Wednesday, January 15, 2014

On the Same Wavelength

COLUMN: Spouse's Turn 

Indu talks about life with the Carnatic singer Sreevalsan J Menon

Photo by Suresh Nampoothiri

By Shevlin Sebastian

Indu met the musician Sreevalsan J Menon when they were both first-year B. Sc. students at the College of Agriculture, Thiruvananthapuram. “Right from the beginning, we had a similar wavelength,” she says. “I would share a lot of my thoughts with him. I felt he was calm and pure-minded.”

During the first year, one of the teachers, C. Bhaskaran said, “Today, I am a very proud teacher. Yesterday evening, during the Onam Week celebrations, one of our students had performed well. It was an introduction to [Carnatic vocalist] Neyyattinkara Vasudevan's programme.” That was when Indu realised that Sreevalsan was good in singing.

Things got serious during a month-long South India study tour by the first-year batch in 1990. One day, Sreevalsan went to Indu’s room which she was sharing with the other girls, took her to one side, and said, “I want to marry you.”

It was not a surprise for Indu. But she remained silent. “My father was a disciplinarian,” says Indu. “I thought, ‘Will he get upset?’”

Nevertheless, a couple of days later she said yes to Sreevalsan.

When she returned to Kochi, where her father worked in the Cochin Shipyard, she told her younger sister Sindhu about it. “Do you think it is an infatuation on Sreevalsan's part?” said Sindhu. But Indu had no doubt about Sreevalsan’s love. So once when her father and Indu went to the Sree Poornathrayeesa temple at Tripunithara she told him about the proposal. “Initially, he was shocked,” says Indu. “It took him some time to accept it. Finally, he asked whether Sreevalsan's family would accept me. I said that they would.”

Sreevalsan's mother said that they had no problems as long as the horoscopes matched. And it did.

In the meanwhile, Sreevalsan and Indu sat for exams conducted by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Delhi. Both of them passed, and secured fellowships. While Indu went to do her masters at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University at Coimbatore Sreevalsan did his at the College of Agriculture at Vellayani.

He would go to Coimbatore every now and then with his friends to meet Indu. “We would all go out to have lunch,” says Indu. “Sreevalsan would also write letters to me. There was nothing romantic in them. He would give a list of new English words and tell me to study it. So, I bought a Thesaurus to improve my English.”

Eventually, the marriage took place on September 8, 1996. Asked about her husband’s plus points, Indu says, “Sreevalsan is very calm. I get tensed up over the smallest of matters. And he will always say, 'Don't worry, everything will work out.' That always turns out to be true. Both of us are God-fearing. He is a man of positive thinking. He never makes a negative statement. Sreevalsan is very loving. He buys me sarees often. He likes me to wear Bengal cotton.”

Indu continues, “I feel very secure with him. I know that he is always there for me. When he is not at home, I feel that I am missing something. But when he is there, I feel complete. The love is still strong.”

As for his negative points, Indu says, “Sreevalsan does not look at the practical aspects of running the house. He has entrusted that to me. When there are a lot of tasks to do, sometimes, I wish he would help me or show some appreciation.”

Meanwhile, as an artist’s wife, Indu has no problems that music is his first love. “He has compartmentalised it in his mind,” she says. “When Sreevalsan is singing, he is fully immersed in it. But when he is with the family, he is all attention.”

Today, Sreevalsan works as an Associate Professor at the Kerala Agricultural University in Thrissur while Indu is an Agricultural Officer of the Krishi Bhavan at Chottanikkara. The Tripunithara-based  couple have two children, Subhadra, 16, and Narayanan, 12.

With the children, he is like a friend. “But Sreevalsan insists on the importance of behaving properly with relatives, strangers, teachers and friends,” says Indu. “My daughter is a teenager. She will come home and tell her father about certain issues between her and her friends, like how they make fun of the teachers. Sreevalsan listens carefully and gives advice.”

When the family has free time, they watch movies. “The last film we saw was 'Dhoom 3',” says Indu. “Sreevalsan likes Hindi, English, Malayalam and Tamil films. He watches English films a lot to listen to the music score.”  

Meanwhile, when asked about tips for a successful marriage, Indu says, “Husband and wife should give space to each other. There is no need to be possessive about each other. You also have to give and receive respect. That is very important. Think positively all the time. Then, all your troubles will be resolved. 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode) 

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