It was a grey afternoon. The clouds looked pregnant with fresh showers. The cold monsoon winds that blew whispered to every person, flower and home about the oncoming rains. I was sitting with my grandfather by the pond while he caught fish. The first few drops of rain created ripples in the pond warning us that we seek shelter, but my grandfather was not moved. He kept sipping at his pipe and kept waiting for more. Of course he had his hat for protection but looking at the clouds the tiny hat seemed but a joke against the oncoming downpour. I like to experience rains from the warm inside of a home. As one frog croaked loud I told my grandpa that I am moving indoors.
Immersed in his fishing, he simply nodded his head.
Stepping inside I smelt coffee brewing for the afternoon coffee time. The house felt warm, dry and inviting enough to laze in a couch with a book while watching the rain drizzling from an old windowpane.
As I settled in I saw my grandma get ready to go out with a raincoat in hand. She was dressed in one with boots to match.
‘Where are you headed to?’ I asked surprised.
‘Well, to join my old man, where else?’
But it’s going to shower so heavily I protested.
‘That’s the whole idea!’ she said and winked and moved out leaving me gaping after her.
I don’t understand my grandparents. They seem to resist nothing in life. They do not like to colour their hair like their friends do. When once I suggested this to my grandma, my grandpa was furious and told me,
‘Why do you want to take away her beauty? Does not the grey in her hair look like fairy dust? Moreover, the appearance of fine lines, grey hair and insanity in my girl is proof that we are living what many young lovers dream of. To grow old together. Why do you want to ruin the reality with the artificial assurance?’
‘What insanity?’ my grandma had retorted then while completely agreeing to my grandpa.
As I watched them from the warm and comfort of a home, two people in raincoats braving the wind and fishing in the mild drizzle that started I saw two young hearts who embraced life. In all her shades. Old age is just one more exhilarating shade of life that they are hell bent to explore while feeling blessed that they are together. At one point I saw the wind remove the hood of my grandpa’s raincoat. My grandma struggled to put it back while giving out a full throated laughter that seemed to amuse even the wind that settled down. As the drizzle threatened to come down in serious showers, and the wind became stronger, I saw both prepare to come inside. Grandma carried the fishing rods while grandpa hurried inside with his catch.
‘What’s the urgency in getting drenched,’ I asked grandma as she came in with a beaming smile and partially wet by the mild drizzle.
‘We never miss the first rains of the season. It is another of the firsts that we are privileged to experience. Why not experience it unrestrained?’ Was her plain simple reply. Grandpa went all soaked carrying the fish into the kitchen.
Hot showers and a change of dry clothes later, we all sat by the dining table to have the evening coffee.
The sound of pouring coffee, moving cutlery and conversation of my grandparents made up the coffee time. Through the window, I could see the rain kiss the windowpane momentarily and go down to hug the earth. The room emanated a mix of an earthy smell, coffee and home-made snacks. As we ate and spoke, the rain ceased and the last orange sunrays lit up the room. As if on cue, I looked at where it fell and saw my grandparents’ face. I could see deepened laughter lines on my grandmother’s face. It spoke of the times that they laughed together. I saw the deepening lines on each one’s forehead. It spoke of the struggles of life that they won together. I saw the silver hair, or fairy dust as my grandparents would name it. It spoke of a lifetime spent together.
As I looked at them I realised that old age is graceful, when you do not try to conceal it. I looked out in reflection and I saw a gorgeous rainbow outside.
‘My favourite part of the season’s first rain’, my grandmother said and went out. Grandfather followed her with his mug of still unfinished coffee. I went out to join them with mine.
‘So beautiful’, she exclaimed looking at it. My grandpa stood next to her sipping in his coffee while looking at the rainbow.
The rain still came in a mild drizzle. The earth gave out her beautiful scent. As I stood next to them and observed their passion about living the simplest of moments together, I realised that old age is beautiful when you live it unrestrained. Just when a fruit is sweeter when it is ripe, old age is a phase that is sweeter only when lived and accepted as it is. There is no wisdom or beauty in trying to stop time. Time is beautiful the way she is. Only if we let her express herself freely.
I came out of the moment when my grandma said – ‘Oh I forgot to bring the clothes in.’
‘How can you keep forgetting the same thing for 40 years?’ my grandpa exclaimed!
‘Just like you can keep loving the same woman for forty years’ my grandma replied and winked at me. My grandpa looked at me for consolation while laughing at his beloved wife.
‘Women!’ He replied nodding his head.
‘Women!’ I agreed.