Do you remember, honey, it was a warm and a humid day when we had first held hands? More than ten thousand feet above this Earth’s surface, it was a plainly important gesture. Common people were around us, flying through the quaint blue sky, through those forgettable scattered clouds. Yet, it was heavenly! May be in a literal sense too. I had smiled, and blushed. The day was exciting all of a sudden. Air hostesses walked and smiled at us. For the first time in my life, I didn’t stare at them. The cynical old man next to me in the brown shirt gave us a curious look, but we didn’t care then. Amidst the constant drone of the engine and the announcement of the cabin crew, I noticed the little red bindi on your forehead. Accentuating every other thing around me. It was the firm hold of assurance and a lifelong commitment, that made me return the gesture. With my left hand, I held your hand tight beneath that tray-table, pretending to read the magazine ‘Hello 6E’ flipping the pages carelessly with my right. The cynical old man knew we were holding hands. He frowned at me, but you see, I don’t even remember his face now. It didn’t really matter.
Do you remember, the day we got engaged and married was a cold, cold one ? In that crowd of people surrounding us, we had held hands again, and exchanged rings. People clapped. I didn’t care who attended the ceremony, and who missed it. I didn’t care, at all. I smiled at all of them. It meant nothing. I turned towards you, as the pujari recited the couplets and asked us to perform the rituals one after the other. On that grey cold morning, fog drifted from one place to the other. The guests ignored it. Do you know, fog has a distinct smell. If you take a deep breath in the fog, some of it enters the nose with the cold air, and perhaps settles at the junction where nose connects the mouth. The smell lingers. It lingered then too as the photographer clicked our photograph. The camera flash lit up the entire hall momentarily. I couldn’t help but notice it reflect from the planes of the diamond in your nose-ring, highlighting the innocent smile on your face.
Do you remember, dearest, that evening we fought was a dusky one? There was so much pain. So much trouble. There was rain. The constant noise on the television debate had been subdued by the silence between us. Did you also notice the discomfort? Did you also feel angry and disappointed with me? Later, the rain had slowed down to a drizzle and the wind speed had increased. I had stood there in the balcony contemplating, as the cold droplets of the drizzle settled on the back of my hands. I’ll tell you the truth today. I didn’t want to hurt you, but I never confessed it. Because of all that self-respect nonsense that is beaten down into us, you see. We men, talk about it so much, read about it so much, and then grow old unable to differentiate it from false ego. It is not hard to say, ‘I was wrong’. It is not hard to say, ‘I didn’t mean it’. It is not hard to pause, take a step back, and re-think. But we never do it, eventually punishing ourselves.
How hard we had tried to mould each other, do you remember? Each one of us desperately trying to make each other the replica of himself, so that he can be happy. Making the other pursue all that he liked. Do you remember all this led to a serious outburst of emotions within both of us? Anger, disappointment, impulse, whims, and that dead silence for days at a stretch.
Do you know… men cry? Often when they are alone. They sob. Hiding their faces in their palms, drenching them with tears, they sob…
Prudence takes a back seat in such troubled times. We lose the ability to reason. We lose the ability to think rationally, in such times of distress. Some of us even turn towards self-harm, in such times of distress. But the most courageous ones stay firm. They pick up the scattered pieces of their shattered selves and try to create a kaleidoscope of perspective out of it. They introspect, they think about the times when everything was just the way it should have been. They reflect on the times when things were happier. The strongest of the lot, pick themselves up. The strongest of the lot ensure that the strands of the bonds never break. The strongest ensure that they stop moulding their partner. They accept the difference.
On the dry afternoon after the day I had cried we roamed around the city. Do you remember I had held your hand again… after such a long time?
The mornings are cold and foggy these days, the sunlight is bright and golden, the dusk is dark it often threatens to rain. Again. On such cold and foggy mornings, we decide to go out, sit down on the footpath next to roadside tea vendor silently sipping the steaming cup of over-boiled tea and smiling at this solitary bliss in our relationship. It is the difference that differentiates us. On such dusky evenings we take a stroll in the local market, without noticing, that the assurance we gave each other by holding hands still remains. Each time you hold my laptop bag or each time you let me keep the chunks of crumpled useless receipts in yours, the assurance strengthens. Each time, you go out of character and accompany me to a bookstore for long hours, the assurance strengthens. Each time, you choose to come to a coffee shop because of me, the assurance strengthens. For it is the only strand of this thread that re-builds our bond each time it weakens.
Just wanted to assure you all over again, like the day we first met. I won’t care if it turns dusky and drizzles again. I won’t simply shy away from it and let it fall on the back of my hand. I will take you along, and feel those minuscule droplets float and settle down on my face, while I hold your hand firmly, looking into your eyes.
Yours forever …