Sometimes after lunch, when Dad goes away to work, and I am sitting alone with her, my mother tells me the tales of their love. How they got engaged, exchanged letters, waited for 11 PM when STD rates would get comparatively cheaper and finally married.
“Love obviously happened after we got engaged, during the months before the wedding, when we used to send each other letters every fifteen days. Back then, your Daddy was posted at Bangalore, and STD rates were quite high, so we both used to wait till 11 to have a hearty three minutes of conversation.” She recalls with immense love in her eyes.
“This one time, when we were expecting you, and I came down to your Nana’s place during the last few months of pregnancy. I remember telling him that we would have our baby by next week and guess what, he was there in Patna by the third day with an empty suitcase because he forgot to pack the bag! Such insanity!” But I could see in her smile, that these and other several insane instances, were the reason why she fell for this man, I call my Dad.
I recall visiting my friends’ houses and how their mothers were often pissed about something their husbands did and how they have almost driven them crazy. While I laugh my heart out when listening to their stories, I sit there and appreciate the fact that after all of this, no matter how crazy he drives her, she has not left his side. That even when she is heartily complaining about him, she does it with a twinkle in her eyes. Even after all the hardships, she didn’t once consider leaving. It isn’t an option she even gave a thought to, just like my mother, or the countless other women from that time.
Now, in the times of Tinder, I think about the amazing gift of choice, I, and others from my generation have. I marvel at this digitisation of love. I am amazed at the sheer amount of options that are available to me. And it breaks my heart.
It breaks my heart to think that I will probably not have letters to exchange, the longing to meet and enough stories to tell my children at the dining table.
But then, what do I see myself telling them? Do I tell them about the number of times I didn’t think a person was worth investing my time in, only because I had so many others to choose from? How I dated one person and then another, always with the intention to belong but not be bound? Do I tell them how broken a guy left me? And how I went on to hurt other people, only so I could balm my pain?
Perhaps, we find more obvious poetry in crashing in like tides, living a few days of combustible passion, and end up with heartbreak.
As I write this all in the library, when I supposedly should be preparing for my upcoming exam, I study a couple sitting a desk away. I have been noticing them for a week now, and they have rekindled my faith in love again. I see them enjoying the silence and doing their work and communicating in gestures, (because they are in the library) when they need to go for lunch or just a little study break. Maybe, there’s still such kind of love left. Maybe, I too will have mine.
When he comes along, I will remind myself of the look on my mother’s face, as she recalled memories, she had carefully preserved all this while. And I will remember to stay. Because one day, I want to tell my kids I didn’t just swipe right for their Dad. And if I can manage to look, just how my mother looked, telling me her love story with my Dad all those years ago, I think I will consider that a life of love well lived.