How do I describe my in-laws? My father-in-law was not merely a head of the family. My mother-in-law looked like a house wife but she was much more than that. Their other side was so beautiful. They too were an odd couple. But their oddities were so complementary to each other. Their compatibility was like the compatibility of art and science.
One discovered while the other created
One asked questions, the other sought answers
One was like a monologue while the other was like a dialogue
One was known for perfection while the other for creating magic
One looked for justification, the other for inspiration
One used ladders, the other wings
One was universal, the other personal
In the hunches of one, echoes of another could be heard.
They were in love, since the time immemorial. My father-in-law met my mother-in-law when he was 25 and she was 17. They were together for 65 years. They understood each other so well. Lately their biggest worry was when one goes, what will happen to the other. One went quietly in the wee hours of one fine morning. It happened far from his place, at our place. It was a natural event of life. But it was not ‘natural’ for the one who remained. When I told my mother-in-law that he is no more, she did not say much. Not that she was expecting it to happen. Her outward emotions were not overwhelming. She did not cry much at that moment. At that moment she did not want to believe that someone so close can go so quietly, never to return. If one doesn’t know if he is going, how can he tell others about his departure. Even if he knows, he would not wish for a more painful ‘final separation’. He is aware that he is leaving the other. At that moment I did not see anything in my mother-in-law’s eyes. I could only see ‘vacuum’, not tears. She did not have the courage to touch her companion of so many years. She, instead, touched her daughter, she touched me. She did not want to believe that everything was really over. In fact, few things are never over.
One was truly the better half of the other. My father-in-law partly lost his eyesight. My mother-in-law understood his predicament.
Not much has changed, except I can't see
My reflections in the mirror
When the 'ooperwala' takes away a prized possession
He gives something more useful
I can't read, but what is read to me
I can understand more clearly and deeply
Deficiencies are compensated
If available is a good compensator
As if, I lost a leg in an accident
I am supported by a wooden leg
I find, after a time, artificiality melted away
Wood is no longer 'woody'
It is now a part of me
Now I can see from the eyes of my companion
But I feel guilty
To use my companion as my extension
My companion is not wood
My companion tells me
If a non-living can be the extension of a living
Why can't a companion be a companion?
Together they have seen the magic of the morning sun. They distinctly remembered the day they met. He may not have remembered, if it was sunny or rainy, but he remembered the pink dress she wore. It was with a golden border. Time slowed when they waited for each other, sixty-five years ago. Time slowed down even after sixty five years. With time, deeper became their understanding. Pretensions were fewer. Together they could see the magic of the morning sun.
For them, love was not a chance. It was knowledge and effort. For them, love was not a hobby. It was discipline and patience. Love for them was the outcome of unexpected excitement. They saw connections in things seemingly disconnected. For them, love happened at the first sight. Their love too had bias. Their love had the thrill of knowing the unknown. One could hear the heartbeat of the other. In the vast space, they created for themselves a caring space. No one can fill that space. No light can make the place bright. The experience of the presence can’t be substituted. Only the remaining can hear the silent steps. No one can consign some, in the flames of time. Leaves fall when the season ends. And spring brings new buds.