Inspired by Dilwaale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge
It was the pitter patter sound of a steady rainfall on her bedroom glass window that woke Simmar up. Everything looked wet, washed and damp.
The rain seemed to come down in sheets, turning everything in its wake to dull grey, adding to her already greying mood. People said London looks beautiful when it rains. Simmar thought rains made London ugly, robbing it of its melting-pot character, subduing it totally.
Way back in time, when she was young, carefree and in love, rain would always soothe her. The incessant rain would caress her curves and the mesmerising scenery would intoxicate her Yuvi, who would then share hot cups of masala chai with his Simmar as they bundled together, quivering and shivering.
Simmar Girhotra stole a disdainful glance towards Yuvraj Girhotra snoring away, utterly unmindful of the churning and simmering discontent in his wife's head. She looked at him, through him and wondered, was this the same person with whom she had fallen head over heels in love? Ached so much, prayed, fought and rebelled against the entire family?
Was it the same Yuvraj who called her “Signora” playfully, lovingly, longingly; who gave up his comfort zone of a silver-spoon upbringing, came down to slum it out in a rustic Punjabi village to win over her rigid-over-rituals clan? Yuvraj did manage to melt her hard-as-nails Babaji who initially thought Yuvi to be a lame duck drunkard. Oh all that drama at the railway station. After much bloodshed, Babaji finally let go Simmar from his clutches saying, “Go Simmar, go ahead. Make your day and life. Live life to its fullest!”
In her burning zeal, she never even realised that while her Yuvi was on the footboard, literally hanging out of the compartment, trying to reach out to her and she running madly to make a dash of it, the other door of the said compartment was right next to her. Talk about clouded judgements!
She thought she had made it, when she caught the train. When did it all derail? Simmar thought her life would be like that azure painting with a myriad of riotous colours with no scope of black. Ever! There would be poetry with many warm evenings enveloped in their love. Why did life happen in between? Once Simmar became his wife, Yuvraj simply became another person and she was expected to understand and accept this new arrangement. “Grow up!” Yuvi would plead! Blah! A kettle calling a pot black indeed.
Yuvi's Pa was the third unwritten angle to their life's story. Simmar slowly grew restless with Pa's relentless two-peg-high joi-de-vivre. She needed to break free of his bonhomie. Pa understood his displacement from the scheme of things, made a quiet, dignified and sudden exit from the arena of life, after the birth of his two grandchildren. Yuvi didn't recover from his Pa's death. Whatever little money Yuvi made, with his scatter-brained ventures, soon went down the drain in his next best brilliant scheme. Thanks to Pa's business acumen and his abundant wealth, they still managed to remain millionaires. As they say, the quickest way to become a millionaire is to bust up a billion!
Simmar let out an ache-filled deep sigh! Her reminiscences about her past and her bleak present left her listless. She decided to pen a poem on this, with a hot cup of coffee and went kitchenwards.
Yuvraj sat bolt upright the moment Simmar left their bedroom. Simmar, with her brooding moods and flaming temper, scared and suffocated him. She refused to move with the changing times. She still believed and thought herself to be the same chit of a girl, in a frilly short skirt, who danced with gay abandon in simpering rain and penned poetry. God! That awful poetry of hers! She had a verse for every mood and it grew progressively worse.
Simmar of yore had all the answers, had everything figured out. Sane and secure Simmar completed the jumpy and flighty Yuvi. She was supposed to be his perfect foil, the yin and yang. That's what made him fall hopelessly in love with her – with Simmar, who believed in him completely, the wind beneath his wings! These days Simmar specialised in taking the wind out of his sails!
Somewhere, the clock seemed to have got stuck and the plot became completely undone. Simmar no longer thought of Yuvi to be someone on whom she could lean on. She found fault with him, night and day. She derided every business venture of his. He tried hard to be a success. But some things aren't just meant to be. And then she was in such a tearing hurry to have the second child when they hadn't even gotten used to the idea of the first one. Expenses were not that a problem. Pa had made enough. But even mountains finish when there is only outflow and no inflow.
Their son was growing up and how, almost a teenager now. Yuvraj wanted to be strong role model for him. Why didn't Simmar realise that her constant taunts about his resounding all-round failure made him cut a sorry figure in front of his son? How would the junior even idolise him in the face of such biting vitriol? Was it a crime to want his junior to look up to him, as he had once depended on his Pa?
