Love endures

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it
is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily
angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always
hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails”. (1Corinthians 13:4-8)
She
read these verses from the Bible again. She had read these verses many
times before, but it always brought tears in her eyes. Her emotions
stirred, the past came in front of her eyes. The tears were difficult to
control today. They just came flowing down like a stream. Sorrow was
hard to hide and pain was hard to bear. These words always made her
believe in love and strengthened her faith in it. She did everything she
could to live up to these words. The verses always reminded her of
someone, her special one- the love of her life. He wasn’t with her now.
All that remained of him were his memories. It had been 10 years ago, on
this day that he left her!
It was still dark outside. The sun
hadn’t risen yet. But she was awake every day before dawn. It had been
her habit for all these years. She got up, opened the window, stood
there and let the wind blow through her face. Her tears dried, but her
pain never ceased. She thought of him. How would he have looked now? He
was handsome, always smartly dressed. He would have looked handsome even
now. She walked to the mirror and looked at herself. She looked older
than she was. She was beautiful before but the pain had taken its toll.
Her beauty was lost to the struggle she went through when he left. She
wasn’t like this before. She may not have been the most beautiful woman,
but her simplicity gave her a charm that none could match. That was he
had told when they met for the first time, “Your simplicity is your
charm. I’m flattered.” Flashback! She remembered their story- her love
story!

