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Picking up his plastic raincoat, he walked out in the rain. Tears choked my throat. What a love story! Has someone written a verse, a poem, a couplet for this kind of love?
The question, “What is love?” has put the imaginations of the greatest poets and philosophers in a spin for more than two thousand years and they are still looking for a definite answer. For it is the greatest mystery of humankind. Elusive. Hard to define. Unknowable.
Spiritualists have us believe that what we call love, is really a whole spectrum of relating, bonding, reaching from the Earth to the sky, and the professed heaven beyond. The seers call it ‘divine’ love. When such a love happens, it is known to make one change directions, sometimes the entire course of one’s life. It transcends barriers and is deep, subtle and quietly committed. A sacred fire where one immolates the self and comes out, alive and shining. Perhaps, this is the kind of love Sufi saints and mystics claim to have found.
On the other hand, each one of us knows and has read about the romantic love that comprises all things dreamy. The kind of love where passion is triggered by the sight and presence of another, where incongruities are ignored due to unreal projections that sometimes change into disillusionment. We know the wear and tear, the drama and excitement of such a love in all its surrealistic avatars, with our own individual definitions.
At its most earthy level, love is sexual attraction, which often comes with tags of expectations, demands and repressions. And no matter how strong and all-encompassing this attraction is, one can’t deny the capriciousness of such a love and I am sure we all have ‘been there, done that’ and have come up with our own philosophies to deal with the ‘aftermath’.
I too carried these manifestations and experiences for years, until one day I came across him. He was well into his mid-seventies, with grey, scraggly hair and a slight stoop to his painfully thin shoulders. He was a stickler for time; you can fix your watch with his timings. Very quiet, carrying an aura of stillness around him.
One day he smiled.
That day a torrential rain was falling outside and I was sitting in the living room, reading a book, when he arrived at his usual time, wet to the core, but bang on time with his delivery.
I asked if he would like a cup of tea, and he smiled, saying yes. Between the sips of tea, he told me that he only worked during the first half of the day, making deliveries to his clients, and the second half, he spent at the hospital, with his wife. She had been in coma for the last five years, and it was for her treatment that he had picked up this work.
He got up immediately after tea, telling me that he had to rush.
In the rain? I looked outside the window; the rain was a thick, impenetrable sheet of grey.
I asked him to hang on a little more until the rain stopped. He said that he couldn’t keep her waiting.
‘But she is in a coma…’ I did not speak the words aloud.
“I know,” he said, reading my thoughts. “She has not opened her eyes for the last five years and would not know if I was late or never came… but I know she is there on that bed, and that she is my wife.”
He smiled again. Picking up his plastic raincoat, he walked out in the rain. Tears choked my throat.
Has someone written a verse, a poem, a couplet for this kind of love?
The love that endures the hopeless hopefulness. The love that is ready to surrender the self and ‘bleed willingly and joyfully’, for the loved one.
The love that has moved from the narrow confines of ego into the broader, more generous realm of relationship.
The love that is the silence between words, a tremor on the lips.
The love that is a hospital bed, a life support machine, a motionless hand, a face on a white pillow.
A walk in the lashing rain.
Image source: Still from Mrinal Ki Chitthi
Nazia Mallick is the author of a literary novel, "Meshes of Smoke"- (2011) read more...
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