Sunday, March 21, 2010

On Remembering Faces..........

My husband and me are two very different people. He has the memory of en elephant when it comes to remembering faces and I take a longer time to register faces and may be once registered I try to remember them. There have been occasions when I've looked at a person and thought 'he/she looks a lot like 'so and so' only to find out that she/he is indeed the so and so I took him/her to be. If there are two similar looking people I have to see them together to make out who is who. So I was thrilled this morning when I met a person after nearly 15 years and in about 5 minutes after meeting her I actually remembered her as R's mother. Of course by then she had finished greeting me, enquiring after my children, wished me goodbye and gone ahead. Like a tube light her identity flashed in my mind only after she had gone some 50 metres ahead of me and I truly regretted at not having asked her about R. But then that's me.

That reminds me of another such situation. My husbands insists on a morning walk and will take no excuses from my side to give it a miss. during our walks we would often see a woman, in her late thirties perhaps, walk past us. My husband likes to boast on his ability to recognize faces even after a lapse of 50 years and relishes the fact that I cannot place a person whom I may have only slightly known. Take it from me that I am not that bad. Now coming back to this girl, I'd often see her looking at us and turning away.

"Do you recognize her?"-my husband.
"No, who is she" - me.
"SN's oldest daughter."

I then remembered. SN was a colleague of my husband who passed away leaving behind 4 children. His wife had preceded him. The oldest girl was married and the son in law was unemployed. The other three children were minors the youngest being just 6 years old. His only son was perhaps in the 9th or 10th standard. My husband's departmental colleagues took it upon themselves to support the family for the few months before his settlement dues could be cleared. Being children they did not realize that with the father no more and hardly any savings they could not make atrocious demands when others were paying for their upkeep. Finally when the question of the dead man's settlement came an uncle cropped up from nowhere and the unemployed son in law wanted to have a lion's share of the amount saying that he was their guardian. The director of my husband's department deputed him to take an appropriate decision after judging the merit of the situation. My husband can be very adamant when he feels upto it. He brushed aside the claims of the maternal uncle and the son in law and suggested that the provident fund and gratuity amount and other dues may be fixed with the company and the interest be given to the family till the youngest child turned 18. He was accused of foul play in connivance with vested interests in the department but he stuck to his decision. The maternal uncle and the son in law were terribly upset and threatened my husband of dire consequences. The children- all four of them came - home with their brother in law and expressed faith in him and requested my husband to sign the papers in his favor and when he refused the very girl who crossed us on the road had some very unpleasant things to say about my husband. I remembered getting upset and asking my husband to wash his hands off the whole thing. We then lost touch but the department stood by my husband's decision.

In a flash the whole story came to my mind and I wondered if the girl was still upset with us although 18 years had lapsed. We were soon to know the rest of the story.

On a Sunday morning the girl stopped us and asked if we remembered her. Having some time in hand my husband asked her how the family was doing.

"Not a day goes by when we do not think of you uncle" the girl said.

"My sisters finished college and are now married. The youngest one got married last year. My brother is now employed and plans to marry soon. My husband works as a pathologist and earns enough to support us. My son is in college and daughter in high school. Thanks to your intervention we were able to make do with the amount Tata Steel gave us as monthly interest and we had enough money left to get my sisters married. As for my uncles, they abandoned us when they learnt that no money was coming their way. Were it not for you, my uncles would have controlled our finances and left us paupers in no time. My husband was young and inexperienced as were the rest of us. We had said a lot of unpleasant things about you. My uncle had convinced us that you were out to swindle money and that at the end of it when my sister turned 18 we would get nothing. With time we realized what you had done was actually a favor. I was hesitant to talk to you after all that had happened. I could not restrain myself today. Our family is greatly obliged to you and we will remember you always."

We were speechless for sometime not knowing what to say. The girl then invited us to her house and we left after promising her that we would definitely do so in the near future.

A few days later my husband pointed to another man and said the he was the uncle who set the children against him. The uncle stayed in the neighborhood and had yet abandoned these children who had lost both parents within a span of three years. I just could not digest it.

"i think it was good he abandoned them"said my husband. "Had he been in touch he might have swindled the meagre amount these children got as interest."

And he was right. So what if he takes pride in being able to recognize faces!



starry eyed said...

Gosh, what a story! Kudos to your husband for having stuck to his principles, ethics and trusted his instinct, so many people are having a better life because of that.

My husband is awesome at recognising faces too...he points at some person in a crowded place, says that was his classmate in 3rd standard and then tells me his whole family and business history! I, on the other hand, stare dumbly at long-lost friends and stammer foolishly that I can't remember where and when I knew them :(

frissko said...

Doing the right things for things concerning you is one thing. Going out of your way to set things right for people who you aren't responsible for in any way needs you to be on a totally different plane. Tell your husband he has a fan. My dad was a lot like that, and the number of peoples' lives whose paths he had altered (in a good way) is quite a handful, so in a way this post reminded me of him...

Hip Grandma said...

starry eyed:yes, I too felt that he was being adamant about trying to help people who don't understand his intent but since it all turned out to their bebefit i have to give him credit. And I do.

frissko:thanks on behalf of my husband. He deserves to have a fan for being the person he is.

Shachi said...

Great write-up! and Kudos to uncle :) We need more and more people like him in the society.

dipali said...

What a wonderful story! hats off to your husband for taking such a strong and correct stand.

Hip Grandma said...

Shachi:Yes, it was very thoughtful of him and we are glad that the children finally understood that there was no foul play on his part.

dipali:there are tuimes when I wish that he would not be so rigid. But ultimately I have to admit that he was indeed right.

hillgrandmom said...

That was a great story HHG. Your husband must have felt so happy for sticking to his ideas.
I did have a good memory for faces and names. Unfortunately now I find I still remember faces, but can't easily put names to them :-(

Hip Grandma said...

hillg'mom:Thanks. My husband does feel puffed up when I tell him about the compliment he gets and I think he deserves it. He can be adamant if need be but in the end it is always for the benefit of someone in the family or outside it. I amm very bad at remembering faces.

Sue said...

That is a fantastic, heart-warming story, HHG. I'm so proud of your husband and his colleagues. Most people I know would have given in.

Hip Grandma said...

sue;Thanks sue. i think it was a very nice gesture on the part of the department to support the children till their father's settlement dues were channelized.

radha said...

Nice that the kid acknowledged the kind deed of your husband. Good foresight.