Monday, March 7, 2016

Lessons from my father: Lesson two

Father and Mother (2008, Thiruvonam day)

Five years ago, a cruel March took away my father from me. Even after all these years, the wound is still raw.

This year I am honoring his life by sharing life lessons that I have learned from him.

Lesson 2: Love endures

Theirs is a unique love story. Even though romance is often called as clich├ęd, each story has its own special nuance, a different zing.

Born in a quaint little village in the lap of Ezhimala, they knew each other almost all their lives. Maybe it was the courage of the fourteen-year-old boy who was forced to quit school and become the bread winner of his family, after the sudden death of his father that won her heart.

Maybe it was the respect he had for the frail, dusky girl who went against the norms of the society to pursue education and career with a passion that made him fall in love with her.

I don’t know. They never told me. But I could see the depth of their love in the way they supported each other through the highs and lows of their lives. They were as different as chalk and cheese. Or apple and orange. Yet they were one strong team.

My mother was a working woman from the age of 21 till she retired at the age of 58. I remember my father helping her with the daily chores. She left early for work. He would become a mother to all of us till the time we left home together. He dropped me at school on the way to the hospital. I was his pet as I was the youngest of his brood of three.

Occasionally they would quarrel. But unlike in other houses, there would be no raised voices. A stony silence that would create an impenetrable wall between them would signal that it had happened.

In my teens, this ominous silence made me panic. Will they go separate ways? What if such a terrible thing happened? I would go to each of them on peace keeping missions. Sometimes, I would succeed. Sometimes, the timely arrival of one of their mutual friends would make them forget all about their quarrel. But sometimes the silence would continue for weeks.

Throughout this, he would continue with his daily duties. He would drop her to the bus station on time and he would pack her lunch box while she was getting ready. She would make sure that he ate on time entrusting one of us with the duty of serving him food.

Once, during such a period of silence, I asked him why he did not talk it out with her. Why he did not speak what he had in mind. What he told me then remains in my memory till now.

“I am angry with her now. If I speak now I might say words that might hurt her more than if I had stabbed her with a knife. You cannot take back words that you speak and the wounds they inflict run deep. I will wait till I cool down and my mind is calmer. Then I will talk.”

It was perhaps this love, which didn’t allow him to hurt her even with a thoughtless word, that made her survive a fatal stroke later on in life. It was certainly this love that made him come out of the ICU and back into life after an attack of meningitis. It was, without a doubt, this love which made him leave this world while she held him in her arms.