Once there was a woman living in Hyderabad who thought winged and feathered thoughts immeasurably fast.
If you asked her how she felt, she would apprehend her interiority as fast as instant curried rice. “I felt sad at precisely 9:14 am yesterday and it lasted ten minutes. I felt ebullient at 3:10 today, immediately following my first Chai. I will be feeling about 93.3 % maniacal tomorrow at 7:05 pm when I ride the elevator down to the parking lot after work.”
If you asked her what she thought about something, anything, she told you instantly.
“I think that the partition was a horrific rejection of community. I think that Indian women should demand what they want and believe that they deserve it! I think that everyone should fly somewhere far away at least twice per year.”
Her parents arranged her marriage, as had been the custom in her family for generations, and thus it came to pass, that decked out in gold, one Saturday evening during a monsoon, she married a nice Indian man.
He was known in both his family and hers to always think turtlish and carapaced thoughts immeasurably slowly. The families thought him solid.
During their first year of marriage, as with all couples everywhere, they kissed and they missed. During their second year, they began to list, then to subsist.
If she asked him, “How do you feel?” he would say, “I don’t know.” If she gave him a week to figure it out, he still didn’t know.
If she gave him a year, he would muse philosophically and pause for a bit pacifistically, like Ashoka, and come up with nothing that she considered to be a good come-back.
One day, after a cup of Darjeeling at a sea-facing terrace in Goa, he did hold forth.
“Violence stems from poverty, inequality and addiction,” he said, “and mostly from the lack of love.” She was astonished.
He was silent a while then spoke again.
“Women,” he said, “might do well if they continued to nurture others while yet leaving them alone from time to time and moving forward with their unique interests and goals.”
“Well and good,” she said. “Now that I’ve got you talking, let’s get to the bleeding heart of the matter. What is going on inside of you right now? Tell me about your feelings Tell me how you feel. Today, I felt moody, happy, quizzical, intense and relieved. How do you feel? How do you feel about me? I’m worried, frustrated, anxious and concerned about you. Your turn. How are you feeling this instant about me?”
He looked at her, started to speak then stopped and rubbed his chin.
“I feel …” He began, but he couldn’t get there and so he paused.
“For God sake,” she said, “Say anything.”
“I can’t think when you are pressuring me,” he said.
“I don’t want to know what you think,” she said, “Tell me what you feel. Just spit it out!” She paused for a sip of tea.
“I feel … I feel … I feel … a deep love for both of our families,” he blurted out and looked down.
They raised 3.1 children, enjoyed six grand children, and lived to hold three great-grandchildren.
In the end, everyone said about their marriage that it was a model of true love and devotion, despite the well-known laugh the families often had at gatherings over the fact that in sixty years of marriage he never said anything.
At her funeral, her sister said, “Her sweet husband never did get a word in edge wise or even on an angle, except that one time when she paused for a sip of tea.”
And everyone who knew them well laughed.