Unity in Diversity series : ‘Humanity Before Religion’
I'm Divya Samson Panabakam aka @mammabearlife on IG. I'm here to talk about my experiences growing up in a multi-cultural family in India. So yes, there is always a story - let's say an interesting story. This story will be about a couple who kept our (mine, my brother's and a lot of friends) belief about love alive. I am super blessed that they are my parents. Without any delay let me start with how they met. My dad is from a small town on the border of Andhra and Chennai. My mom is from a village near Vizianagaram. They had both come to live with their eldest sisters in Vizag. My dad was there to find work and my mom to study. Their sisters lived on the same street. My dad always told us that he saw my mom when she was playing marbles with his nephews jokingly, I found out just today that he was kidding about it all through my life. My mom, well she used to smile and blush whenever we asked her about her side of the story. Today they've finally told me that they met for the first time when my mom came to Vizag during her 10th std holidays. So they kept meeting often as my aunts were friends too. They fell in love with each other. My grandparents never agreed to their marriage. This is where I need to tell you that my mom was a Hindu and my dad a Christian. So my dad sent a card to his parents a day before they got married.
My dad's eldest sister, her husband and the amazing friends my parents have, got them married at a registrar office. It was a traditional wedding. It was super simple but all smiles. Never once in 29 years have I heard my mom complain about missing out on a grand celebration or not having her family with her when she got married.
So you can imagine. I'll be honest I didn't know most of my relatives until I was 7, I don't remember spending any time with my dad's parents maybe twice. I have never seen my mom's dad ever not even a picture. The only grandparent I have ever had the chance to know or spend time with is my mom's mother, my Queen Elizabeth. I dreaded going back to school after summer holidays cause I could never talk about what my friends commonly talked about 'grandparents'. For me, it was only my dad's eldest sister and her husband who ruled over the term grandparents. Yes now I know all my cousins, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews but I have my favourites and I love them dearly. We spoke Telugu, Hindi, English, and a little bit of Tamil as we grew up. It was more of hearing my dad talk to his brothers and sisters in Tamil than us talking. Now we speak in Telugu and English most of the time at home. We celebrated all festivals irrespective of religion growing up. We celebrated birthdays of most. We wore all kinds of clothes whichever we wanted growing up. We were never confined to certain choices when it came to festivals or traditional attires. My parents taught us that we were human and Indian before we belonged to a religion. So for a very long time, I didn't know which religion I belonged to and I had no clue about caste system probably until I signed up for a government job and I am not kidding when I say this. We definitely missed out on bigger family and fun but later in life, I understood that there is not much I have missed cause my parents loved us and cared for us more than anything. I call them sacrifices but my parents always say it's their love for us. Never once did we miss on any joy in life. We have travelled, moved to different cities and enjoyed every possible thing we could enjoy as kids. I'll forever be grateful that my parents never forced religion onto us but taught us about humanity first.
Thank you, Divya for this moving account of your parents Love Story. We wish you and your family, all the very best.
Tune in to the Times of Amma's Unity in Diversity series this August, as we celebrate our nation by celebrating the multicultural families that personify India’s unity in diversity.
For more stories from multicultural families like Disha's and more stories on Motherhood, the different versions of a Mother's love and the many iterations of life as a mom, do join the Times of Amma community on Facebook and Instagram. If you are a Newbie Blogger or an Aspiring Mom Blogger, don't forget to get your copy of 'The Beginner's Guide to the Indian Mom Blogger Universe' here.