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A heart-warming love story that stood the test of time and lasted a lifetime.
I have been an eyewitness to this lifelong saga of love and friendship. The simple reason being that, the dramatis personae happen to be my kith and kin. As I write this, all of them have gone away to a better world. However, I pay my respects to their lofty ideals and remember them with tears in my eyes.
Several decades ago, those were turbulent times for our family. Following my grandfather’s premature death, the onus was on his oldest child (my father) to look after a family of seven. Fortunately, he managed to secure a well paid job shortly after his graduation. He pinned all his hopes on his brother who was in college; he visualized as to how the two siblings would work hard and ameliorate the family’s condition.
No wonder he was furious when he discovered that the young boy was into a serious relationship and studies were no longer a priority. His love interest was a beautiful teenager cousin, who lived in the adjacent flat on the same floor in a huge building.
For the sake of convenience, I shall refer to the three individuals as Arun, Pintu and Ruby in their order of appearance.
Well, despite threats and bullying by the big brother, Pintu and Ruby were adamant. Now Arun was in a dilemma: much as he was fond of the duo, yet if he was to unite them the consequences would be disastrous for the family, which was already in dire straits.
So, Arun took a harsh decision. He consulted Ruby’s parents and persuaded them to marry her off to a more qualified and well settled bachelor.
Though Ruby gradually settled down in her new environs, yet it was not curtains down on their romance. Since they were relatives and her parents stayed on in the building, she needed no excuse to come visiting. However, both of them behaved in a mature fashion and were on their guard when in public.
The grapevine fell idle because it could not spot any obscene behaviour. So the couple’s (now muted) friendship continued. Over the years Ruby became a mother of two; meanwhile Pintu had found a lucrative job, married and had three children. Their families freely met during social events and family functions. Though Pintu’s wife Monica was aware of the relationship, yet she treated Ruby with utmost dignity and respect.
Years passed; when Ruby’s husband died, Pintu became a virtual guardian to her children, helping and guiding them in terms of education and career. His joy knew no bounds when they settled down well in their professions and personal lives.
Many years later, Monica succumbed to illness; by that time the two older daughters had married and gone away. Only a five year old lived in the house. Now Ruby made up her mind to play a mother to the little girl.
Waves of controversy and gossip began to brew – Ha, the widower lover would be finally united with his widowed heart throb! What luck!
Ruby’s children raged and fumed; but she went ahead undaunted. Moving into Pintu’s home she took the girl under her wing, showering her with great affection. The two of them became great friends, nay, confidantes. In course of time the little girl blossomed into a woman married and left home for good.
And then disaster struck. At the ripe old age of seventy, Pintu was diagnosed with cancer. He was shocked beyond measure; the world around him came crumbling down. The three daughters were preoccupied with their own households with little or no time for their ailing father.
At this juncture Ruby stepped in. Quiet, suave and dedicated, she became his companion and full time caregiver. Day in and day out she would feed the frail man, administer the medicines, wash and bathe him, and put him to sleep when required.
From consulting doctors to purchasing drugs to withdrawing cash from banks, Ruby handled everything diligently without a murmur.
People around them raved and ranted; but the elderly duo were ensconced in a world of the own. Love was springing forth again; it was not the seething, passionate love, mingled with desire. It was pure and innocent love blended with affection and understanding.
Some days when Pintu felt slightly better, they would sit together and ruminate about old times, the bright sunlit days of adolescence when they had discovered each other…
Alas, on a cold November morning Pintu’s earthly life drew to a close. A few hours earlier, before the deadly bout of pain had come, they had smiled at each other, whispered sweet nothings. She was seated by his bedside when he breathed his last.
One could only hope and pray that the unhappy lovers would find fulfilment of their love in a world beyond our own.
Image Source: Veer Zaara/YouTube
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