Lock, stock and barrel

His hands rest upon mine, ceremoniously. I release one hand and brush off a stubborn lock of hair from my face, fidgeting in my seat. I drum my fingers lightly on the table, trying to match the off-kilter rhythm of the Bossa Nova melody. “Brazilian music”, I think, “this might be a sign of good luck”. But don’t they all play Bossa Nova in restaurants nowadays?

I averted his eyes for a minute but could not distract my mind. Why couldn’t Disaster, in a rare exception to the rule, be merciful and announce itself before the hour? I still could run away and catch the next train back to oblivion.

The great revelation did not come then. Like the sweet Bossa Nova song that played that ’night, it was intangible. What hour marks the moment of truth? The announcement of a profound change?

I felt I had a baggage that I did not know he could help me carry. I needed certainties beyond words. I needed a sign that would vouch destiny would not be playing the same card again. I could not handle another loss. I needed to still that life. To freeze it and leave it behind in the void of time.

But then there was this thing called love. Not something that one experienced vicariously in movies. But something that required a different transaction. It was there for me, in all its horrors, in all its beauties. Ready to come to life. His small eyes smiled at me. His eyes speaking of dreams. Not his words but rather the tremor of his voice. The tilt of his head. All those signs which I would later recognize as a trademark of his wholesomeness.

There was no announcement, no epiphany. But there were small miracles. The unexpected lantern turned on in the corner of a gloomy room. That steady hand opening doors. These things soothed me. Wrapped me. They still do.

His love was a devotion. Not an accommodating, unquestioning devotion like that to a saint. His was a laborious one, akin to that of a scientist in his life-long search for the cure of an incurable disease. Working at it day and night, out of an unbounded, selfless love for what he does. My husband left a stable job and crossed the ocean, embracing the unknown. In the process, he gained two daughters, learned another language and restored my belief in life – perhaps his greatest achievement.

I told him that night that I needed one day to think about it.

“You know we are doing it lock, stock and barrel, right”? that was my answer, not entirely aware of what that would eventually entail. He smiled a broad smile, transfixed by my answer. I smiled back.


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