Maumil is 20 & is studying French at Alliance Francaise de Delhi
Something beautiful was about to be destructed. In a moment, it might reduce to dust. She’d have memories, but they won’t suffice for what she was about to lose.
She had gone to her parents’ home and stayed longer than the pre-decided period of three days, making him miss her terribly.
Emotions have a way of swamping a peaceful land. They came across as a volley of shouts and insults. One thing led to another, and the worst happened. “I regret marrying you.” he said. It broke their hearts. A storm swelled inside her, finding an outlet in the eyes. But she didn’t cry.
You have never given me anything but sadness, she wanted to say but didn’t. The words caught up in her throat. In a sudden stab of agony, she realized just what he had come to mean to her.
“I remember the time when he came to my home, looking like the best mahraaz I had ever seen. Aakho Shehr i Sheerazo ringing in my ears. I remember that feeling and told myself, ‘I have made a promise, and I will keep it forever’. I went to him and explained the reason for the extension of my stay”, she confided. “And with that, all of the anger melted away, yes, it did, zoova.”
She recalls the incident without any shadow of bitterness.
“You see, zoova, sometimes love is not enough. You have to stand together in the face of all problems. You should never let the evil win. Falling in love is easy, gaasha, but to rise in love together needs kindness, trust, and courage. This passion makes you a self-sustaining entity. You don’t see each other as the other half, but as a solid whole.”
A lifetime has passed since I had this conversation with my grandmother. I can imagine the scene unfolding, but even my imagination has its limits. One, I can’t imagine them as a young couple— even in my head, they have wrinkles, wear glasses and have a certain old-people-smell hanging about them. And second, I can’t imagine them having a fight, I’ve never seen their opinions in dispute for as long as I remember.
They always had a joke between them, my grandparents. Seeing them laugh at it every time without fail was something I never got used to. The secret brought a little happiness to the household and a whole lot of love.
They are really old now, both the same age, both the mirror of the other.
She is lying on the bed, he is by her side. Childish as ever she refuses to take her medicine.
This particular one which is blood-red in color, and looks revolting, and according to my granny-baby, the worst in taste.
He gets the syrup for her, she wrinkles her nose and shakes her head.
‘No!’ She is inconsolable.
There’s a moment of silence, but his eyes continue to comfort her. The corner of her lip rises ever so slightly, and we plunge into yet another episode of the old secret. I might have guessed what it was, but I am not going to tell you.
Sometimes it’s not your secret to tell.
Finally gulping the medicine down, my grandmother looks at the wedding picture on the wall of her pastel colored room.
A little worn-out with the years, it does nothing to hide the shine in the eyes of the couple. Though a little stern in front of us, my grandfather takes her hand, stroking it gently. Laying her head on his shoulder, she falls asleep.
Even with her eyes closed, the love of an eternity is visible in them. Had I been sitting closer, I would swear their hearts beat as one. The purest love you could imagine was there —part awake, careful; part asleep, trusting. Their relation took sweat and blood to make, yet I see no scars, no residue of the pain.
His thumb was drawing shaky pictures on the back of her hand painting dreams of love for her.
She wears her engagement ring on her thumb now. The finger too skinny to hold the souvenir in place. He doesn't mind, it’s too small of a detail for him.
Grandmother rubs her cheek against his arm. Her eyes twitch once, and then again. Probably dreaming. His hand doesn't tire on hers.
She wakes up, not realizing I was an audience too, plants a little kiss on her husband’s shoulder.
He clears his throat and blushes. ‘Why don’t you, ahem, do your homework or something?’ he stammers.
I have too wide a smile on my face to be able to answer, and end up shaking and nodding my head at once.
‘I’ll email these to the doctor’, I say. ‘You have an appointment tomorrow, remember?’
I pick up the medical test reports as an excuse to leave the room. Closing the door behind me, I steal a look. Maybe it’s that joke again.
I shut my lids once —deliberately, taking a picture of them with my eyes. The shutter closes, the image remains —the image of the promise that was kept despite the hardships that came in their way.
They have been married for 58 years now. And how long have they been in love? Maybe more than 58 years, maybe less.
Sometimes, it’s not your secret to tell. And sometimes, just love, is not enough.