April 9, 2014
I am Carmine Machado, born in Shankarpura, Udupi District. Now, after several years, looking back I still cherish those beautiful memories of my childhood, those happy hours spent in the company of my mother and siblings. I am the eldest among the three - all girls. My father is a God fearing man who eked out a living tilling the small land that came to his share.
My mother - what a lovely mother she is - added fragrance to our family income by threading jasmine. No matter how much I praise her skill in threading jasmine, it would only fall short of what she was gifted with. Her skill and dedication to her work is simply out of this world, I vouch for that.
We three siblings loved to sit by the side of our mother and watch her threading jasmine, totally oblivious of the surroundings and time trickled by and what’s more, not a word used to be passed amongst us, we loved those beautiful, golden moments of our lives. How very sad that I will never enjoy those moments again and how I wish to dive back in time to those beautiful moments again!!
Days, months and then years rolled on and soon I passed high school. I am not young any more. I am now all of eighteen years of age. Strangers would often ask my parents as to how many children they had and the answer had never satisfied them, they would invariably turn around with a long face. I used to wonder then but not any longer, as to what for had they blighted their faces!! Soon I began to see the reality of life, not being young and innocent any more. People prefer boy child over a girl, it is as simple as that, but why, and what is wrong with a girl child?
Now the reality began to dawn on me. Three daughters, to be educated, get married, and a dowry to be thrown at and all this from the meager income from a small farmland and jasmine flowers that my dear mother threaded to beautify the beauties far and wide.
My father is a simple God fearing man, and ideally for him my mother never ever disputed on what my father had to say. She was an ideal wife and mother but then when we have such mothers and wives, why do they ask dowry and for what? “You have three daughters to get married” people would say with a long face, and depart, as if my parents have committed a crime. Crime, what crime? I would ask myself. In my mother, my father could never have seen any other more complete partner and I wonder if she had ever paid any dowry to him! I had better not ask, for it is bound to destroy the peace of my mind should things not work to my way of thinking as I think in this case it should be against the convention.
The society has hardly ever shown a more humane bent of mind where girl child is concerned. There is joy and jubilation should there be a birth of a male child in the family but hardly ever so for a girl child and why? There are cases when a girl child is snuffed off in the womb not even so much as being allowed to see the light of the day!! Girl child is a burden, a woman should stay home and not work off the home confines, it is the man who is the boss and breadwinner and should he have any vices they are shoved down the drain. They are, uttered, in hush hush tones, everything is swept under the carpet, for he is the bread winner, the head of the family – the boss, yes the boss!!
The wife is often relegated to the confines of the four walls of the kitchen never to be allowed to work and earn for the betterment of the family, no matter how qualified she is for if she does it is said to be going to puncture the male ego. Men are replete with excuses for raising objections to working wives. “They would amass wealth, money, gold and they would become dominant,” these are some of the silly excuses that are a spleen to man’s false pride.
Luckily I saw this reality right on time. I saw my sisters are now fast growing and we three are eating up virtually all and more of our parent’s income.
No sooner did I finish my high school, than the parish priest helped me to get into nursing profession in Kankanady, and in a matter of three and a half years I secured B.Sc. Nursing degree and after a year of internship, worked in a private hospital for five years and saw to the education of my younger sisters.
By now, I have crossed my mid-20s and my two sisters have also reached the marriageable age. One fine morning I told my parents of my decision to go to Dubai and work as a nurse. They had their own reservations but never came in my way; they are like that, kind and humble. But not the society!!
It was vociferous in its voice to tone me down. “You are past your marriageable age, your Mr. right is now not even be at the bottom of the pyramid of Mr. Right!! Some men even passed sarcastic remarks such as “You are almost budiya now”. My, my, look at the ruthless daggers drawn at me. It is my life, and so long as I live straight, what is the big deal my dear?
I was hell bent upon my resolve, and secured a passport, visa and landed a job, a good job at that in a reputed hospital in Dubai that turned out to be a turning point in our family fortune. First thing first. I told my father to demolish our ramshackle house that did not even have a toilet, and in a matter of two years erected a new house, that can pass as a humble yet decent one that I named after my dear mother -“Merlene Villa”.
The house attracted more friends, more relatives and then fresh relations; I mean new proposals to my sisters. I left everything to my parents and after taking proper advice from our parish priest, within a matter of two years both my sisters got married into mutually satisfying families and I did attend both the marriages.
All were now more concerned about me and my future, than my parents. I assured my parents, I have trust in God and one that has trust in Him will never be let down. God who created this Universe and filled it with all those planets does keep his eyes on the least of his creations too.
This time after I helped settle my sisters and returned to Dubai and visited my bank I could not help averting those pair of eyes that have been focusing on me long since. He was different this time, he came forward of his own accord and spoke to me in amiable ways and introduced himself like a thorough gentleman and expressed his desire to marry me and we both decided to meet that very evening.
He was 34 and I was 31 and much like me he too had lots of family commitments, being the eldest in the family and he made a clean breast of his past life and so did I respond with my life story. We both had steady jobs, he in the bank and I in a reputed hospital. We mutually agreed to marry after a short period of courtship stretching over three months or so.
We came to such conclusions that while we have to keep working and contribute to family expenses, we should also have the freedom of taking care of our aged parents and he was quick to respond positively and things began to fall in place to our mutual satisfaction and within a matter of six months we became man and wife. And thanks to my husband’s practical thinking, his and my aged parents turned out to be rightful beneficiaries. I for one never believe in sending my aged parents to old-age homes at any cost and as luck would have it, he too happened to be of the same view. While all this was happening, I could visualize the invisible hand of God that has been guiding us in the right path.
After our marriage, within a period of two years I became the mother of a girl child. Now after ten years of marriage at the age of eight, our daughter Nirmala, partly comes after her father and partly after me. Her father is a good looker and my daughter, is a good looker too, I am a good singer and she too is a good singer.
“God has given you good voice and now you praise the lord through church choirs” I would say to my daughter and she does exactly that and as for looks, well that should come in handy sometime in the future when she is fully grown and ready to settle down after her exploits in studies.
True to our resolve, we both are regularly sending money for the upkeep of our parents for the past ten years now. My husband’s parents are being looked after by his elder brother who takes care of the farm. My husband has ensured that there is no dearth of financial support for the upkeep of his parents even if it means keeping a full time caretaker in any manner as the need would arise.
Likewise, do I need to say that I will never let down my parents who have dedicated themselves to the welfare of their three darlings? No, never, no matter what the consequences might be. My parents are happily looked after by a middle aged neighbor staying in our house and catering to their needs round the clock and in return she gets paid to her full satisfaction. After all, don’t we know what the poet says, it is – “A man’s destination is his own village, His own fire, and his wife’s cooking.”
Jimmy Noronha - Archives:
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- Is there Life After Sixty?
- The Miracle of a Morning Walk
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- The English Teacher
- Is an Ounce of Luck Worth a Ton of Effort?
- Friendship Beyond Words...
- The Changing Face of Man in the Gulf
- A Widow's Wisdom
- Is There Life after Gulf?
- Mangalore to Bombay...