He saw her at a wedding and there was something so beautiful about her that he could not help imagining what life would look like if he didn’t have to steal a glance at her to avoid making it too obvious, if there were not three dozen people and all that distance between them, if she were standing right next to him. Despite his reluctance to initiate a conversation unless absolutely necessary, he asked someone to get things arranged because he could not let his shyness take away his chance to be with the woman he fell in love with at the very first sight. Since he was still in the struggling phase of his career, the girl’s dad being a popular rich man of the city could have been an obstacle (no wonder ‘rich girl- financially struggling guy’ makes for such a relevant and entertaining plot for our movies and will never get old!), but his impressive academic record and the decency her father could see in his beautiful grey eyes, came to his rescue and his bank balance didn’t get to play a villain in this story.

From a couple, they eventually became a family of six; their first three children being girls, led to unsolicited pity coming their way but they raised all their kids with warmth and compassion, becoming the best parents to their three daughters and one son because despite the obnoxious comments and the lame ‘let-us-blame-the-woman-for-the-gender-of-her-kids’ game played by the society, they held hands like only they can. From going to work on a bicycle to becoming the owner of a pharmaceutical company, he was able to set an example for many who aim to start things from scratch because her support, faith and love, didn’t let her complain even when they did not have things in abundance, because they held hands like only they can. From a second hand car to a lovely house, from a shattering heart attack to the prayers that found their origin in the heart that loved unconditionally, from getting their children married to becoming the most adorable grandparents one could ever ask for, they held hands through thick and thin, celebrations and funerals, health and sickness, bliss and blisters, highs and lows, ICU’s and hope, they held hands like only they can.

In their companionship of over fifty years, there were some disagreements but they never had a real fight; there were challenges and exhaustion and disappointments but they never took it out on each other; there were judgements and questions but their love aged like wine. Even in their seventies, he would call her thrice a day from work and before leaving for home, he would often tell her what he was craving for and she would exclusively make that particular thing for him and he would not get tired of complimenting her culinary skills. Some times he would call her up to ask if he should get tikkis and chat for their grandkids and before she could consider his health and ongoing medication, he would get it all packed because he knew his grandkids would not say no to such beautiful, irresistible things. He would address her as ‘madam ji’ and would tell his grandchildren how she would look drop dead gorgeous every time she stepped out in a saree. He would sit on his side of the bed and admire her like this love-struck teenager, thanking God for this honest, simple yet amazing woman of faith who would always compensate for his disinterest in small talk in all social gatherings.

In his final days, the medicines would mess up with his head but there was this conspicuous desire to make more memories with madam ji and all he wanted was to have her by his side, every moment, all the time.

It has been more than four years since he left us for a better place, where cancer is not a real thing but I sometimes look at his side of the bed and find him admiring nani like a love-struck teenager and in those moments, I realize that irrespective of how far we have come in the evolution of our idea of an ideal partnership with hundreds of dating apps and ideas, regardless of how they have begun to glorify cheating, infidelity and the resultant divorces in movies and how we have reached a point where one night stands, flings and meaningless relationships are in a position to judge how cool people are to be absolutely accepting of the modern-day romance, deep down, we all want to love and be loved like nanu and nani, because that kind of love heals the hurt, fixes the broken, makes the most mundane things look extraordinary, gives hope in distress, strengthens you at your weakest and above all, stays.

The love story of my nanu and nani- From 1964 to Forever.