Saturday, August 2, 2014

M.D. Narayana Iyer, Chapter 9

During his stay in England, Manikutty had met Parvathi Kumaramangalam, and in his own words, it was love at first sight. Parvathi was the daughter of Dr. P. Subbarayan, a very well-known public figure, and Radhabai Subbarayan, a social activist.  Parvathi also returned to India around the same time as Manikutty. They continued to see other and the mutual attraction, aided by common interests and political views. The relationship grew from strength to strength, until they finally arrived at the natural conclusion - marriage.

The Subbarayans were definitely not Palghat Brahmins. Manikutty wanted to marry Parvathi with his parents' blessings. With great trepidation, Manikutty told his father about his interest in Parvathi, and sought his approval for the union. However, there was absolutely no hesitation on his parents' part. Appa had only one reservation, which he conveyed to his son. "We are middle-class people, and they are zamindars.  She should not feel that she has married beneath her." A very relevant concern from a fond father.  Manikutty convinced his father that financial status did not come into the picture at all and that they were planning to live in a commune.

Even in today's time and world, parents frown upon an Iyer marrying an Iyengar, or a Trichy Brahmin marrying a Tanjore Brahmin, and even disown their children for marrying out of caste. What Appa, a person brought up in a small village in Kerala, did in the 1940's, is truly remarkable.

Parvathi was welcomed with open arms into the family. Caste was never an issue.  Every year, Appa used to spend a few enjoyable weeks with Manikutty and Parvathi. Their daughter, Indi, had a close relationship with her paternal grandparents.

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