She spoke to me of time and distance. Of forgiving, healing and letting go. Of loving and falling in love and staying in love. She didn’t preach. She explained. She lived the words she spoke.
I remember antagonizing her. Often. Sometimes just to peeve her. But mostly, we never saw eye-to-eye. I treated the world with disdain. She insisted I show some respect. I was cruel to a mistake. She never tired of telling me to move on. I wanted to run away, leaving the world behind. She was adamant that I stay and confront my fears.
I complied, mostly out of fear initially. Until I realized the hidden wisdom in her words. Obedience made way for respect, gratitude and worship. Gradually, I began seeking her approval for everything I did. Often, for the most mundane tasks.
It rankled when I didn’t get it. It hurt when somebody else received it from her. A double blow of sorts. I would lash out verbally, not realizing when I had moved on from that individual to her. She would wince at my words, flinch at my tone and wait for me to stop. And then she’d turn away. And all the while, there would be a voice at the back of my head telling me that I was wrong.
She wasn’t forthright with her forgiveness or apologies. They arrived in subtle ways. Akin to an art. Dessert in the fridge, a new outfit on a subsequent visit to the mall, an extra hour of television on a weekday, etc. When asked why, she always downplayed it. Like she did each time I asked her what she had dreamt up for me.
Time was ephemeral, she said. Distance was a state of mind according to her. One can always counter it she felt. She failed to understand the outrage expressed over long distance relationships by my generation. She called us fickle-minded and spoilt for immense choice. We know the price of too many things but value few.
“Think with the heart and not the head. How else will you be able to love that one person for the rest of your life otherwise,” she opined. “Allow some scope for intuition, some leeway for chance,” she advised. “You cannot possibly clinically plot your whole existence like it is some academic project!”
I often laughed her words away. Called her an idealist and utopic. But I also sensed the unspoken wisdom each time the laughs deserted me and I reached out to wipe my tears.