Love, Actually. And what lies in between...
Were my parents completely in love with each other? I have thought about their relationship and whether it was based on love or duty and responsibility. My parents met when they were very young - still teenagers - and whenever we prodded our parents to tell us their story of how they met, the answer was that they had an arranged-cum-love marriage. My sisters and I were of a generation that had begun to believe completely in fairytale romance and happily-ever-after that books, movies and songs extolled.
I have thought even more about my parents' relationship as I saw Daddy dealing with the passing away of his partner of almost 55 years. On the third day after Mummy passed away, Daddy wrote a poem about her. He then showed it to the three of us. He had written it in Hindi, using Mummy's birth as the starting point of the poem. "Very nice," I told him, trying to keep back my tears, not wanting to cry in front of him. "It needs to be edited a little bit," he responded. "Why don't you edit it for me?" he asked me.
Without being soppy or sentimental the poem to me seemed to capture more than any thing the love my father had and continues to have for my mother. Love is one of the most misunderstood emotions in modern times. We have believed the chick-flicks, chick-lit and Hallmark cards about love. And when we try to replicate that in real life, we are bitterly disappointed. It's a bit like watching an action movie or science fiction and thinking that to be real life. And when you realise that you can't in life say, "Beam me up, Scotty", to get from point A to point B, you begin to blame life itself.
Love doesn't exist in soft focus in a Nancy Meyer movie. It exists in many different ways in many different relationships none of which have even a passing acquaintance with what they show in popular culture. I have thought a lot about love since my mother passed away. I have questioned why, two months on I still grieve so deeply for my mother. She was ill and had been that way for a long part of her life and that hasn't made it any easier for me to accept her passing away. Every time I think of her - which is very often - my eyes fill up with tears. As I am writing this post I am crying.
Many friends, who have lost a parent or both several years ago, tell me that you never get over their death. And it doesn't matter how old you are when you lose them. Or even how old and ailing parents are when they go. What is it about losing your parents that makes it so difficult to accept? Intellectually you do know that life is finite. You also know that since parents are older they will pass away before you. But emotionally that reasoning is just cold comfort.
Mostly what we do in life is because we are constantly in search of love. For any human being there is possibly no greater achievement than to know that you are loved. All the time. And we do whatever it takes to get it, sometimes our efforts are deluded but they are nonetheless for love. Friends, colleagues, neighbours, support staff, everyone who witnessed the back-breaking effort that it took to take care of my ill parents are to this date complimentary about it. But I did it for love. If my mother was able to stave off the voices in her head that told her to kill herself it was her love for all of us.
If my father didn't abandon my mother, despite her family advising him to do so, the first time and every time her psychosis reared its ugly head it was his love for her and all of us. It's this love that roots us, gives an unparalleled springboard from where to conquer the world. That's what makes family, parents so difficult to let go. To say that final goodbye.
More about Archana Jahagirdar
Archana Jahagirdar has been a journalist for almost 20 years having worked for some of the most prestigious names in the media business like The Times of India, Outlook and India Today. Her last full-time assignment was with the Business Standard where she also wrote a column on luxury and fashion. She has done her Masters and Bachelors in English Literature from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University.
‘My Parents’ Daughter’ will be a weekly update, narrating Jahagirdar’s experience in taking care of her chronically-ill parents over the last eight years. From dealing with doctors and hospitals to taking decisions regarding medical treatment to changing dynamics in other family relationships – this blog notes the journey of a caregiver.
- + All About My Mother
- + Medicine can't guarantee my mom a quality life
- + 'My mum's 72, young still. And I want her back fine'
- + A depressed dad, being single & life in between
- + Why middle-class India can't afford to fall sick
- + Role reversal: Looking after ailing parents
- + When the child becomes a crisis manager