Saturday, May 30, 2009

Love, eventually

To me, one of the memorable scenes of "fiddler and the roof" is when Tevye asks Golde if she loved him. Golde is astonished by the question. She seems never to have considered it before. She thinks about everything that the two of them have gone through together- giving "washing your clothes" and "sharing your bed" amusingly equal weightage (would I wash your clothes if I did not love you ? would I sleep with you if I did not love you ?) and finally admits that yes, she must love him. It's a simple logical and comforting conclusion- not an emotionally wrought one that most media would have us believe. We see the couple, stripped of glamour, stripped of the hot bloodedness of youth, stripped of lusty desires, stripped of song, dance, violins and flowery fields and flirtation (oh all that happens with the younger couples in the movie and we are never told if they lived together forever and forever). We see old Tevye and Golde as sturdy and one with each other, complimenting each other so well, that neither had ever wondered if they loved each other:- so completely beside the point when they were focussing all their energies on something much more valuable- to keep the other happy to the best of his/her abilities. "Fiddler on the roof" apart from it's central focus on a changing world and Tevye's dignity in being able to stretch himself in order to accept much more than he'd like has many love stories- each with it's own distinct flavour and each rather endearing. The one that's dealt with the most subtly is the one between Tevye and Golde. And it is the one I aspire to the most.

I've often wondered what my grandparents would be like. I have two grandmothers but no grandfathers and while they say you cannot miss what you never knew, I think I miss them. My grandmoms are strong, independent women and they've each lived an epic lifetime, one that ended up ensuring that when I was born, I'd be able to take a certain constancy for granted. Yet I've wondered what they would be like if my grandads were alive. Of all the mushy love stories I've come across, the ones among old couples leave me with the warmest, the fuzziest the most "awww" feeling. So many of these are uncles and aunts of my parents and I've heard them comment on how much each of them has changed over half a decade of being together. It takes a lifetime to achieve that balanced symphony- to be able to match each other in beat, rhythm, tune and harmony and I am amazed at the patience it must have taken, at the willingness not just to forgive and forget but often to simply ignore and discard. And while it may be true that they had no choice in the matter ever, that perhaps every one of these couples is an example of stockholm syndrome, I'm too much of a romantic to entirely believe that they felt imprisoned forever. I'm too much of a romantic to chop it down into neat tiny factors and write away that warmth. Of course, I'd like flaring passion. Who wouldn't. But I'd also like lasting compassion.

I see a tender care when each of them, slowly reaching senility takes great pains to remember not just their medication but also the other's. It's nice to watch them walk in a park, with their canes, sometimes holding each other, ever so fraily, after all those little frissures of excitement have gone and what remains is good old solid support.

Autumn spring( a foreign language film) portrays a playful old man, fond of scheming all sorts of plots to make a lot of money only to see them all fail yet going to great pains to give away what little money he has generously; and his wife who is concerned only about saving enough money for their funerals which she feels certain is near. And in that old age, their differences mar and she cannot put up with him any longer and files for divorce only to realize that regardless of how exasperating he has made life for her, she cannot imagine a life without him and takes back the divorce application. The old man, never having questioned his own love for his wife, feels compelled to change into a new leaf and spends all day at home helping his wife save money. And again his wife is angry because now her husband is a boring man. Where is all the excitement, and the anger and the hormones. Eventually, after each trying to do exactly as the other pleases, they're finally able to come to a gradual compromise- with the lady allowing the man some of his grand schemes and the man allowing the women to keep some of her hard earned savings. And their funeral is not far, but by that time, they'd have lived a life together not just by being together but by also learning to be with each other and for each other.

I live during times where I have the freedom to find and nest with someone I choose (and by definition reciprocates) and yet I wonder all the time, blessed as I might be, will I also be lucky and brave enough to slowly, calmly, gracefully fall in love eventually and then simply fade into an eternal blissful sleep.

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