Till Love Do Us Apart.
One evening, a few years back, over coffee with a friend at a resto-cafe, he soulfully narrated to me the story of the opposition to his current romantic liaison. He had lost his wife – a decade younger than him, after a prolonged battle with Cancer, a couple of years back. Now the strong resistance to his desire to marry again, to be happy and live a full life, ironically came from his daughter. She lived in London since the last decade, along with her British husband. And was an ex-journalist having worked long in Delhi where the family lived and is currently a publishing professional. His son was married and lived away with his wife and children in Calcutta.
My friend, Mr. Boruah, was about 75 years, at the time of this conversation. A rather successful businessman at one time, he now lived a retired and quiet life, though as fit and handsome as a man of 60 might be. He still played Golf regularly at his club, in spite of a weakening elbow. And had his daily measure of the best Scotch whisky before dinner, and as much as was possible, tried to fill his life with intellectually gregarious and artistic company.
I had first met Mr. Boruah in an official capacity in Calcutta, and we had become friends over varied interactions. I tend to strike friendships easily with men and women, decades older than I am, as I can relate to them just as well as I do with those my age or younger. This is perhaps because I find mutual respect and admiration the necessary requisite to any relationship. And I find that people who are much older are usually more respectful in friendships, as they are confident of who they are, of their views and opinions, and their place in the world. Personal and professional insecurity, jealousy, aggressive and rude condescension resulting from the two, in my view, is the most effective deterrents to friendship. I like to respect people for whom and what they are irrespective of success or failure, rich or poor and am rarely judgemental, but above that I value my self-respect.
Over our second cup of coffee, his with ‘Sugar free’ from being diabetic, Mr Boruah went on to share with me the details of the cause of his sad and forlorn look, on my prodding him on it: There was a young woman, about his daughter’s age, Mr. Boruah had known during his earlier working years, who was much in love with him since long. He had been friends with her but did not take her romantic gestures seriously before, in fact had been rather amused by it. But after his wife’s death, this woman who also knew his daughter well, had been pestering him to marry her. She was professionally successful, financially well off, and though over fourty years, had refused to marry anyone other than the man she loved – Mr Boruah. What did it matter if he was 75 years?
“So why don’t you marry her Mr. Boruah?” I blurted excitedly, rather pleased on his behalf, that he would have a companion in his sunset years, as I was rather fond of him.
“No, I can’t.” he replied stiffly.
“But why…why not?” I pestered him, and then smiling I added, “You’ll get a new lease of life…trust me! All those heart ailments you have, will be resolved…As you’ll have a new heart – won’t you?”
He could not but blush, as he replied – “I wish my daughter were as cool as you.”
“Ah! So it’s your daughter who has a problem, has she…Well, it is truly her problem not yours, Mr. Boruah” I replied stiffly. “She is happily far way and does not bother as to how you’re going to live alone here. Doesn’t she see and realise how lonely you are and how difficult it increasingly is for you to live by yourself, so what if you have a fleet of butlers and chauffeurs?”
“My daughter dislikes this woman and will not allow her to take her mother’s place, she argues.” Mr. Boruah stated emphatically. “Every time I’ve tried to broach the topic, of remarrying, she gets furious, and then won’t talk to me for months. Then even I don’t call and now our relationship is rather strained.”
“That’s rather selfish of your daughter Mr. Boruah, isn’t it?” I said firmly. “Do you want me to talk to her? I’m sure I can convince her, even though I don’t know her at all. She needs to understand that you are so lucky to find genuine love and another chance to live a wholesome life at your age. Why would she wish to steal your happiness from you? That too when she will not have you live with her in London, or come here and live with you.”
“I know, but who will explain all that to her…if you call she will be furious I even told anyone of this. What upsets me is this young lady – who just refuses to get married to anyone else but me. I’ve coaxed her for the last ten years, but she is just as adamant, as my daughter is against it, to only marry me or no one else.”
“If it’s your daughter’s insecurity and fear over this new woman’s claim to your money and properties, you could make a will, dividing everything between your daughter and son. This way she won’t have a problem with you marrying I hope.”
“My daughter knows well, that this woman is rather affluent herself, and she comes from an illustrious family.”
“Then it is sheer self-centeredness Mr. Boruah, on your daughter’s part.” I insisted.
Mr. Boruah remained silent, looking at his empty coffee cup for a while, then looking up he said sullenly, “I am so overwrought with agony from the strained relationship with my daughter. If it was only about me, I would never suggest getting married. But I do care about this young woman, who has sacrificed her own marital prospects only because of me.”
“You owe it to yourself Mr. Boruah, to be happy till the last moment of your life. More so, that God has given you a new lease of life.”
“I know. But God gives you with one hand, and takes away with another” he grinned.
“So ironic, you know, since my father’s passing away, I hoped my mother would meet someone, a friend, a companion.” I said thoughtfully. “But you’ve met her, what a difficult and stubborn woman she is…the very idea is beyond her comprehension. I’ve even considered various matches in my neighbourhood (I laughed)…but she will beat me with a broom and throw me out of the house for suggesting such a horrendous thing – she says.”
Mr. Boruah smiled, “Well, knowing your mother, it is quite expected, even though she is younger than me.”
“You see, Mr. Boruah, for all my broad mindedness about wishing my mother would remarry, I’d never allow anyone to take my father’s place – neither in my heart and life, nor do I wish to replace him in my mother’s life. I just wish upon her to have a friend, a companion, and lead a full life again. You know how in the last years of my father’s life, Ma was so focussed on his illness and seeing him through it, she had no friends or life of her own. She has no one, except for my sister and me, and ironically we live in other cities. I truly wish she was not alone. This is why I wish for her to have a man in her life…to be married perhaps.”
“My dear, how I wish my daughter would think like you” Mr Boruah said, as he patted my hand, then asked the waiter for the cheque. After the waiter left with the bill folder and we got up to leave he added sadly – “You see, for my daughter’s sake I can give anyone and anything up, as I will this woman for good…I mean, I must, part with a new love after all, for my daughter’s love. I owe it to her. My happiness is not more important than her happiness.”
The pictures are only for representation