23rd May, 1954 – The week of tradition has passed and the time has come for me to bring Hemma home. I saw her standing at the front door and when she noticed me walking up to her house, her face lit up immediately!
Her greeting for me was one filled with warmth and acceptance as she gestured to me with an open arms greeting, inviting me into her parent’s home. As I walked passed her into the house I sensed very strongly that she was most anxious for me to take her into our new life and this pleased me.
We entered the living room together where I was greeted by the family. The younger sisters and the 2 little courier pigeons aka little brothers now called me jija-ji -respectfully big sister’s husband- and the parents now called me beta (as in dear child**).
We shared pleasant conversation for a little bit and then lunch was served. All the while we are talking, my stomach grumbled gently which I’m certain was due mainly to the delicious smells coming from the kitchen.
I knew I was in for a treat because the vegetarian phase had now passed and well, I’m not going to tell a lie, I’m not vegetarian as was my father and brother; no I couldn’t do it. I did reveal that part of me while docked in Australia, remember?
Anyhow lunch was beautiful and the anticipation of the very next step was both Hemma’s and my dessert. What can I say? The time had come for the final departure from her childhood. She would now take up the journey into her husband’s home** and her new life.
Goodbyes and all that stuff … a quick skip forward to walking down the street.
I realized this was the first time that she and I were completely alone, ever! I took this opportunity to ask her a question. As we walked along I solicitously asked her, ‘Did you miss me during this past week?’
We had been holding hands as we walked and at this point she looked into my eyes and said, “Very much.” No further steps were taken and then Hemma added, “I love you and I want to spend all of my life with you so don’t ever leave me to go anywhere!”
Hemma then wrapped her arms around me and hugged me just as tight as she could. I chuckled, quickly responding with, ‘Okay I will never go anywhere without you.’
I thought to myself at that moment, ‘I lost Sonia. And then I lost Noori. I will not lose you.’
We arrived at my house, now our home, to lots of huggie-buggies but not before a quick welcoming pooja* to bring in the new daughter. Everyone was there to greet her, greet us, as the newlywed couple.
It wasn’t long before Hemma was being shown the various rooms in the house; now she would see where our bedroom is and of course the kitchen!
Speaking of which, after that delicious, filling lunch and the nice stroll home, this man was ready for his afternoon nap! Without missing a beat, Hemma made certain no one disturbed my peaceful slumber, and I rested very well.
And so began our life as husband and wife; young and innocent! I returned to work and Hemma slipped into her role at home perfectly. We did all the fun things; enjoyed movies at the theatres, had picnic lunches at the beach, shopped, went for milkshakes on a perfect day and visited friends and family for tea time or meal time, whatever the time was!
You know our backyard is the heavenly Pacific Ocean and so there are lots of secluded stretches of gorgeous sandy beaches to laze around on. Our climate being of tropical nature allowed for most any day to be a fabulous beach day!
I can tell you at this point in my life, I was very happy. We did fall in love with each other, I am certain. I had a loving companion to go forward with and together we dreamed and planned; everyday was fresh and exciting with the prospect of a hopeful future.
*** usually used for either gender although beti is feminine
** It is customary the wife moves into the husband’s home and becomes part of that family going forward; the honorable role of daughter-in-law.
* pooja – prayer