Sunday, August 3, 2014

Love that lasts

                She glanced at the clock for the 7th time in 15 minutes. Her eyes were fixed at the door when she wasn't checking the time. Dressed in a starched purple sari, her hair combed and styled into a bun, a red bindi on her forehead, she personified elegance. I had never seen her going about with disheveled hair or unorganized in anyway. She was always poised and calm. The house reflected every bit of the character of people living in it. They had minimum furniture- just a cupboard, a coffee table, a bed, 2 chairs and a computer table. Colorful cushions were placed neatly on the bed, the sheets matching with the cushions and pillow cover. A TV was fixed on the wall. An old radio, placed in a wall unit, played hymns or old soulful songs. Books were orderly arranged in a shelf which was frequently dusted. The kitchen was always spic and span. Everything about the house was in sync with the people living in it.

                She sprang to life as the door bell rang. He stood at the door, completely drenched. They both burst into laughter. I missed the joke. Never once did she shout at him for not being on time or not informing her. She was just relieved and genuinely happy to see him. He went to dry himself. Humming an old song, he came back from the kitchen with three cups of coffee. She blushed. She blushed like a 16 yr old just asked for a date by her crush. She was 67 that year and he was 73. They had been married for 50 years!

                "Were you both always like this?" I asked shyly. The question had been on my mind for many months. She was my teacher and the couple had taken a liking to me. Even after she had stopped taking classes, she had continued teaching me. We talked about so many things but I refrained from asking this question. I wondered about it every time I saw her accompany him to the door when he went out. They would hold hands sometimes at the door. In the midst of our class, he would sometimes bring coffee or lemonade. I often thought it was just his excuse to see her as she was busy explaining the context of a prose to me. Some evenings I would find them watching an old movie or simply playing snake and ladders. They were like the epitome of harmony.

               "No. You would be shocked to hear our story" he said.
               "I was actually married against my wish." she eyed him.
                I was all ears for the story!

              She was 16 when her parents fixed her marriage with him. She was furious at her parents. She cursed her relatives, who had mounted pressure on her family to get her married. She did not want to go to another village and cook and clean for a stranger. She was one of the few girls who had completed school. She wanted to spend her time reading and teaching. She wanted to experience love like those in the books. All  her dreams were shattered. She cried and pleaded to cancel the wedding. To console her, she was even allowed to see the man. An old picture of a lanky teenage boy with hints of moustache was presented to her. It only added to her woes. On the day of her wedding, she cried like no bride ever cried!

             She was petrified of what awaited her. On her wedding night, she waited in a dark room, with only a small lamp. It was that night when she saw her husband for the first time. He was taller and more muscular than the picture that she had seen. His face looked matured and she had to admit he was handsome. He did not strike a conversation with her. Perhaps he had sensed her regret. He went out of the room and did not return until the next morning.

            The house was full of guests for days. Summer had stretched for a long time. She kept herself busy with housework. Her husband stayed aloof and even though it had initially relieved her, it was now making her curious. Wasn't she pretty? Why did he not want to talk to her? Her in-laws had started commenting already. Distant relatives went as far as to blame her entry as inauspicious. Rains were delayed and fields were dry. She resented her husband for not being there to support her.
           The floor got hotter as the day passed. It was impossible to lie on the floor in the afternoon after the chores were done. She would sit under the large banyan tree and read. He would come in the afternoon for his meal, his clothes dirty with all the work in the fields. He would too sit under the tree to eat and then join the younger cousins in their games. They sometimes spoke, almost always arguing about something. She began looking forward to his company and stealthily saw him playing with the kids.

           She was fuming since the news reached her. She was his wife! How can she not know it yet? It was his mother who told her that he was going to the city. He was leaving her back. She did not know why she was so mad at him. He did not come in the afternoon. Every minute, that she passed without him, was making her more angry.

