Are you aware of the stereotype that media reinforces that men forget anniversaries and women get upset with them? Sean breaks that stereotype. I ask him “How long have we known each other now?” He knows the exact date, the exact number of years. I argue of course. “No no, it was this day of that month!” And he provides proofs and facts. I believe him then.
It has been 18 years of living together, raising a family, growing up in love. Life has been full of challenges, time for each other being the main one. The travels, the jobs, the juggling tire us both and romance often takes a backseat.
A few weeks ago, I put on a lovely saree, threw on some make up and went to the kitchen to show him my bedecked and semi bejeweled self, where he was flipping pan cakes for breakfast. “How do I look?” I asked. He quickly glanced up and looked back down at the browning pancakes.
“You look lovely. I like the necklace that you put on. Adds something more to the whole ensemble.” He said.
Sahana gave me the necklace on Mother’s Day and I have been wearing that since May. EVERYDAY! He never noticed!
“I have been wearing the necklace for the last 4 months for crying out loud! You never noticed???? You never look at me anymore? Is this what happens if one is married for 18 years???” I joke. I make it sound light-hearted, yet I am hurting a little bit.
He is, for a second stunned, at a loss, and then he comes back with an answer that he knows will get him out of the hole that he dug for himself.
I notice YOU! After 18 years I don’t need to notice any necklace or earring. I simply look at you, the natural you. I have always said you need no jewelry to be beautiful. I love the way you are naturally.
I grumble and groan. I tell him he is back tracking and covering up his mistake. He says “That’s my story and I am sticking to it, baby!” And laughs.
And I believe him. A huge part of me does. I believe him because it reminds me of the poem he loves, believes and recites. A poem by Pedro Salinas which he read to me when we courted, first in Spanish and then the translation, as I sang songs of Rabindranath Tagore for him.
To live I don’t want
islands, palaces, towers.
What steeper joy
Than living in pronouns!
Take off your clothing,
I don’t want you like that,
masked as another,
always a daughter of something.
I want you pure, free,
Life together is not what it used to be 18 years ago. Our togetherness is spent talking about high school assignments, picking up dropping off children, text messages to each other. Yet, amidst all that, Salinas’s words remain, Rabindranath’s love songs remain. Pablo Neruda’s poem has the associations of that exquisite feeling that he wrote those words to give voice to our love.
Today, this day was a brimming cup,
today, this day was the immense wave,
today, it was all the earth.
Today the stormy sea
lifted us in a kiss
so high that we trembled
in a lightning flash
and, tied, we went down
to sink without untwining.
Today our bodies became vast,
they grew to the edge of the world
and rolled melting
into a single drop
of wax or meteor.
Between you and me a new door opened
and someone, still faceless,
was waiting for us there.
All it takes is a moment of pause, a moment of looking back, a reiteration of some forgotten lines and I am once again the young woman in love. The heart drips with the oozy feeling of contentment. I smile and he smiles back.