Ah! Love is in the air as February has arrived. We begin preparations to profess love for the one we love. Love finds expressions through flowers, cards, gifts and radio channels humming the tunes of the heart. I think everybody is warmed up to the sight of teddy bears, heart shaped balloons and for a change red doesn’t spell danger but love. Ah! love is the song that plays in eternity and whose beats are felt in the heart. The chills and the cold weather bows down and makes way for the spring in February. Just everything is perfect… the Natural surroundings look so vibrant with the blooms and fragrances making their way to the heart.
I always wondered that if the expression of love was limited to some days then how the older generation expressed themselves for years without special days or dates, cards, flowers and mushy music. We have to accept that valentine day is just a few decades old in our country and the same length of time has seen the divorce rate soar higher than ever and the younger generation is seen throwing break-up parties more often.
The philosopher in me began a journey into the lives of the older generation. I thought of my parents and their romantic togetherness beamed at me. Yes! I never heard them say ‘I LOVE YOU’ nor did they go out for a candle light dinner but something in their relationship was so magnetic. Since childhood I would see my mum share the newspaper with dad. Oh! She would chide him if he shifted or moved. He would buy peace by parting with the edit page and moving on to the sports columns on the last page. They shared the joys and sorrows of life and gave space and time to heal when helpless with the dire lot.
My Maa would pick a red rose from the garden to decorate his lawyer’s coat daily. I think it was her love that made the flowers bloom for so many years. It was spring all along in our garden. The day my father was on his last legs he consoled her that he would be fine. But he passed away. She found a bit of solace when his colleagues joined to say goodbye with roses. She could see him smile. Soon after, she stepped into his shoes to get his strength to look after us even though we were big enough. She found reason to guide us, protect us and support us the way dad would have done. Big problems were passed on to him verbally in the silence of the night as she would perhaps look for support and answers. Whoa! she always found solutions after talking to his invisible form. Can we call this love? Let me know your mind dear friends.
I found another couple from the bygone era who were confined to bed due to ill health and old age. My uncle lost his memory every now and then. A year ago my aunt called up to tell me that uncle wanted to meet me. Since they were so ill, I quickly visited them. As my aunt made me laugh, I couldn’t help feeling morose at the condition of my uncle. As I fed him with oranges and grapes, he didn’t say much to me and just gaped. I sat with him for three hours as my aunt babbled, “You look so happy as Geeta is here to feed you. Today you won’t say a word to me because you don’t need me but I will babble…” I smiled at her. Then it was time to leave as I had to pack and leave for my home in Kochi. I left because I had to but my heart was so heavy ever since. By Evening I got a call from my aunt… ‘Your uncle is weeping. He did not recognize you in the morning and is not ready to accept that you were there with him for so long.” Oh! I still remember how I consoled him and lied to him that I was on my way to meet him. I still remember the way he chided my aunt for being selfish enough to spend time with me when he probably slept. I boarded the flight and wondered what they would do without each other. Yes! They were by each other’s side in the literal sense. He would just forget everything for some time or for a couple of days. How scary it sounded? Then I couldn’t stop myself and asked my aunt, “What if he forgets you?” To this she said, “Oh! I won’t let him. He cannot escape me.”
As time went by I heard more and more about his deteriorating health and mental condition. But my aunt continued to babble as she lay by his side with the divine conviction that he would respond to her noisy ways. And he did! But God silenced her one day when she babbled the most. She died in her sleep. I was very sick and couldn’t make it to her funeral. I waited for my mum to return and called her up.
“How’s uncle? Is he aware that aunt is no more?”
My mum’s reply came in, “Yes! He knows ..the moment her pyre was lit he broke down and called out for her. He wept like a child mourning the demise of his best half” ….here may I add that my uncle mourned the death of his beloved and groaned as the loss was so irreparable and deep that it touched his numb mind. Later I met him and gingerly walked up to him. He gaped at me, then hugged me and wept that Shanti had left him. Oh! She just left him. I saw him eat his meal like a zombie and I remembered my aunt’s grief when she would tell, “Beta your uncle has to fight with me. Nowadays he forgets that he has eaten and then the moment he sees me he tells me that I don’t give him food on time.” Suddenly he smiled as if tasting a familiar flavor. I looked away as I captured this expression in my heart and moved on with a feeling that something continued to warm him up to make him smile. Yes! I bet its love.
The older generation rhymed so well, they complemented each other and accepted one another so well. I can’t help but pen down a song of life that describes love in ways that were silent and so incoherent.
Oh! She nags and brags but she is love,
She is no more but she is still around
Her love sees her in his mind’s eye
As she pricks and tricks with memories
He smiles at the familiar touch and glow
Looks around and then within
Ah! She lives in his heart with a smile
Adorns it with memories of great times
When she babbles in spirit to make his memory glow
He understands that she is love and warmth galore
She was his valentine in life and death
His love makes her alive when he takes in the lonely breaths.