About my Sister-in-Law, Indira Gokulanathan

My dear Gokulachettan,

To lose life’s partner is a painful tragedy that one may never get over. But being a person much more knowledgeable about life than me, I would think your approach to accept it would be the most philosophical way. And I pray to God to help you there.
          I distinctly remember the first time I met Indira, sitting on a couch in the living room of your apartment in Maryland. It was a cool, bright morning on the 31st of December 1969. We had just landed in DC from Scotland the previous night and you had picked us up from the Residents’ quarters at DC General Hospital where we stayed the night before. Indira was all dressed up in black pants and a light blue sweater, her hair put up in a pile, high over her head. The young, fashionable girl raised in Bangalore offered us a modest, reserved, gesture of a smile that I accepted as a notion of welcome. A bit intimidated, I cautiously made an attempt to engage in a conversation, groping to find a topic of common interest. Perhaps I was already tense, the first day of our life in America, to join the residency program the following day, needing to find a place of our own to stay and getting used to our next step in life. Indira may have been equally uneasy – three strangers, a so-called cousin, his wife and child crashing in on them, into her small apartment, intruding into their privacy and still fresh honeymoon.
          But things improved, gradually yet certainly and positively that we became friends, good friends. Indira, I would have addressed her as chetathiamma, the wife of my most favorite cousin, my childhood hero and mentor. But she was not even remotely a traditional Keralite, a stylish city girl, almost on the other end of a cultural spectrum from Gokulachettan. But she tried, and slowly changed, gradually adapted, and finally accepted her husband’s methods, his values and his style, becoming a Malayalee wife as he desired.
          She was fun, she was open, she loved life and she was much more grounded and mundane than her intellectual, scholarly, erudite husband. For most people, it was easier to engage with Indira in a worldly conversation than Gokulachettan who would demand and impose intensity and scrutiny of our cerebral capacity. Except with me, he remained my old friend as we often roamed back into our adorable playful childhood times, naughty endeavors, revisiting the spanking, disciplining and the bountiful love that we received, and that provided us the fundamentals and foundations of life.
          Remembering Indira brings in comfort, affection, appreciation, and a profound sense of friendship; and her thoughts would certainly provide a warm and heartening smile. As much as we miss the bubbly, pleasing presence and exchanges, anyone who has known her would have treasures of memories that would never fade, that could be cherished and remembered with love, abundance of love and nothing but love.

With respect, admiration, and love,
(March 8, 2018)

Author: Dr. Venugopal Menon

Was born and raised in a loving family in pre-independent India, became a doctor, served Indian army, got married, then came over to America with wife and a daughter, established as a successful Allergist, raised a family of three children, was involved in many social establishments, retired, and wrote memoirs, 'My Mother Called Me Unni, A Doctor's Tale of Migration'.

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