The household of the Pinto’s was filled with activity
that day. There were people coming to see their daughter, Mary.
Everyone loved Mary. There was something about her that made everyone
happy. She was kind, gentle and brought cheer all around. She was a
loving and responsible daughter to her mother who had lost her husband
at a young age and had to bear the responsibility of bring up her 5
children single handedly, of whom Mary was the eldest. Mary was just 15
when her father left her. But even then, she had understanding beyond
her years. She had just completed her Class 10 examinations then and as
everybody had expected she had done well. She would’ve got a seat in any
college of repute, but she chose not to and decided to go to the local
college. Reason? There were two. One, she didn’t have the money and two
she didn’t want to go away when her mother needed her. She studied and
also worked at the fields. She became a mother to her siblings. Yes, she
was hurt. But she chose not to bring out her emotions. She became an
introvert, never sharing her feelings with anyone. Work kept her busy
and she didn’t have time to bother about herself. She completed college
and got a job. Life improved for her family.
It was time now to get
Mary married. Mary never thought about getting married. She was
satisfied with life as it had been then. But her mother wanted to see
Mary happily married and left no stone unturned in searching a boy for
Mary. There had been many alliances for Mary, but she refused them all.
She never wanted anybody to get close to her. And she didn’t take any
interest in meeting this man who was coming to meet her. She only agreed
to meet him to keep her mother happy. And then he came!
He wasn’t
like the others who had come to meet her. He was different. He had a
certain aura about himself that made her give him a chance. The
discussions between the families began. She looked at him and he looked
at her. Their eyes met, but none of them spoke. He wanted to speak to
her. He wanted to know her better. But how could he do so when everyone
was around? “Excuse me”, he said and all eyes were drawn to him. “I’m
sorry for interrupting your discussions. But I need to talk to Mary. Can
I? , he asked . “Of course, you can! Speak to her now. We are all
here”, came the reply. But he didn’t want to talk to her there in front
of everyone. He knew she wouldn’t speak freely when everyone was around
and so wanted to take her outside. “Can Mary and I go for a walk in the
fields?” he asked. “What?” A boy and girl were not allowed to talk in
private until they were engaged. He knew that well, but he also knew
that he had to talk to her in private. “Do you know what you are asking
for? Don’t you know our customs and traditions? You can talk to her
here, right before us. But you can’t take her outside now”. “But I have
to! I need to talk to her alone before we take a decision” he retorted.
He kept giving his reasons for it. Mary saw all this. There was
something different about this man and she knew that well. Even she had
the urge to talk to him. She wasn’t interested in meeting him before and
in her indifference, she even forgot his name. For the first time in
her life, somebody wanted to talk to her about her. “Even I want to talk
to him in private. So can we go out please?” she asked. Silence.
Discussions. And finally, they agreed.
It was 5 in the evening and
the lush green fields looked beautiful. The light breeze beckoned them
to walk further. He looked at her. She wore a light pink saree which
looked stunning on her. She was fair. There was no hint of any make up
on her face. Her silky hair was tied up in a clip which he felt like
removing. A few strands of hair fell on her face with the breeze and she
pushed them back. She was simple, she was plain. Yet, she was
beautiful. They stopped near a tiny stream. “Hi! I’m Francis” he said.
Her lips curved into a smile, the first smile of hers that he had seen.
“Hi! I’m Mary” she replied. There was an awkward silence between them.
But sometimes even silence is beautiful. ‘Come on, speak’ he told
himself. But he didn’t know what to speak. He just wanted to see her and
admire her angelic beauty. A few questions about each other’s work
followed. She was quite reserved, her replies were crisp and to the
point. Nothing more, nothing less. It hurt him a little. He wanted her
to talk, he wanted to know her better. “Mary, tell me honestly. Don’t
you want to talk to me? Tell me” . She was quiet. “Tell me Mary” he
pleaded. Tears came down from her eyes. He had never wanted to hurt her
and couldn’t bear to see her crying. He liked this girl a lot. He asked
the question he feared the most “Do you love somebody else?”. She cried
more and managed to utter a feeble “No”. “Then why are you crying
Mary?”. “I’ve never spoken to anybody about myself. I’ve always kept my
thoughts, my feelings to myself. I never had someone who would listen to
me or would ask when something was wrong. I kept hiding my feelings so
much that now my feelings are almost dead. So when you asked me to tell
more about myself, I didn’t know what to tell. It hurt me that I didn’t
know myself”.
He was shocked. He was sad that he had brought tears
in her eyes. He held her hands; she hesitated and pulled them back. But
his grip was firm. “Look at me” he said. She obeyed. She looked into his
eyes. He was handsome. She felt better being there with him. He made
her feel secure. “Mary, I understand that all these days you didn’t have
anybody to share your feelings and your thoughts with. But now, things
are different. I promise to be there for you. I promise to share all
your joys and sorrows. I promise I’ll keep you happy always. But I
promise all this only if you agree. I don’t want to marry you unless
you want me to. Even I never gave much thought to getting married and
settling down. I came here just to make my parents happy. But the moment
I saw you, I knew you were special. Your simplicity is your charm. I’m
flattered. And now I know, you are the one for me. Mary, will you marry
me?” He waited eagerly for her reply. She was quiet for some time. And
then she spoke just one word – “Yes” she said. He was happy. Both of
them had tears in their eyes and this time they were tears of joy. As
the sun set, they hugged. They hurried back before anybody could come in
search of them.
They announced their decision to get married and the
news was welcome to both their families. The wedding took place as
planned. After the wedding, they were off to the city where he worked
and she also found a job there. She had found not only her life partner
but also her best friend in him. He was happy to have her around. She
kept him happy and he kept her happy. She was more cheerful now and
seeing her that way gave him pleasure. They were blessed with two
beautiful children, a girl and a boy. They had their share of problems,
but their togetherness always gave them the strength to bear all
difficulties bravely. They fought sometimes, but they were back together
within a few hours. When they were upset with each other, they read the
Bible. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not
boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is
not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight
in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always
trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails”.
(1Corinthians 13:4-8) became their favorite verses. They were happy,
they were satisfied. But it wasn’t to be happily ever after.
It was
just after their 10th wedding anniversary, that he fell sick. She was
there to take care of him as always. But something wasn’t right this
time around. Instead of getting better, his condition became worse. And
then the worst came true. He was diagnosed with Cancer- last stage. The
doctors told that he had just 6 months more to live. Mary was shattered.
She didn’t tell the news to Francis. He kept asking her what the
doctors told but she kept assuring him that he would be fine. But
Francis knew that something was amiss and that he would be dying soon.
She kept looking after him, day and night. And though he was in pain he
tried not to show it as he didn’t want her to be worried. She hid her
sorrow to keep him happy and he hid his pain to see her happy. Both of
them knew that the end was fast approaching. It was true love that they
shared and their favorite verses gave them the strength. The end came as
the doctors had predicted. He passed away with her by his side and the
last words he uttered were “Mary, I love you!”.
She was broken
completely after his death. She had lost her husband, her best friend
and her life. The only reason why she was alive was because of her
children- the fruits of their love. Most of the dreams they had dreamt
of together didn’t come true. She was alone in that city and had the
responsibility of bringing up those little kids. She didn’t know what to
do, she didn’t know how to manage all of it alone. She found a letter
addressed to her at his bedside. She hurriedly tore the envelope open
and started reading it.
Dear Mary,
Let me tell you that I love you
a lot. But I know something is wrong. I know I’m sick and that my
health is deteriorating with every passing day. And I know you are
hiding something from me. I know we never kept secrets from each other
and I know you well enough that this time you are hiding it from me for a
reason. I don’t mind that. But I’m sad that I’m not able to keep you
happy. I’m troubling you more than I ever should.
The day I met you
was the best day of my life. I’ve loved you a lot ever since. I love you
more than my life. We’ve had our share of joys and sorrows, but have
faced everything together. I feel really sorry for the times I hurt you
and I fought with you. I never did anything intentionally. But you have
always been my strength. You have made me happy. You have cared for me
always. And I love you for everything.
I know this may be my last
letter to you. And I’m happy that you’ve been with me through this
journey of life. I know that the journey will be difficult for you
hereafter. But always remember I’m with you. You showed me what love is
and I know your love for others will help you. I know you will take good
care of our children and bring them up well and see them successful in
life. I know you are a strong woman. I know you will face life bravely.
I love you,Mary. I will love you always. I wish I die with you by my side. Take care.
Yours lovingly,
Francis
She had tears in her eyes when she read it and vowed to face life bravely!

She
searched for that letter and found it and smelt it. It brought him
closer to her. She wanted to go back in time and have him back ever
again. “Good morning, Mumma”. She was drawn back to reality. It was her
daughter who came and hugged her tight! It had been a decade since
Francis left and her children were teenagers now and so far they were
doing well. She had always found strength thinking about his love and
the faith he had in her. Love endured!

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