During high school, while I was writing a paper on my grandfather’s personal history in Kashmir and elsewhere, I asked him when he realized he loved his wife and wanted to marry her, a girl who was his junior by many years. He laughed and said “ask moojee (his nickname for her)!” I turned to her and in true sarcastic wit, she shrugged and said, “he was my tutor and he fell in love with me first.”
Growing up, I’ve seen my grandfather come into the kitchen after a long day of working outside in the yard, running errands, going to get fresh milk from the cows, wrangling 15 grand kids to go to the zoo, to the lake and walking with makeshift sticks, and sit down in the kitchen chair. He would sit and tell her about his day and what he did and what grandchild did what and where he took us. She would listen, make him his chai in a cup and saucer and he would slowly pour it into the saucer to cool off. I would sit next to him, also ask for some chai (more milk in mine because I was young) and copy him down to the last gesture. I still remember him taking long sips from the saucer, sitting cross legged, skull cap on his head with his glasses hanging off his neck. For an extra treat, he would take a jelabi and toss it into his chai to eat.
Both of them have been through a lot of health issues, surgeries (my grandfather’s wolf once bit my grandma on the leg) and old age has caught up. This past summer, my grandmother ended up in the hospital and everyone thought she wouldn’t make it. I would ask my mother what my grandfather thought, but he’s been battling his own demons: forgetfulness and thinking he has a job to get to. The saddest thing in all of their relationship was how he would either forget he was married at all or alternate and get very worried about his wife.
“67 years, they’ve been married for 67 years,” my mom says to me.