Circa 1975. Abraham and I were both subalterns, married, and posted to Delhi Cantt. He was a medium gunner, and I a Signaller. Since I wasn’t yet 25 (yeah yeah, we all make mistakes!), Abe generously invited us to share the accommodation he had been allotted at Kirby Place.
So Abe and his delightful (if slightly opinionated) wife Susan were the first Army couple we encountered. Susan was a passionate feminist, who could – and often did – voice her opinions loudly and explicitly. She was a regular contributor to `Femina’, the women’s magazine of the day.
When the latest issue invited responses from its readers to the question `If you had to choose again, would you marry the same guy?’, it was quite natural that Susan’s response would be right on top. It stared with a vociferous `No! Never!!!, and then went on to list about twenty seven different reasons why Abe fell short of being Mr Right!
The fact that Abe was gleefully waving the magazine and showing off the article to all his friends as if he had been declared the `Gladrags Man-of-the-Year’ was typical of the man! There you had Susan in a nutshell. Where any other newly married bride would have been coy, or at least a tad more circumspect, she had chosen to respond pithily in two words – embellished with five exclamation marks!
The question itself was intriguing. Given a second choice, would you make the same `mistake’ again? And therein lay the nub. You were stuck. If only life had an Undo key!
Celebrities when asked during interviews if they had any regrets in life, repeat the same imbecilic response “None at all! We’d gleefully make the same mistakes again!” Now either they are lying through their teeth, or they are plain stupid. Me, the list of things I’d do differently is so long, I gave up jotting them down long back!
My favorite `What-if’ game is to go back into the past, and re-enact scenes as I’d have liked them to have been played out. Of course, the benefit of hindsight is a must – without that I’d probably commit the same bloopers again!
With a Time Machine, and the experience gained over six decades intact – this is the crux, mind you - I often go back and do things differently. The blunders requiring correction could be as mundane as opting for a Vespa rather than a Lambretta as my first bike, or as esoteric as doing more than just holding her hand in the darkened West End theatre when we’d bunked a college lecture to see `The Sound of Music’
Is Time travel a possibility even in the future? I fear not. If it were, people from the future would no doubt have visited us by now. But wouldn’t it be great to meet the ME of four decades ago – the guy needed some sense to be knocked into him for sure! Stop lusting after so-and-so, she’s soon gonna be a nasty mother of two of the most obnoxious brats, and will weigh over 14 stone, I’d tell him! But would he have listened? I have my doubts – he could be a total ass in these matters.
And what would be my answer to the question Susan had been so vociferous about, I’m asked. Given a choice, would I marry the same person again?
Well, give me the same children, and I’d say yes always and every time! They’re the greatest thing to have come out of a life that that can be best described in the words the baroness used to describe her wedding night – lots of laughter, lots of fun – and hardly any pain!