Monday, October 05, 2009

To Maria

Every time I open a fresh new notebook, before writing anything in it, I glance at it admiringly…so fresh...clean and white… that as you move it closer to your face, it brings a whiff of fragrance like a new born baby powdered with a dash of lavender.. There is a frailty of the untouched…unblemished piece of work which sometimes make you pause before you write those first words in a blank page…There is a feeling of responsibility because you are going to change the life of the notebook for ever…it might pass across several hands...its edges lose the fineness and the pages bereft of aroma of fresh papyrus…I am in a way the first person the book came across in its life…This is what I feel when I start writing the first letters on this book because you were just like this new book for me when I met you and I want you to know that it will remain like that forever… ~ Fred.


Fred was sitting at the hospital verandah where the shades from the maple tree nearby gave patients much needed relief that summer. After writing those few words in the moleskin notebook which he had bought, he relaxed back on his easy chair…intermittently closing his eyes in rhythm with sunrays that escaped through the thick foliage of leaves above….He was soon tired playing this game and closed his eyes, as if making a point to the sun that he was not interested in the mischief it was playing. And soon he drifted in his thoughts…

It was infact one sunny day several years ago, Fred and Maria got married at the Catholic Church in Cologne…

It was the 70’s and Germany was booming…..When the young Goan girl Maria arrived in the country she had no clue about her future…After studying nursing in Madgaon, she was one of the lucky few who got a job in Germany…. A place far different from sunny palm frilled Goa where the flavour of fresh fish curry cooked with coconut milk would hang in air till dusk…A place full of white people with pink cheeks and blue eyes, far different from tanned lean Goan men who took to the sea back in her hometown…But she was sure about one thing….she wanted to embrace the new land….

Maria quickly adapted to the new culture and place….She was the sprightly one among a bunch of Indian girls who where brought in by the catholic mission …Her eyes glowed in eagerness to the new sights and smells while others cowered in fear timidly…. She was the darling of german nuns who took a special liking to the cheerful girl from India who would sing and dance like Julie Andrews to the delight of the kids in the hospital where she was working…. There was a spring in her walk and a song in her heart which was hard to resist for anyone not to notice…And it was no surprise that a fellow Goan chap called Fred did not need much reason to talk to her…a talk which went on for long durations followed by long letters and poems and made official by something pretty short actually….when both eagerly said at the church to each other…”I do…….”

And it was a truly special time of their lives when they were looked upon as the perfect happy family by the whole community…As years passed by, Maria aged beautifully unlike others who were at peace with a age when people didn’t mind gaining a few pounds or greying hair…After all Maria was the athletic lady who would jog every day morning and cycle her way home along the Rhine promenade taking delight in the breeze that caressed her mind and cheeks alike… She was youthful as ever in mind and body in unison….Her children adored her and she was a lovely mother who deserved the adoration….Like the roses in her patio, the orchids and blueberries in the garden she was the color in epiphany for her kids and loved ones….

One day as usual Fred made the morning coffee and woke her up for their morning jog….But that day she was almost frozen…Maria told Fred she could not lift herself up from the bed…Two days later the doctors informed Fred that the paralysis which Maria was affected with was a rare kind off poisoning which affected her nervous system….She would be bed ridden for life…That day when Fred met Maria at her bedside they did not speak…after all in a beautiful relationship like theirs silence did speak a lot…

There were plenty of get well soon bouquets and cards at her hospital room…but the docs could not do anything but feel helpless about how unrealistic those wishes were… Fred’s close friends asked him to move back to Goa where he could live comfortably with his savings and Maria would be cared by nurses whom he could employ… After a few days Maria was lifted on to a wheel chair and taken home….to their little home in Cologne…

Fred held Maria’s limp hand and squeezed it…A tear fell down from Maria’s eyes in a desperate attempt to return the squeeze…but she couldn’t….From that day in 1983, Fred did what not many men have done…He became a mother for their kids…He cooked food for all three at home…He ran the house along with his regular job…He took care of his beloved wife’s needs….bathed her…fed her….Months later, to the surprise of the doctors Maria could finally walk with some help….

