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When I was a newly married young woman, and the L&M had to leave me behind and go join his army unit, we used to correspond with each other on a daily basis. This was news to those in the family and friends circles. ‘You write to each other daily, like in every single day?‘ they’d ask incredulously. Umm… no, not on Saturday nights. You see, the post office is closed on Sundays. My reply was usually met with peals laughter of the good-natured kind. Sometimes one could detect a faint envy. But I was too happy to notice or care.

One day my mother-in-law and I were returning home from watching a movie when we met an acquaintance of hers, who apparently hadn’t been able to make it to our wedding. The MIL introduced her to me as the L&M’s friend’s mother. The lady on her part stared at me, her eyes giving me the once over unabashedly, ‘evaluating’ me, almost as if I were a non-living thing. ‘So, this is the girl!‘ she finally spoke.

The MIL and she chatted for some more time. She told the lady that her son had left for his work place and I would be joining him some months later. ‘In the meantime,’ here the MIL looked at me and smiled, ‘they write to each other every single day!‘ On hearing this, the lady turned to me, gave a smile dripping with cynicism and said, ‘Puthu modiyalle? Athokke marikkolum!‘ (It’s all the newness now. Give it time and all that will change)

Maybe I wanted to strangle the woman just then. Or at least slap her with a cold, wet fish. I don’t exactly remember after all the time that has elapsed. But young as I was back then, I remember this is what I told the woman (in my mind, of course) ‘Nothing remains the same, lady. It’s a given that time changes everything. But still it would have been so much better if you had kept your mouth shut about it and not tried to prick my balloon of joy.’

As you go through life you see and understand a lot of things. That does not give you the right to spoil the happiness of others starting out, something people who are older forget. Now I am old myself. When I hear dreams, see unadulterated joy and hope, I watch the happiness, let it touch me too with its magic. Barbs? Nope. That’s a lesson I learnt growing up. Never turn into that crabby old person(s) you hated passionately while growing up. Never ever.

© Shail Mohan 2019

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