We sat; our hands tightly held under the table, our hearts beating as one, this time not in love, but in grief common to both of us.
We had not sat, like this when in 2005, she and I made this journey together to meet what she called an integral part of her body, mind and soul. That day, at Koshy’s Bangalore, India, we had sat wide apart, because, I only needed to be around, but not right next to her.
The smoky, noisy restaurant was divided into two parts then. One side where people blew smoke in the air, shouted loudly and drank their Sunday Beer. On the other was a quiet space, quite like a fine dining space and we walked through the glass door and seated ourselves on different tables. I sat with my magazine and she sat calmly by the window at the far end of the room, strategically sitting in a spot that would make her visible to anyone coming in from the doorway.
Her looks were deceptive; inside she was trembling like a leaf in April, about to fall from a bel tree. After 17 long years she was going to see someone, who was the closest person she would ever have in her life. I was only a partner, not her child!
When the door opened, I saw a face, which was so close to my partners', I could have even identified him to be my partner’s son, in the middle of the most crowded street. He did not know, that his cousin, who was with him had hidden the fact that this lunch at Koshy’s was going to be with his mother.
I left the scene at that moment, taking my eyes off my partner and focusing on the magazine instead. The tremble of hearts caught in a twist of fate, that brought them willy-nilly face to face with each other, was not in my imagination, because a good two hours later, after much conversation and small morsels eaten, the young and handsome lad, now doing his Ph.D in Purdue University, USA, along with his mother, my partner, came forth. She looked happy but exhausted too emotionally.
“This is my partner,” she said simply. I stood up and shook his hands. Then, we raced off to FabIndia on M G Road and in the car he and I talked about Mood Indigo and IIT, Mumbai, where he had passed out from, before he left for the US. His mother would have bought him the whole shop, if he wanted that day!
The meeting ended after this and then, it picked up later, only to fizzle out again. Hers was a constant longing to connect; his was inability to face the real, when in his mind, he had constructed an ‘unreal’ picture of her and preferred to live with it.
He had emulated all his mother had and it made me think of all those people we love but cannot have – would we also not emulate someone, we loved and lost, unconsciously? Is that not a way to keep the memory of that person alive in us? Would we not have found a way to live and let go, if we could live with the unreal, because, the real was not a part of our lives any more.
Life is a creative force: What you cannot have, you never forget; what you will never have, you become that.
This is why, when she and I sat to watch, Philomena, the movie, we held our hands tightly and silently under the table, our hearts beating as one, this time not in love, but in grief common to both of us.
“Based on the 2009 investigative book by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, PHILOMENA focuses on the efforts of Philomena Lee, mother to a boy conceived out of wedlock - something her Irish-Catholic community didn't have the highest opinion of - and given away for adoption in the United States. In following church doctrine, she was forced to sign a contract that wouldn't allow for any sort of inquiry into the son's whereabouts. After starting a family years later in England and, for the most part, moving on with her life, Lee meets Sixsmith, a BBC reporter with whom she decides to discover her long-lost son.” (From the web)
This is also why; I will not dine at Koshy’s again.