Growing up as a young adult, two things scared me to death–marriage and commitment. No, it was not because I grew up in a household that was tearing apart or because I was surrounded by hate. Quite the contrary. Marriage was something I never associated with myself; worse I never used to think I would ever be lucky enough to fall in love. Yes, along came a man who changed all that (more on him later). My college friends and peers taunted my “single” status for ages; some even giving me meaningful advice that I should stop intimidating the opposite sex with my radical views and should learn to act dumb and tender. How was I to make someone like me or fall for the “fake” me was never explained? And there were those who thought I was a sexless robot; who was only interested in landing a job and cementing my reputation professionally.
How could I explain to them that my idea of love was just too high? That it wasn’t about expensive gifts and comforts, that it extended way beyond things that money can buy. I consider my own parents and grandparents to be the most romantic people, I’ve ever met. They belong to an era when there wasn’t any Valentine’s Day, when you didn’t have social media to declare your love, expensive gifts or trips around the world to make the other half feel desired. It was simpler times and love too was simple.
My thatha (Grandpa) was a tough cookie. He was a stoic man who rarely displayed any emotion. A man of uniform– perhaps his uniform brought in him toughness and discipline rarely seen in others. If I was afraid of anyone in the family it was only him. The only man who could straighten out this wayward, rebellious kid. I could never understand how my poor ammuma (granny) spent an entire life with him, raised four daughters and sailed through the ups and downs that life throws . To me, ammuma was everything thatha was not. She was gentle when he was tough; she was sweet when he was strict. She showered me with love when all he did was drill some discipline in me. She was chalk when he was cheese.
I could not imagine two people more different who were put together in marriage. It was an arranged one like the norm those days in India. For a long time, I felt they carried on the relationship because it was considered as a pious institution. But as I grew up, I learnt an interesting story from ammuma. I learnt about this tough man who gave up his only love; his uniform to be with her. To help her raise the kids (something which was solely woman’s job those days) and to leave his comfort zone, his moments of glory to be with her; love if nothing else is about putting the other person before you.
Yes, times got tough (like times do) and even money was slow but their steadfast love for each other kept the worst things at bay. For ammuma, thatha was a hero not because he constantly declared his love to her but because he gave her wings to fly, an independence which most of women (of later generations) take for granted. Love for them was a giant leap of faith in each other. Annoyingly enough, they could even speak each other’s thoughts.
You see why I thought love, marriage and commitment was too difficult to fathom? My standards were just too high. It is not about expensive gifts or sexy candle night dinners.
It is about being a powerful team. It is when I don’t have to pretend anything with my man. It is when he treats me like an equal in every walk of life. It is about an unflinching faith.
And yes, it is about finishing sentences.