commitment before God. Fr. Reggie told me last night, that he had lost count of the number of nuptials he was privileged to preside over. But, every time he made the young couple take that one vow of marriage, his voice would crack and heart would tremble. “It is the most humbling thing that I have come across in my Priesthood,” Father told me last night, almost choked , talking about the kind of commitment his mother had for her husband in her life. 


“Not less than fifty times, during a night, my dad would call her… Lift me up; place me down; change my side; change my pillow; why this food cold; bring me fresh… and, yes, my mother would do it!” Fr. Reggie narrated to me. “Once, she had to be in the hospital for one day for her cataract operation and I opted to be at home with my dad. I may be a Reverend Father… but, I lost my cool and yelled at him that night, ‘Dad, why do you torture me like this? Don’t I have to sleep?…”


“I really wonder how could my mom do so much for all her life,” Fr. Reggie told me. “The real test is when the times are bad… and, for thirteen years, the times were really bad for my mom and dad. Like a rock, she stood by him and nursed.”


They had brought to show us a huge photo album of the funeral photos. Shivers ran down  my spine, as I flipped through those pages. The magnificent church was packed with mourners to the hilt… On the altar, there were forty-five Priests to celebrate the final mass for Pinto Master, the good soul; there were students whose lives were touched by this man’s generosity… They had travelled from far away places; there was the Bishop and there were all those from the village – yes of all faiths – to bid him Good-bye. Above all, there was this frail woman, all heart-broken, standing by his side till the earth consumed this gentle soul for ever!


“Son, let me have some sleep, this night,” was what she said to Fr. Reggie that night. You can imagine, there mustn’t have been a single night – in all those thirteen long-years – when Maggie aunty had slept properly!


It was a stunning ambience. There was live music and the dance floor was electrifying. It was the last song… the famous song sung almost by every great singer. Last night, the brilliant young singer closed his eyes and sang it for the couple… as the parents and dearest ones of the bridal couple wrapped them  - gently, slowly  and tightly - with those satin blue-and-white ribbons.




 Oh, my love, my darling

I've hungered for your touch,
a long lonely time

And time goes by,
so slowly and time can do so much

Are you, still mine?

I need your love, I need your love

God speed your love to me



Lonely rivers flow to the sea,
to the sea

To the waiting arms of the sea

Lonely rivers cry, wait for me,
wait for me

To the open arms, wait for me


My love, my darling,
I've hungered for your kiss

Are you still mine?

I need your love,
I need your love

God, speed your love,
to me.
Then, the song ended... 

And the couple kissed!

It took more than an hour for our taxi-man to bring me and my wife home from the wedding venue. It was mid-night… and, I was unable to speak a single word!
“Marriage is surely not a night!” Last night, I had no honesty left in me to advise the awesome Adrian and Marishka! Yes,  that was twenty-one years since I said at the God's altar:

"Dear, I promise to love you...
to laugh with you and cry with you...
in our good times and bad times!"



 
GERALD D’CUNHA

THANKS:
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.










18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very, very moving. Thank you Gerry!!

.. Kristina

Gerald D'Cunha said...

Thank u Kristina. Glad.

Love,

GERRY

Anonymous said...

Gerry, what you wrote today is very touching one...It sums up what real love is.

I wish, I too could be aunty Maggie!

Thanks,

... WW

Gerald D'Cunha said...

Thank u friend for ur comment.I an glad it touched u!

Ya, we have a long way to go!

Love,

GERRY

STAN said...

I am in tears as I just finished reading it!!!

Thanks u! Thank u! Thank U!

-- Stan

Gerald D'Cunha said...

Thanks a lot Stan!

Crying helps!!

Love,

GERRY

Ashish Srivastava said...

Faith in such matters is often a wild conjecture. It may not deliberately be done, but when allowed to prevail shall produce some unbelieable results. Getting out of bed in the morning and the side, which step you put first as you enter a place of importance – a home or temple or the work place. The dress to be worn and what the colors may be after all the formalities in the bath are over, where I am certain many do occur – which brush, what toothpaste, soap, the brush you use for the hair ….
SHE is everywhere...she is Omnipresent!
Isnt it!
And then the route you take to work and not realising its her efforts that you are up and running to start yet another day...refreshed energised and...powerful! The list of incongruities just refuses to stop.
It is a science here in India, if some may call it but we call it UNFLINCHING and UNCONDITIONAL LOVE and one that is seriously followed and taught at University levels abroad today!

sonal said...

sir

this is indeed a master piece....marriage is just not abot 2 persons but about 2 minds...love they say is unconditional...you beautifully proved this in your narration...but sir i have a compain here, did margret get her due love from her husband back...for all she did unconditionally....according to me a woman needs to think like a man, /act like a lady, Look like a young girl and work like a horse...its hard to be a woman...

