In January, 1994, Yamini Ramachandran was waiting to meet K B Ganesh Kumar, the son of politician R Balakrishna Pillai, at the house of her neighbour at PTP Nagar, Thiruvananthapuram. This was the first meeting between boy and girl.
Ganesh, however, was an hour late.
He had been held up at the shooting of the film, ‘Commissioner’, in which he was playing a young police officer. They met and spoke. “In fact it was Ganesh who did all the talking and I just listened,” says Yamini. “I found him refreshingly frank as he spoke about his film career and asked me about my studies.”
At that time, Yamini was doing her second-year MBBS at the Trivandrum Medical College. “I was not very keen to get married, because I wanted to finish my studies first, but I met Ganesh because my parents had received a proposal from the Pillais,” she says.
At that meeting Yamini was nervous. But what amused her was that Ganesh was even more tense than her and was perspiring a lot. “I never clarified whether it was out of nervousness or because of the heat,” she says.
Anyway, it was the frankness that attracted Yamini and she said yes to the marriage. The couple tied the knot on May 20, 1994. And in 18 years of marriage Yamini admires her husband’s sincerity when it comes to his work, as an actor and currently as a Minister of Forests and Environment, Sports and Cinema in the Oommen Chandy government.
“Ganesh always gives more than 100 per cent,” says Yamini.
She remembers that there are times when as the MLA of Pathanapuram, he has awoken at night saying that a particular bridge in the constituency was not ready. “It seems, in his dreams, he is thinking about the construction of bridges and roads,” says Yamini, with a smile.
But Ganesh cares about human beings also. “For example, if a friend or somebody from the film industry has a problem, he will go out of his way to help,” says Yamini. But what she finds most attractive is that whether he is talking to a minister or a gardener, he will adopt the same behaviour. “There is a nice down-to-earth quality about him,” says Yamini.
But as a father of Aadithya, 15, and Devaraman, 5, she will only award Ganesh 3 marks out of ten. “Ganesh is not there for them because he is too busy,” says Yamini. “He does not find time for the family at all. The elder one feels this strongly. But, lately, Ganesh has been trying to rectify this since I told him that Aadithya will be at home for another two years and then he will leave for further studies.”
Another drawback is his lack of punctuality. “If he says he will come at 9.30 a.m. for a family outing, he will usually arrive at 1.30 p.m.,” says Yamini “I cannot blame him because he is so busy, but it is also in his nature to be late. So now I start getting dressed only when he calls to say that he is on his way.”
For a while the couple went their separate ways in 2001 when the marriage hit a rocky patch. But eventually, they got back together. “In the end it was pure honesty towards each other which saved the marriage,” says Yamini. “Ganesh bared his heart out. He realised his mistakes and I also understood that I had gone wrong at certain times. We had a lot of conversations before we reconciled.”
And the over-riding reason why they got back together was because, as Yamini says, “Whatever differences we had between us, our son Aadithya [Devaraman was not born then] should always have his mother and father with him.”
But it is not all sad and gloom. There have been happy times. “At home Ganesh can be jovial and fun-loving, especially with friends,” says Yamini. “He cracks a lot of jokes.”
And so life goes on. While Ganesh is busy in his ministerial job, Yamini works as a senior research fellow at the Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies. “I am doing my Phd in adolescent health,” she says.
Asked what advice she will give to a newly-married couple, Yamini says, “Whatever is going on in your mind, speak it out. Don’t keep it bottled inside and let it fester, and add further resentments and then have a big explosion. People make the mistake that the spouse will understand what you are thinking. That never happens. Also, you need a lot of patience to resolve problems.”
Finally, the tamping of the ego is very important. “There should be no ‘you’ and ‘me’,” says Yamini. “Instead, it should always be ‘we’.”