My Love, My Heaven
All my life I had always been in trouble one way or the other. In my adolescence I was a very frequent cine-goer. I witnessed every film, as many times as my pocket could allow, as many times as many could not imagine. I could narrate the story in full with minute details. I remembered the dialogues and could recite them. I could copy the movements of the film characters. I could sing and dance the way most actors did. I acquired many of their traits. I couldn’t help the kindle of a desire to be myself a hero in real life too. I did. I followed a girl, teased her and then, like a filmi hero, instantly lost my heart to her. “It was a spontaneous love at first sight”, I declared to her with the hero-like pride of an achievement loftier than putting feat on the moon.
My mother felt ashamed of my words, movements, behaviour and actions. Not me. She appealed to my sense of decency and reason. “I feel ashamed of you”, she told me in disgust, “What for?” I retorted in challenge. “I’ve not committed a crime, a murder or a theft; I’ve only lost my heart to her, my love. It’s no crime”, I told her bluntly.
Many of my relatives and well wishers tried to dissuade me from the path I had embarked upon. They termed it disastrous. But infested with the love bug the hero in me could not relent. A hero never paces backwards, I knew. They tried to reason with me. “Love is blind”, I told them all, “It has no reason, no season”. I challenged and defied my parents, my relations and everyone who came in my way. “With the supreme power of love on my side I could all alone fight the whole world”, I declared with a sense of defiance and confidence. “The whole universe will ultimately tumble down into rubble at my feet”.
True love always triumphed. So did mine. My affair also culminated into a comedy in the filmi style. It had a happy ending. It landed me into wedlock with my lady love.
And we lived in peace and happiness ever after…. No! No! It was a happy ending only in the filmi sense; in reality, I realised, it was the beginning of the tragedy of my life. The dawn of hard reality in life shattered all my sweet dreams woven in the dead of night earlier. My falling in love later proved to be my plunge into deep seas of trouble. I had not lost my heart but my senses to her. I felt thrown down from the fairy tale world of fantasy into the world of stark reality. As my beloved she swore to sacrifice herself at the altar of my love, but as my better-half, she got irritated even when very lovingly I called her to my side.
Despite the worst that could happen, the love after marriage had been strong enough to make us still live under one roof, if at times not in the same room. All the fruits of my love, my children, were married, well-settled and lived at distant places, giving us lot of privacy to settle our scores.
Even at the fag end of my life, my wife won’t leave me. I told her many a time to go to her parents for some time. I could then, I thought, have the feel of heaven in this very life. In the life after death I was sure of heaven. God will have to be kind to send me to that exalted place after death if not on the basis of my actions in this life, at least on taking pity on my present life of hell. After death God could not be that cruel as to throw me from the one hell of my present life to another hell of His creation.
Each time my wife threw the slightest hint of her intention to visit her parents, I pounced upon the opportunity and gave her money generously to make her happy to leave me, to be away from me. But still she didn’t. She cheated me each time and embezzled the amount. She felt grieved at letting me live alone and, in her view, suffer. Each time she shattered my dreams and plans.
“Don’t worry”, once I tried to reason with her to prompt her to leave me for some time, “I’ll keep a maid during the period of your absence”.
Instantly she got furious. “I will not let you live like that”, she shouted in ferocious fury. “I’ll tell everybody you were keeping a mistress, not a maid”.
“Who would believe you?” taking her lightly I tried to make a fun of her. “Don’t they know that I’m too old for all this?” I took her words just as a joke.
Turning more aggressive she thundered, “I’ll make everybody believe. I’ll tell that you had had an affair with her since your youth”.
Silence had always been gold for me. But it always blew up the golden flames of her fury. This time too the barometer of her anger went on rising as did the shrill of her voice. “Not only that”, she went on, “I’ll lodge a complaint with the police that you had all these years been torturing me for not bringing sufficient dowry. You are also guilty of domestic violence. I’ll see that you spend the rest of your life in jail”.
I wished she could. It would have been my heaven, in this very life, away from her.
But she never kept her word.
By Amba Charan Vashishth