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Opening my heart

- By Chithambaran T S, Manager, Chennai

One of those evenings, I read the words, "Love is love, only when it becomes visible". Few syllables, but they swept me off my feet! My life was rewound to my childhood days. I was my grandmother's favourite grandchild as I shared my name with my late grandfather. The images of her fragile body clad in a saffron saree wearing white fragrant Vibhuti on her forehead, limping a little while walking around and playing with me, are etched in my memory.

She used to pamper me a lot by fulfilling all my eccentric wishes. When I grew up, my parents used to tell me that I was often not very nice to her. Indeed, I did play many a pranks to trouble her! However, I don't recollect a single instance when she had lashed out in or complained to my parents. She was always there to forgive me and protect me from my father who was a strict disciplinarian. However, not once do I remember going and sitting in her lap and telling her how special she is to me. I took her love for granted.

I had three siblings and sometimes we would play together for hours, while other times we would fight like cats and dogs. Yet, a memory remains with me, when they all showed me how much I meant to them. It was Janmashtami, and all of us were eagerly waiting to taste all the different kinds of sweets which my mother had prepared that day. She asked us to go and play in the compound outside our house for a while, so that she could offer the mouth watering items to God and then give it to all of us.

We readily obliged. I quickly climbed up the mango tree and started swinging vigorously on one of the branches. In a matter of seconds, I found myself flat on the ground with blood oozing out of the wound on my right knee. My father immediately rushed me to the clinic! As there was a long queue at the clinic, we could return home only at half past ten at night.

My sister and brothers were wide awake waiting anxiously for my return. To my surprise, I observed that all the sweets and savouries were kept in front of the idol and no one had even tasted it. The fact that all of them waited for me really touched me. But, I didn't say a word to anyone. Due to ignorance, I never reciprocated the feelings of my family although I loved them wholeheartedly. I took their love for granted.

My sister getting married and going to her house taught me something very valuable. It made me realize that when she was with me, I never wanted to express anything to her, and now that she wasn't around, I found my heart full of wonderful things that I wanted to share. I also realized that I had lost some close relationships around me - be it to death or even a trivial misunderstanding without letting those people know how much they meant to me. At those moments, when the relationship was active no more, I would feel like sharing so much with the person. I would feel their loss acutely and yet, there was nothing I could do about it. Long after my grandmother's death I would go and sit in her room and smell the vibhuti that she applied and try to re-create her before my eyes!

I did start realizing the importance of expressing, gradually, but somehow I found it extremely embarrassing to say the words, or indulge in gestures which spoke. Foolishly, I believed I did not belong to the modern hugging / kissing and 'I Love You' society. Even with my wife, although I felt immensely grateful to her for gifting me a happy, peaceful marriage, somehow I could never say the words to her. My daughter Aishwaria, my little angel too probably felt my love but could never see or hear it.

The sentence, "Love is love, only when it is visible" shook me completely! It made me realize what a fool I had been! For forty years I had been existing, but not living; loving, but not expressing. My eyes had been shut, my ears blocked, my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth. This single sentence gave me the answers for all my worries, melancholy, and depressions. Truly, it was a revelation. I understood that what makes us human is our capacity to love. To not express this sacred feeling was like keeping the idol of God at home but never praying to it, never connecting to it, never speaking to it.

With today's maturity, I feel, if I love someone, I must let them know this - as often as possible! My relationship with my wife, Brinda has become stronger since that morning when I opened my heart and said "You are the most beautiful love I have ever had in my life. The way you touch my heart so deeply is my strength and hope for each day. I love you more dearly than I could ever truly express" Tears of joy rolled down my wife's cheeks, and belatedly I realized, mine too.

I hug Aishwaria, I speak to her softly and let her know as often as possible how much she means to me. These days, she comes running towards me and jumps into my arms letting me know what heaven feels like.

Expressions of love are as important as love itself. Finally, I have learnt. A little pat, a long hug, a ruffle on the hair, a touch on the hand, a soft, "I love you", yes, my life seems so much more meaningful.

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