Springingtiger's Blog


Happy Birthday, Neelam Bakshi.

wpid-20130608_161926_2.jpgSome days call for a gratitude blog and I think my wife’s birthday is one of them. We have been married for nearly thirty-five years and together for even longer and I am grateful. I have a school photo of hers from when she was sixteen years old and the fire in her eyes still melts my heart today. Forty years later and she still has those eyes and they still make me go weak at the knees, her face is scarcely lined and her hair is as black as ever (perhaps not entirely naturally, but she looks good to me!).

How she manages to have so few lines on her face I don’t know. She has never chosen the easy route in anything. She has been active in the fight against all forms of discrimination for longer than I have known her. She was the first South Asian Woman to ever be elected to a public authority in Scotland, the much missed Strathclyde Regional Council and was unusual in being inflexible in her integrity and firm in her principles. After the SRC was abolished in a short-sighted and vindictive move by an unpopular government. Neelam dedicated herself largely to public service both voluntary and paid. She puts in ridiculous hours to ensure that not only does she meet her commitments, but also serves people with all sorts of needs for advice or coaching, much of it entirely unpaid because she is the sort of person who stands by those in need. It’s just the way she is and I love her for it.

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Few lines on her face, but as one friend said, ‘a brain the size of a planet’. Neelam has one of the most frighteningly analytical minds I know. It has held her in very good stead in her governance work and as a member of tribunals where she has a gift of asking the one question people would rather not have been asked and that brings clarity to a case.

So few lines and yet she is a grandmother. She may not have been the most conventional mother, my daughter was as familiar with protests, demonstrations and trades union meetings as she was with the play-park, actually more so. However Neelam brought her up with a love of reading that our grandchildren have in turn picked up from her. Even now she puts time and effort into her family, but I suppose that’s what grandmothers do.

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How she has so few lines when she has had to put up with me for so many years is a miracle. I have never been easy to live with and for most of our time together we didn’t know I had Aspergers. Neelam says she suspected long before she tricked me into getting an assessment, but it didn’t make me any easier to live with. Many people would, with justification, have left me, but she seemed to think I was worth her time and effort. You would never believe how many courses we’ve been through! Now after all these years we are still together. I think what I like most is the quiet times we have together just the two of us. Sometimes reading or watching television, sometimes just sitting. We still go out together, perhaps for a meal or to the cinema. I enjoy the days she comes back from meetings in Edinburgh by train and I go and meet her in town. It always makes me happy when I catch site of her, even after all these years. I’m not good with faces, but I love hers.

Today is a day to say Thank You and Happy Birthday to Neelam Bakshi.

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