“2 weeks before our 60th anniversary, when I’d gone to meet her, she said, ‘This might be our last anniversary together,’ and I broke down”

“I first met Mary 60 years ago– our alliance was fixed by a relative. A few weeks before our engagement, my sister and I went to meet her. I still remember, she walked towards me in an off white saree; I was shamelessly staring. For me, it was love at first sight. But when my father-in-law found out that my sister and her 9 kids lived with us, he backed out. Mary and I refused to back pedal; we got married without his permission.

For the first 8 years, we were in a long distance marriage– we worked in 2 different districts; we’d only meet on the weekend. But after we had kids, Mary compromised for our family and took on a junior position so that she could move back.

Our love was in the little things that we did together– the two of us sipping chai on our patio whilst our kids played in the backyard made a perfect evening. I’d kiss her when the kids weren’t looking; how she’d blush! You won’t believe it, but the first time I took her out on a trip was 24 years after our wedding.

After our kids got married, I hoped that Mary and I’d get more time together but in 1990, Mary found a lump in her chest. She had breast cancer; I was shattered. For the first time, I imagined life without my Mary– I was filled with regrets about not having given her enough time and confessing my love more often.

After her breast removal operation, Mary found solace in gardening and praying, but I was constantly worried that the cancer might come back. In 2006, she lost vision in her right eye and 2 years ago, I faced my worst fear– the cancer came back; the doctors said that Mary couldn’t take chemo because of her age. I watched her die, day by day. This year, it became severe; Mary was admitted to the hospital. Because of the pandemic, I wasn’t allowed to visit her often.

Just 2 weeks before our 60th anniversary, when I’d gone to meet her, she said, ‘This might be our last anniversary together,’ and I broke down. She looked so weak– she asked for a kiss; I pecked her on the cheek. She sobbed bitterly because she couldn’t kiss me back. I reassured her, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll be back in 2 weeks.’

But on the morning of our anniversary, my son called and said, ‘Ammachi is no more.’ I fell to the floor– it was as if Mary had clung onto her life only for our anniversary. I held her hands; kissed her on the forehead and said, ‘I love you Mary.’

It’s been over 2 months since she left me– I cry every time I think of her. I have sleepless nights and can’t think of anything but her; how she’d pat my head until I fell asleep. I’ve started writing a book about her, the little things we did together– I don’t want to forget even a moment. I’m just counting the days until I can be reunited with my Mary again.”

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