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richasmukherjee.com

love, laughter, pain, joy, life and its lessons, one word at a time

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relationships

silver hair Valentines

The biggest and most genuine love stories can sometimes be found in one’s own backyard. I have found one tucked away in a corner of my home and heart. No, I have no salacious details or a scandalous story. This simple heartwarming tale is about a 75 year old man and a 70 year old woman, who could not be separated by distance, grief, needles, pain, suffering or wrinkles. Their bond, much like the heavily advertised Fevicol one on TV, has stood the test of time and troubles to emerge unbreakable.

For as long as I can remember, they have been inseparable. There were many ‘typicals’ in their past. A typical arranged marriage, a typical dramatic and torturous mother in law, a typical life full of four children. But while growing up, we never felt like we had an average life, nothing typical about it. We always felt special and well taken care of, primarily because we saw the love and bonding between our parents which cemented our foundations with comfort, confidence and trust. And mind you, this was never the expressive or overtly evident kind of love. there was no hugging or kissing or hand holding or date nights, which the current generation views as obvious hallmarks of a healthy marriage or relationship. But it was clear to all of us. Everytime their eyes were searching for each other when troubles came knocking, the way our mother used to hang off the balcony every evening at 6:30 pm, waiting for him to appear around the corner, how she carefully ironed all his handkerchiefs and rolled up all he would need the next morning, the way they stayed up nights, together, for years, trying to ease away our pain and suffering, remembering how lost they looked whenever either one was traveling alone, how she would wake up at 4am to pack fresh parathas when he was leaving for a tour. It might seem that she was busy making all the valuable contributions while he was just wafting around. But despite being in a full time and very important government job, our father managed to fulfill all his duties and shower us with all the love we needed.

Years have passed. We all are married and grown up with our own children. But in the last few years, I have seen a more evident and feverish sort of love emerge between our very own Romeo and Juliet, bordering on reverential. And the tables have turned. After years of silently working and slogging away as the core of this family, my mother’s wheels are now a bit rusted, her pace has slackened and she has almost come to a standstill by the side of the road, literally run over by an onslaught of diseases. And the unsuspecting, unassuming Romeo has emerged as the hero. The setting of this love story has changed as well. Even the props are different. There are multicolored medicine boxes, tubes, wires, injections, walkers, sticks and everything that could unhinge the strongest hearts. But his trembling hands are firm when she needs to hold on. His false teeth are always ready to widen into a cheery smile everytime her tears start flowing. There are cobwebs in both their minds but he fights much harder so he can be clear and steer her through her everyday challenges. This humbling and debilitating ‘new normal’ rips our hearts out on days when we are feeling weak in our resolve but every other time, it makes us proud and melancholy. For we secretly pray for a similar love story in our own lives. Hoping that when the world chugs on around us and we slow down, there will always be one set of feet, slowing down with us, with a silent promise that we will never walk alone.

the art of being fine

I guess I’m fine

I’m always fine

When your warm hand slipped out of mine after an entire life of holding on and became cold, when I didn’t want to live anymore, they told me, don’t be like this

You’ll be fine soon they said, so I was fine

I think it’s been so long since you’ve gone that I should feel fine all the time. But to be honest, everything feels lacking, a bit sub-par

I eat all the same things we used to but all of it tastes a little bit different you know, like its missing some salt

When I look up at the sky, I sometimes see your face in an odd shaped cloud floating by. That does make me feel better for a while

No matter how many times I make your side of the bed, it never seems right. I think I mess it up myself, just so that it can look like you’ve slept in it

I try to keep myself busy but ever so often, silly things, little things flood my head with you,

A smile I see yours in, someone slurping tea like you did, a nervous hand tapping a table that used to drive me insane

Once I had to berate myself quite severely, when I saw your rusted razor and I cried for days

Don’t worry I’m better now

I have to feel better don’t I? There’s no choice

I try and go for long walks but lately I’ve been forgetting the way back home so I try not going too far

I go to parties but I feel even lonelier sitting all by myself in a corner of the room

I can understand. I don’t blame them. I don’t hear too well and have nothing much to talk about either

So you see? I’m living my life. It’s not much of a life without you, but I live it.

I always lay out an extra plate for you, every-day. It looks empty, just as I feel inside, but I know that one day we will hold hands again

And then I shall truly, truly be fine

Thread by thread


Tricks, emotions, tears, joy and trepidation.

Relationships are like that unpredictable blanket, sometimes too territorial and snug, making you sweat, sometimes not as indulgent, leaving your toes peeping out in the unwelcome cold.

Every fibre woven with memories, music, melancholy.

Infused with a familiar smell of warmth and familiarity,some parts soaked in helpless tears.

Sprinkled with stains of cozy coffees, tinkling laughter and aimless conversations.

Strong and unyielding in portions, threadbare in others.

Tug a string too far and line upon line will unravel.

Tangled, twisted, knotted, but they will still make sense to you.

A wrap too strong and you feel suffocated.

With the rigours and vicissitudes of life, the patterns fade, the lines blur.

But on the most directionless of days, and the darkest of nights, they will land softly on your weathered shoulders.

To lift your chin, to wipe a tear, to kiss a lip, to tell you that tomorrow is another day.

To tell you, stay warm, I’m here with you tonight.

Hand in hand


It should make me jealous but it fills my heart with joy.

It really should make me jealous but when I see you two together I just can’t stop smiling.

I see how those tiny hands find their way to you in the darkness, when my unyielding and fatigued body has tuned out her plaintive cries.

Those big brown eyes darting nervously to the door every few minutes, when the sun starts to set.

She will follow your footprints in the sand for miles till the tide finally consumes them.

She never tires of stroking your head when you surrender it to that almost invisible and tiny lap.

I’ve seen her hugging your t-shirts to fill her nostrils with you when you’re away.

That desperate moaning wail that stumbles and follows you to the door when you can’t stay.

Drifting in and out of sleep, so often she calls for you, a determined , demanding voice that I cannot tame.

That happy dance she’s choreographed just for you, the first man in her heart’s hall of fame.

I made her heart inside me, and I know for eternity I can stake my claim.

But that same heart has a beautiful, colourful, throbbing piece, with only her daddy’s name.

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