I’d Like To Make It With You…

I’d like to make it with you…

It was the early days of our courtship. When everything was new, the sky was the bluest of blues, the flowers vividly colored, even in the Madras heat. I already knew he was one of the most intelligent, most mature guys I had ever met. Respected by the bigwigs in my company, as well as the Railway officers –we were both on site at Central Station in Madras, implementing the passenger reservation system for Southern Railways. One of the railway officers, a good friend of us both, in fact, had an eye on him for someone in his family—who was actually more qualified, as an Iyengar. (Me being a mere Iyer, more on that later)

But discovering each other’s personality was something else – would he turn out be a non-reader? Or worse, someone who I cannot laugh along/laugh at and be silly with? Or, horror of horrors, would he hate music?

A couple of things happened that put my fears to rest. One, we did the Hindu crossword every day together—the cryptic ones, not the quick ones, to boot.

Two, he doesn’t remember this, but he read “To Kill A Mockingbird” which I had passed on to him, and said to me: “I know why you like this book so much” and quoted from the book, with page number, Atticus Finch’s take on integrity.

Nerd –

(I haven’t read the sequel, or rather the prequel to TKAM—yet—Atticus still lives in my heart as the one whom Scout adores, the one who is not a bigot).

I didn’t know this then, but the lasting passion in my life would turn out to be music, as I got older. And he had me when he gave me this, his first gift to me.

Bread

Thene Then Pandi Meene

It was the reverse of the “ponnu paakara” ceremony. This was the tough one—meeting his formidable future sisters-in-law. It was like the Spanish Inquisition. After the initial “interview”, my sisters wanted him to, gasp, sing!

Would he pass? I had never heard him sing. And our family is notorious when it comes to guests and singing. The poor guests usually are flattered by the requests to sing, hardly realizing the minefield of snickers, guffaws and mockery they’re unwittingly walking into. In other words, the only intention in asking someone to sing was to make fun of them after they left—sometimes we couldn’t even wait for that. I had butterflies in my stomach. Would he pass?

He did – with this gem:

Yesterday

It was the day after we got engaged/had gotten the blessings of both our families. Our manager, coincidentally, got the team together for some work celebration at a five star restaurant in Chennai. And Raj teased me when this song played:

Kalyaana Maalai

It was our honeymoon in Ooty/Coonoor. K. Balachander’s “Puthu Puthu Arthangal” had just been released. The song “Kalyaana maalai” was playing everywhere. And to my horror, I discovered that the love of my life didn’t always quite get the tune right. In fact, he sang the first line incorrectly, almost every single freaking time!

But we were on our honeymoon. What are the rules? Could I criticize my newly married husband on his singing? Or let it go, and pretend it didn’t bother me and turn my face away every time he sang it wrong, because I visibly winced. I struggled, tortured in my soul, for a couple of days.

In the end, the musical purist in me beat out the newly married, stars-in-her-eyes bride. We were standing at some bus stop/taxi stand, waiting, when he did it again. That was it. I couldn’t take it anymore. And told him he was singing that line wrong, right there, in the middle of the street, a mere few days after we had gotten married, the turmeric in my “thaali” still very yellow and fresh!

Our first argument after we got married! (Needless to say, I won.) It’s taken 25+ years, but he finally can sing that line right—although sings it wrong sometimes, just to annoy me.

Aasai Mugam Marandhu Poche

As our young family grew, as we raised children, and got busy with our careers, we still listened to music but not so much together. I started to listen more to what my kids did, driving them around. He was lucky to listen to any at all! But still managed to keep up with the desi music scene, even if a couple of years behind. He became more familiar with the likes of Karthik, Srinivas, Sriram Parthasarathy and other young talent than I was.

The hundreds of cassette tapes we had accumulated became a source of contention for the space they occupied. Once in a while, when he got time, he would convert some of them into cds. One of those was a beloved album of Simon and Garfunkel that he lovingly imported into my itunes library, that I still listen to.

We celebrated his 50th with a few friends, listening to a collection I made of his favorite songs—Ilayaraja hits from the 80s.

But since the kids left home leaving an empty nest, we have rediscovered our passion for music and listen to classical/semi-classical, Carnatic music together. There are many many songs we enjoy, but this one by Karthik is my favorite. Especially when he is away on his long trips. A version of this Bharathi creation by Maharajapuram Santhanam was our favorite in the early years of our marriage. I can listen to this in a loop while his is “Bantureethi kolu”—any version of it.

I’d like to make it with you

Last week, I was at Mayo Clinic for an appointment, when I heard a familiar tune being belted out on live piano. I knew it was familiar but couldn’t place it. As I sang along in my mind, following a flimsy thread of memory, I realized it was this, one of the first ones we had listened to together:

I think he did!

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