Courtship period is the childhood of any relationship. Not so much for its infancy but for the way we longingly recount it with wistful absent mindedness time and again.
It is during this period that lazes around a moment which makes you look at the person in front of you and go ‘Ohhh I am falling in love with this person’. You slither down an imaginary water slide. Nobody can stop you. Not even you yourself. A movie that has come close to beautifully depicting this feeling is ‘Fatal Attraction’ when Michael Douglas tells Glen Close of an incident when he had gone to see the opera ‘Madame Butterfly’ as a kid. You almost blurt her sentiments out for her, when she looks at him over a cup of coffee.
This moment of ‘I am falling in love with this person’ can strike you any place, anytime.
It struck me when my boyfriend of a few months told me about how he had a friend who had lost a loved one and how our man had arranged for a joyride in a chartered plane for her at the cost of people assuming that she was his girlfriend.
‘He is such a nice guy. So thoughtful. Life with him is going to be such bliss’; I said to myself and slipped down the water slide. That is the moment etched in my mind when I fell in love with my future husband.
First Birthday together. We were single, living in different cities. He decided to pay me a visit. I kept waiting for a gift not realising that the meeting itself was the gift. I hid my disappointment of not getting anything on my birthday well. Didn’t mention it to him. Acted like his visit was more than anything I could ask for.
Second birthday together. We were six months into our marriage. My first birthday as a married woman. I waited for him to surprise me with thoughtful acts of chivalry. Nothing notable happened that day. The only special thing I remember was that my ma-in-law gave me a ‘haathbaxa –small wooden box to keep jewellery’. This time we were close enough and I told him that I was disappointed.
Third birthday together. I got a lot of flowers, cakes and congratulatory phone calls. He has nice friends. They always remember each other birthdays and make it a point to make the birthday person feel special. He took me out for a movie. By now I wasn’t expecting any out-of-the-box thoughtful gesture and he had explained to me that he saw everyday as alike. He loved me the same every day and he would take care of me the same every day. No more, no less on special days. This was a 'rock solid bond' and I shouldn't look for reassurances at every step.
My fourth birthday with him. I didn’t expect much. I didn’t get much. If I think back to as far as I remember, it can be counted as one of the worst birthdays of my life.
I yearned for someone to surprise me, make me feel special and if possible ‘pamper me mad and not get angry with me’ just for 24 hours. It wasn't meant to be so.
I thought if ‘how your birthdays are spent’ is a reflection of what you mean to your spouse then I was in big trouble. How could that be? He had just taken me to Andaman’s for our Anniversary. Got me pea-fowl feathers one evening. Takes me out for long drives. Gives me the freedom to do what I want. Treats my friends so well. He does these nice things but for my Birthday….they are as non-existent as ever.
I was busy thinking all this when September 10th arrived. My mother’s birthday. We lost her in 2008. I called up Dad. “Baba Aai’s birthday today….what’s for lunch?” I thought they would have made something she liked. “Ohh..haan…ummm…acchhaa….good you reminded me….I will see,” he replied. He had forgotten her birthday. His wife of 35 years whom he loved so dearly and took care of when she was bedridden for 5 years before she left us. He had forgotten her birthday. There was no way I was going to question his love for her.
I see what my husband means now.
Birthdays should never be used as measuring scales to gauge how precious you are to someone. These things cannot be quantified. Coz here, the total is always greater than the sum of the parts. Or so one would like to think. There alone lies peace and solace.