What really is Romance?

This is the old nursery rhyme about the life of Solomon Grundy. It was taught to teach the children about days in the week. But to me, it is also philosophical about the life of humans. On Wednesday Solomon marries and dies on Saturday. The real romance in life is the story about the days from Wednesday to Saturday. Let me explain. The bliss, the glory, the charm of marriage, honeymoon and romance is generally discussed and described like  like you are watching a movie. Everything is slick and glorious, beautiful people and lovely couples, fantastic locations and oh, the bliss! But it is like only talking about Wednesday from Solomon Grundy’s life when he got married, he had Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in his life too. Real life is vastly different from the film version. It is not a bed of roses but it is a bed roses, after a storm, when the petals are withered and thorns are there, ready to pierce your delicate skin!

Come on, I am not cynical. But I am practical and pragmatic. The romance depicted in films is during courtship, marriage, honeymoon and initial phase of marriage. It is only about Wednesday! Arrive the children or thoughts about children, and things become different. At this stage, two distinct things happen. Either children arrive, or the couples are unsuccessful in conceiving; 10% of the couples remain childless, so some adopt and some don’t. Minuscule % decide not to have children as an option. This phase increases complexities of life, ten folds.

From this phase, romance does not go for a toss, but the definition of romance changes and keeps on evolving. The film variety of romance slowly goes for a toss. Career graph goes up, responsibilities go up, children are around, (or couples go into a vicious circle of conceiving) finances become tighter. Thanks to EMI’s. You have a beautiful home, expensive car; chances are that cash remaining, at the end of the month, is not much more than beginning of the career. You go to a mall on Sunday, your older child throws tantrums for some toy. You are trying to manage the child, and the younger one pukes on the mother’s new dress. You cut short your outing, it’s raining outside, somehow you manage to reach the car! Put on the music that the older child loves, not your favourite song, naturally! Younger one finally goes to sleep, while driving, you caress your spouse’s hand! That is the new definition of romance!

After a decade of marriage, if things go well, you don’t need any more proof about the wellness of the situation. What you have instead, is the most deeply romantic thing of all reassurance, that it’s okay to be a human being. Because until you feel absolutely sure that you won’t be abandoned by your partner, you may not be sure that your partner can tolerate you. The smells. The sounds. Continuous need to keep everything neat and proper at home, to keep your life on track! Till you start accepting that some things are going go out of control, you will feel unnerved by your own terrible mortal humanness. Well, we all go through situations that we may not like but become part of our life. But at the end of the day when the war zone has quietened down, you tell your spouse, “Hey how about some coffee with Geeta Dutt songs?” This is the newer romance, though you know what romance you had in mind has just evaporated for that night!

Wife returns back home looking tense. Their favourite doggy runs to her, she hugs the doggy, “Oh! You missed mamma, my love!” Picks him up. After a few minutes, she looks at the children and smiles.” How was your day kids? I am sure, everything was alright?” Children hug her, and she goes to the washroom. Children also missed their mamma! Drinks her glass of water then turns to the husband and without saying anything goes to their bedroom. Husband follows her, kisses her on the forehead and holds her hand. She just says, “I have such back pain, and that idiot boss is giving me a headache.” “I will make you some green tea, love.” Husband goes to the kitchen, smiling. Look at the sequence. All the love was given to the doggy who cannot say anything in return. Children could have thrown tantrums but didn’t, and had tough exams that day. Husband, of course, is at the bottom of the pecking order. He just had been ditched about his promotion at the office. He had the right to make the biggest noise. He had also missed the mamma! But he went into the kitchen to make tea! That my friends are romance!

When couples learn to cope with tough times, survive major crises, you are learning the art of living. As you grow older, you are together less often, and when you are, you have probably forgotten the “filmy” romance. Maybe you use this time to discuss and resolve other issues which have gone on a back burner. Through all these tough calls you learn to care for each other, support each other, help each other. That my friends is romance.

It is time to go to bed and like two old people you crawl into it. You tell each other about the weird things that your kids said that day and laugh and tell stupid jokes and giggle. Then maybe you feel like making out, but you don’t, or perhaps you feel like solving your crossword puzzle or read a couple of pages of a romantic novel. You say “Hey, your feet are cold why don’t you wear socks?” and “My back hurts,” that’s romantic.  You really hope this romance will last forever. You savour the repetitive, mundane rhythms of survival, and you want to keep surviving. You want to muddle through the messiness of life together as long as you possibly can. That is the peak point of your life. Savour it. That is the very definition of romance.

I am talking of latter stage romance. Someone is dying in the bed, and the spouse is sitting at the bedside, holding the dying person’s hand, and also handling all kinds mundane things that need to be done on a daily basis in our lives, for example, putting away trash and doing the laundry. Just because someone may die in the very near future, these things cannot stop. To me, that’s romance. Romance is surviving, romance is letting life go on in most onerous of the situations. Romance is cooking food in those circumstances and hoping to give the dying person the food loved by that person.

Caring for your partner, supporting each other in tough times, coming out of tough situations in life, knowing that many more such circumstances await in future and showing keenness to achieve normalcy, is romance. With such understanding, your romance will start on Wednesday and last till Sunday from the Solomon Grundy rhyme, the day he was buried!

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