State Of The Union – Sixteen Years

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I watch him squint in the twilight, his face looking bare without glasses.

“Can you read this?” he holds a tiny molded toy (Tsum Tsum for the initiated). I look at it in turn and give it back. I can barely see anything. “Made in China,” he reads and looks at me expectantly. I stare back not quite sure what the conversation is about.

“I can’t read it with my glasses on,” he states, leaving the silence to fill me in.

I gasp and chuckle for it has not been a week since I diagnosed myself with near vision. The thought cheers me immensely. Perhaps of all markers of aging, this one seems significant. A threshold that separates the prime from the middle age and in some sense old age.

We are over the hill. Resolutely. Unambiguously.

I am tempted to pull him into an embrace and celebrate the milestone but I demur. I am sitting on the recliner and I am loathe to get up. The years have crept up on us. The spontaneous, physical affection has given way to mostly grunts and looks across the room. On rare occasions like when Saathi moved from one job to another, he took a couple of days off in between and we spent the time roaming the local mall, eating lunch outside and walking purposelessly. If the years in the past had been centered on us, they are now squarely on the children, our highs and lows punctuated by theirs.

The sound of the garage opening in the evening, the rumbling snores late at night, the rise and fall of laughter as Saathi wakes the kids and brushes his teeth along side them, the almost metronomical cadence as he chops vegetables on a glass cutting board, the sight of snacks organized by size, shape and expiry date on the shelf, the sight of Saathi running behind Pattu as she first rode her bike sans training wheels, the image of Saathi looking at himself critically in the mirror each morning after he shaves. The moments are mundane, everyday and almost lost in the cacophony that is raising three children. Yet, as I take a moment to identify milestones, these are the ones that rise from the rubble of everyday living.

The very notion that he is there, physically to lean on, to count on when the going gets tough, to reassure myself when I feel overwhelmed, to approve of when my confidences dips a tad low, to cheer me on when I am unsure, to step in when I am not feeling up to the challenges of parenting, to provide without askance; defines the state of our relationship.

As I look back on the years I have been married, I feel a deep sense of contentment, happiness that is placid, peace that envelops my world the way it is now. No matter what the years ahead bring, there is belief that we can weather the storms.

Together.

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