In a rare turn of events about a month ago, I happened to find a stack of greeting cards that my now-separated parents exchanged during the phase of their newly married status, a couple of decades ago. The pile of vintage cards seemed exactly like the type of appreciation I would have extended to a partner if I was a fully functioning adult in the early 90s. I saw my dad’s handwriting in small, neat letters and figured that I had genetically inherited my mother’s penmanship instead; noticed how they would always find the smallest reasons to send each other these sweet tokens of love and never really needed a reason to not express how much they loved each other.
These cards held the essence of a relationship that was as new as a sapling. A part of me was amazed by the fact that two of my life-giving sources shared a bond that I found my current self being envious of. What surprised me even more was the fact that they once shared a relationship that didn’t have them being at loggerheads with each other – a mood I remember lingering for longer than was really necessary.
Much to my mother’s horror, I decided that I wanted to hold on to these cards and letters as the only proof that there was once some truth to the purpose of their relationship. Here were two people that once decided against all odds to embark a life together and were kicked by the idea of it. Of course, like many misunderstood partners in a relationship, there was plenty of love lost and wounds opened. That being said, I was happiest about the fact that I could peep into what my parents now refer to as ‘the biggest regret of their lives.’
Murakami says that death is not the opposite of life but a part of it and I must agree with him. As insane a revelation it is to me now, it’s probably safe to assume that I have been one of the unfortunate witnesses to love walking out the room and a relationship being laid in its grave. I spent most of my childhood watching them trying to one-up the other and always wanting to be right. Weirdly enough, in a phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes situation, the existence and failure of this relationship never made me wary of seeing the potential in someone to be my companion. In fact, if anything, it taught me what to look for in someone while looking for someone to spend a life with. For the mess that their relationship had turned into with time, it’s astonishing that it did not shape me into a cynical person or worse, a bitter one.
In an ideal world, I would’ve loved to see them thriving together and nurturing a family as a unit, bringing their individual perspectives and creating something new together every single day. If there is anything more painful than losing a loved one, I would imagine that it is losing a loved one to life and it’s many speed-bumps. It is only natural that anything that you put your heart and soul into, you wouldn’t want to see crumbling away. One of the reasons why it became an uphill task for me to put this together is because of the fact that subconsciously I’m deeply aware of the peaks and pits of this relationship and standing too close to a fire is obviously going to leave behind more than a few burns. I have written and re-written a story of love that died many deaths before it finally decided to cut the cord for good. One part of me has accepted its fate and the other part of me holds on to hope as the last resort in this apocalyptic world.
When I see my parents being young and hopeful in photographs, it makes me wonder about all the beautiful things that would have sprung from their feeling so great about being each other’s go-to people. It also makes me question my belief that love has the capacity to evolve with time. Of course, my sibling and I are proof of that affection but love, in its peak does more wonders than one could expect; and yet, when it fades away like the sun at dusk, there isn’t much room for anything else to exist – sort of like an abandoned town haunted by the whispers of the people that inhabited it.