The husband and I had the kind of romances that the Hindi filmdom copyrighted and would have probably charged us a royalty on had they gotten to know we filched their story.
Boy is college hunk. Girl is mousy geek. Girl is always aware of infinite handsomeness of boy who seems to be perpetually battling off contenders in mini skirts for position of arm candy of the week. Boy has no clue girl exists. And then, kaboom, one fine day their paths cross outside the girls common room. No the boy is not visiting said place, the girl is, and the boy’s much neglected classroom was somewhere in the vicinity. Eyes meet. Girl walks away. Boy follows. Introduces self. And girl is unsure of the volley of attention from boy. And boy stays put like leech till day is done. And grafts himself onto girl’s schedule by hanging outside her classroom for hours, huge sacrifice given that he had afternoon college and she had her first lecture starting at 7 am. Progressing to waiting on railway platforms for her to make her appearance and walking her to college.
Girl is terrified. Boy has quite made up his mind that doves are cooing and conches are blowing and rings are to be exchanged. It took boy six years and many fights. But he got there.
And then the romance, it went off scampering to the marriage bureau office to find newer victims to con into believing in cooing doves and naked cherubs shooting flower laden arrows into hearts and such like. Jumping into 7.40 am Churchgate return locals every morning and counting the coins at the end of the month did not make for an environment conducive to romance survival. Imagine me, staring all moony eyed at the man, “Dearest?” “Yes, Honey Pie?” “There’s no money to pay the electricity bill.” “We will live by the tax free light in your eyes.” Uncontactlensed one presumes. Anyway, you get the gist. And its the reason why the greatest romances always ended with the couple plunging to a watery death, stabbing themselves or getting poisoned. They didnt have to confront electricity bills and EMIs and a recessionary economy. Yup, our home loan interest rates are up darling, come let me take you out for a romantic dinner a deux to discuss it. Yup, I thought so. You too? But, I digress.
Scampering between work and home and deadlines and some years later, the child, romance was as dead as the proverbial dodo. Dinner a deux had been replaced by eat all you can buffets. Holidays meant destinations where we werent meant to be locked in the room doing pretty much what people locked in rooms on holiday do, but were now find stuff to entertain the child holidays. Deep lingering looks into eyes happened only when one begged the legally married spouse to check which corner the contact lens had vamoosed off to. And given that the spouse is as demonstrative and a believer of PDA as a new Taliban recruit would be, hand holding was limited to helping me jump off a precariously docked ferry and then too hastily disengaged.
Which is why, the other night, when I got up with the wierd I know what you did every last summer since you were knee high kind of scare, that strange feeling of someone staring at one while one was asleep, and bounded up, patted the side table frantically for them spectacles to make sense of the shadows. I saw the man lying on his side, head held in one hand, looking at me. The spawn of our combined sperm and ova snored between the two of us, hands and legs spread out in the selfish starfish pattern child way of sleeping that ensures that no other occupant of said bed would ever have at any point more than a sliver of bedspace to sleep sideways on.
“What, what?” I asked. “I need a good night’s sleep,” says the man. With a huge sigh. The fruit of his loins had planted one karate chop right from where he had originated and the man was in agony.
So it is now, that I and the apple of my eye have been summarily despatched to a mattress on the floor, and the lord and the master sprawls undisturbed on a VERY VERY large bed. All Alone.
One would think that he would be snoring in such REM enough to have multistarrer blockbusters going on in his dreams. But no, the man was awake at 2.30 am last night. And clearing his throat suggestively. Now that we have the bed to ourselves and such unsubtle implications. Which I chose to ignore. Given that I had been the sole recepient of deep REM kicks and punches from the child and hadnt been able to sleep a wink anyway.
Yes, naturally, my definition of romance would change. It would have been a romantic gesture had he offered to have the child up on the bed, and allow me my deep undisturbed REM sleep.
Therefore, the need for a time out from parenting and to be back to our romantic selves. Research shows that as people change their definition of romance also changes. His handing me the remote is the most romantic gesture I can ever think of these days, and for him, I guess, the fact that I leave some hot water in the geyser tank for him after I take my looooonnnngggg bath is up there in strobe lights with other Archies moments.
Yup. Romance is redefined. If the man sang paeons to me now, I would probably put a detective on his tail. But if he just ensured my credit card bills were paid on time, I know he cares. Its not about the stars exploding when your eyes meet anymore, nor about that instant hit of stomach wrenching lust that assaults you when you spot him coming into the room (though to be honest, would be two decades since I was worthy of inducing stomach wrenching lust in anything animate), it is about the simple fact of knowing the other is there. A comfort that goes beyond ratty pyjamas and unbrushed morning mouth kisses.
It is about me knowing that he will drive down to town and brave rush hour traffic for four hours, but let me have the driver for a lunch I have to go to. It is about him knowing that I will have everything cooked double soft and of swallowable consistency when he has a toothache. And no, bells dont ring, and doves dont coo anymore when our eyes meet. But we look at each other and we dont need to speak. We know what the other is thinking. And it is more often than not, “Dang, I forgot to switch off the geyser!”