I got this photograph through email just today and asked for my uncle’s permission to start my post with it. Why the permission? I’ll tell you why. There are very few things left in this world that are sacrosanct and love is definitely one of them. I am not talking about the modern shade of the word in which lie hidden the wavelengths of break-up and re-start. It’s the classic, eternal kind that is so scarce to find these faithless days that I am talking of. Well, the photograph above was taken in 1975 and the gentleman in it is my uncle: my father’s elder brother, my majhle chacha. With him is my majhli chachi.
It’s a strange coincidence that I have spent as many days on the earth as they spent together. Fairy tales end with “and they lived happily ever after”. Let’s put these words somewhere in the middle for a change. Since the very beginning of their life together, they were destined to live happily ever after. He, always caring for her, giving her space and respect, and she, reciprocating it one hundred percent and more. We used to spend weeks together when they used to come home. Thus, as a child I had observed the happy couple frequently and adequately enough to believe in all that my elders told me about it later.
I was told that they were an ideal couple, now it’s very difficult to define the central terms, still, I believe it to be true. I rarely saw my uncle, a very soft spoken and balanced kind of person, angry with anything or anybody. I never saw my uncle raise his voice until he lost control over himself, and that seldom happened in his wife’s presence. I mention it all because his persona and behaviour did not conform to the idea of maleness being equated in his times to the idea of domination. He was way ahead of his times. He did not grant my aunt the equality in relationship grudgingly; he shared it happily with her. He treated her like a princess and got treated like a prince in return. Or, maybe I’m oversimplifying and being partial to my gene line. So, she treated her like a prince and got treated like a princess in return.
They spent almost four decades as a happy couple. We, their family of five by sixty one, were all so proud of them and happy for them too. They were always presented as an internal example to be emulated: our very own eighth wonder of the world. We had always associated the idea of them with the idea of eternity, unconsciously and very strongly. So, strongly, in fact, that we had left no space for any other possibility in our mind.
Before we proceed any further, I must present my uncle and aunt once more: in colour this time. Time passed. I went my way and lost direct and close contact with them. I kept getting updated on whatever was happening in their lives. I also received a couple of calls (seldom used to call those days), but ours was not the close kind of relationship of the good old five by sixty-one days anymore. Keeping family ties intact and strong in the age of expanding world that has contracted in so many ways is becoming very difficult. I was too busy and preoccupied with my personal affairs to look towards our joint past, present and future. I had become short-sighted and I paid the cost.
The family network passed on the news of my aunt’s not being well. Later on, I was told that she was hospitalized. I called a couple of times and talked with my uncle and brother who were with her then. Things were getting better. Her health was improving. We were told that she’d be discharged in a couple of days. Everything was fine. Then, one day I was given the information that my majhlee chachi had passed away. I was shocked with that sudden and unexpected news and it took some time to realize that she was not with us anymore. I was sad, for myself and for my uncle. I knew how deep an impact the event would have on him. Their existences were joined at the core for nearly four decades. I am sure they’d never imagined what life would be without each other. Why would they, anyway? They had to live happily ever after. I could never muster courage to ask him straight. Others keep telling me of my uncle’s love for his life partner, that has stayed with him after her. The passage of time has not diluted his love for her. For theirs is love for life and after.
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