I was in search for a story for Valentine’s week for my article. But this time I needed something fresh. Not the same old lovey-dovey narrative.
One of my friends gave me the address of his uncle who, he said, lives mostly a secluded life. He said I wouldn’t regret it.
Frank, his uncle, had agreed after a lot of persuasion (by my friend) and finally appointed me time for an interview.
I was sitting on a couch in a two-bedroom house located in the suburban part of city with two coffee mugs on table and Frank, 72, sat on his chair right in front of me. His grey hair, upright stature and very serious look gave me feeling of a retired army person.
A woman, who looked like in her 60s-70s too, came out of one of the rooms looking lost.
“Where is Arthur?”
Frank told her he’s at school.
“Who are you?”, she questioned him.
“I live right next door, remember? I’m Frank. Let us put you in bed, you might be tired.”
Frank took her into the room, the lady still looked confused.
After a while, Frank came back and sat on his chair.
“Who was the lady?”, I asked.
“Well, she’s one of the person you’re here for, besides me.”
I was confused.
“Your wife, then?” I inquired.
“That wish was never fulfilled”, Frank said without any change in his expressions.
“Her youngest son. He’s gone abroad and he’s not young anymore.”
I might’ve had a perplexed look which Frank read and immediately began with the story…
“I met Martha in High School. We were the best of friends. We grew very close. By the end of college, we knew we’d marry one another. We spent most of our time together caring for one another, fighting, quarrelling on petty things, but most of all, in love.
Her parents were quite well to do and didn’t agree when they came to know about it. She was married off in a rich household. I was devastated and I knew she was too.
My family pressured me and I married too.
Lives went on. She bore three sons. She was more fond of the youngest, Arthur.
I had a good life too, unfortunately I didn’t have kids.
About 20 years later, I saw her again, she worked in an office just next to mine. Her husband had passed off two years before. Her hair had started greying.
I was living a long solitude life after my wife left me within five years of our marriage.
We became best of friends yet again! She talked about her life, how she managed the kids now, how she overcame difficult times all by herself. We had a lot of evening coffees together. Occasionally I’d stop by her house to have dinner. Her sons liked me. We had a great time together for the next two years but neither of us really hit off with any romantic thoughts. One evening, she suggested I should date someone and I joked saying I was getting old. She looked at me for long and then smiled, shaking her head. Perhaps, I didn’t figure it out then what she was trying to say.
Two years later she changed the city. She got a better job, her eldest son was in college. We still remained in touch. She occasionally called to check up on me and I called sometimes to know how she and the kids were doing.
I lost contact after a while.
About a year ago, a mutual friend called me up. She said Martha was in a nursing home. I went there. I was told she was diagnosed with dementia and was here for quite a while. Her sons all went abroad and had settled leaving her here, although Arthur’s cheques of her fees came every month.
She doesn’t remember much these days and often goes back to behaving as if in some past memory.
It’s been a year since I brought her home. She might not know me anymore but I plan to take care of her for as long as I live.”
Frank looked towards her room and then blankly looked on…