Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan and his wife Vimala believe a wedding is not just the union of two souls but is also the celebration of two families coming together. The first couple had an arranged marriage, but looking at their connection, we can clearly say they were destined for each other.
“We were made to meet,” says Governor of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana state E.S.L. Narasimhan. His wife Vimala adds, “Ours was a typical, arranged marriage. It was in 1972, when my family were looking for a groom. One of our relatives went to his house and got talking. It was casually mentioned the son was in the IPS and looking for the perfect match. My aunt then came back home and told my family that he was an IPS officer. But we were not keen - it was not safe. The chief reason was that my father had died at a very young age so my aunt felt it would be too much strain on my mother. Having only girls and a son-in-law in the police, she was a little hesitant.”
“Next day, when my aunt visited them to say no she was told he was no longer in regular police and had been posted in the Intelligence Bureau. She immediately asked for the horoscope and the paperwork was exchanged that very night. The astrologer said it was a perfect match. My then aunt went back and invited them to come and see me,” recalls Vimala. “Only his parents came to see me as he was not keen either. He had told his parents that if they were okay with it, he was ready,” she adds A month had passed before Narasimhan finally saw Vimala. “His parents had already seen and accepted me. So the choice was mine, and not his to reject,” Vimala says with a laugh.
“For the first time I realised that despite being in the IB, somebody else had the capability to spy on me. It was their family astrologer… he used to sort of spy on me to to find out if the boy smoked or something. I thought that if somebody can spy on me, she must be a good partner,” says the Governor.
The most memorable moment
“Her grandfather, who was in his late 90s, was running around like a youngster trying to make sure all arrangements had been made properly. I was quite amazed by his energy level. In the evening at the reception, he was personally receiving everyone and still making sure everything was in order. That really moved me. Here was a man who had taken care of everything because her father had died very early,” recalls Narasimhan.
The day before the marriage
“We were new to each other - we had not met or spoken to each other. The evening before the marriage was the first time we had actually met. The first time, when the pujari asked us to hold hands (panigrahan), the strength with which he held my hand made me realise that this man was going to be my strength throughout my life,” says Vimala.
The car that never moved
The Governor also remembers the time he bought his first car. “Newly married, an IPS officer, what will my wife think of the fact that I didn't even have a car? So I went to a dealer and bought one. On the way back, my brother even offered to fill the tank up as a "gift". I was so happy and I came back home full of joy. Next morning, I decided to drive the thing to the office.
“We were in a private apartment and after we got our salary, and after paying the paperwala, the doodhwala, the house rent etc., we were left with nothing. That time, we were staying at Hauz Khas in Delhi. It was open land then and there was nothing for miles. We used to sit and watch peacocks dance. That was our honeymoon,” he recalls.
The first gift
“When I cleared my MA exam he bought a sari for me,” she says. And he even remembers the shop. "I managed to spot a Nalli Silks in Karol Bagh, went there and bought a Kanchivaram pattu silk sari for her for Rs 120.”
“She can generate a lot of positivity. I have gone through a lot of difficult moments – when I lost my brother. He was an IAS officer in Assam, Guwahati. A bomb had been planted in his office and he died in the blast. I was in Moscow at the time and the news had just come to me from the embassy. Vimala was there for some work. I told her about it and I removed the Balaji ring, and threw it on the ground and told myself this was the end of my link with God. She picked up the ring and immediately put it back on my finger. Since then, I have never lost faith.”
“One thing we have treasured always is the time we've spent together,” says Vimala. The Governor adds, “We used to spend quality time in the early mornings and still do that. And in Delhi, when I used to come late in the night, whatever the time be, rain or shine, we always went for a walk — 45 minutes of togetherness… sit on the pavement, eat ice cream or a bhutta. People in fact mocked at us and would say, ‘kya ho raha hai bhai? And she would jokingly say, ‘see we can’t fight in front of my in-laws, so we go out, fight and come back’.”
She is a perfectionist and he is just the opposite. “For me order lies in disorder. I can never keep anything in order. If you open my briefcase, nothing will be organised. But for her, everything has to be proper. That kind of irritates me,” he says.
When were in Moscow, some 40 years ago, we did a forty day tour... all over Europe... carrying our tents, cooking,” says the first lady while he laughs and adds, “The most adventurous thing we ever did was get married to each other.”