The old man sat in his rocking chair, his spectacles on his forehead and his hands clasped on his chest. He seemed lost in the paracosm of his thoughts, when he was interrupted by his son, who looked visibly troubled. The old man straightened, and asked what the matter was. His son shared his problems he had with his better half, and asked for advice. The father replied, “The answer is honesty. It’s variations may differ, so may it’s intensity, but the answer is always honesty.”
“Can you explain?”
“Sure can. Let me tell you a story of me, your’ mother, and of course, honesty.”
We were together, yet distinct. Free in essence, yet intertwined with each other. We were like the sketch of a painting with the colours yet to be filled in, everybody could see that we were going to be grand. But sometimes, the colours that fill in aren’t exactly the ones you want to see.
There comes a blip and tough times in every relationship. When one feels they need more than he is getting, things go wrong. In my need of filling that void, in my bid for her to accept my selfish needs, I launched what I thought was honesty at her. Honesty isn’t about giving everybody a piece of your mind. Nor is it dishing out what you think of others. Honesty in it’s true sense is being true to yourself, acknowledging what you think of yourself and putting out words that you think that will help the other person as best as possible – keeping in mind your own conscience. My selfish needs made the relationship toxic, and things went downhill.
Somehow the times changed. We began to drift apart. The sad thing about two people drifting apart is that it can only happen when they are close. She went from being the safety locker of my deepest emotions to being a random open suitcase with all my secrets. She was a flower, and I was in love with her fragrance. Learn to keep the colours of the flowers in mind, son, because their fragrance is nomadic – it’ll get lost on your journeys. When I once thought she was going to be the force behind my rise, instead I made myself believe that she was the reason I was in a storm. In a way, she was. I ran about, in the storm of my own chaos. I scraped and dug, plummeted and resurfaced, tried to hold my ground to reach the center of the storm; only to see her wrecking havoc. Yet, from the center the storm sounded music, and she was the choirmaster. Little did I know that all I had to do was get into the heart of the problem, and things would be normal.
It took time. Honesty was moulded into a queer shape in me, defined to suit my own whims. I took it as a weapon to attack with and rarely as a shield to defend myself – that’s the thing with people who are honest with everyone. They struggle to be truly honest with themselves. And when you aren’t honest with yourself, your outward honesty is powerless. It can only bring discomfort. I asked her for help. I wanted to get rid of my worries and my pain. I let them into a kite and asked her to release it into the wind, but in the end, they always remained connected to me by a single, sharp, cutting thread. She had become apprehensive – maybe we can’t go back to what we had because we are no more what we were.
I accused her to be too innocent and naive, while it was me who was immature. The difference between innocence and immaturity is a sense of entitlement, an idea of self-righteousness and a notion of subtle vanity. My immaturity brought me unwarranted sorrow, you know, and I asked myself, “Did I really know her – or myself – in that matter?” Knowing someone is an illusion. There will always be that one streak of someone which remains concealed, something they themselves cannot be honest about. For long I maintained about honesty being a precursor of wisdom. I took intelligence for wisdom. Maybe you go about being intelligent but don’t know about it? Knowing about one’s intelligence is superficial. True wisdom catches most people unawares, mostly the protagonist, and so does honesty.
Often times I wanted to curl into a ball, to turn my heart into stone and render my emotions remorseless. I tried to protect my heart by pretending that I was heartless. And there was no bigger fallacy than that. But however much I tried, she ended up melting my heart, making me repent and setting me straight. She taught me a lesson in being myself. I finally became honest to myself and sought her out, to talk and to smoothen the creases. We sat down again, and as the cold, frozen conversation revived; all feelings, affection and memories came rushing back. Her style, her laugh, her smirk and her movements brought back the tides of everlasting love. They reminded me that my honesty wasn’t really honesty, but it was a bunch of lies I told myself and to her to make myself feel better.
She made me love being in love. She made me fall through the stars and across galaxies, soar into the oasis of love and taught me the silent language of love. She showed me that the heartless gravity could pull you into the hearts of many. She made me write. I wrote poetry for her. But little did I know that she lived the poems I could not write and I wrote the poems she would not live. She was someone who touched even a cactus with love; many heartless people crush flowers beneath their feet. In my penance I showed her my true face of honesty. I crumbled down my barrier of highly haughty honesty, and began to develop myself into something better.
She forgave me, with the grace only love can grant, and with the ease only attachment can allow. And there we were, finally as a painting completed, with different colours than we intended to fill, but exquisitely grand nonetheless. We were together with ourselves, and we celebrated with a largely awaited kiss. The heartbeats fastened as the kiss slowed, the breaths coincided and we were there, in the paradigm of honest love.
His son looked searchingly. Somewhere within himself he scrounged for that one piece of truth he had been hiding, which would make him a better person to tackle his situation.
‘Dad,’ he asked. ‘What if I have already done my best? What if I can’t improve?’
The old man smiled,’You’re ever changing, ever developing, and forever improving; son. You can never have a definite answer to the question, “What are you?”
You only have a definite answer to the question when you’re dead.’