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I went for a walk today, because had to make a call and the phone gave up on me. It was early, and people were out to get their bit of exercise, sun and companionship. As I sauntered along, I saw this rather serious looking old couple, straining to keep pace with each other, both actually walking very slowly, hand in hand, both definitely past their seventies.I do not know the secret to their success, I do not know if they thought of it as such a success, biding their time one day after the other, hand in hand.

But there has to be a secret. And I knew I had to write about it, if only because writing it out would sort out some things inside my head.

I thought about my parents, the things they tried to tell me, the stories they passed on. But by the time we begin to realise that our parents were so right in some of the things they said, we have our children already who disagree with what we have to say. That is the way of the human race, I suppose, of our evolution. But I wish there were certain recipes we all learnt, as unbiased, axiomatic truth.

I wish we learned that there is no replacement for human compassion and understanding, and ultimately, love. I wish we learned how to put others before us sometimes and not always think of ourselves alone. That, being human, we all need a tangible expression of the love people bear us. That all of us need consistency from others and the only way to get it is to be it.

I somehow cannot imagine love being born. To me, it is like an endless river flowing into itself.

All life forms drink from it. All of us drink from it, and some of us do so in excess. Becoming drunk, we want to flow with it. Some of these drunken spirits become Christ or the Prophet, and some Romeo and Juliet. But the human frame of body and mind is not capable of handling the excess, so we crucify Christ and let Romeo and Juliet perish.

I realize that intense relationships have to mellow down with time or are else unsustainable. To survive, they have to end in parting or as in the extreme and well-cited cases end in demise of one or the other.

A mating of souls does not allow the bodies to survive for long as these are used up as candles to the flame, and the flame is never stronger than when the candle is at its shortest.

So we cannot all have intense loves in our daily lives; not all of us are bestowed intensity and that is good for the survival of human beings as a race.

Imagine all of us being twenty-one and killing ourselves for love!

We cannot survive it to our eighties and still be madly in love, without the aid of some form of tragedy or deprivation.

So what do that bent old man and the upright lady beside him feel as they walk side by side?

Is it a form of habit? Is it getting used to the other person as one gets used to one’s favourite armchair? I would love to ask, I but am sure there are no correct answers that hold true for each one of us. We have to inividually work out our answers, our desires, our ambition, our wishes, our fondest dreams.

For me, I for sure hope I get to walk with someone I have cherished when I am eighty and the sun on my back seems younger than I am.

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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