My observation of older couples while waiting at the airport, railway station, hospitals, movie halls et al has been very enlightening. I have found that they can be grouped broadly into Those Who Talk To Each Other and Those Who Do Not Talk To Each Other, and then there are the in-betweens, Those Who Confine Their Talk To Essential Things. There are sub divisions to these broad categories, but we will not go into those now. Interestingly, most seem to fall into the last category, quite a few to the second, and just a handful to the first. No prizes for guessing to which category the L&M and I belong.
Most times I find the L&M and I are the only ones talking and laughing while around us are serious or indifferent faces. I don’t know why that is so. Are they done with all the topics and have nothing more to say to each other? Or do they feel they should not converse in a public place? I have no such qualms. It is not as if we talk loudly or disturb the people around, the conversation is just between the two of us and involves as varied things as the view from the window of the high rise to why the building does not have air-conditioning, from how someone in the waiting room resembles a character from a show we are watching to ‘I wonder what Luci is thinking now?’ (“Where the heck are the old fogies?”), from ‘What shall we have for dinner?’ to ‘Yes! I won the dog (virtual) at the event at Farmville!!’ and so on.
Though it is true I am the one who does most of the talking, the L&M is no mere silent listener. When he gets going with his silly jokes, there is just no stopping the man, a trait the Second Born has inherited from his dad. Once a friend observing us asked me in all earnestness, ‘What the heck do the two of you have so much to talk about?’ On my part, I wanted to ask her, ‘How do you not have anything to talk?’ This does not of course mean we do not have our quiet moments when both of us are scrolling through our phones in amicable silence or I am reading a book, while the L&M is doing a sudoku puzzle (or walking up and down like a caged lion, a favorite hobby of his, which is very unsettling to me, all that movement in my peripheral vision you see). These phases too are interspersed with a word or two to each other at intervals.
If you ever do find us sitting without saying a word to each other for a long period, you can safely conclude that we have had a tiff and I am not speaking to the L&M. He is usually willing to talk, but I am not one to give up so easily on my grudge, not until I have worked through it, though I must say with age it is getting more and more difficult to hold on to any sort of resentment. Sheesh, what has happened to the old determined me who had to be wooed back afresh? Nowadays I have to remind myself sternly that I am in the non-speaking mode… umm well, for a little while longer at least. What’s worse is that I keep forgetting why I made the decision in the first place (‘Er.. ummm…Why am I not-talking to him again?’). I even spoil the whole ‘dignified silence’ by grinning widely on seeing the L&M and going, ‘Guess what…’ about some silly thing or other that has caught my fancy, probably some cute dog video. That’s old age for you I guess 😉
© Shail Mohan 2021