I look at the man in the driver's seat beside me, remembering the first time we met at our wedding. Not having seen or talked, let alone written to each other,there wasn't a shadow of romance between the two of us. We were strangers.
I had watched my parents share their interest in literature, art and philosophy. They talked to each other all the time . Discussions on the Bhagavad Geetha to Bertrand Russel enlivened their conversations. They were very much in love. I never heard my father utter a harsh word. He complimented Amma on her cooking, embroidery...on just being her. While for Amma, my father was her life. So I entered marriage with my own preconceived notions of sharing and loving.
The man I married never read anything but the newspaper and office reports. He did have a colourful vocabulary that he used to describe drivers who blocked his path. He ate the food that I dished out in silence except when it did NOT appeal to his taste buds. He too may have had notions of a happy marriage that I couldn't live up to. I have had my days of rage. Besides, I disliked wifely 'duties' of housekeeping while he hated my whistling.
My husband never gave me roses or discussed poetry. But he admired my abilities and encouraged me to take up challenges - whether it was speaking at seminars or organising events. I grew to respect his judgment and strength. He never talked about kindness, but showed it in the most unexpected moments. He may never admit it, but I realise that he needs me and hates my absence. He worries about me when I am on my own (though I can take care of myself) and takes pains to prevent hassles. I have to drop hints the entire month before my birthday, but I know that he believes I was born for him!
Marriage, I'd been told, is all about give and take. That always sounded nice and balanced. Experience taught me that it was anything but. For sometimes you give more and at others you get more. Who knows, maybe the sum total is a neat tally. But then who is keeping accounts? And who cares? Because by then one realises that often giving is as enjoyable as receiving.
Bringing up our children drew us even closer. I wonder if any other couple enjoyed their children as we did. I watched him saying no to their requests sometimes and showering them with tenderness at others. The laughter and pain that we shared over and with them bound us as one. Of course there have been times when the bond was stretched, but we always snapped back together to find understanding and mutual respect.
Two decades have gone by all too fast. Now our children are away and come to us during vacations. New faces people their world. We have only each other most of the time. He comes home to me with a happy smile and my heart sings too. He still watches TV shows or studies management journals, while I do crosswords or read. There still isn't much conversation or discussion; only the unspoken warmth - probably the same that my parents expressed. When we go out, he still cusses other drivers. I don't flinch anymore. I look at the man in the driver's seat beside me and I wonder, when did I fall in love with him?