There was a time when the hugsband, before he was the husband, was all about the physical displays of affection. A large part of the charm he played on me had to do with his impeccable timing in doing all the right things at the right time. The timely bouquet of yellow roses that arrived at my home even before I did after a three-day crazy corporate-film schedule. Our Sunday-dates that were incomplete without him driving over to pick me up, producing a flower or appropriate object of adoration every time I turned away. The way he gently took my hand in his when we crossed the road, no matter that most times, I am usually the one firmly striding away ahead of him. Even today he hastily chucks a blanket over me, every night, short of tucking me into bed. He was the sort who didn’t pass up a single opportunity to steal a hug, and the only boy I’ve ever dated who preferred to sit next to me (on the same side of the table), than across me.
I learned the first lessons of a relationship growing thanks to VC, when a relationship invariably reaches a point where it is no longer a self-involved bubble for just the two people involved. It was more than heartening to see how easily he was able to adapt to my family, blend in, and most importantly, make all those same physical displays of affection, with genuine openness. Whether it was hugging my folks when they came visiting, giving the sister an earnest pep talk when she most needed it, trying to blend in with my friends, going out of his way to make things work for us as a larger unit.
They say actions speak louder than words, and yes it’s true for the most part. I hang on to memories of VC’s actions even today. When I mock him about how he no longer feels the need to surprise me with flowers. Or chooses to sit across from me (to aid easier conversation, duh!) these days. My attempts to poke and prod him do nothing to him, though. He’s steadfast in his ways, knows that the small measured ways of showing his affection are what come naturally, and what mean the most.
When friends ask me just how much the love changes when you marry someone you’ve dated for so long, I’m tempted to say nothing does. But that would be a lie. Things change. But it’s a good kind of change, to have moved on from large, outward displays of affection that I looked out for and treasured, that gave me a sense of security, to knowing that these days it’s not so much about the actions. They don’t always speak louder than words.
These days it’s the words I hang on to.
“I don’t want to go without you,” he said last week, the evening before he left for Bangalore, when I was still a coughing, wheezing mess.
“I miss you when I’m having fun,” he said all the way from Bangalore, blissed with all the handcrafted beer he’d had in his belly.
“What have you done? You’re looking so nice,” he said this morning, when he returned and I opened to door to help him with his suitcases.
There may be no bouquet of yellow roses waiting for me when I get home, but it’s nice to get a call out of the blue, when I’m pottering about the kitchen, wondering what to cook for dinner. Pulao, I decide, quickly thinking up a way to make it sound palatable for VC. The phone rings just as I begin slicing up an onion and I answer it.
“Do you want to go on a date tonight?” he asks, “feels like we haven’t talked in so long*.”
So yes, things change. If I looked for the actions, looking for hidden meaning, hoping they’d be louder than the words then, these days I hang on to the words, the little surprise utterances that come suddenly, unexpectedly. It’s like the difference between snappy grape juice — young and zingy to taste, the sweet-sourness washing away with every sip — and the deep, full bodied flavours of wine — heavy, warm and that linger around long after you have taken a sip. If those were the years of sharp, energetic ways of the young, I feel like a we’re a well-aged wine. If that was all about bold actions, these days it does feel like it’s all in the words. Small, simple as they may be. It’s all in the words.
*PS: he was only gone for 3 days.