Maria is fade shadow of her older self…. She doesn’t anymore look like Julie Andrews…She cannot hold anything heavier than a pen…But her face effuses a glow of contentment… contentment of having a husband who took care of her… a contentment in being able to fight the doctor’s predictions….for being at peace with her unconventional life…

‘Uncle Fred…’….. Someone touched Fred’s shoulders…

The nurse at the hospital woke Fred from his thoughts…and he walks slowly back to the hospital…Maria would be discharged today after her annual blood transfusion....He held her frail yet warm hand and gives it a little squeeze…This time she squeezed back…..

In a few days, Fred and Maria would be celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary… Fred as always is never sure with birthday gifts….He is quite tense whether Maria would like his little birthday present….a brand new moleskin notebook with the preface he wrote that morning…Maria would write poems and bring color again………


P.S. inspired by a real life couple i know in Hamburg..taken liberty of fictionalising into a story..
P.P.S. Post dedicated to a good friend of mine from Cologne.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Its a beautifully penned story...
My parents are busy groom hunting for me and they torture me by showing profiles on various matromonial portals...
I always wonder hw am I ever to find sum1 to spend rest of my life on a portal....wat am I to luk for in the guy???
After reading this piece I just pray tht I m blessed with a marriage like Fred & Maria !!!

sujata said...

wow! I just have no words, you write so beautifully, and are really equally good at humour as well as such poignant pieces. Also the inspiration to the story was remarkable.

Nona said...

Excellent story! God bless the couple and God bless the author. :)

anishthomas said...

hmmmm touching..... It is disheartening that,we don't have much 'Freds' in our generation.But i don't understand why the world is so unfair to someone...yeahh maria got such a gem like fred as her hus,but still....
Between, U have expressed the emotions beautifully

Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

As usual, beautifully written...

ap said...

Sehr Schöne !! :)

Happy Kitten said...

a touching story written so well...

u do have the gift.. May God bless you..

wish Fred and Maria many more moments together.. let me hope that Maria will recover to be her former self due to the love of Fred..

... may this story be an inspiration to all couples....

wanderlust said...

Wow!! I am at a loss for words!
This one could be a 'Chicken Soup' piece. If you haven't sent it yet, do it right now. It is too good!

nimmi said...

Wishing them many more years of togetherness ...lovely post

Devil Incarnate... said...

Wow!! beautifully written very touching story...
I am sure that i wil see lot of maria's in real life.. bt i guess Fred will remain in reel life.

thomas said...

Nicely penned down. :)

Crazy Four said...

The last time I was here from my other identity as holylama, it was about beer and now such a touching piece. You are versatile, Mathew. Happy to be surprised.:)

Heera said...

mathew..... i feel jealous.... :)
how can you write a such a beautifull story?
its god gift mathew... god bless you...
its every girl's dream to get a partner like fred.... well written

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written and May God bless the world with many people like Fred.

Divs said...

awwww.... but reminds me of the book notebook by Nicholas Sparks.. :)

Usha said...

wow!
real life couple, did you say?
double wow!!

know what, you are lucky to know people like these, Mathew. The thing is, such people inspire the ones that they come across much more than they would ever know.

Jackfruit said...

Really nice... !!!

mathew said...

@Anonymous
thank you.. i can understand that it is dilemma most people go through...both guys and girls...if there is something you must feel you should be lucky about..its about finding the right soulmate....wishing you all the best..;-)

@Sujata
thanks a lot..;-)

@Nona
amen to it..:-)

@anishthomas
yes..i really enjoy time with this couple..coz its a learning experience for all of us..

@Arun
thanks buddy..

@AP
danke schöne...:-)
wie geht's?

