Image and Narrative points contributed by Amrashree Mishra, Mumbai
This is a photograph of my paternal grandparents Radharaman Lakshminarayan (R.L) and Sushila Mishra. It taken in front of their home in Bombay Central Railway Colony in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1973.
My grandfather Radharaman whom we called Dadaji was brought up in a farmer’s family in Rajpur village in Madhya Pradesh. In the late 1940s, his marriage was fixed with a 16 year old Sushila (my grandmother) from a neighbouring village. Sushila was around 15 years old at the time the match was made and had studied till 4th standard. Her school uniform, she says was a saree that was compulsory for all girls attending that school.
Dadaji was an intelligent, witty man, with a great zest for life and humour. He was well read, and with a deep interested in performing arts, Palmistry and Astrology and Homeopathy, and found fame in his circles for being very good at all. Homeopathy, he took far more seriously and became well known in the field. Professionally, he worked for Indian Railways all his life, and rose to a position of Chief Telecom Inspector. His job involved managing the telecommunications department of the Railways – and like any job that required communication – from the military to naval to civil administration, he too was trained in Morse Code for its purposes. Like so many employees of Indian Railways, he was posted in various places in India, such as Agra (Uttar Pradesh) Bharatpur, Kota (Rajasthan) and finally settled in Bombay (now Mumbai, Maharashtra).
In 2019, my grandmother, my dadiji, narrated a story to me about my grandfather that became an important reminder of the love they shared. I remember she reminisced the event so vividly and fondly. Just before their marriage, a respected family astrologer and priest was called in who went through Dadaji’s horoscope with a fine tooth comb. It seems that he predicted that Dadaji would marry twice. The planetary positions could not lie, he proclaimed, and it was unavoidable destiny.
When my grandparents got married, he innocently mentioned the prediction to his wife Sushila, my grandmother. The newly married bride was in shock, and for a long while imagined all sorts of troubles befalling upon her. Ever so often, it became a topic of contention. While my grandfather would chuckle it off, it was no laughing matter for my grandmother. A second wife in her home would spell disaster for her in all sorts of ways. Eventually, he sensed the simmering emotional stress his comment-in-jest on the matter had brought about.
In 1949, when Dadaji was posted in Kotah Junction, in Rajasthan, he joined the Dramatics Club of the Indian Railways. Soon a script, in particular a scene in it, helped him allay his wife’s troubled thoughts aside. In the play, he excitedly played a part as a groom in a wedding scene. My grandfather then returned home and declared to my grandmother that with that wedding, he had effectively fooled the stars and lived out the word of the esteemed priest. He had only one love in his heart and that for Sushila, his wife, my dadiji. My Grandmother says she was extremely amused and perhaps even relieved. Anyhow in more than 60 years of their marriage, no thoughts of a second marriage were ever entertained. Together my grandparents had seven children (four daughters and three Sons) and they loved each other till my grandfather’s dying breath in 2006.
This anecdote about my dadaji never stops short of filling me up with warmth of of wonder. Their beautiful romance and commitment to each other infuses my life with more love and optimism. This is what true love is like.
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