All the tears around.
Any marriage is a happy occasion. But in my case, it is other way round.
No one was happy. I am sure about this.
I still remember the course of events as it is not a small affair to forget.
15th December 1971.
An ambassador car was on its way from Chennai (Then Madras) to Tirupati. The occupants of the vehicle, though small in number, were not in a mood to talk to each other during the journey of five hours or more.
I was sitting in the front seat along with the driver and also with another person who is relative of my inlaw’s side. Everyone is busy in rallying their thoughts around only one point.
‘Why this is happening and for what?’
Suddenly the weather changed. Thick and dark clouds started spreading over the sky. The rain started with a big bang. Heavy to heavy rains with thunderstorms, lightning, and gusty winds lashed travelling route. Though the car vipers are constantly working, the road ahead is almost invisible. The driver slowed down the vehicle. It was a single road and not wide enough to travel smoothly. Besides, it is overflowing with the heavy rain waters. Number of vehicles were found stranded in the flash floods.
‘Can we reach Tirumala safe in this night of horror? Is this an omen for the coming and unveiling events of my life?’, I was asking myself silently.
With the God’s grace, we reached Tirumala up hills far behind the schedule time. Those were the days when it is very easy for the pilgrims to get a cottage on arrival, without prior booking. Now, we cannot imagine such situation.
We took one cottage near the temple. We ate what they brought from Chennai and woke up early morning.
How they managed, I don’t know, but a priest appeared on the scene to perform the marriage. The ceremony was cut short to 15 minutes to save the time. The priest put a new ‘Jandhyam’ (Sacred thread) on my shoulders as mark of finishing Upanayanam.
Exact muhoortham time I do not remember, but I tied the sacred mangala sootram in her neck somewhere between 9 to 9.30 am. In fact, there was no fixed muhoortam for the wedding. (Later we came to know, that it was AMAAVAASYA, which is considered to be a bad day for weddings)
Later, we all went into the temple through Mahadwaram as the pilgrim rush is not so much like now a days, and had darshan of the Lord Balaji.
We had our lunch at annadaana satram and immediately returned to Chennai. While coming back, the weather was pleasant and traffic is also relatively less.
That evening my wife Nirmala hosted a simple dinner to her friends at a near by hotel in T. Nagar.
My father in law Shri PR Gopala Rao came to Railway station to bid a farewell to his daughter with tears filled in eyes. He purchased two tickets to Vijayavada in an ordinary compartment. The train is almost empty and we occupied two lower berths, of course, made with wood.
Next morning, we got down in Vijayavada railway station and took one riksha, since the luggage is very less (Two old type small suit cases only) and straight went to my elder brother Shri Paravatala Rao’s place in Officers Quarters near Victoria Musium.
My brother, sister in law Smt Sarojini Devi did not ask a single question about my marriage, and alos about accompanying wife. They received us with warmth and affection.
Same day evening we both went to my brother in law Shri Turlapati Hanumantah Rao garu who stays in Governorpet. He is our God Father since we lost our father Shri Raghava Rao many years earlier. My elder sister Saraswati, who is my caretaker since my school days, presented my wife with a saree and blessed us.
Next day I went to my office Andhra Jyothi in Labbipet and met my editor Shri Narla Venkateswara Rao garu and explained the reason for my absence for the last few days.
He congratulated me heartfully and said:
‘Daily we write many things and preach morals to the society, but we never put them in practice. Your marriage is very simple. I liked the way in which you did. From now onwards, you need not attend office regularly. You enjoy with your wife, take her to places of interest and come back to office according to your convenience. This is my marriage gift to you’.
I am lucky to have such understanding superiors in the early years of my professional life.
Very next day we went to our native village Kambhampadu a remote, backward and a sleepy village in Krishna District. On the way to our village, we also visited my another elder sister Annapurna and my brother in law Shri Komaragiri Apparaao garu at Penuganchi prolu to seek their blessings.
When we went to our ancestral home in Kambhampadu, my mother Smt. Venkatravamma and grand mother Smt. Rukminamma received us with utmost affection. Everyone in our family were afraid of my grand mother who is a very religious and orthodox person and she may not accept and endorse our temple marriage. Surprisingly, she took my wife into her hands and blessed profusely. She also gave my wife a new name ‘Nirmala’ as she found ‘PURITY’ in her face.
Earlier her name is Kanaka Durga. Household name ‘CHITTI’.
I spent a few days in my village before retuning to Vijayavada and leaving my wife there it self.
At that point time, I forgot that she was born and brought up in a city like Madras. In our village there was electricity, but supply is very irregular. No bathroom, no toilet in the house. All the ladies in the village have to walk down in the morning to near by bushes. She came to a village first time in her life. Without going into these hard realities, I left her there. Perhaps, she never imagined such a life in the beginning days immediately after marriage.
To everybody’s surprise, she took up this new challenge in a brave manner. She accustomed to the new environment very fast. She moulded herself into the new role of a daughter in law. Since she does not know cooking, she slowly grabbed the techniques from my mother and my third sisiter in law Smt. Aruna Devi. During evenings, she captured the hearts of my grand mother by reading loudly some portions from Raamayanam and Bhagavatam.
My third brother (Late) Shri Venkateswara rao garu who was the village officer, immediately realised the necessity of a toilet in our premises and constructed the same with in no time.
When she came back to Vijayavada, we spent few months in my brother’s house and later shifted to a rented one nearby my office.
(Some more reminiscences later)