           "Why did you even come home?" she shouted at him when he came into the room at night.
           "What happened?" he was shocked to hear her tone.
           "Oh, nothing!" she turned her back.
           "Will you tell me what the matter is?"
           "No, just go away. Go away and don't come back. Leave me all alone here." She was sobbing.
            He was amused by this whole sequence.
            "You don't care about me. You go to the city and make a new life. Go away right now."
            "I m going away right now. My train is leaving in an hour."he said softly.
            "What? When were you going to tell me?" She felt an unknown ache.
            "I could not say goodbye to you. I haven't felt this way before. I have to go to the city and look for a job. The fields are not going to suffice anyway. I know you want to read. I would like it if you study further. I m not going to be a hindrance to you anymore."
            "What if I tell you I don't want you to go?" she asked, blood rushing to her cheeks.
            "I will have to go."
             In that one hour, they were more man and wife than they had been in the months since their marriage. And that night, it rained. He promised to write to her every week and send for her as soon as he was settled. With a heavy heart, they parted.

             The year that followed was the toughest year of their lives. She was no more isolated in the house. The rains had washed away the talk of bad luck around her. She took active interest in the house and pleased everyone. She religiously wrote everyday and waited for the postman for letters. He worked day and night to make a living. The only solace, were the letters. Their love bloomed and for that one year, she was living the life of a novel character. And there was nothing that she hated more! Every day of an ordinary life with him was more eventful that the drama of separation. Perhaps it is that one year of desperation that made them skeptical in each other's absence in years to come.

             There was no letter from him that week. She was getting restless and beginning to worry. There were no telephones then. The monsoon had been merciful that year.
             He came home without any hint. She was not at all prepared to meet him. She looked like a beggar as she had dressed in old clothes to clean the storage room for grains. She was embarrassed when he looked at her. She had read that city women dressed well all the time, like in the movies. Here he had come to see her after a year and what a state she was in! Since that day, she always woke up early and saw to it that she always looked like the lady of the house.

            She was waiting for the talk with family to get over so she could have him all for herself. She cried as he hugged her. Things were going to be fine. He promised her that they would no longer be apart. A promise that he held on to, diligently. They had never been apart even for a day after that. He always took her along if work needed him to travel. They moved to the city the next week.

            A lot had happened in the 50 years. She completed her studies. She took up a teaching job. They had two daughters. He switched jobs. They faced harsh times. They prospered. Their daughters got married. He and she, both  got retired. The only thing that remained constant was their companionship. And it continues to be. A story that started reluctantly and continues in the twilight years.


This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.




Sreeja Praveen said...

I am waiting for you to tell me, with a big smile on my face, that this is a true story of someone you know. Such a beautiful companionship.... Love the way you narrate, dear ! :)

Red Handed said...

Ah....not every love story start with love....this was one such case. Loved reading it babe.

Anita Jeyan said...

Not every successful marriage starts with a fairy tale love and courtship ! It is so true..! Such a heart warming story and it further strengthens our belief in marriage !

Keirthana said...

That's what love does to people. If not right at the start, love creeps in eventually and swallows us whole :)

Soumya said...

Beautiful! Why aren't you writing often these days?

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan said...

if this doesnt get chosen for the WoW winners list, I dont know what will :)

Wings of Harmony said...

Oh! :D Such love!

Anonymous said...

Is it a true story? It's mind blowing, pure love which grow with time. Don't they say that we rise in love? It must be weaved into a novel which I am sure will be a best seller. A WoW post:)

maithili said...

I know such companionship. The first part is true and the second part is fiction :)

maithili said...

ITs more interesting that way :) Let love that its natural course

maithili said...

falling head over heels in love and courtship is over rated. This is for life! Yes, some marriages are indeed a tale set in heaven

maithili said...

Well said :)

maithili said...

Thank you Soumya. I have been out of house for 14 hrs a day :( No time to blog these days! I hope I get used to it soon and find time out to write

maithili said...

Thank you Roshan :) It did get in the list :D

maithili said...

:D To have someone love like that!

maithili said...

Part of it is true. Part of it is made by me :D Thank you so much for your comment :D

Preetika said...

Beautifully written!! I couldn't stop till I finished. And what a beautiful story. I usually don't read love stories, but my picks would definitely include the ones written like this. Impeccable and realistic :)

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