A friend once told me that I have penchant for drama. It helps break the monotony during drab situations, I think.
So, it was my birthday, the first one with the husband, the first one where I was expecting an overdose of mush (I was really praying he wouldn’t get me a giant teddy holding a heart. It’s nauseating). I don’t believe that age is just a number, I think people grow old and older, and then they perish and die. And no one was getting any younger here.
WhatI do believe is that as you grow old, you make memories, fond memories of the times spent with your dear ones; and what I do believe is that as you grow old you meet people, some mere acquaintances and some, as Phoebe would say, become your lobster. You become a little of everyone you meet and give away a little of yourself to them. It’s an intriguing thought.
I wasn’t expecting anything fancy at all, primarily because as fate would have it, the husband had been away for three whole days. I wasn’t sure when he would return. A call every few hours was all I got. I was worried for him and those with him.
Calls came in from all corners, inquiring about what the smitten husband was planning. I lied. I couldn’t tell them where he was and what people were upto in this part of the world. Problems are, for the lack of a better word, strange here. You don’t get stuck in traffic, or worry about being late to work, or worry about a project deadline; you worry about people’s safe return, about their families, about husbands sleeping in their uniforms, about that one phone call that would make them leave everything behind.
It had been a revolting change ever since I had moved base. I was expected to understand, to not probe too much, to make peace with whatever was available. I was stuck in a storm, not knowing when it would subside. I missed home. Everyone was a call away but I was forbidden to speak about anything, primarily because it would worry them. My anchor was my soulmate, residing in the capital, who kept calling me at the drop of a hat to see if I had lived another day. The other dear ones who knew, would stay up with me over calls till the first light, just so that I didn’t completely lose sanity. I can never thank them enough so I’ll try and make them a little famous through my ramblings every now and then.
The birthday was an uneventful one, I was camping at Kamlesh aunty’s place because I had been asked to. We spoke about wars, aunty and I. Mine was history book war narration, mostly revolving around dates and facts; hers was a painful recollection of the time she had to leave home. She was 6. Her family travelled four days on foot with a blanket, some jewelry, their livestock, and some rice. History is made through loss and pain of the people, some of whom have lived to narrate their struggles. History is glorified for most times because you need an answer to the loss. I may be wrong, but Kamlesh aunty’s wet eyes said otherwise. “Badi kashmakash thi”, she had said. I was touched. I tried consoling her, told her I wouldn’t have been able to do half of what she had done. I still remember what she said to that, “ Waqt sab sikha deta hai, betaji”.
Textbook history doesn’t give you life lessons, people do.
While I was still thinking about what she had said, I got a call from the husband. He was coming home for just thirty minutes for “some work”. I waited anxiously, didn’t know if it was another bad news. I opened the door. He stood there with roses, a birthday cake, and the best champagne the city could offer.
“Aaja cake kaat le, yeh sab to chalte rehna hai”. He had said in his forever nonchalant way.