@Happy Kitten
yeah..though most people like her might have to stuck inside their homes...here her husband takes her to all get togethers which happen here..its quite a inspiring sight..

thanks for the nice comments.

@Wanderlust
thank you..i send it yday..but i was late for it coz i was bessetted with some personal problems..

thanks a lot for the encouragement...i really appreciate it..

mathew said...

@nimmi
thank you..:-)

@Devil Incarnate
yeah...i think you are right..sadly.!!

@thomas
thank you..;-)

@Crazy Four
haha..you have a multiple personality syndrome..;-P
thanks a lot da..

@Heera
thanks a lot..its quite a motivating comment...as you said you got to be really lucky to get one..

@Anonymous
thank you..and amen to it..

@Divs
i have seen the movie long ago..dont want to see it again!!;-)

@Usha
yes...real life..mallu couple out here...am lucky to meet them..;-)


@Jackfruit
thanks buddy!!:)

Zahra said...

Beautiful :)

There are far too few Freds and Marias around for my liking.... each day in the lives of people like these is like one more note in a symphony. They gradually build into marches, crescendos, infinitely sad pieces.....and back again. But the music lingers on with every passerby.

May each one of us be lucky enough to script our symphonies with our own Freds and Marias...and God bless the couple you've based this on!! :)

maggi said...

Wow! Excellent piece :). beautifully written. Thanks for sharing.

Radhika Ganesan said...

The preface was worth a literary award !

I have never seen the metaphorical usage anywhere else ! Very fresh and touching !

RGB said...

Mathew, A truly moving story. Very well written indeed.

Annie said...

Professional writing. Very good and sensitive intellectual creation. Feel to read again. Expect more like this.

Dhanya said...

Beautifully written.. It would be so nice if all couples are like this :)

Thulasy Mary Elizabeth said...

Reminded me of the English movie 'The Notebook'.Nice story.

Jyothsna said...

There's a right touch of softness in the narrative. I'm beginning to enjoy your posts even more now! Btw,the telly write up was too good!

ap said...

prima....

last days in Germany .. :)

Hb said...

Brilliant, the way you have written. Amazing, the bond between them.

little by little , bit by bit said...

hmmm...sounds quite an imposible love story. But may be i'm all wrong about people and couples as u mention in your P.S and yet i'm not convinced

but ofcourse there's no denying that you are metamorphosising into a fine writer.
autograph please!!!!!!!!!

Shrutz said...

You are too romantic :)

Zahra said...

Hi Matthew,

Somehow am not able to add a comment to the actual post, so I'll have to put it here (Sorry!)....

Just to let you know that Ms. Daisy Luke's blog found a very enthusiastic reader in my mother :).... Amma was in the pre-degree batch of '73-75 at BCM, and still recalls Ms. Luke's English classes fondly... thanks a ton for making her day! It's a lovely read.

Soumya said...

To Mathew

Every time I open your blog I get a fresh fragrance. This time its the freshness of jasmine at night. Last few times it were the chewiness of orange flavoured bubblegum. And sometimes its the fragrance of freshly prepared biriyani from your "ambrosia"... Keep up the good work boss...~ Soumya

N said...

U hv to pen down the extremeities...one post made me laugh out loud, the other one made me hold back a tear....as usual wonderful story...

Zendagi Migzara said...

Indeed a beautiful and heartfelt story... How I wish all would be blessed with such a relationship... God bless!!

Reflections said...

A beautiful story Mathew...enjoyed reading it all more knowing its a true story:-)).

Sakshi said...

such a beautiful story and that too inspired by a real couple. It's so touching and I hope when I grow old and helpless my husband won't decide to take revenge on all the torture I am putting on him :(

psst psst I am back :)

mathew said...

@all
sorry for not replying individually..thanks a lot for the kind comments..

How do we know said...

HOW DID I MISS THIS ONE? its totally awesome!!!

lissiejimmey said...

very touching, beautiful story...