Sunday, April 29, 2012

A love like this

Is Love truly a rapture that transforms the very core of one’s being?  Is it as incredibly deep and fundamentally unknowable as the writers and poets would have us believe? 

The question of what is love has put the imaginations of the greatest poets and philosophers in a spin for more than two thousand years and they are still groping for a definite answer…
For it is the greatest mystery of humankind. Elusive. Hard to define.
Spiritualists have us believe that what we call love is really a whole spectrum of relating, bonding, reaching from the earth to the sky and the professed heaven beyond. At the most earthy level, love is sexual attraction, which often comes with tags of expectations, demands and repressions. And no matter how strong and all encompassing this attraction is, we can’t deny the capriciousness of such a love and I am sure we all have ‘been there done that’ and have come up with our own philosophies to deal with the ‘aftermath’.

On the other hand the most exalted form of love is what the Seers call, the ‘divine’ love. This love has wings and it takes us higher and higher as it exists beyond sexuality and honors the unique individuality of the other, accepting them in totality. This kind of love is based on freedom, not expectation or need.
When such a love happens it is known to make one change directions, sometimes the entire course of life. It transcends barriers, creates its own parameters. It is deep, subtle and quietly committed. A sacred fire, where one immolates the self and comes out alive and shining.
Perhaps, this is the kind of love Sufi saints and Mystics claim to have found.

Nevertheless, each one of us know about this thing called love, in all its surrealistic avatars.
The love that comprises of swirling mists, moonlit nights, purple prose, pink rose petal, yellow butterfly, twinkling eyes, lopsided smile, singing heart, dancing feet, melting chocolate, glowing embers, thawing snow, starry night, warm blanket, soft whispers, tender touch, blue bed sheets, happy tears, joyful laughter.
A gasp, a whiff, a glimpse, a glance…bated breath!
The kind of love where one sits with the lover and gaze into their eyes in the flickering candlelight. The love where passion is triggered by the sight and presence of another. The love where incongruities are initially ignored, due to unreal projections. The projections that sometimes change into disillusionment. We know the wear and tear…the drama and excitement of such a love.

I too carried these manifestations for years until one day I came across Him. He was well into his mid seventies, with grey, scraggly hair and a slight stoop to his painfully thin shoulders. He was a stickler for time; you can fix your watch with his timings. Always very quiet. Carrying an aura of stillness around him. Looking at him I always felt that his silence is very eloquent, as if there is something brewing, deep within his soul.

One day he smiled. That day a torrential rain was falling outside and I was sitting in the living room reading a book when he arrived at his usual time. Wet to the core but bang on time with his delivery.
I asked if he would like a cup of tea and he smiled, saying yes. Between the sips of tea he told me he works the first half of the day preparing lunch and delivering it to his clients and the second half of the day he spends at the hospital with his wife. She is in coma for the last two years and it is for her treatment that he does this work. He got up immediately after tea, looking at his watch and telling me he has to rush. 
In this rain? I looked outside the window; the rain was a thick, impenetrable sheet of grey. He was already quite drenched. I asked him to hang on a little more until the rain stops. He said that he couldn’t keep her waiting.
But she is in coma. I did not speak the words aloud.

‘I know.'  He said, reading my thoughts. 'She has not opened her eyes for the last two years and would not know if I am late or never came... but ‘I’ know she is there on that bed, and that she is my wife.’ 
He smiled again and picking up his plastic raincoat walked out in the rain.
Something choked my throat...

Now who ever wrote a verse, a poem a couplet on this kind of love? The love that is the essence of exaltation, because it moves us from the narrow confines of our ego into the broader, more generous realm of our relationship. The love that is ready to surrender the self and 'bleed willingly and joyfully' for the loved one.
The Love that is sometimes, just a silence between words. A gap between the ongoing and incoming breath. A hospital bed, a life support machine, a motionless hand. 
A tremor on the lips. 
A face on white pillows.
A hopeless hopefulness.
A walk in the rain~

© Nazia Mallick


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