To keep himself sane, Yuvi hit the bottle with a vengeance. Drinking bloated him and with time he lost his crowning glory too. His once famed looks were now a thing of past. Nothing seemed to save him from this slow abyss that he was sinking into.
The one person who stabilised him, made him feel great, disappeared one fine night. Just like that. Pa somehow figured out that he had outlived his usefulness in the game of life! Why didn't Simmar get that she was eternally in her flighty, floating, dreamy virtual world? That her acidic diatribe emasculated him?
His piteous reverie was broken by the shrill ring of Simmar's mobile. The call was from Simmar's mother.
At this hour?
Simmar came running from the kitchen, picked it up, heard the conversation silently and put the phone down.
Simmar then whispered, “Babaji is about to die”. For all her poetic tendencies, these were the most clinical lines delivered ever.
As Simmar was simply grief stricken, Yuvraj took charge. Simmar followed his lead. Tickets were arranged, house was sorted and locked up. They were on the very first plane going home, back to the mustard fields of Punjab where it all began.
The extended family received them, appropriate noises were made, beating the chests and clucking over large glasses of thick lassi. Mother seemed to have aged so much. She looked shrivelled and shrunk. Babaji was respectfully and honourably being sent off! Already!
One by one they went in, to pay their respects to the grand old man. Simmar went in last, trying to muffle her sobs.
Babaji signaled to her and mumbled, “Yuvi”.
Simmar wearily trooped out and brought Yuvraj back with her. The two men in her life looked at each other wordlessly for what seemed like an eternity. Slowly Babaji began to speak incoherently, almost a whisper. His voice grew in strength as he spoke.
“You two are so distant, so cut off from each other. Was this the same girl who wailed to let go off her hand? Even the wildest of horses couldn't stop her! Two feet apart, you stand as man and wife, yet in reality, you both are so tired, worn out! You wonder, how do I know? I am supposed to be this senile old man confined to this bed, who had to be padlocked, who just doesn't die. I hear your mother talking to you Simmar, listening to your moaning complaints. She would put your calls on speaker mode, thinking that your voice, your troubles would pull me out my stupor.
The day I let you off was the day I left you to figure out life on your own device. And your sister! She has simply refused to marry. She has gone and settled in the U.S. with her gay partner! Yes, I know that too, I survived that too. Both of you have brought us so much misery.
“Yuvi! You underwent so much trauma, so much humiliation just to win over Simmar's hand. You struggled so hard to win over the entire clan, but with time you have lost the approval of that single most important person, your wife!
Simmar, stop living in that dreamy world of yours. Grow up, get a reality check. Stop treating your husband like a trophy to be flaunted.
Life is not a race to be excelled at. The business of life is serious enough. The pleasures of small inanities and absurdities of our daily grind makes it manageable and worthwhile. The big picture takes care of itself when we solve the smaller portions of this unending jigsaw puzzle. Life is not all about chasing the pot of gold, attaining materialistic goals. It is the sum total of little joys and subtle nuances. The elusive 'Life Key Mantra' is happiness. So hang on tightly to every little chance and make happiness a habit.
Be each other's strengths and do not gnaw at each other. Do a favour to this dying man. Work at rekindling your relationship. Go back to the basics. Remember what all you underwent to fructify your relationship.
If not for me, for your children. They deserve better.”
This long-winded sermon exhausted Babaji. He shut his eyes, never to open again.
Later, as they mourned him, Simmar thought, “Who would have imagined that a supposedly senile, unconcerned, self-centred person would deliver the most stirring of sermons and in his dying moments would try that hard to redirect my messed-up life.”
She looked at Yuvi and on cue. Yuvi gave her the most tender of looks and embraced her. That tight embrace conveyed a lot. “I am there for you, through thick and thin!”
The raging fires of that funeral pyre somehow managed to reignite the dying embers of their marital vows, promising to fill their tomorrow with a warmer glow. Hopefully, their relationship would be much stronger, now that it has been rekindled.
As they walked back towards the haveli, Yuvi spotted the junior checking out the local beauties and their elders flexing their muscles at his son. Yuvraj sighed, “Pa, winning the bride's hand with chutzpah, all over again?”
He swore he saw Babaji grinning broadly from the skies above.
Something to do with the mustard fields and cows perhaps?