Gerald D'Cunha said...

Hi Ashish, as usual, ur comment is a post in itself! I am seriously thinking of building on it... may be today or tomorrow!

Thank u.

An yes, Ashish... she is there everywhere... and yes, for us in India, particularly!

Love,

GERRY

Gerald D'Cunha said...

Hi Sonal, thanks for the lovely response.

True, marriage is just not between two 'persons'!

About your question whether Maggie auntie received back what was rightly 'due' to her from her husband for all that she did?

I say: Yes, she did!

Still, I would request Fr. Regie, today, to answer your question. Who else is in a better place to do that?

Thanks Sonal,

Love, Sir.

Fr. Reginald Pinto said...

Hai Gerry,
This is the same Fr. Reggie.
Thank you Gerry, no words are there with me to show y gratitude, just a drop of tear fell on my cheek.
Sonal, i can grasp you clearly. surely my mom did get lots and lots of LOVE from my dad throughout her married life. i will tell you a fact that only once he has shouted at her, that too for not keeping our land document properly. He has never hurt her. You know they were never separate throughout their wedded life, that is for 57 long years. Even when my DAD was in bed, as a paralytic patient, he was kind towards her, and appreciating her service in front of the visitors.
Thanks Gerry.
Fr. Reginald Pinto, Mangalore

Gerald D'Cunha said...

Hi Father... thank u so much!

I am blessed!

Father, that evening when we were with u, I had come out a lot inspired!

Mom and dad's married life is something like an open book!

Many have felt inspired by this story...

Sonal will find your answer very humbling and reassuring.

Keep reading nd helping me, Father...It means a lot to me.

Thanks again...

Love,

GERRY

Anonymous said...

Gerry...this is truly Awesome!!

Aunt Maggi has set a wonderful example of married life and as Adrian and I begin our married lives we will look up to her....

Amazing blog...truly appreciated by everyone at home!!!

Marishka & Adrian

sonal said...

I am deeply moved at fr.Reginald Pintos reply..thank you for the same...
I never doubted Mr. Pinto's love but I have often heard and seen that a man's ego is very dangerous..which can upset many things in life...
Very few men can handle fame and respect but thank you for proving me wrong...we all need to sow the seeds of love kindness and compassion..which Margaret and Pinto had reaped..this is the fruit which we can pass to our children..let me conclude by saying The Tree of Love (Margaret and Pinto) has blossomed beautifully giving shades to many of us...thank you

Gerald D'Cunha said...

Hey Marishka and Adrian...

Thanks for the response... It really meant a lot to me...

You know Marishka/Adrian, this post was 'dedicated to you'!

There are three couples in it: You, the newly-wed, Me and Flavy who have been together for 21 years... and our 'role-models' - Uncle and Aunty.

Pl accept our good wishes, once again, and many, many years down the line, may someone like me say the same thing about you... as I say today about uncle and aunty!

We really came back a lot happy and proud, on Sunday night.

Love,

GERRY

Gerald D'Cunha said...

Brilliantly expressed, Sonal! Time, you started your own Blog!

Yes, like me, two decades of married life... a hubby for whom you had fallen head-over-heels... three lovely daughters... and yes, 'it is really tough to be a woman'!

As a man, I agree with you that what we reciprocate is often not enough... and our ego often is very bloated.

But then, I am not speaking for others, here. Please.

Fr. Reggie will be happy to read your touching rejoinder... I will request him to get back.

Please encourage your good friends to access this blog and comment. And, you keep expressing the way you do.

Love,

Sir

kiran said...

Sir,

This passage just brought tears in my eyes!! The true love , compassion words heard known but get lost somewhere in our routine... The small town legends, like maggie aunt and Mr. Pinto... these real stories are inspiring , a lesson for us.. of giving and giving.... without anticipating...
sir, your blogs help me introspect myself and understand my own feelings much better. Truly inspiring Thanku sir

Gerald D'Cunha said...

Thanks Kiran...

Ya, there is so much to do and so much to give ... before we claim our hand on what we think 'due' to us in life!

It is is giving that we receive!

Keep reading and commenting.

Love,

GERRY